Reading Round-Up: February

February was a shorter month, but there was no shortage of reading taking place. I even managed to read one more book than I did last month. Halfway through the month I realized that everything I’d read had been written by a man. I made sure to mix it up a little and the last two books are by women. (Diversity, yo.)

1. Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West by Blaine Harden (non-fiction)

c14

Short version: The true account of Shin, who was born and raised in a North Korean prison camp, his escape, and how he has dealt with transitioning to life in the Western world.

The verdict: 4 out of 5 stars. It’s hard to gush about a book that is dark and ugly, and horrifically true. The things Shin endured are almost unfathomable, but almost even more frustrating than the torture he survived is knowing that others continue to live that way, and they are faced with the world’s indifference. I feel almost a sense of duty when I read a book like this to bear witness to someone else’s reality. It was hard, but it was also eye opening and important.

2. Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn (epistolary fiction)

emp

Short version: Told through letters, the adorable residents of the  fictional Island of Nollop begin banning the use of certain letters as they fall from the founder’s statue.

The verdict: 5 out of 5 stars. I thought the concept of the book was clever, and the execution was spot on. The English teacher in me appreciated the uniqueness of the idea, the wit, and the difficulty level (the author had to omit more and more letters from the book as the story went on). It was something sweet to lighten my reading load between emotionally heavy non-fiction novels.

3. The Time of Our Lives: A Conversation about America; Who we are, where we’ve been, and where we need to go now, to recapture the American Dream by Tom Brokaw (non-fiction)

tb

Short version: As the longest subtitle of all time suggests, Brokaw reflects on where our country has been, where we are headed, and how we can continue (or in some cases, change course) for the better.

The Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars. Years in the biz have given Brokaw a keen sense of observation, eloquence, and even some really good ideas. While this isn’t the kind of book that I was dying to keep reading, I really appreciated his perspective on things. It was kind of like having a long chat with a grandparent. Even though I didn’t agree with everything (he was mostly fair but a few aspects were too sentimental even for me), I had to give him props for knowing what he was talking about and saying it so well. Unless you are particularly interested in the topic, however, you can probably pass on this one.

4. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Levithan (YA fiction)

wgwg

Short version: Two Chicago suburbanites both named Will Grayson are struggling through high school and figuring things out, when their lives intersect following a chance meeting.

The verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars. I like John Green’s style. I’m drawn to his slightly off-beat, always introspective characters. The analogies, the symbolism, the fun, oh my! (The best line is when one of the characters gets food poisoning but declares it “awesome poisoning.” As in, he’s just too awesome.) But the plot? No. Just no. The meeting of the characters was almost unnecessary and pointless. The ending wasn’t fully realized. It read to me like a draft. As in, some things needed to be edited out to streamline what the real story was. A fun read, but definitely not a re-read.

5. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (Memoir)

mt

Short version: Joan chronicles her life in the year after her husband dies of a heart attack.

The verdict: 3 out of 5 stars. I’ve never read anything else by Didion, nor did I know what the book was about when I picked it up. (Sometimes I like going into a book blind.) She is clearly very intelligent and a very talented writer. It seems like what she is saying is on the surface, but there are layers in all of it. She has an interesting style of repeitition, which I thought was effective and I really enjoyed. But was I itching to read this book? Was I eager to pick it up after I put it down? No. I even had to force myself to get through the end. I can see how writing it was necessary for her, but I didn’t fell compelled to read it. On the topic of loss, I much prefer What Remains and The End of Your Life Book Club, both of which I read last year. This one had a feeling of hopelessness throughout. Again, I can see why she wrote it, but I didn’t enjoy reading it.

6. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (YA fiction)

eandp

Short version: Typically a-typical story of high school love, conflicts, being on the outside, major family drama, and self discovery.

The verdict: 4 our of 5 stars. I love the main characters. They both have hard outer shells and soft, squishly, loveable insides. (The peripheral characters, particularly Parks’ mom, are also really well-developed and interesting.) The romance was a slow build, which I thought was more realistic than most of the love stories where it’s meet-bam!-in love. They are also dealing with some very real, very difficult issues. Some of the things that happen to Eleanor are painful to read, but in that I-can’t-look-away kind of way. The tough situations and layered characters would make this a good YA book club choice. (When I finished, I so wanted to have a big long discussion about this book with someone.)

*

Total # of books read so far this year: 11

Total # of pages read so far this year: 3,574

(Want to see the books I read in January? Go here. You can also join me on GoodReads.)

Run Less, Run…Slower?

My review of the Run Less, Run Faster program!

If you’ve been around for a while, you’ve heard me go on and on about RLRF. I trained 2/3rds of the way through the program last year for a race I didn’t end up running. (I abandoned ship when I realized that running a marathon the week before moving internationally wasn’t a great idea.) I made it all the way through the plan in the train up to the EP Marathon.

A quick refresher (or intro for those not in the know). RLRF has you completing 3 runs a week:

  1. An interval run (repeating sprints of distances between .25 mile and 1.25 miles)
  2. A tempo run (4-8 mile runs with fast middle miles sandwhiched between an easy warm-up and cool-down)
  3. A long run (between 7-20 miles at marathon pace + so many seconds)
A portion of the RLRF training plan.

A portion of the RLRF training plan.

All the runs are pace specific, and the program instructs you to aim to run them as closely to those times as possible. It should be comfortably difficult, which I found to be true of almost every single workout. They were a challenge but not impossible. You are also supposed to complete cardio cross-training (swimming, cycling, ellipticalling, rowing, whatever) twice a week. I don’t much like other forms of cardio, so I would do yoga and walk my dog instead. Not exactly what the plan suggests, but it’s what I wanted to do. This was my only real deviation. I followed the running workouts to about 95% accuracy. There were a few missed or shortened runs, a few times that I threw my pace out the window, but mostly, I did as I was told.

With all that you, you’d think that I would run faster. Did I? No. Sunday’s marathon was 5 minutes slower than my PR, and 8 minutes slower than what I was training for. But but but but but this in no way reflects on the plan. I felt totally prepared in terms of my training. My 18 mile and 20 mile runs were both cake, and I know I have a faster marathon in me. <–That right there is the problem.

Interval run, run less run faster

Notes for a particularly tricky interval run.

The book specifically warns against aiming for a finish time that is faster than what you are capable of at the time (they have a pages and page of charts to help you figure out what time goal is appropriate). The authors point out that runners have a tendency to get hung up on arbitrary goals. Damn you, tantalizing round numbers! (I was training for 4:22, but tried to reach for 4:15 on race day.) I read that part of the book thinking, “Yes, this is logical. I should set a realistic goal based on my current abilities and run an evenly split race. I should ignore the round numbers.” But then I didn’t.

I think my downfall, if you will, was three-fold:

  1. The 5 miles of downhill at the start of the race gave me a false sense of myself. I felt so good that I kept pushing the pace until I gased out. Even if I hadn’t pushed it, a 1,500 foot elevation drop at the start of a distance race makes even splits tricky.
  2. I didn’t show up to the starting line with the intention of running the paces I’d trained for. I didn’t just want to finish, I wanted to smash my PR! Instead, I got smashed.
  3. My plan (fueling, hydration, walk breaks) was abandoned from the get go. I don’t even have a reason why. Endorphins? Foolishness?

When pepping me up prior to the race, a few friends told me, “run your race!” I thought, “yes, yes I will!” In my brain, though, that meant, “I’m going to go for it! I’m going to run the hell out of it!” instead of probably what they meant “run the way you trained. Run your pace. Don’t be stupid!” Whoops.

Would I recommend RLRF? Yes! Absolutely! The book is loaded with more information than you’ll probably ever need (how to train for an Ironman, how to BQ, how to stretch, how to cross-train, and on and on and on), and the plan is sound. It is scientific, it is specific, and it is effective. You know, as long as you don’t blow it on race day.

Where my other RLRF peeps at? What other training plans do y’all love? After only running 3 days a week, I’m not sure I could go back to 4 or 5.

Food, Food, Gimme Gimme Food

Since Sunday, I’ve had only one thing on my mind: how to get delicious morsels of food into my stomach as quickly as possible. I’m experiencing a very strange phenomenon in which the more I eat, the hungrier I am. I’m not sure if my metabolism is straight up on fire or if my brain is just confused from all the Swedish fish I shoved down my gullet this weekend. What I do know is that my healthy food intake has spent the past month (give or take) in serious flux.

It appears as though my healthy choices have an inverse relationship with my distance from Stephen. Translation: he goes far away (I’m looking at you, Afghanistan!), and I start eating really poorly. Not cookie-dough-still-in-the-package poorly. More like frozen-meals-for-a-week-can’t-even-be-bothered-to-turn-on-the-oven poorly. The upside is that I did come up with a new style of cooking: Barely Homemade. It’s like Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee except everything is cooked in a microwave or purchased in a drive-thru.

I managed to come to my senses and eat healthier as the marathon approached. Healthier in this case means fruit, vegetables, and every carb known to man. My favorite easy yet healthy option has become salmon salad. The fresh fish selection is pretty sad out here in the desert, but I did find some decently priced vacuum sealed blackened salmon.

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15 minutes in the oven, chop it up, slap that bad boy on a bed of lettuce. Dinner is served!

I was on a mostly healthy uptick until race day. Now that the marathon has come and gone, I can eat whatever I want. {Insert evil laugh here.} I think I’ve been pretty conservative though. My post-race meal of choice was Chipotle:

Queen in the castle!

Queen in the castle!

Dessert was sorbet. So tame! So not unhealthy! I made up for it the next night by going to Dairy Queen. There was squealing and hand clapping when the server (fast food attendant? cashier? maker of all that is ice cream holiness?) flipped my Blizzard upside down. That’s the best part. I think they should offer refunds when the blizzard isn’t flipped. It ain’t a blizzard if you don’t flip it!

Yesterday I got off my kiester and bought groceries. (Ugh. Least favorite chore.) My pal Janelle is making chili for a cook-off at her work, and when I read about it on her blog, I thought, “Hey. I want chili.” So I made some! I followed this recipe from Inspiralized. It involves making “sweet potato rice” but you could skip that. Since it involved my two favorite kitchen appliances (the Vitamix and the spiralizer) I fo’ sho’ made that crazy veggie “rice.”

inspiralized soup

I proceeded to top it with a fistful of cheese and a pile of avocado. Totally healthy. Even if you eat 3 bowls of it, right?

One of the funny things about being post-race is that even though I feel totally “allowed” to eat unhealthy things following burning a million calories in one day, I don’t really want to. Although, the bag of sour cream and cheddar chips that I ate on my way home from the grocery store tell a slightly different story. And let’s be real, I always feel allowed to be unhealthy. I guess after the race it’s just that I almost feel like I should eat unhealthy. I’m ready to stick to the good-for-me stuff for now, though. Treats here and there, yes, I want, but mostly I want the healthier stuff. Emphasis on the “er” part of that. Let’s not kid ourselves about how healthy I actually eat.

It seems as though the spell of laziness, wallowing, and craptastic eating that accompanied the beginning of deployment has been broken. I’m ready for fresh foods and healthy choices, even if it means a little more work on my part. Bring on the smoothies, the kale, and the oats! Come forth Greek yogurt, flax seed, and quinoa! Lend me your millet, your bran, and your tofu! But, sour cream and cheddar chips, don’t leave me just yet. We can still be friends!

What kind of healthier stuff are y’all eating lately?

PS Want to see something funny? The official race photos are up! I think it’s pretty clear which ones were taken early in the race and which ones were taken later.

El Paso Marathon Race Recap

I’m not a big fan of suspense, so let me cut to the chase. Yesterday I ran my 3rd marathon. It was hard. I went out too fast. It got hot. I got tired. But I managed to pull out a finish time that I am proud of: 4:30:20.

The Garmin don't lie!

The Garmin don’t lie!

Now for the fun part – details!

The race is point-to-point, starting at the top of the Franklin Mountains and winding it’s way through Fort Bliss all the way to downtown. I was late to the only other point-to-point race that I’ve done (one must allot extra time for transit to the start!), so I woke up crazy early (3:00 am) and arrived crazy early (4:30 am) in order to ensure that my butt would be on that bus with plenty of time to spare.

I spent the 90 minutes that I had before the race started alternating between waiting in line for the porta-potties and staying warm on the bus. It was a cool 50-something and windy; nice for running, not so nice for standing around in a tank top. Eventually the sun rose and it was time to start.

During mile 1. I love a good sunburst picture.

During mile 1. I love a good sunburst picture.

  • Mile 1: 9:06
  • Mile 2: 9:19
  • Mile 3: 9:23
  • Mile 4: 9: 38
  • Mile 5: 9:36

I loved the first 5 miles. They were completely downhill, so what’s not to love? I decided to not worry about time during these miles and instead run at whatever pace felt comfortable. Fewer than 400 people were attempting the full, so it wasn’t too crowded. It was still cool out, and the views were gorgeous.

  • Mile 6: 9:33
  • Mile 7: 10:26 (my first walk break)
  • Mile 8: 9:40
  • Mile 9: 9:48
  • Mile 10: 10:06 (another walk break)
I love running!

I love running!

You’d think it was a good thing that I didn’t take a walk break until mile 7. In reality, this was poor planning. Those first 5 miles + adrenaline had me feeling good. So much so that I took my normal approach (walk every 4 miles, fuel like clockwork) and instead had a “just wing it” attitude. I also decided that “just PRing” wasn’t enough. I wanted to aim for a sub-4:15 finish. That meant a 9:45 pace. Seeing as this isn’t my first rodeo, I should have known better. Alas, I did say that I wanted to push myself and not run conservatively. Besides, I felt so good. What was the harm? {Foreshadowing!}

  • Mile 11: 9:59
  • Mile 12: 9:50
  • Mile 13: 9:46
  • Mile 14: 10:07

The wheels started to fall off around mile 14. I could already tell that my body was tired. (To bad I didn’t run the half! I had an awesome entire first half!) The previous 13 miles + plus the rising heat + my poor pacing + my lack of following the fueling/walking plan had taken it’s toll. Even though my pace was still decent at mile 14, I know myself well enough to recognize when my running is taking a downward turn.

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  • Mile 15: 9:53
  • Mile 16: 10:57
  • Mile 17: 10:39

Miles 11 through 17 were all on the same road with almost no turns. Turns, in theory, are annoying and dumb. A straight road sounds great. Except that it was so empty. No spectators, no pretty scenery. Nothing to distract me from my dwindling energy. Mile 17 was such a welcome sight. That was where we entered Fort Bliss. It was also the location of a Walking Dead themed water stop complete with people acting like walkers (seriously scary), an old RV, and volunteers with plastic cross-bows. The woman who high-fived me here was an angel in an earth suit. She gave me pep in my step, and I actually started to get a second wind. (As much of a second wind as one can expect after 17 miles of running.)

  • Mile 18: 10:12
  • Mile 19: 10:43
  • Mile 20: 10:40

I went from walking every few miles, to walking every other mile, to walking every mile. Thankfully, I passed my friends’ house during this portion of the course. Knowing they’d be there kept me in motion and was another much-needed boost. I was joking with the volunteers and feeling happy. Even though the middle miles had been hard, I was surprised at how quickly I had found myself at mile 20. Only a 10k to go.

I did not take this picture. I was too fatigued at this point to even unzip my spibelt.

I did not take this picture. I was too fatigued at this point to even unzip my spibelt.

  • Mile 21: 11:18
  • Mile 22: 10:47
  • Mile 23: 11:57

We were outside the confines of Fort bliss and headed downtown. By this point, my body felt better. Some aches and pains from earlier in the race had subsided. Unfortunately, my determination started to waver. I’m sure all the people around me at this point looked as pitiful as I did. Jogging, hobbling, walking, certainly not running. A few fellow runners cheered me on. I cheered them on. I told myself that I could go slow but I had to go. I’d run to an intersection, then walk to the next one, then run again. I’ve never walked for too long, but I also didn’t run for too long at this point. It was an internal push-and pull from here to the end.

  • Miles 24: 11:29
  • Mile 25: 12:19

The 4:30 pacer passed me around mile 24. I tried to stick with her, but I couldn’t hack it. I knew my goals were long gone before I got to this point, but it still sucked to literally see my goal fly by. All day long, friends and family had been texting me. During mile 25 I was really hurting, so I took some time to read through all the messages. Oh man. Waterworks. I told myself that I shouldn’t cry and “waste my hydration” :) but I couldn’t help it. I was overwhelmed (and exhausted) and so touched. I knew I had to keep going, even if it was slow.

  • Mile 26: 10:36
  • Final .2: 2:24 (10:04 pace)
Photo courtesy of Julie. This is my last bit of effort after I realized the timing mat under the blue awning wasn't actually the finish and I had to keep running.

Photo courtesy of Julie. This is my last bit of effort after I realized the timing mat under the blue awning wasn’t actually the finish and I had to keep running.

The last mile. Finally! I knew Julie was waiting for me at the finish, so I gave it everything I had. I felt like I was running an 8:00 minute mile. Haha! I also realized that I could still come in under 4:30 if I hustled. It was just too late, and I didn’t have anything left in me.

My stats:

  • 26.26 Finish time: 4:30:20
  • Average Pace: 10:18 per mile

I made some mistakes at this race. I went out too fast, I didn’t follow my plan, I let the mental demons beat me down. It wasn’t all a loss. I did some good things, too. I ran the tangents like a pro, I cheered on fellow runners, I thanked as many of the volunteers and spectators as I could, and I ran with other people in my heart.

Remember when I said in my goals post that this race wasn’t just about me? I was thinking of a few people in particular. My mantra during training and one race day was: For Ben, For Micah, For myself.

The words that kept me going.

The words that kept me going.

I tried to channel Ben‘s positivity. (I wasn’t entirely successful, but I like to think he would have laughed at all the snarky jokes I made on the course.) From Micah, I tried to embody his determination and his wife Linzi‘s strength. Maybe my time doesn’t reflect it, but I was successful in this endeavor. I wanted to quit over and over and over again during this race. Every time I considered it, I thought about their family. How they haven’t been able to quit and instead they’ve pushed harder. Finally, I ran to prove something to myself. To prove that I could set my sights high and dream big and go for it, which is what I did.

When I finished, Julie was there to greet me. I immediately told her, “Don’t ever run a marathon!” However, on my drive home I saw some people out running, and I thought, “I love doing that.” That meaning running. For me, that also includes marathoning. Crazy as that is. So at the end of March, I’m doing another one! This one will be a little different. It’s the Bataan Memorial Death March. The terrain will be difficult, I’m sure the heat will be even worse, and there will be no time goals. In fact, I’m predicting that it will take me twice as long to finish as this one did. I’ve got four weeks to rest, recovery, get back in gear, and do the whole shebang over again!

Friday Five: Races That Changed Me

For my five things this week, I wanted to get a little sentimental. Honestly, I always want to get sentimental, but I try to reign it in for y’all most of the time. With the big one so close (2 days! 2 effing days!), I thought it’d be fun to look back at some of my previous races.

Since I started running in 2010, I’ve completed almost 40 races. Each one is special in its own way, they are all beautiful, everyone is unique, I love them all equally, blah blah blah, etc., etc. Okay, so many of them start to blend together, and a few of them totally sucked, but I also really loved a lot of these races. These are the five that changed me.

1. Impossible Possibilities – 5k – March 2010

5k

My first race ever. BFF Mary Beth and I had both made the goal that year of training for a 5k. At that time, that was a pretty lofty goal for me considering I could only run for about a minute before needing a break. We trained separately following Couch to 5k, but ran side by side the day of the race. (Well, until the finish. Sometimes a girl gets the urge to sprint the finish.) This was the race that first showed me that the impossible was possible (yes, just like the name!). I immediately signed up for a 5k the next month, and four years later, my running obsession has yet to die down.

2. Allen Eagle Run – 5k – March 2011

The only picture I took at this race: documentation of my sock choice.

The only picture I took at this race: documentation of my sock choice.

Even though I had been running for a year by the time this race rolled around, this was the first one I ever went to alone. I had always gone with a Stephen, or my mom, or a buddy. Going to something alone should not be a big deal, but for me it was. Stephen was in Basic Training at the time, and I was pushing myself to come out of my shell and be brave. This was a baby step. (Here’s how big of a weenie I am: the race was less than a mile from where I was living at the time, and I was still scared to go alone.) My finish time (26:00) stood as my 5k PR for over a year before I managed to finally smash it.

3. Firefly Run – 5k – April 2012

Ben and Sorelly stretching before the race.

Ben and Sorelly stretching before the race.

I do not like night races. I do not like gimmicky races. I do not like crowded races. So much to dislike about this race, and yet, this will forever be a special race to me. Sorelly, Ben, and I ran it together. We hung out together before hand, we met up again at the finish line, we went out to dinner afterwards. Completely average. This defines to me how Ben lived his life after his lung transplant: he just did whatever he wanted to do. Simultaneously unremarkable and extraordinary. I’m so glad that I got to do this with Ben and be a part of his every day extraordinary.

4. The Hottest Half – half marathon – August 2011

After the race with my mom. (She rocked the 10k that day!)

After the race with my mom. (She rocked the 10k that day!)

The name is not a joke. It is for realsies the hottest and possibly most miserable race I ever ran. 13 miles in Texas in August is a terrible idea! I was going strong for the first 8 miles or so, and then the heat beat me down. Even though my goal time slipped through my fingers around mile 10, I still sprinted to the finish line at the end where I promptly threw up into my hands. This is what people are referring to when they say things like “respect the distance” and “adjust your goals.” Hard but important lessons for every runner.

5. Dallas White Rock Marathon – full marathon – December 2010

dwrm

Stephen and I signed up for this race together in the summer of 2010, before either of us had ever even run 6 miles. We wanted to attempt the distance and we wanted to do it together. With his impending Army service, it was now or never. So we went for it. While our 5:36 finish time isn’t exactly brag worthy, I’ve never been ashamed of it. I know that those five and a half hours were the culmination of months of team work, determination, commitment, doubt, support, and surprises. We took turns encouraging each other out on the course. We ran every single step together and crossed the finish line side by side. This race is what running (and marriage) are about. This race is why I keep coming back for more.

I warned you that I was going to get sentimental! There, there. Dry your eyes. Shoulder pat. Bro hug. Smooch smooch. Walk it off.

If there’s a race that is especially special to you, I’d love to hear about!

Goooooooooals: EP Marathon

It’s race week, race week, race week. (Not quite as catchy as the “Friday” song, is it?) I’ve had goals in mind during the many months that I’ve been training, but I generally like to wait until the big day gets closer before I make those goals public. You know, so my utter shame in not even being able to attempt certain goals is only witnessed by me and not all of Internetsville. Now that training is mostly over, I might as well spill the beans.

Time Goals

Sprint to the finish! (One of the photos I took at the aquathlon last year.)

Sprint to the finish! (One of the photos I took at the aquathlon last year.)

  1. Finish before the cut-off. This is the cheesy part where I tell you that I respect the distance. I do. If it’s crazy hot (oh, please, no) or windy or typhooning, if I trip at mile 2 (new fear), if I get a stomach virus, if the stars don’t align, then I just want to complete the race. Marathons are hard. Finishing is a big deal.
  2. 4:22 (a PR). I ran Big D two years ago in 4:24. The Run Less, Run Faster plan that I’ve been using has me finishing in just over 4:22. I’m not feeling super confident, but I did follow the plan pretty closely. Plus, a PR after months of training would be so sweet.
  3. Sub-4:15. It’s only a little bit faster than 4:22, but it means each mile needs to be 15 seconds faster. That seems so fast in my mind! This goal is definitely a stretch, but I’m going to go for it anyway.

Strategy

epm_elevation

  1. Control what I can, let go of the rest. That means hydrating and eating well all week. Completing my final runs and keeping my legs fresh. It also means, taking a deep breath and accepting things like weather. All I can do is take care of the things I have control over.
  2. Use the hills. I’ve been thinking about the elevation chart the entire time I’ve been training. There’s no point in being conservative when you are given the gift of running downhill. I’m going to gauge my perceived effort so that I don’t go too fast, but my aim is to go fast downhill.
  3. Push myself. In most of my previous races, I’ve aimed to “run smart.” (Makes sense. Who wants to run stupid?) This time around, I want to be less cautious and more daring. I run the risk of bonking. I also run the risk of earning an awesome finish time. I’ve got to push myself to get it.

Attitude

Still smiling at the end of Big D. I'd like a repeat of that!

Still smiling at the end of Big D. I’d like a repeat of that!

  1. Be thankful. I always feel better when I thank the volunteers out on the course. I also want to take the time to recognize how lucky I am that my body cooperates with my dreams. Especially if I don’t make my time goal, I don’t want to get hung up on what didn’t happen; I want to be thankful that I can at least try.
  2. Have fun. There’s no point in torturing myself for 4+ hours; I need to enjoy it. I want to high five people, cheer on my fellow runners, sing (in my head only – I won’t inflict that on others), and smile.
  3. Remember that it’s not just about me. Sure, it’s mostly about me (isn’t it always?), but I’ve trained with other people in mind. I’m going to be thinking of those people on race day, and I hope I do them justice.

Did I miss anything? Any other goals I should include?

EP Marathon Training: 6 Days To Go!

You read that right. The race is less than a week away. I’m glad it’s almost here. I’ve certainly been training long enough. But I’m also scared. When the race is in the far future it’s dreamy, almost like wedding planning before you’ve set a date, all possibilities and color combinations. Now it’s reality. It’s no longer about imagining what could be but making things happen. Which is exciting, yes, but scary, too.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, last week -

IMG_3151

Weekly Stats:

  • Total miles run so far during training: 313.95 (19.75 this week)
  • Interval run: 5 x 1000. Tough, especially with the strangely warm weather. But I battled through each interval.
  • Tempo run: 6 mile “short tempo.” I didn’t hit my fast miles exactly on the nosey, but I was trying to take what I learned from last week’s ugly long run and apply it to my running. When I went into the wind, I pushed as hard as was reasonable without depleting myself entirely. The last mile was my fasted. I was happy when I finished. Mission accomplished.
  • Long run: 8 easy miles. Tossed my pace out the window and just ran. It was glorious.
  • Cross-training: 60 minutes of yoga, 72 minutes of walking
  • Geronimo’s miles: 4.75 miles – a huge week for him!
  • Power jam: “Flashdance…What A Feeling” by Irene Cara (“Take your passion and make it happen!” I like to sing/scream that line.)

Last Long Run

IMG_3154

My 8 mile long run was supposed to be at marathon pace, but I decided that I’d rather just run for fun. Geronimo ran two miles (a big distance for him these days) before I dropped him off at home and headed back out on my own. I listened to the radio on my nano, so it felt more informal. Less long run, more happy jog. It was just what I needed. Whatever was getting me down last week and making it impossible to run did not make an appearance this week. It’s a good thing because I’m plenty nervous as it is without a bad run getting in my head.

Geronimo was down for the count after his two miles!

Geronimo was down for the count after his two miles!

Weather Woes

I know that the calendar says February, but El Paso has not gotten the memo. We’ve had above average temperatures all week, and that’s what is in the forecast for next week, too. The high yesterday was 81. 81! It’s a lovely temperature when you want to go on a picnic or a walk or swimming. Not so much when you are running. Right now the race day forecast has a low of 43 and a high of 69.

That poses quite the conundrum. The majority of my training has been in cold or cool weather wearing pants and ear muffs and jackets and gloves. I have no clue what I’m going to wear or how the heat will effect me. The one thing you can say about the weather, though, is that it is completely out of anyone’s control. All I can do at this point is try to be smart (hydrate hydrate hydrate) and wait to see what happens.

Time to start thinking cold thoughts!

(Because one pre-marathon post isn’t enough, I’ve got a lovely selection of running related musings for you all week long. )