Sunday, July 8, 2018

Race Recap: Caesar Creek Olympic Tri (7/8/18)

Yay for my first Olympic triathlon!  My kids were confused... "Mom, does that mean if you win, you go to the Olympics?"  Not quite kiddos... for those who aren't familiar with the various distances of triathlon, there are mini, sprint, Olympic, half Ironman, and full Ironman (in order from shortest to longest).  I have now completed 4 of the 5... and there are ZERO plans for a full to take place anytime in the near (or far!) future.   An Olympic distance triathlon consists of 0.9 miles of swimming, 25 miles of biking, and 6.2 miles of running.  It's the distance that is competed at during the Olympic Games, which I suppose is why it's called that!  A few friends were surprised that this was my first Olympic tri, seeing as a) I've done two half Ironmans (which is a longer distance), and b) I've been in the sport for a couple of years.  I planned on doing the Mingoman Olympic tri two years ago, but was still in the recovery phase from my hip stress fracture and decided it'd be smart to downgrade to the sprint.  Last year, Mingoman was changed from a tri to a duathlon due to high waters at the lake, so that was a no-go as well.  This year I contemplated doing Mingoman but decided against it.  Thus, this was my first!

This was also my first race with HFP.  They are a local tri company who is known for their excellent races.  Charlotte actually did three HFP races last summer, but for whatever reason I hadn't signed up for any.  Things I LOVED about this company: the way they send out the waves of swimmers (3 at a time every 10 seconds or so, versus a mass start), the way they have the shorter distances go first so that most are finished by the time the longer distances begin (less traffic on the swim course), the nice medals, and awards for top 3 in every AG (instead of just the 1st place finisher).  I didn't get an AG award today--their races also attract some top-notch triathletes!--but I do appreciate that they do this.  The only problem with my race starting last is that even with me being a middle-of-the-packer (overall I was 69th out of 124 total triathletes in the Olympic distance), there was hardly anyone around when I finished, which was a let-down.  I'm used to racing in Central Ohio, doing shorter races, and having tons of friends around to cheer me in (and to cheer in myself).  I was happy to see Curt (a friend's husband) and Diane (a FB friend), but it was still pretty lonely today.

Me, myself and I.  No friend pics :( 
On the actual race recap...

I woke up at 4:40 AM, left at 5 and got to Caesar Creek by 6:20.  It was a long drive but I busied myself with getting nervous.  All good!  It was easy enough to check in, rack my bike, get body marked, etc.  

Bike racked and ready!
I was finished walking the transitions (bike in/out, run out, etc.) by around 7:00, so I just kind of hung out.  I definitely missed my friends--probably my favorite part of triathlon is the community, but I didn't know hardly anyone.  I was also pretty intimidated by some of the amazing people around me.  They looked like "real" triathletes!  After the pre-race prayer (another cool thing that HFP does), I took my first gel at 7:30, and did a short swim to warm up.  The water felt great, 72 degrees.  No wetsuit needed, of course!  

Perfect race conditions!
My race started at 8:10 AM.  As I mentioned, I really like the way HFP starts the swim (groups of 3 starting every 10 seconds or so).  I was able to start in the third group of women, so I didn't have a lot of people to navigate around!  My goal was to keep the swim as effortless as possible.  During the second half of the first loop (about 500 meters in), I found a woman to draft off of, and stayed with her for about 500 meters, until she veered off course a bit during the second loop and I decided to do my own thing.  (Note to those who don't know: "drafting" is basically swimming right on someone's feet, 1-2 feet behind them, catching the bubbles from their kick.  You can save as much as 30% of your energy doing this!)  By then I was catching up with some of the slower men, anyways (the men started the race before us).  Overall I was very pleased with how the swim went.  I didn't feel overly tired, my goggles cooperated, and I didn't run into anyone or veer off course.  In fact, my watch said 0.9 miles exactly!  I glanced at my watch as I exited the water (before having to run two minutes up to T1), and it was at 25:50-ish.  Happy with that split, given the ease I felt!

T1 (swim-to-bike transition) was slowwwwww (2:11).  I don't know why my transitions are so slow!  I think my socks take forever to get on, and I am NOT good at running in my bike shoes, so I usually just walk or half-jog.  Plus I am slow at mounting my bike.  All things that with practice I know I could improve on.

The bike part of the race was difficult. I was prepared for rolling hills, but apparently "rolling hills" in southern Ohio are a bit more like mountains than what we call "rolling hills" here in Columbus!  There was a fairly big hill right in the park, literally 2 minutes into the ride, which taxed my legs right away out of T1.  I was still breathless from the swim, and wasn't happy with that hill!  Then, about 3 miles into the race, right after a left-hand turn, there were two big uphills almost back to back with no downhills after.  They were steep enough that I had to drop into my small chain ring on the second loop (I didn't realize how bad they were until it was too late to shift on the first loop).  I get so disheartened seeing 10-11 mph on my bike computer when I am riding up a hill.  Plus, they really took a lot out of my legs.  The second half of the loop was more typical rolling hills.  I drank about 3/4 of my Tailwind during the ride, and ate half my waffle after the first loop.  Overall I really liked the bike course, except for those two bigger hills!  My split was 1:20:40 (average pace was 18.4 mph according to HFP, but my watch had 17.8 mph due to the actual distance being 1.1 miles shorter than stated).

T2 (bike-to-run) was pretty slow as well.  Again, running with the bike = no bueno for me.

The run, which I was dreading the most, was actually okay.  It could've been better, but it could've been worse.  I felt good starting out but after about a half-mile you get to a big uphill (running up to the levy on a grass then gravel trail), and my brain was like "Heck no!"  I decided at that point that I would allow myself a 10-20 second walk every half-mile.  This really helped me mentally, so I could look forward to these breaks.  I carried my handheld water bottle, which I think worked to my advantage, constantly being able to sip water.  There is zero shade for a good 4 miles of this course, so even though the temperatures today were lower than they have been, it still was pretty hot in that sun at 10:30 AM!  I took my second gel at the one-mile mark, as planned.  The route goes out  and back across the levy on grass/gravel.  I felt better running on this surface this time than I did at my last tri at Alum, but still not a fan.  At around mile 3 my right foot fell asleep (par for the course lately, unfortunately, but I've gotten used to it)... and at mile 4, my left foot did the same.  That NEVER happens.  The walk breaks I took didn't help wake them up, unfortunately.  By mile 5, I was very much over having no feeling in my feet!  Grateful the course was a bit short (5.85 on my watch).  Mile splits were: 9:36, 9:18, 9:22, 9:33, 9:32, and 8:53 (pace for 0.85 miles).  My watch had me at 9:23 average pace (HFP said 8:51 due to the distance difference).  I was surprised to have a bit of a kick left in me the final mile.  I think this is because my numb feet kept me from really running at my true potential, and also because of the walking intervals (gave me more energy at the end).  

Pretty medal!
Pre-race (on that long drive to Waynesville), I had decided on A, B and C goals.  A goal was sub-2:50, B goal was sub-2:55, and C goal was sub-3:00.  My final time was 2:47:23, so my A goal was met!  However, my time would've been more like 2:52ish if the distances hadn't been shorter than anticipated.  I will take it though.  I feel really good overall post-race.  Nothing sore... I don't feel like I "raced" for almost 3 hours, that's for sure.  My heart rate was lower than it usually is on the bike (150 average, but stayed in the 140's after the first 10 miles, so that tells me I definitely held back).  On the run, it was 161 average, but hovered in the lower 160's for the second half of the race, even with the walk breaks.

Official results from HFP.  Fast age group today!

My biggest takeaway: I need to train more hills on my bike if I am going to be successful in races outside of Central Ohio.  However, I am honestly wondering if I am spreading myself too thin between marathon training and triathlon training right now.  I know that all of the biking and swimming that I am doing is great for me, but trying to train for a successful triathlon as well as a BQ marathon leaves me thinking that neither sport/event is getting the proper amount of attention.  I still have not decided about going to Cleveland for Nationals next month.  I am thinking that maybe I could go for "fun", and not really push it too hard (kind of like how today ended up being).  

Meanwhile, I am looking forward to (safely) ramping up my running miles in the coming weeks, as well as doing the swim leg for two tri relays!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Central Ohio Multisport Festival: 1 Mile OWS + Sprint Triathlon Race Recaps (6/9-10/18)

The first triathlon of the "season of tri" is DONE!  <Side note: you know it's summertime when I do a race recap on the SAME DAY as the race LOL!>  Both races went well.  Goals were accomplished and areas of weakness were duly noted.  The nitty gritty recap follows, with lots of pictures because I love my tri friends!

Part 1: 1-mile OWS

The weekend actually started on Saturday morning, with a one-mile Open Water Swim race.  I registered for this back in December, thinking it'd be a great tune-up for the next day's race.  I did the two-mile race two years ago, and contemplated doing it again this year.  The deciding factor: racing at 7 AM (for 2 miles) or 8:45 AM (1 mile).  The later start time won!  I arrived at around 7:45 AM, picked up my packet for both the swim as well as the next day's triathlon, and then spent the next 45 minutes chatting with friends.  It's always fun to catch up with people who I don't see regularly throughout the non-tri season!  
Gorgeous sunrise over the lake!
The race itself is very low-key.  There were a total of 21 swimmers competing (5 of whom were actually in the Aquathlon, which is a 1 mile swim followed by a 1 mile race).  I only knew a few of my competitors, so I honestly didn't know how the race itself would shape out.  I decided to take the first of the two half-mile loops at a more moderate pace--faster than a training swim, but only about 70-75% effort.  I had my usual anxiety during the first 100 yards of the swim, but fortunately relaxed pretty quickly.  Due to the low number of swimmers, I had an open lane to swim and didn't have to worry about being kicked or swam over by others.  From the start, I saw another female take the lead, so the pressure of winning wasn't on me at all.  

Me at the start!
This picture cracks me up... I look soooo not excited about getting into the lake!
The first loop went as planned, and I decided to start really picking up the pace after I rounded the first set of green buoys on loop #2 (about 3/5 of the way into the race).  There was a nice straightaway for me to increase my stroke rate and dig in a bit.  As I rounded the buoys, I noticed another swimmer over my shoulder.  I was pretty sure it was my friend Christine, and decided I should try to NOT let her by me!  This gave me a great push for the next 300 yards or so.  As I rounded the final set of green buoys, I noticed that I hadn't shaken Christine, so I dug in even more.  The final sprint had my arms screaming at me, but I was able to finish strong (and JUST ahead of my friend--what a great race!).  

Me exiting!

Timing mat!

Me looking extremely tired, watching Christine finish!
My splits were: 
1st 500 yards: 7:12 (1:26/100)
2nd 500 yards: 7:28 (1:29/100)
3rd 500 yards: 6:38 (1:19/100)
Final 129 yards: 2:55 (2:15/100--this includes my run up to the timing map, which is the only reason I can think for it being so much slower than the others)

Overall time (pace): 24:15 (1:29/100)

I ended up in 2nd place--both overall, gender, and age group, by just under a minute.  In this case, 2nd place truly is the first one to lose, as no awards are given to anyone but the top competitor.  I think I swam this race exactly how I planned, though, so I'm totally good with the results!

Me & Christine, post-race :)  

Part 2: Sprint Triathlon

The weather stalking was in full-force all day on Saturday.  The forecast of storms worried me greatly.  I really don't like riding my bike in the rain.  The tires are so skinny, and don't really grip the road at all.   I had told my coach that if it was raining more than just a little sprinkle, I likely wouldn't do the race.  Fortunately, Sunday dawned with a slightly overcast morning... but zero precipitation!  The sun actually came out while we were setting up our bikes in transition--what a gift of a morning!  Yes, it was humid, but given the original forecast, I was fine with that!

I had trouble sleeping, and finally got up at around 5:40 with a stomach ache.  I wondered if it was the lake water that I ingested yesterday that was causing me pain... and spent a good 10 minutes on the toilet working out that problem :(  I felt a bit better after that, but really did NOT feel like eating.  I made myself have a waffle and a banana, and then started preparing to leave.  I didn't really need to be at the race early, as I'd picked up my packet the day before, and knew that transition wouldn't close until 7:30.  I decided to go ahead and leave once I was dressed, though, as part of the fun of triathlon is hanging out with friends pre- and post-race!  I got to Alum at around 6:30 AM, and quickly got my bike and gear unloaded.  Immediately I caught sight of Megan (my Ironman 70.3 training buddy from 2016), and after that it was friend after friend showing up for pre-race hugs!  

Me & Stuart!

Me, Melanie & Brooke (who DEMOLISHED the field in the Olympic distance today!)
Time passed by super quickly, as I set up my transition area and debated which goggles to wear (the appearance of Mr. Sun called for my tinted pair!).  I took a quick dip in the lake to get acclimated to the chilly water (around 63 degrees), and soon it was time for my wave to start!  I am in a new age group this year, for in the world of triathlon, it is not your age the day of the race, but your age for the YEAR that matters.  Since I will be 40 in September, I am competing as a 40-year-old for all of 2018 (my new age group is 40-44).  This race divides up the athletes into 40-and-over and 39-and-under, so I got to start in an earlier wave.  I was good with that!  After the race director gave us the pre-race directions, we were off on the first of our 3 legs!

I started with the front of the pack (like usual).  I didn't want to expend too much energy on the swim, because it's such a small percentage of the overall triathlon (only about 3% of the distance, and 16% of my total time, to be exact!).  I relaxed into the short, half-mile loop that I had swam yesterday.  I felt fingertips once and realized I was likely being drafted off of... and for some reason figured it might be my friend Melanie.  I later learned it was indeed her LOL!  My arms felt fatigued about halfway through the loop.  Probably from the swim yesterday, I thought to myself, and just kept plugging away. 

Leg #1: 12:47 (1st 500: 7:00, 2nd 0.18 miles: 5:46)
1st overall in my AG out of the water, 8th fastest female overall, 13th overall including males

Transition #1 (also known as T1) did not go as well as I would've liked.  I had decided to wear socks this year (last year I did not), mainly due to my special inserts that I have to wear for my plantar fasciitis.  They feel really weird when I don't wear socks.  I definitely added time with having to put them on.  Room for improvement here for sure!  Time was 1:47 (slower than ALL of the other top 10 females in the race).  

The bike leg started as well as could be expected.  Took me a few seconds to clip in, but overall the mount and such went as well as could be expected.  The exit from the park to the bike loop is slightly uphill, so it's always a slower start.  My friend Melanie had came in just behind me on the swim, but left T1 before me, and was off like a race horse on the bike. I spent the next 40 minutes trying to catch up to her.  Every time I would see a female ahead of me, I would push it a bit, hoping it was Melanie... only to pass the person and to realize it wasn't her.  I passed some people... I was passed by people.  Typical bike leg!

Leg #2: 39:46
Mile splits: 3:56 (including the mount which I AM SLOW AT), 2:58, 2:46, 2:48, 2:57, 3:06, 3:06, 3:01, 2:52, 2:44, 3:33 (BIG OL' HILL), 3:16 (recovery from the big ol' hill), 2:37 (final 0.67 including the dismount which I AM SO BAD AT)

Average pace: 19.1 mph
3rd in my AG, 8th fastest female (again), 29th overall including males

Transition #2 (T2) was slightly better than T1. Only slightly though.  Tying my shoes TOOK FOREVER.  Gotta get my lock laces back on my run shoes!  As I was entering transition, I saw Melanie starting her run.  She had really kicked my booty on the bike!  I was pretty sure I wasn't going to catch her.  Time was 1:00 (this was 6th fastest out of the top 10 female finishers).  

And... the run.  Oh, the run.  I actually felt okay for the first quarter-mile or so.  Then came the mini-mountain (we have to run uphill to the top of the dam, on a stupid trail that I hate).  I am so NOT a trail runner.  I swore under my breath every step, and then realized as I reached the top of the mini-mountain... there was Melanie.  As bad as I felt, she clearly felt worse.  I knew at that point that I would be able to catch her.  Maybe I could actually win our AG!  I passed Melanie at around 1.25 miles into the race.  She commented that she knew her only chance to beat me would be to hammer the bike.  I wished her well and kept going.  Mile 1 wasn't too bad.  Mile 2 was worse.  Mile 3 was death.  I asked myself over and over again, WHY do I do triathlons?!!  They truly make me hate running.  Meanwhile, I was passed by a few females, but had no idea of their age or even which race they were running.  I saw a few friends heading out across the dam as I was on my way back, and the high-fives were definitely a plus.  I succumbed to the voice in my head telling me to FREAKING WALK only once, at around the mile 2.5 mark.  I gave myself 10 walking steps, to breathe and prepare for the final half-mile, which seemed like an eternity.  I was so happy to finish!!!

Leg #3: 26:48
Mile splits: 8:48, 8:24, 8:39, :54 (for the final 0.11)
Average pace: 8:37
2nd in my AG, 13th fastest female, 39th overall including males

Final time: 1:22:08
1st in my AG out of 11 (YAY!!!!!!)

7th overall female out of 57 (DAMN there are some fast ladies!)
23rd overall including males (out of 107 finishers)

Happy me!

Yay for a plaque!

My friend Karen turned 59 today and BEASTED the 50-59 AG!

Tiffany won the Olympic Du!
I was pumped both during and after my race for a HUGE PR, based on last year's time, but realized later on when I got home that last year's swim was long, and the bike last year had an additional 1.2 miles.  My 5K was a bit faster, though.  Thinking that I was blowing last year's time out of the water was a big confidence-builder during the race, though.  

My takeaways:

1) Yet again, I NEED TO WORK ON BRICKS.  Running off the bike is just so hard for me!  
2) I am not so sure I want to do an Olympic tri in two weeks at Mingoman.  A discussion to have with my coach, for sure.  It's not the swim or bike... it's the run.  A 10K after swimming & biking makes me want to run and hide!  
3) I've gotta get stronger with my mental game.  I gave up a bit on the run.  (Do you see a theme in my takeaways?  They all have to do with the darn run!)

However... I accomplished my #1 goal, which was to qualify for USAT Age Group Nationals in August, by winning my age group.  So, WOO HOO for that!  Now, the question is, do I actually want to do them?!!  We decided to take a family vacation this year for the first time in 5 years, and will be in NC from August 1-August 5.  With Nationals being August 12, I am not sure that I will want to have that hanging over my head while I am with my family trying to enjoy the last bit of summer vacation.  Another conversation to have with my coach.  For now, though, I will relish my win :)  

Saturday, June 2, 2018

A season of triathlons awaits!

In some ways, the school year dragged on... and in others, it feels like it sped by.  It's already June, and yesterday was my last day of work until August 20th!  (Not really... I am going to be doing some planning this summer with my new teammates at Northgate Intermediate, and of course I will be in my classroom in early August to get things all set up... but officially I am finished!)

The start of summer vacation for me means the start of true triathlon training.  It is so difficult for me to truly train the way I want to during the school year. I have to be happy with 1 swim, 1-2 bike rides (usually on the trainer or at spin class), and my usual 4 runs.  In the summer, however, I am able to actually do legit bricks (swim-bike or bike-run workouts), and fit in more swim and rides.  I also have more time to recover during the day after my workouts, since I don't have to go to work.  All in all, it's an ideal situation.  

When I re-read my blog, I am reminded that I am still relatively new to the whole world of triathlon.  By my count, I have done:
1 super-sprint (Tri for Hope 2015)
2 sprints (Mingoman 2016 & Central Ohio 2017)
2 half Ironmans (2016 & 2017)
And several relays (which honestly don't count for anything in my opinion... they're just fun!)

As I mentioned in my previous blog entry, this year I have 4 triathlons on my schedule: Central Ohio Sprint (6/10), Mingoman Olympic (6/24), HFP Olympic @ Caesar Creek (7/8), and hopefully USAT Olympic Nationals (8/12).   I am hoping to qualify for Nationals at one of the other three triathlons this summer, by finishing in the top 3 overall, or by winning my age group.  I qualified last year, but Nationals were in Omaha.  This year, they're in Cleveland, which is only a couple of hours from me!  Seeing as I have never even done an Olympic-distance triathlon, I have zero expectations if I do qualify... I just think it'd be fun to go for the experience!  

My first triathlon this season is one that I did last year, the Central Ohio Sprint.  My time last year was a 1:31:28 (swim 17:54 including the run up to transition, T1 1:24, T2 :58, bike 43:57, run 27:13).   I would love to go sub-1:30 this year.  The bike course is a loop this year, instead of an out-and-back, however there is a big hill at the end of the course... so that makes things a bit different.  I feel like I am stronger as far as my running goes, so if I take off time anywhere, it will likely be there.  

In addition to these races, I am also doing the Ross Fit relay for the third year in a row (swim leg again--I do love swimming at Antrim!), as well as the Ohio 70.3 relay (swim leg).  I still wonder if I am making the best decision in skipping doing the 70.3 myself for the third year in a row.  I am so proud each time that I finish this race... but I honestly have zero interest in competing in it again.  It isn't the training... it's the race.  And it's not the swim or the bike.  Doing a half-marathon in the awful afternoon sun that is bound to happen in Ohio in July does not sound like my idea of fun.  Hence, my idea to do the relay.  

And, of course, there is that tiny little thing called an early-fall marathon that I have decided to partake in this year.  I've pretty much settled on the Erie Marathon (9/7), based on the course and the proximity.  I'm excited to report that speed work has already begun... nothing crazy, just a few miles at tempo pace for the past couple of weeks.  But when you haven't done any real speed work in months... yes, this is  cause for a celebration!   I am still worried about how I am going to mesh triathlon training with marathon training... and not JUST marathon training, but training for a BQ time.  My coach feels confident we can do it, though, so I am just going to hang on for the ride!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Glass City Marathon Race Recap (4/22/18)

Let's begin with a Jeopardy question, shall we?  

For 500 points:  The most difficult marathon that I have competed in thus far.

Answer: What is the Glass City 2018 marathon?

BINGO!  I bet most of you got that one right, since a) only my friends read this blog, and b) why else would I start a recap blog about the race with that question?!

Time for the nitty, gritty details that my friends appear to enjoy hearing about, starting with the day before the race. Actually, I will rewind to a couple of weeks before the race.  I ran the Xenia half-marathon, and was feeling pretty darn confident.  My overall pace (8:49) felt relatively easy, and I was excited to see how this translated to my marathon.  Following Xenia, I felt less than great for the first week of taper, which is typical for me.  Also, my quads felt pretty tight, especially in the days leading up to Glass City.  I rolled them frequently, saw my chiropractor for some deep tissue work, and had a "flushing massage" with my massage therapist.  Nothing really helped.  My left quad especially was worrisome to me... not painful, and running didn't both it.  It was just... tight.  I decided to wear my quad/hamstring compression sleeve for the 48 hours leading up to the race, and it definitely helped!  My body does love compression :)  

I was ever-so-excited to have my best friend Tamara join me for the trip up to Toledo.  We hadn't had a chance to chat much since her ah-maz-ing Boston marathon on Monday, so it was a jabber-filled two hour car ride!  We didn't leave until after 3:00, so I had Allison pick up my bib at the expo (which closed at 4:00).  Tamara and I stopped at her parents' house (where we'd be sleeping that night), and then headed to Mancy's, our favorite pre-race Toledo eatery.  Allison, her fiance Donny, Amy, and her husband Robert met us there, and we had a great time chatting and eating.  I was not super hungry for my pasta meal, but boy did I eat a lot of bread!  I ended up also going to the restroom no less than 4 times while we were there... pre-race hydration = on point!

Dinner selfie <3 Note Tamara's wine glass.  Being a cheerleader has its perks!

Tamara and I headed back to her parents' house after dinner, where we enjoyed a bit of conversation + cupcakes with her parents and their friends.  I set out my outfit and race necessities, took my Melatonin, and turned in at around 9:45 PM.  I could immediately tell that it was going to be a long night.  My mind wasn't racing or anything... I just didn't feel super sleepy.  I tossed and turned until around 11:15, when I got up and got some water.  It was close to midnight the last time I checked the clock, and my eyes snapped open at 4:30 AM.  4.5 hours of sleep is not an acceptable amount for me, ever, but especially not the night before a race.  I didn't really worry about it too much, though, as most people say the amount of sleep the night before a race isn't as important as TWO nights before (when I'd gotten over 8 hours).  My alarm wasn't set to go off until 5:15 AM, so I stared at the wall until 5:00 when I couldn't wait any longer.  I got up and started getting dressed.  I swear, getting ready for a marathon is like getting ready for prom!  All of the layers (race clothes, throw-away clothes), fuel belt, lubing up with Aquaphor, etc. etc. etc.  It takes awhile!

Tamara picked my outfit out... my signature PINK!!!
I crept downstairs to eat my bagel and banana, and then finished my pre-race preparations (including a successful bathroom mission LOL!) while Tamara ate her own breakfast.  We were out the door by 5:48 AM, right on schedule.  Awesome thing #1,085 about Tamara: we both like to be early for our big races!  She knew how important this race was to me, and was prepared to do anything in her power to help me get there.  We headed toward the race start and were parked about a quarter-mile from the start by 6:15 or so.  I quickly decided that I needed to visit the porta-potties, so we headed over to the starting area, where we joined thousands of other runners.  I did my dynamic stretches, overall feeling good.  Nothing was bothering me... my quad felt good after the compression sleeve for the past 48 hours... nerves were high but that was a good thing!  Time to turn the butterflies into positive energy.  I knew I'd be fine once the race started.  

At 6:45 we headed over to the corrals, trying to hook up with Allison and Amy.  I ducked into the "C" Corral at 6:50, and just after that Allison and Amy found Tamara.  They hurried over to where I was waiting for the race to begin.  Tamara had been worried that I was going to be running alone, since we hadn't found the others, and I acted like I didn't care, but I was secretly overjoyed when they arrived.  I didn't bring any music, and 26.2 miles was a long way!  

The three of us had discussed our race at dinner the night before.  We were going to start together, at around an 8:55-9:00 pace, and see how things went from there.  I was pretty sure that Amy wouldn't be with us for too long, as she was running the half and would likely push the pace a bit more.  The first mile was a cluster--sooooo many people, and within a quarter-mile, there were WALKERS!   A huge pet peeve of mine is people starting in the wrong corral.  "C" Corral was for marathoners from 3:45-4:10, and half marathoners from 2:00-2:20.  One, I thought this was dumb (a 3:45 marathon in no way correlates to a 2-hour half), and two, no one should be walking in the front of this corral... at least not a quarter-mile into the race!  Okay, rant done.

Due to the aforementioned cluster of a start, our first mile was relatively slow (9:13).  We had to do quite a bit of weaving in and out to find an open area where our bodies could happily run, and that took approximately 0.95 miles (no joke, I looked at my watch to see when it happened).  Shortly thereafter, Amy asked me to start talking, as she'd noticed already that I wasn't saying much.  Typically on our runs, I am a chatterbox.  I had already realized that this race wasn't going to be the happy-happy-joy-joy one that I was hoping for.  Our pace, which should've felt easy, definitely did not. I wasn't sure what was wrong, but I told her that I was "conserving energy for the marathon" or something like that... which was basically true.  I was scared to death that if I started to talk, I would waste energy that later on I would sorely need.    

Miles two, three and four (8:55, 8:54, 8:54) ticked off pretty quickly.  I held Allison and myself in check after Amy took off shortly after the 5K mark.  Our pacing was pretty much spot on.  The weather was perfect.  Everything was going swimmingly, at least on paper.  The only problem: I felt "off".  I couldn't pinpoint the problem, but for some reason, running felt hard.  Don't laugh, I know that it's a marathon and it's SUPPOSED to be hard.  But not at mile 4.  I found myself looking forward to my first gel at mile 5.5.  "Remember," I said to myself, "Tamara told you that she felt so much better at Boston after her first gel."  I smiled when we saw Tamara and Donny cheering for the first time at mile 4ish, and I smiled again when I pulled an apple cinnamon Huma gel from my fuel pouch a mile later--my favorite!  It basically tastes like cinnamon applesauce.  I looked forward to the surge that fueling gives me... and it never came. Mile 5 was 8:53, mile 6 was 8:54.  At least our pacing was good...

Mile 4 (happy to see Tamara!)
Allison and I continued moving forward, the miles passing by on my watch.  I kept my focus on everything positive... the other runners, the gorgeous weather, the friend by my side, the posters that those cheering us on had made.  Still, though, as I got to mile 7, I found myself thinking, "Only 6 miles til the halfway point."  Oh my goodness... six miles just to get to 13.1.  And then another 13.1 after that.  Never have I ever ran a marathon and said to myself at mile 7, "Only 6 miles til I am halfway."  The first half of a marathon, if you are a) trained correctly and b) running the race correctly, should feel very easy.  Relaxed.  To say I was worried at this point would be an understatement.  I decided to start breaking up the race into chunks. I knew we'd see Tamara and Donnie again at mile 10, so I told myself, 5K til you get to see your friends again!  5K is nothing!  I focused on that small goal, passing the time by chatting with Allison.  I'm not sure if she realized how difficult things were already becoming for me.   I know that Tamara didn't... she said I looked amazing at mile 4 and mile 10!  

Mile 10: I can see the look in my face... it's saying, "Umm... not so sure about this."
The half-marathoners turned off shortly after mile 7.  I was feeling okay at that moment, telling myself that even if we just maintained our current pace, we'd make both my goal (3:50-3:55) and Allison's PR (3:57).  Originally I had hoped that we'd go faster for the second half of the race, but deep within I knew that most likely, that was NOT happening today.  I didn't let myself get down about it... I simply decided I would do what needed to be done to make it through.  

I felt decent for miles 7-14.   There were good moments and bad ones, but more good than bad.  I kept telling myself, just keep this pace.  Just keep this pace.  You don't have to go any faster.  Miles 7-13 were 8:55, 8:52, 8:52, 8:59, 8:58, 8:58, 8:52.  Half marathon split was a 1 high 1:56ish.  I remember thinking to myself at that point, hey if we can just keep it the same, we have a 3:52-3:53.  OK, yes, I can DO this... positive thinking, right?!!

It didn't last for long.  At mile 14, I started to fall back into my mental funk.  12 more miles.  TWELVE.  I decided to go back to my strategy of dividing the race into chunks.  3 more miles til mile 17.  Then 3 more till 20.  Then a 10K to finish.  Allison and I made the unspoken decision to go a bit faster.  Mile 14 was 8:49, mile 15 was 8:50.  I was happy to see Tamara at mile 15.  She told me later that I still looked like I was doing well, smiling, having a great time.  (Damn, I am good at faking this happy runner thing; look at my picture below!)  

BEST RACE PIC EVER!  Mile 15!  I love my smile, my arms, etc.!
Mile 16 was slower, 8:57.  I fueled at 16, this time taking a caffeinated Huma gel.  Lemonade, yum!  I waited for the jolt of caffeine to give me a surge.  Waited... and waited.  Usually caffeinated gels give me a great boost, since I don't drink coffee.  Not so much today.  Mile 17 came, and I settled into my next 5K.  I knew that this would be the roughest stretch of the race.  It would be into the wind (which had picked up during the race--still only about 8-10 mph, though), and had the biggest uphill on the course at mile 19.  I was proud of how well Allison and I powered through this stretch!  Lots of self-talk, lots of encouraging each other.  I asked Allison to repeat the biblical verse she'd told me at the start of the race: "Run with endurance the path which is set before you."  This verse got me through so very many miles, but especially the stretch from 17-21 (8:53, 8:49, 8:48, 8:51, 8:57).  

Mile 20 came and went, and I experienced a bit of a downer when I didn't see Tamara at mile 20 as I had expected.  The race had turned onto the bike path again, and other than this small spectacular section with a bridge and a river, it was not the most interesting part of the race.  I had started to walk the water stops back around mile 16, to make sure I was getting enough hydration.  Allison was still running through them, but I would catch her within 200 yards or so.  However, by 20, this was getting more and more difficult.  When we finally saw Tamara and Donny at mile 21, Allison was about 10 yards ahead of me.  I think that Tamara finally realized that I wasn't doing so hot at this point.  She hopped into the wearing her beautiful blue-and-yellow Boston Unicorn shoes.  She asked me what was wrong.  I told her  that it was my legs, they were just so tired... that I was just so tired, all over.  She encouraged me to do a few high knees or butt kicks to vary my stride, to get my legs loosened up.  I told her I would, wanting to try anything that might help me get out of the rut that I'd been in for most of the race.  When those didn't work, I decided to do a short surge to catch up to Allison again.  When I was within 5 yards of her, I shouted out that I was there, and soon we were side by side again.  I told her that I was struggling and needed her.  She said she'd stay with me, but immediately after hearing her words, I felt guilty.  This was HER race, who was I to tell her to slow down?!   I told her to go, and she immediately said no, that best friends were more important than PRs.  At that point, we agreed to stick together till mile 25, and then she'd go on and finish ahead of me if she felt good AND if I was still okay with it.  I was so grateful to have her by my side, and worked hard to stick with her.  Mile 22 was an 8:46, so clearly I was pushing it a bit in order to be with my friend.

At the water stop at mile 23, I heard the volunteers yelling out "water first, Gatorade second!", just like at all of the stops.  Gatorade was the one thing in my arsenal that I hadn't tried yet.  Maybe I needed some electrolytes, I thought to myself!  I slowed down and walked through the stop, sipping on the cup of lemon-lime Gatorade.  I watched Allison continue on, and when I started running again, I realized that I most likely wasn't going to see my friend again til the finish.  I was happy for her, that she felt great and was going to have a kick-ass PR.  As for me... I started to do the dreaded countdown.  2.9 miles to the finish.  2.8.  2.7.  Every tenth seemed to last years.  I focused on the runners around me, passing people when I could, reminding myself to be grateful that I was strong enough to finish this race.  1.9.  1.8.  1.7.  God, this trail is never ending.  1.3.  1.2.  1.1.  I can't wait to say "Less than a mile!"  We finally turned off the trail and headed towards the stadium.  Praying with every step that my body would not give out on me, I covered the ground the best I could.  Only when I was within a quarter-mile of the stadium did I finally tell my arms to GO.  Churning my arms had the effect of forcing my legs to go faster, so I was actually able to sprint into the stadium and through the finish line.  I don't think I could have done it for more than that quarter-mile, that's for sure!  Miles 23-26.2 were 8:58, 9:11, 9:10, 9:12.  The final 5K was by far my slowest of the race.  I was able to go an 8:16 pace for the last 0.3 into the finish, though!

Thanks to Brooke for taking great finish-line pics of me!
As usual for me, I near-collapsed into the arms of one of the medical volunteers at the finish.  I am typically pretty woozy after a race, and this one was no different.  He helped me get my mylar blanket, medal and some water, and once he was convinced that I wouldn't pass out, he sent me on my way to find my friends.  I almost immediately ran into Tamara, overjoyed to see her face.  I WAS SO HAPPY TO BE FINISHED!  She led me to Donny and Allison, who was sprawled on the ground nearby.  We hugged and staggered to the post-race party area, where we got food (banana, granola bar, pasta, pizza, cookie) and settled down to rehash the race with Donny and Tamara.  It was fun to see a few of our MRTT friends Betty and Brooke, but mostly I was just happy to sit down and not move!  I was annoyed with myself at first when I saw 3:55:01 on my watch, but Allison checked my results on one of the computers and it said 3:54:59--those two seconds made me immensely happier LOL!  She herself had smashed her old PR by almost 5 minutes; I was so freaking proud of her!!!

Yay for a huge PR for Allison!  The medals are super cool--the runner moves!
After a bit, we said our goodbyes and headed back to our cars.  Tamara and I stopped back at her parents so I could get a shower before we went back to Westerville.  Once I was in the shower, I gave myself full permission to cry.  I really felt like I needed to.  The mental battles that I had fought that day had left me on an emotional edge that was hard to describe.  However, as the warm water ran over my tired muscles, I realized something:  I had left every single bit of myself on that course.  Not only physically (which I typically do in a race), but mentally as well.  I knew that I couldn't have done any better on that day than I had done.  There wasn't a single thing I could have, or would have, done differently to make myself go faster.  Therefore, no tears fell from my eyes.  A grateful feeling spread through my bones.   

My friends who messaged me after the race sent words of congratulations, and most were confused by my Facebook post relaying the difficulties I'd experienced throughout the marathon.  "But look at the pictures, you look amazing!  You look so happy!  You made your goal!"  Yes, yes, and yes.  Those pictures, that time, they are not the true story of this race, though.  The true story of the race is this:  I ran 26.2 miles on a day when running was not my friend.  All runners have bad runs, when your easy pace feels hard (or, as Shalane Flanagan said after her 9th place Boston Marathon finish a few years ago, "It was a bad day at the office").  Fortunately for most of us, those don't usually happen on race day.  But it did for me.  What I didn't do is let the race beat me.  I persevered... because that is what I do.  

I was almost happy when I looked over my heart rate data over the course of the race and saw that it completely justified how bad I was feeling.  Just two weeks ago, at Xenia, I ran an 8:49 overall pace with negative splits, with an average heart rate of 151.  Training HR pace is 140-150 for me, so a 151 meant that I was barely even working above my normal easy run effort.  At Glass City, my overall pace was 8:56 (that includes those final slower 3 miles), with an average heart rate of 165.  My heart rate soared into the 170's for the final 5K of the marathon, even as my pace slowed.  From the start, it was higher than it was at Xenia.  Again, it was just justification, physical proof that my body was working super hard to accomplish what it did.  

Now that it has been a few days, I can look back on the marathon with less disappointment and more pride.  Pride that I finished, that I accomplished my time goal, that I didn't let my physical and mental state get the better of me.  My take-away from this race: I am stronger than I knew!

Prior to the race, it was difficult for me to accept that a BQ wasn't going to happen.  Even before race week arrived, I was already day-dreaming about a possible September race, to see if perhaps, just perhaps, I could finally achieve my dream.  I spoke with my coach at length on Tuesday about the race, as well as the upcoming summer.  Here's what we've lined up:

Triathlons: Central Ohio Sprint (June 10), Mingoman Olympic (June 24), HFP Caesar Creek Olympic (July 8), with the hope of qualifying at one of these races for USAT Olympic Nationals on August 12. I need to get top 3 overall, or win my age group to do so.  Back-up plan in the event I don't go to Nationals: maybe do a 5K swim on August 19.  Other thoughts: I may swim on relays at the Ross Fit (July 22) and at Ohio 70.3 (July 29).   

Running:  We are looking at either the Erie Marathon (September 9) or the Air Force Marathon (September 15) as possible races for me to run to qualify for Boston.  I am also looking at the Last Chance BQ.2 Chicagoland Marathon (September 8) or The Huntsville Marathon in Utah (September 15).  The latter of the two is interesting in that it offers a BQ or your money back!  Both Chicagoland and Utah are "qualifying" races, where you need to be within 10 minutes of your BQ standard to run it the race.  Guess what... my 3:54:59 puts me at 9:59 from my 3:45:00 cut!  

Lots of decisions to make, and lots of training to get done.  My muscles have recovered from my race, and after three days of zero exercise other than walking, I am planning on getting back in the pool tomorrow, and then go for a nice easy short run on Friday with my best running friends.  Needless to say, I am ready for the next phase of training to begin!!!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Review/Recap/Review--the great trifecta!

My poor blog, I've been so neglectful!  Life, as always, is crazy, and gets in the way of blogging.  Someday I am sure I will find the time to fit it in on a regular basis.  Until then, you'll have to be happy with the combination entries such as this one.  I'm going to review (this training cycle), recap (today's race) and preview (my race in two weeks)!  No pictures this time--I have limited time to get this blog done and want to enjoy the final hours of my spring break!

After the Indianapolis Monumental marathon in November, I blogged that I had decided on my spring goal: A BQ marathon.  So, this winter has been all about building up my mileage while attempting to stay injury-free.  And I ALMOST did it.  Training has been going pretty darn well!  I have been able to up my miles, continue to bike a couple of times a week and swim once a week, and do strength (Body Pump class) a couple of times a week.  I had one tiny blip a couple of weeks ago, when I had some soreness in my left foot.  Fortunately, I was able to will it away with ice, compression, and an extra day of rest.  The one thing that didn't happen this training cycle that I'd hoped would was the addition of speed work.  My coach had me doing intervals once a week (where I would run short bursts of speed, 60-90 seconds, within a run), but that ended after my tweaky foot thing.  And if I'm being honest with myself, it wasn't enough speed to warrant an attempt at a BQ.  I have confidence in myself, but I also know that in order for me to be able to run a marathon at an 8:25-ish pace, I need to have some faster miles in my training.  I'm not giving any excuses... just stating the obvious, and despite a pretty solid season of training, I am obviously not ready to run a sub-3:45 marathon right now.  

A few months ago, my friend Emily mentioned that she'd like to run a sub-2 half marathon this spring. I offered to pace her at the Xenia half, the same race I helped my friend Jamie PR at four years ago!  Unfortunately, Emily has been injured, so the pacing gig was cancelled.  I had registered for the race when it was super-cheap back in December, though, so I still wanted to do it.  My friend Katie was running the full, so I figured, why not tag along with her for the first 7 miles, til the marathoners split off?  We both loved the idea, and even better, our friend Amy decided to sign up at the last minute and join us.

Katie wanted to run the first several miles at around an 8:50-9:00/mile pace.  My coach agreed that this was a good, solid pace for me to try.  I was a little nervous, as I really don't ever run this pace.  My runs all pretty much stay in the 9:10-9:30 range.  Occasionally I dip into the high 8's, but it's rare.  Turns out I had nothing at all to worry about :)  

Amy and I rode together to the race.  Xenia is about 1 hr 15 min from my house, so we left Westerville right before 6 AM with plenty of time to get there.  The race is small, but well-organized.  It's based at the Xenia YMCA. We grabbed our bibs, and I stood in the uber-long bathroom line.   It was super cold out (the real-feel was sub-20!), so it was nice to have the indoor facility!  I met Amy back at the car where we stayed toasty warm until it was time to race.  The race started right on time without a hitch!  We were unable to find Katie, but she found us about 3 miles into the race.  That gave us a nice little 4 mile stretch to chat.  It felt like a normal training run!   The first 5ish miles of the race are the most hilly, at least compared to our usual running routes, but they're not TOO awful.  I fueled once, at mile 7, just as Katie was leaving us.  Amy and I spent the rest of the race talking about whatever random stuff we usually talk about during our runs.  I had to keep her in check a few times, as the goal was to NOT go faster than 8:45.  I accomplished this until the final mile, when she decided we should just go with the downhill that the course was giving us LOL!  My final time was a 1:55:51.  My pre-race goal was 1:55-1:58, with an average heart rate in the low 150's.  It ended up being a 151--woo hoo!  More than anything, I needed some confidence for my marathon in two weeks, and this race gave that to me.  The best part about Xenia: the post-race food!  Pizza, salad, cans of pop, and delicious cookies.  YAY!  Amy and I left after our meal, as we both had busy days back at home ahead of us.  

Quick wardrobe notes for the future:  a real-feel in the high-teens/low-20's warrants a lot of calculation!  I ended up with: tights (not fleece lined), a short-sleeve shirt under a long-sleeved half-zip (thin tech material), gloves and an ear warmer.  I was cold at the start, but ended up very happy with my decisions!

So... in two weeks, I have a marathon.  Back to Glass City I go!  I actually just registered for it a few days ago!  I swear, I have PTSD over registering for races and not getting to run in them, especially with this race (Glass City).  I talked to my coach last week about the plans for this race.  I wondered if I was even ready for a marathon, given the amount of training that I'd done, but he said he felt I was.  The big question: how fast would I want to go?  I proposed starting out at around an 8:50-9:00 pace, and then, at the half, seeing how I felt... going faster if I was feeling it, maintaining my pace if not.  He thought it was a great idea, and said using Xenia as a barometer would be a good plan.  

Well, if Xenia was my barometer, I am feeling pretty good about the race plan we've laid out.  Still very nervous... it's one thing to run 13 miles at an 8:50 pace.  It's a completely different thing to run 26 miles at that pace!  If I can hold it, though, I will end up with a very respectable 3:51ish.  I would be happy with that!  It's not the 3:41 that I am dreaming of, but it's still a solid time.  And... it sets me up for another marathon in the near future. (Just a little bit of foreshadowing there LOL!)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

How to train through the Ohio winter

The subtitle for this blog ought to be, "You are doing HOW MANY WORKOUTS?!!", because that's the response I get from fellow runners when I tell them my weekly schedule.  

Ohio has been slammed so far this winter with severe weather.  From extremely low temperatures (wind chill bringing the temps down to -15 and colder) to ice and snow storms, we are definitely experiencing Mother Nature's wrath after two relatively mild winters.  As a teacher, I am totally loving it (we've already had two snow days and one early release!).  As an athlete, I admit that it can be less than ideal for training purposes.

Note: this is NOT how our local running paths have looked!
Thus, the inspiration for this blog.  I figured I'd outline exactly what I've been doing so that others can see that it's possible to a) train for a triathlon despite the cold weather, and b) fit in multiple workouts while still being a working mom.  You just have to be a bit creative at times!  

Here is what last week's training week looked like:

Monday--rest day.  Mondays are ALWAYS rest days.  I honor them 100%.  No lifting, no exercising, no nothing. (Although yesterday I did shovel twice... sometimes life gets in the way even of resting!)  Last Monday was a "cold day", meaning we had no school due to insanely frigid temperatures.  So I spent the day hanging out with my kiddos.  

Tuesday--AM workout: 60 minute run at 5 AM.  It was still pretty cold out, but not cold enough for another snow day, so my friends and I opted for the treadmills at the gym.  I love treadmill dates with friends.  Katie had speed work to do, and had we been outside, I never would've been able to keep up with her (currently my coach has me doing all of my runs at an easy pace).  However, the treadmill makes it totally possible.  PM workout: 40 minutes on the bike trainer.  Tuesday nights are busy ones in our house (my 12 year old has basketball practice, and his dad is one of the coaches, and my 10 year old has swim team practice--and both practices are at the same time).  I am lucky that I have a trainer for my tri bike, and can fit in a ride between swim team drop-off and pick-up.

Wednesday--AM workout: 45 minute Body Pump class.  I love that my gym offers a 5:15 AM Body Pump class.  I love that typically the people who come on Wednesdays are the "regulars".  I know the teacher and I am comfortable with her.  She pushes me to do better, and I like that!  It's an "express" class, so only 45 minutes long, but we still are able to fit in all of the body parts with the combination tracks for biceps/triceps and shoulders/lunges.  It's such a fast class that it really gets my heart rate up as well--bonus!  The gym has nice showers so I am able to get ready there and go straight to work after class.  PM workout: 40 minute run.  Occasionally Rarely, I can find someone to join me before Body Pump to fit in a short run.  As my minutes of running have increased over the past several weeks, though, it's been harder to fit in running before class, so I've had to do it in the evening on the treadmill at the gym.  When I looked at the weather forecast earlier in the week, though, I realized that Wednesday afternoon would be an amazingly warm afternoon (45 degrees in January!), and asked my mom if she could do the after-school pickup for me so that I could fit in my 40 minutes outside right after work (3:15 PM).  It was SOOOOO beautiful!  I saw four other runners, all who were exuding the same aura of excitement/happiness/gratitude that I knew I myself had going on.  

These are NOT the people I saw... just a random stock photo of happy runners :)

Thursday--AM workout: swim practice.  I swim every Thursday morning at 5:45 AM--as long as school is in session, at least. I workout with a Master's swim team that practices only a few minutes away from the school where I work.  It's super convenient as I can shower after practice and head straight to work.  There are others who practice with the team multiple times per week, which I have done in the past, but right now once a week works well for me.  I am able to fit in 45 minutes of swimming time before I have to get ready for work, which typically amounts to 1800-2200 yards, depending on what we're doing that day.  PM workout: This was supposed to be a spin class, but after two days of double workouts, I was just not feeling it.  I knew that I had my long run scheduled for the next day, and I knew that I could fit in a spin class on Saturday. So, I listened to my body, canceled my reservations for class, and spent the evening chilling with my family.

Friday--AM workout: 90 minute run.  With a snowstorm predicted for Friday afternoon into Saturday, my friends and I all decided it would be best to do our long runs before work on Friday.  For me, this meant starting at 4 AM.  Yep, 4 AM.  It's not super fun, but sometimes it's necessary.  Plus, we were greeted with tank-top-and-shorts weather-- it was over 50 degrees out!  (No PM workout... Friday nights are for pizza!)

Saturday--AM workouts: 40 minute spin class + 60 minute Body Pump class.  I love sleeping in until after 8 AM on Saturdays, and then fitting in two tough classes at the gym.  The spin class backs right up to the Body Pump class, so I sneak out 5 minutes early to get my weights set for Body Pump.  I have been able to go to Body Pump twice a week 90% of the time for the past two months, and I truly feel it is helping with my overall conditioning and strength.  

Sunday--AM workout: 50 minute run.  Today was supposed to be Friday's long run, but things were flip-flopped due to weather.  It was pretty cold out (with the wind chill, it was -1 for the real-feel temperature), but my BRF and I decided to brave the chill as it was a sunny Sunday morning.  Honestly, we dressed perfectly and the temperatures were just fine!  The roads weren't bad, either--at least once we got out of my subdivision. (No PM workout... Sunday afternoons and evenings are for grading, lesson planning, and laundry!)

And there you have it!  Nine workouts in six days (three days of "doubles").  Four runs (240 minutes total--this was just over 26 miles if you're curious), one swim, two Body Pump classes, one spin class, and one bike trainer ride.  I work full time as a teacher, and I have four kids who are pretty active themselves in sports and other activities.  Sometimes I have to be creative (e.g. fit in a workout at the gym while my daughter is at her girl scout meeting down the street), but I find that as long as I write it down, I feel committed to it.  Knowing friends will be there motivates me as well, but I've done more than my fair share of solo treadmill runs lately, so I've had to draw more motivation from within.

A few take-away key points:

1) Look at the weather forecast early in the week.  Be prepared to move workouts around based on what you see predicted.

2) It's okay to cancel/skip a workout.  It's not great to get into this habit, but listening to your body is super important.

3) It's MUCH easier to convince yourself to do workouts if you have friends who are doing them with you.  This goes for running, lifting, anything!

4) If you are super busy and have kids who are active themselves, you might need to get creative with your scheduling.  It's taken me time to figure out when to fit in things like swimming and spin class.  Knowing how important they are to my training, I persevered until I found times that worked with my life.  

5) Rest days need to happen!  Plan them and keep them in the schedule.  I used to skip my rest days when fun runs would pop up.  This definitely is a contributing factor to my injuries, so while I am willing to move my rest day with advance notice, I will continue to honor their importance in my training schedule.

I hope this blog helps others realize that it truly is possible to train through the long, cold Ohio winters!