Friday, October 9, 2015

Time-hopping back a year...

A year ago today, I found out I didn't have a stress fracture. A year ago today, I was probably the most grateful person on the face of the earth.  A year ago today, I was told I could indeed race the Columbus Marathon.  I can still remember the feeling of utter joy as I walked out of Dr. Bright's office at Max Sports.  I called my closest running friends and cried tears of joy as I drove home.  I cautiously trained for the next eight days, praying that everything would fall into place at the race. And for about 15 glorious miles, they did.  I loved that race... until my calves began to seize, and I had to walk several times and (gasp) even completely stop three times to stretch.  Needless to say, it was not exactly the race I had hoped for.  Despite a PR of 12 minutes (3:44:29), I couldn't be happy with the race.  I kept telling myself to be grateful, but all I could think is what might have been.  I surely would have gone fast enough to qualify for Boston in 2016 with a sub-3:40 if I hadn't had those cramps.  

A little over a week ago, I found out that it would have taken a 3:37:32 or faster to run at the Boston Marathon in 2016.  You see, just because a person runs faster than the qualifying standard does not mean that they get to actually run in the race.  The Boston Athletic Association sets the actual standard each year depending on how many people register as well as other mitigating factors.  This must have been a banner year for registrations, because for the past two years it's only taken a time of less than 1:30 under the standard to make it to Boston.  

Oddly enough, it made me happy to hear this.  I wasn't "only four minutes" away from qualifying. I was actually seven minutes.  That's a lot more in the running world.  It would've taken a lot for me to actually hit that standard last year.  Almost the perfect race.  If I would have kept the same pace I was racing at when the cramps started (8:15), I would've gone just over four minutes faster. A 3:40.  Not even fast enough to qualify for Boston, let alone actually race there.  My race plan, of course, was to keep getting faster as I raced.  I mean, that's how I always race.  Who knows if that would've actually happened, but I realize now that I would've needed to go quite a bit faster for those last ten miles or so to even have a chance to make it.  

Why does this all even matter to me?  It just solidifies the fact in my mind that Boston 2016 is not, and was never meant to be, MY RACE.  For whatever reason (maybe because it's my son's 11th birthday?), I was not supposed to be there.  I will happily "stalk" my friends Andrea, Carol, Melissa, Jason, and Amanda, virtually cheering them.  I will show my students live video footage on April 18th, just as I did this past April as I nursed my injury.  

And, hopefully, I will be preparing to run in my third marathon just six days later.  I have written a training plan that begins on December 7th, 20 weeks before the 2016 Glass City Marathon (April 24, 2016).  The plan is conservative by all definitions of the word.  The weekly mileage isn't super high; I have it peaking at 38.  I only have speed workouts planned once a week (alternating track and tempo), with a week of no speedwork at all every third week (coinciding with my dropback weeks). Oh, and the speed doesn't actually start until mid-January (six weeks into training).  My fourth weekday of running (which I plan on adding back in around Thanksgiving) will only be 3-4 miles of running.  I'll be cross- training, of course (boot camp, swimming, and core work... oh and hopefully some yoga, one of my newest loves!).

I contemplated using a pre-written plan this time around.  I scoured the Internet one night, trying to find a plan that would suite me.  I just couldn't find one that spoke to me.  So, as always, I borrowed and stole from various plans that I found.  I am having a few friends take a look at my plan and give me feedback, as I am still not sure it's where it needs to be.  Meanwhile, I am thoroughly enjoying every aspect of my "non-training plan" right now.  Running three days a week, cross-training two or three days a week, and being incredibly grateful each and every time I lace up.  I don't think I will lose that gratitude this time around.  As my friend Jen said to me, I am a changed runner.  Here's hoping it's for the better.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Product review: SL3S compression sleeves

I'm super excited to write my very first product review!  I was asked by SL3S to review their adorable butterfly compression sleeves.  I chose pink--of course--and I can't say enough about how cute they are!  My other compression sleeves are plain black, so I welcomed the color change.  These sleeves also come in azure (blue), violet and teal.

photo from SL3S website

I've used the sleeves a total of three times since I received them: for two runs (6 and 5 miles respectively) and for a boot camp class.  I typically only wear compression sleeves on runs longer than 7-8 miles, but I was anxious to try these out, so I went ahead put them on for my six-mile run with Allison this past Sunday.  As most of you know, I have had the worst luck with my calves.  I've suffered from multiple calf strains/tears over the past year or two, most recently in June.  I've worked with a physical therapist to fix my gait as well as strengthen my calves.  Many people with calf issues like mine like to run in sleeves for the additional support they give you.   Every since I've gotten back into running after my summer injury, I start every run with a fear that I will feel that dreaded "pop" again.  But on Sunday, with the SL3S sleeves on, I felt truly confident every step of the way!  I was able to relax and just enjoy the run, and not think about the "what-if's."  

I wore the sleeves again on Monday night to boot camp. I go to Power Train Fitness in Westerville once or twice a week.  Boot camp seriously kicks my booty each and every time!  The hardest part for me is the jumping.  Squat jumps, split squat jumps, box jumps... I feel like a weakling each and every time I try to jump for any amount of time.  I wondered if wearing compression might help a bit.  I'm happy to report that I definitely felt stronger wearing my sleeves!  This might all be mental, but I'm not one to dismiss anything that makes me feel better.

Finally, this morning I wore the sleeves on my five-mile "donut run" with a big group of mamas from Westerville.  I got a few compliments on how cute they were (even at 5 AM when it's still very dark out!), and I again felt super when I was running with them on.  In fact, I think compression sleeves are going to be a part of my every day running wardrobe from this point forward!  

A few other specifics about the sleeves:

FIT: I requested a size S/M (my calf circumference is 14.5").  This size fit me perfectly.  

FEEL:  I love that these were thin but still offered a ton of support.  My other compression sleeves are a bit thicker, so I tend to get hot when I wear them.  

APPEARANCE: Already discussed this, but they are sooooo cute!

VALUE: These sleeves run at $44.95/pair.  I think that is on par with other sleeves... but if you use the discount code MRTT40, you can get them for 40% off!  That makes them under $27... definitely a steal!  Here is the link to purchase them: 

The only thing I would change about these sleeves is the butterflies... I'd add MORE of them.  They are so freaking cute!  I am planning on getting a pair of the teal ones as well :)

So what's even BETTER than a discount?  How about a free pair of the butterfly compression sleeves or socks?!!  Click below to enter the raffle and win a pair for yourself!  Consider this your reward for reading to the end of my blog ;)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Run for the Health of It race recap (9/7/15)

It occurred to me that it's been four weeks since this race and I have yet to write a recap!  That's what happens when school gets back into session.  The life of a middle school teacher (who also has five kiddos!) doesn't lend itself to blogging as much as I'd like for it to.

This will be a shorter-than-usual race recap, as I have another blog I'm itching to write in the next week or so, and I was super-busy tonight with school work.  But I cannot let this race go by without writing something, as it was actually a very special race for me.  This was my son Joey's very first race!  Joey is ten years old and is a stellar athlete.  He's played soccer for six years now, and this is his third year on a select team.  He also has played flag football and wrestled.  Joey of course has to run for soccer, but he's never ran for more than about two miles straight.  

When I mentioned this summer that this race had wings and Dairy Queen at the finish, Joey's eyes lit up.  The $5 price tag makes MY eyes light up, so I signed us both up.  Joey never really trained for this race, other than his normal 3-4 days a week of soccer practice/games, so I honestly had no clue what to expect from him.  I had a race plan in mind, though.  I told him we were going to take it very easy for the first two miles, and then I would let him slowly build up his speed.  I planned on using the "talk test" with him--as long as he could carry on a conversation with me, I knew he would be fine.  

The race was on Labor Day, and Joey wasn't super happy about leaving our house before 8 AM to get to the start.  He said he wished that it started later, and I had to laugh.  This race has a 9 AM start, which is crazy-late in the running world!  I wanted to get there early to get a parking spot and meet up with my friends.  Amy (who is one of my best friends) and her daughter Teagan (who is a year younger than Joey but has ran a few races before and is also a great athlete) would be meeting us there.  Joey and Teagan get along really well, and we'd planned on sticking together if possible during the race.

Amy and me, pre-race

Just like last year, I was super excited to see so many friends at this race!  Our Mom's Run This Town chapter was well-represested.  


I hung out with Amy and a few other friends while we waited for the race to start, and Joey and Teagan played on the playground.

My Steph
The race started out on the loop across the street from the Westerville Rec Center, with zero shade at first.  Joey did a great job listening to me for the first mile--our split was 11:42 and he was definitely relaxed.  He asked if he could go faster but I was still concerned he'd push himself too hard, so I said no. Amy and Teagan went ahead of us at the start but at around mile 2 we caught up to them and went on ahead, as Teagan was having a rough day.  Our mile 2 split was 11:34... still definitely in cruise control!

He feels good!

After 2 miles, I allowed Joey to push his pace a bit more.  He still was able to talk, but our third mile was quite a bit faster (10:42).  At this point I myself accelerated a bit.  I have to admit, I wanted to see what he could do.  With about a half-mile to go, Joey told me that he was "hitting the wall".  Not really sure where he heard that phrase before, but I had to laugh!  I told him there was no wall in a four-mile race.  Joey definitely couldn't talk any more, so I kept up a steady stream of praise for how awesome he was doing.   And he really was doing super!

Still strong!
With about 0.1 miles to go, I spied a boy who was about Joey's age around 10 yards ahead of us.  I pointed him out to Joey and told him to go get him... and that he did!  My son is definitely a sprinter, and he booked it to the finish line.  His final mile was at a 9:10 pace, but at the end he was going under an 8-minute mile!

Oh yeah, racing into the finish!

The race was short again this year (only 3.74 miles), so his final time of 40:43 is a bit faster than what it would've been if he had actually run 4 miles at his overall pace of 10:53.   Joey was happy to get his Dairy Queen Dilly Bar, but bummed there were no wings this year.  He loved receiving his first medal!  He was tired after the race, but he quickly recovered and enjoyed visiting the different companies that set up tents at this race to give out free things.  The best part: he told me that he'd like to run cross country in middle school.  Music to this mama-runner's ears!  

Proud mama, happy Joey

Joey and I are signed up to run the Ohio State 4-miler together in a few weeks.  I've been wanting to run this race for the past two years, but it hasn't worked out due to other races/training I had planned.  It is going to be super-special to run it with my son, who is a huge Buckeyes fan!  I am planning on pushing him just a bit faster in the first two miles to see what he has in him ;)