Am I Ready?

It’s the big question when an event is a week away. It’s the question people ask me and it’s the question I ask myself. I only missed one run in 14 weeks, and over the last few weeks I’ve maybe missed 2 miles overall. It’s the closest I have EVER stuck to a training plan. I haven’t had as many strong long runs as I would have liked, but most of my weekday miles have felt good.

I was reading Mark Remy’s article in Runners World last night in which he reflects on what he’s learned about running over the past 20 years. The two things that stand out are that there is no way to predict what will happen on race day, and if you wait until you need a trip to the port o potty, it’s too late.

The first is something I’ve said over and over to myself and to others. There are so many variables in the form of things we can’t control. It can be way hotter, or colder, or wetter, or windier than any weather we have trained in. We can start out too fast, or too slow, or tweak something, the dreaded IT Band can crash the party, we can randomly get blisters, or have GI issues, etc. We can also have all of the stars align and have an amazing run.

The potty reference made me laugh, especially with the additional note on the very bottom of the page that if you learn only one thing from the column, learn this. It’s good to laugh.

I’m already stalking the weather. I’m already starting to lay out stuff to pack…clothing, nutrition, both pairs of sneakers, body glide, water bottle, etc. I will have way more stuff shoved in my bag than necessary, but I want to have race day options depending on what the weather actually is that morning.

?

I am definitely looking forward to a taper week of fewer miles in order to rest up. I guess the answer to the big question is, yes.

Sneaker and Training Update

It is Week 12 of Half Marathon Training. I think that I am ready for the Half now, that a 12 week plan might be better. I did miss one run this cycle, and I’ve adjusted 2 or 3 to be slightly shorter or longer. I also switched last Sunday’s 10 miler with this Sunday’s 6 miler. I felt that a 3 week taper for a half was too long, so I actually did 6.7 last Sunday.

The weather has not been especially cooperative with wind and near record cold temps. Saturday night’s low will be close to 20 with the high on Sunday barely reaching 40. Yesterday morning our outdoor thermometer showed 17.9. I think Mother Nature is taking the April Fool’s prankster stuff too the extreme at this point.

Both of my running partners are now out with injuries. I will be on my own for the race. Certainly, it will not be the first time I’ve run solo on race day, as I’ve done two full marathons on my own and numerous half events.

Remember this picture?

Lonely at the back

I am sad though that they are both hurting and I miss them on the training runs.

Way back, I wrote a post about the Hoka One One Clifton 2s and the Odysseys. I sent them both back. I will try the Clifton 3s when they come out in the fall as a Hoka rep emailed with information that the 3s will be going back much closer to the original Clifton design. But since sending the Oddyseys back, I tried the Altra Paradigm, which I liked for the running, but not the walking part of my intervals. The Altra Paradigm is a zero drop shoe and unfortunately, it made me feel almost like I was falling on my heel during my walks.

So, I have since gone back to the Saucony Triumph, which is what I wore before the Hokas. The Hoka Cliftons are a 5mm drop from heel to toe, the Saucony Triumph ISO 2s have an 8mm drop. I really love the feel of the sneaker, the padding/padded tongue is pretty awesome. The fit is great, though I did decide to go with and extra half size larger than I had previously worn.

h and s sneaks

The Triumph definitely has less padding under the ball of the foot, but so far it seems to be working out. You wouldn’t think that the extra 3mm would make a difference in gait, but I do have to watch that I’m not catching my heels each step.

sneaks side view

I divided a few runs, so as to wear each pair for some of the miles. I have run a 5 miler and a 6 miler in just the Triumphs. I think I might wear the Triumphs for the 10 miler this weekend. Then I will need to decide which pair to run in for the Half. You can see how battered the Cliftons are, truly my most favorite pair of sneakers EVER. Might need them as a security blanket on race day. I’ll keep you posted on the decision.

Quick fun fact, from January-March I logged 178.3 miles. Pretty sure that is a record setting first quarter for me.

 

A Stunning Saturday

It was 22.8 degrees when I woke up yesterday and it felt COLD. We spent the early half of the morning cleaning, working on the bathroom, doing the glamorous things that dog owners do (cleaning the yard). We then drove almost an hour to visit a small running store I read about online because, although I’ve tried not to whine about it, I’m still looking for new sneakers that will work for me. It turns out the shop had closed, but luckily a new one opened in the same location. The owners were very nice and took time to chat and tried hard to help. I will be doing a mile or two on the treadmill tomorrow to try out the new pick and I will report back. Today I’ll be in the beat up Cliftons for a 9 miler.

By the time we got home, the sky was a beautiful blue, it was super sunny but the air was cool. It was an absolutely stunning Saturday afternoon, just my favorite weather. The sky made a beautiful backdrop for the blossoms on our apricot trees. Hopefully, the beautiful blossoms will lead to many apricots.

apricot blossoms

Fargo loves loves loves to hang outside with us. I caught him in a rare, quiet moment.

fargo tree

I started the fun job of pulling staples out of the old sections of fence so that we can reuse the coated wire for the new fence. You can see that the wood had really disintegrated in places. This is partly because I insisted on using untreated wood near the place where we grow food. It did last way longer than we anticipated, so that was nice.

broken fence

And, to top the day off, I tried a new recipe. I had almost all of the ingredients (we are sorely in need of a trip to the grocery store) for 5 Ingredient Granola Bars. I did have to substitute cashews in for almonds. The recipe says you can add other ingredients, so I also included dried cranberries and some mini dark chocolate chips.

The dates I had this time were much more moist than the last batch, which was exactly how they needed to be for this.

dates

I opted to toast the oats, though I’m not sure if it made a huge difference in texture or taste. Here they are, with the rest, ready for the pb and honey.

dry granola

I did my best to press it all down as tightly packed as possible. It mostly held together when I took it out of the glass dish.

granola bar slab

I think I will try it without the cranberries next time. For some reason, even though I didn’t really put that many in, the cranberries seemed to overwhelm the flavor of everything else for me. Hubby had no complaints 🙂

granola bars

 

Week 10

Week 10 is over, only 4 more weeks to go. Apparently Week 10 is when I get weary. I did a long run two weeks ago on Sunday and then last week’s long run on Saturday. That meant a 30 mile week, which was a lot. Maybe that day made a difference, or maybe Week 10 is just when I get tired if I really stick to a training plan. Which I did. Until today.

I have had a twinge in my left achilles for a few days. It’s nothing major or painful, just a twinge now and again, but it’s making me a bit nervous. The twinge, in addition to the weariness led me to shorten this morning’s run. I only cut off 1.4 miles of a 5 mile run, but in doing so, I broke the training plan streak.

Rationally, I know it means nothing overall in terms of race day. And really, with what is going on in the world and in the lives of some of my friends, it means even less than nothing. I knew before I got on the treadmill this morning that I was going to shorten the run and I knew it would bother me, and it’s still bothering me. I always tell people to “listen to your body,” and that’s what I did. Apparently listening to your body is easier said than done.

Week 10 also brought some nice weather. I had a decent 4 miler outside on Wednesday and then Fargo and I took advantage of the sun and warmth to hang outside and play (and do some weeding).

fargo running

Then the boys did some playing.

t fargo playing

t fargo bumper

Hoping for a nice long run on Sunday and that next week, the miles (and the body) feel better.

 

Celebrating Spring With Seed Starting

Yesterday I got the garden seeds started. There are only 2 trays this year as we are determined to have fewer plants to tend in order to focus on projects on the to-do list. Fewer tomatoes this year, no brussels sprouts or cabbage or beans or peas, etc. We are planning a smaller herb/lettuce garden and then tomatoes, peppers (lots of those for canning), cucumbers, sweet potatoes and winter squash.

seeds

I started four types of peppers, two types of tomatoes, and a random assortment of broccoli seeds from a “broccoli blend” packet.

seed starts

Hubby got the shelves and the lights set up. This will be their home for the next 2+ months.

I logged the first double digit mile run yesterday since MCM training last Fall. We ran a day early because the weather predictions for today were pretty dicey. The weather today, as it turns out, is fine…cold, but dry. But it was a reasonably good 10 miler, with great company, quite a few hills (walked the largest one), a few longer waits at traffic lights, lost gloves (but found them later) and a little sun here and there. Nine weeks of training completed!

When to Run?

I did not run this morning, which led me to feel a little philosophical about the question that enters my mind on an almost daily basis. It would probably be easier if I just made a sweeping decision that I would run at the same time every darn day there are miles on the calendar. But that would be too easy. If I did decide on the same time every day, it would be early mornings.

Every morning I have plans to run, I wake up thinking there is no way the body will get on the treadmill, let alone get on the treadmill, get the miles done and get to work on time. After coffee, the body (and mind) is better able to accomplish the task and the miles can be checked off the list and I start the day feeling like I’m ahead of the game.

I am a self proclaimed “weather weenie.” If I were to plan every run in the mornings, they would all be on the treadmill. I don’t run in the dark, I don’t run in the dark and/or rain, I don’t run in the dark and/or rain, and/or snow, and/or wind (I hate wind). I will tolerate a little bit of some of this for long runs, if I have company, in order to avoid doing much more than 7 miles on the treadmill. I think my record treadmill long run is 9 miles.

In order to take advantage of rare instances of nice running weather, sometimes I have to bump the run to the afternoon. This takes planning, due to Fargo The Terrible being ready to get into some serious trouble after being in the crate for work hours. It also takes some umphf because it’s often hard to get moving again once work is done. But it mixes things up, and sometimes that’s a good thing.

Today is one of the days I decided not to run in the morning. I’ve already talked to hubby about Fargo. I’ve already started thinking about everything I’ll need to pack in order to run after work before heading home. I’ve already started working on ways to motivate myself out the door for the miles after work.

I know that once I get going, I will appreciate that I am outdoors, running, watching people and scenery. I just have to keep the running goals in mind. One of those goals is to be getting to this track, which is the finish for the upcoming half (the pic is from one of the previous times I participated in this Half), and see a PR time on the clock.

Finish for Half

 

A Productive Weekend

Although the “to do” list never gets any shorter, there were quite a few items that got scratched off this weekend. The weather on Saturday was amazing. I vote for Saturday’s weather all winter long. A good number of perennial beds are raked/cleaned out.

Also, the fence is down:

fence gone

Though I did get a good start on it earlier in the week:

removing fence

Fargo had lots of time outside to play and to relax (and wear himself out!):

fargo relaxing

fargo relax bumper

Yesterday was cold and rainy. It was all indoor list items that were scratched off, and a (very long) time spent at Lowes.

The old, icky bathroom vanity is GONE:

bathroom vanity gone

I tried the pumpkin ricotta cheesecake recipe again. I split the batter up into two pieces of cookware. It still took forever for the batter in the springform pan to cook in the middle. The edges and top still look like they are way overdone. The overdone one seems to be yummier than the one in the pie pan that did not get too brown. I just don’t know.

I completed week 8 of Half Marathon Training. I have logged every mile listed to date. It was a cut back week and I appreciated that, as did my legs. Yesterday’s weather, and the fact that I am a weather weenie, meant a long run on the treadmill. Luckily it was only 7 miles (“only”). There is a lot of crud/illness going around and I am really hoping I can stay healthy and finish off this training cycle strong. Even if I don’t PR, I am proud of the fact that I’ve stuck with it so far and I will be super excited if I can finish the cycle having run every mile in the plan.

To finish off today’s post, here is a hint for an upcoming baking project:

baking project

 

Muffins and Running Mojo

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood, yesterday. Took advantage of the weather with a lunch time run of 4 miles, as per the training plan. Hubby once again kept me company on the bike, this time in shorts and a t-shirt, drastic difference from just two days prior. It was a good run, better than I anticipated after Sunday’s 9 miler. I am sitting here having just finished today’s 4, on the treadmill, but it’s done for the day.

I have no idea what will happen on race day, who does really, but I can say that this is the best I have felt overall with regard to running in a very long time. Maybe it’s even the best I have ever felt. I may have thought I had lost my running mojo in 2015, but if this is what running mojo feels like, I am not certain I ever had it. So, if I tank on race day and there’s no PR, I will try to focus on the way I am feeling about running and the way I hope to continue to feel about running and the way running has made me feel the last few months.

Yesterday, I tried a new muffin recipe. As you may recall, we love peanut butter, so I found this Peanut Butter and Chocolate Muffin recipe. The recipe stated that it would make 8 muffins, but for whatever reason, I got 10 large muffins out of it. It included lots of melted chocolate and when I looked at the batter:

batter

it seemed like a ton of chocolate, so I didn’t put the extra chocolate chips on the top.

I’ve never made anything swirled, so how much mixing is a “quick stir?”

quick stir

When I checked the muffins (and spun them around) with a few minutes left, they did not look done, so I added another minute or two to the cooking time. It seems like even though our oven is dead on in terms of temp (as per Sally’s Baking Addiction’s suggestion, I bought an over thermometer), things take longer to bake.

I was a little bummed when I took them out that the two batters didn’t look as distinctly different as they did in the picture from the recipe.

muffins in tin

But they did look better on the inside.

inside muffin

Very nice flavor, but I erred with the extra baking time. Unfortunately they are pretty dry. Hubby said the chocolate chips on the top would have been a good move, but the dryness and missing chips didn’t stop him from eating them. I’m about to have one as a post run treat/breakfast.

What to do, What to do…

Where we live, one can usually count on Winter at the very least, through March. But, as I mentioned before, this has been one of the more bizarre Winters. Yesterday it was in the upper 60s, the same is predicted for today, and for tomorrow. Next up on the project list was supposed to be the upstairs bathroom, the girls’ bathroom, which needs a serious face-lift. We figured that project would wrap up just about when the weather was right to move to the outdoor “to do” list. Apparently we figured wrong.

Yesterday I cleaned out one of the perennial beds. I also picked up the many larger sticks that fell in the last two wind storms. You can probably imagine how helpful Fargo was with the game of “pick up sticks.” He made sure that not all of the sticks left the yard.

There will definitely be an outside run at lunchtime. Last Tuesday was 5 miles, today is 4, and 4 seems way more reasonable than 5 for some reason. After that, it will be tough to choose the indoor stuff though I am anxious for “demo day” as Fixer Upper calls it, and to try some new recipes and REALLY anxious (NOT) to catch up on the laundry.

Here are some Before pictures of the bathroom. The first shows the floor, which will be replaced, as will the vanity/sink/faucet.

girls' bathroom

No idea why the tape behind the door decided to peel off. It didn’t happen anywhere else, but it certainly needs to be fixed and then the entire bathroom will get painted.

peeling wall tape

A closer look at the vanity. We are not sure why, but whomever originally installed it, decided they would just make it fit. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sink top cut out around the trim.

sink top

But maybe we’ll wait until a less beautiful day to start the bathroom. Fargo will be happier if we opt to spend the afternoon outside (the grass is definitely not this green yet).

fargo bumper

 

A Stronger Long Run

We were on the road this weekend, which meant finding a place for my 9 miler and packing all of my gear. Hubby is nursing a knee injury so volunteered to bring his bike and ride along with me. We found a 5.3 mile loop, which meant including an out and back of about 4 miles at some point. As hard as I am trying to run every mile on the training plan, I am not ready to just throw an entire second loop onto the tally.

What we didn’t anticipate is that it would feel as cold as it did. It was very damp and there was a very chilly breeze. Hubby put up a good front and did the first loop with me, but it was just too cold on the bike, especially since he was going so slow to be with me that he wasn’t working hard enough to generate any body heat for himself.

I really appreciated the miles he did with me though, and by the time we finished the first loop, there were quite a few more people around and I wasn’t feeling uncomfortable about running by myself.

T on bike

It was one of the better long runs I’ve had lately. I kept true to my 5/1 intervals the entire time (except once or twice when I didn’t hear my watch beep, but I cut the walk part short on those). I’m also fairly certain that I had some negative splits in the later miles. That made me super happy.

Behind me in the picture is a sharp turn that leads to a .4 mile uphill. I ran this twice, didn’t stop to walk either time.

M on trail

As hard as the last few miles of my run were last weekend, I was grateful for the last few to feel stronger this weekend. Crazy how I can finish one long run and think, “no way do I have any chance at a PR,” and then the next week my mind allows that there might be a chance.

I was really touched that the hubster went out of his way to support me on this run. We’re still hoping he’ll be able to run the half. He’s kind of irritating in that he could probably go out and run a half tomorrow without a whole lot of training vs me, who can not do that.

Last week was a fairly high mileage week, but this one drops back a little. I think my legs are ready for the lighter mileage.