While You Were Out

Well friends, this is goodbye for now! Tomorrow is my last day on social media before the month-long hiatus I’ve been talking your ear off about for weeks now. No Facebook. No Instagram. No Strava. No blogging. And no…wait, actually, that’s it, because I’m still somewhat of a social media dummy.

I’m sure you’ll all be so busy with your own summers that you won’t even have time to miss me around here, but I do hope you’ll keep in touch and let me know how your training and stuff is going. I’d be thrilled to get an email (or text if you have my number) from any of you throughout the month so if you’re really needing your Hanna fix, don’t be a strangerūüėČ.

I’d love to say that my month without social media will be JAM PACKED, but after these first two weekends there really isn’t much on the calendar. This weekend, we are going on an impromptu mini-vacation to Louisville for the 4th of July weekend. I’ve never been and, to be honest, it’s not somewhere I’d pick to go, but I actually love the randomness of it. And I need to get away from here for a while so, so badly. The thought of sitting around here for another long hot weekend makes me want to pull my hair out. I need a vacation.

Then, the weekend after that, we are going camping. Two weekends in a row of getting outta dodge to hopefully help me get out of the “June Gloom” funk I’ve been in.¬†And I’ll get home just in time to see who makes the US Women’s Olympic Gymnastic Team, something that’s been so hard to wait for that I just literally can’t even anymore.

I am trying not to get my hopes up that this is going to be like the movies where I end up chasing adventure, searching the depths of my soul, drinking the sweet nectar of all life’s rich blooms, and emerging at the end a changed and refined woman. I’m trying to give this experience the gift of no strings attached and no expectations that magical will happen. It will be whatever it’s going to be. But it needs to be.

But, social media or no social media, June kinda sucked in a lot of ways, so I do nurse one single hope: that the law of averages means July will balance it out with greatness.

 

If I don’t communicate with you in some other form this next month, I hope you have a great July. Try not to miss me TOO much.

 

Summer Fitness Goals: Week 1 Recap

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Oh hey. So, typically weekly workout recap posts are just not my thing, but I thought it would be interesting to show what a week in the life of Hanna looks like sans training and with my new interim fitness goals. Even though I’ll only be able to post one of these recaps before I leave for the month and training will be underway once I’m back, I thought even this one might still help me with some accountability.

So that you don’t have to go back and read that long post, here’s a reminder of what my goals are:

  • Cycle to work 3x per week
  • Strength train at home 2x per week @ 15 minutes each
  • Running: speed work once every 7-14 days
  • Yoga once per week
  • Stairs: 1-2 days per week

And here’s how my week went:

Monday: Cyclo-mmute, 8 miles total
Tuesday: Run, 3 miles; core work 15 minutes
Wednesday: Slow Flo Yoga class
Thursday: Cyclo-mmute, 8.1 miles total
Friday: Cyclo-mmute, 8.2 miles total; run, 4.25 miles
Saturday: Cyclo-mmute to Shorewood to meet Jessie! 17.3 miles total
Sunday: Nada
TOTAL: Run, 7.25 miles; Cycle, 41.6 miles; Core work, 15 minutes; Yoga, 1:15:00


 

So, as you can see…not a great week for running. I didn’t do any speed work and I only ran twice for 7 miles total. I’m not too worried; I hit really good paces in spite of the heat so my fitness is clearly holding up okay, and there are still 5 more weeks until I start 10K training so I have some time to build my base up. I guess all these weeks later,¬†I’m still conditioned to 40 mile weeks and it’s hard to believe I’m ever doing enough, even when I’m not training and even when I still had a good active week. I suppose it will just take a while to undo that mindset. As for speed work, I just really didn’t feel like doing any this week and I thought it would be better not to push it. My running has been so erratic¬†–¬†I’m running 1-2 times per week a little bit at a time – so maybe it’s not necessary or prudent to jump right back into that right away. I’m not sure what benefit I’d really get from it with no base to support it. I still want to do some speed work this month, but I’ll wait another week or two.

img_0992But, I killed it with the cycling this week and went above and beyond my goal. I have to confess that I am digging cycling a lot more than running lately. Maybe it’s the summer heat, or maybe it’s just that I needed something new, but it’s a lot easier to get on my bike lately. I’m definitely not a fast or talented cyclist, and I think that’s what makes me enjoy it: there’s no pressure and no standards, plus, as a beginner I’m in that stage where I get to see a lot of improvement in a little time. Most of my rides are short (20 minutes) commutes to and from work, and just like with running, a couple 4 milers is not the same as a long continuous 8 miler. I actually consider the riding more of a strength workout than a cardio workout, to be honest. I feel the hills a lot more on the bike than I do on foot, and I hope that burn I feel in my legs is making me stronger!

It seems a little pathetic that I missed my 2x/week strength training goal since I didn’t do anything on Sunday and it would have been ridiculously easy to drop and do some core work for 15 minutes, but I just kind of forgot about it. Oh well. Next week!

Finally, stairs. My original goal was to take some time out each week to do 10-20 minutes of stair repeats on my lunch hour or something. I didn’t do that, but I did do a lot of stair climbing throughout the week so I’m going to consider this one sort of a success. I started wearing my Fitbit Flex again¬†–¬†Kevin just got a Fitbit to help him become more active and lead a healthier lifestyle, so I thought I’d jump back on it so we can help keep each other accountable and have some fun with it. It turns out that you can increase your daily step count by a pretty respectable amount just by going up and down 2-3 flights of stairs when you usually take the elevator (yes, I’m lazy, don’t judge me!). I’m finding the Fitbit device a lot more helpful now than it was during marathon training. Back then, yeah it was cool to see how high I could get my step count number especially after a long run day, but when you’re training for a marathon you don’t really need a device to tell you you’re being active enough, you know? So, the novelty kinda wore off pretty quickly. But when high activity isn’t just baked into your day like that, devices like Fitbit are a lot more helpful in holding yourself accountable to staying active, even if it is just a step count (or, more accurately, an arm swing count).

I met my yoga goal. Yay!

 

So that’s where I’m at. All in all, I think I had a good week. I missed a couple goals but I exceeded others and at the end of the day, I did a good job staying active so I guess that’s all that counts.

I’d like to switch gears (haha, see what I did there) and make this week a little more run-heavy since it was so light last week and I need to start building a base for training. However, this week and next will both be difficult, as we will be out of town on vacation for the long weekend and then camping next weekend, so I will really have to get a lot done during the week since I don’t know what the weekends will look like.

 

Finally, a bit of fitness-related news: I am in the market for a new GPS watch.


My Garmin 210 has been a great watch: no-frills, accurate, and it’s gotten me through two marathons and the corresponding training cycles. I’m kind of sad to retire it.

But my fitness life is evolving, so I need my gear to evolve with it. The biggest reason for the change is that I want something that can also track cycling and that has Bluetooth capabilities so I can upload workouts with my phone instead of having to plug the watch into a computer. Right now I am torn between the Fitbit Surge and the Garmin Vivoactive. I get the sense that the Garmin is a better quality product, but it’s bulkier and not something I’d want to wear 24/7 (a crucial consideration if I’ll want to use the features for sleep tracking and monitoring heart rate throughout the day),¬†plus¬†I do want to stay in the Fitbit family because I like Fitbit’s social component especially with Kevin being on it, and obviously it would seem¬†silly to keep wearing my Flex when I have a new device that can track steps. I’ve heard the Surge’s GPS accuracy is good, but I’m still hesitant to train with something that’s not a Garmin. Of course the fact that the two watches are the same price doesn’t help me decide, haha. So, I’m not sure which way I’ll go yet but I can assure you that once I come back I will have a new piece of running bling on my wrist!

 

 

6.2 reasons 10K training will ROCK!

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Sorry to be a broken record over here, but I’m about to take a month-long break from blogging. One thing that’s significant about this is that when I return, I will be TRAINING for something again!

In light of that, and to honor the 6.2-mile distance that will soon become my obsession, I thought I’d go over the 6.2 reasons (yes, there is a .2!) why I’m excited to train for shorter distances. I’ve discussed my upcoming 10K training before, but since the running world and particularly the run blogging world is now entering Marathon Training Mania, I couldn’t resist the chance to make the case for shorter distances.

  1. MOAR racing!!!
    The ability to race hard multiple times in a season is probably the biggest advantage of shorter distance training. There is less pressure to get it right on one particular day¬†because if you miss your goal, or the weather sucks, or you’re just having an off day, no worries – you can just try again next week! Feeling blue because you’re missing the magic, adrenaline and excitement of race day once it’s abruptly over? No need! Turn that frown upside down because you get to experience it again in a couple weeks, and then again, and then again!
  2. Unlocking competitiveness
    Since the shorter distances tend to be less popular (especially when they are part of an event that also includes a half marathon), you will likely be competing against fewer people. Fewer competitors = better AG and all-around placement! That’s always fun!

    In both of the two 10Ks I ran last September, I placed 3rd in my age group (one of those was out of 289 runners in my age group), despite not having trained much. It’s not that I’m simply that good, it’s that both events also included a half marathon and more of the competitive runners were apparently drawn to that – a cursory glance at the half marathon results of that 3/289 race shows that even if I were in PR shape, I would have been good for 20th place in my age group, at best.

    The great thing about running is that there is immense satisfaction in simply running your own race and competing just against yourself and the clock. But it also feels good to be among the top of your class. It’s part of human nature to want to be among the best at something. Part of the satisfaction of half and full marathons is just finishing the darn thing, but most of us already know we can finish a 10K, so we devote that energy to other things: pushing yourself to paces that used to seem like science fiction, digging down deep¬†to edge out¬†Girl in the Purple Shirt in the last few seconds before the finish, breaking through the pain that comes from not being able to let a single minute of the race go to waste. Whether you prefer¬†short or long distances, it’s rewarding, fun and gratifying to explore other sources of motivation and satisfaction¬† in the sport.

  3. Against the grain
    There is no doubt that it’s a great feeling to surround yourself with people who are undertaking the same big goal you are, especially if it’s a marathon, and especially if it’s your first.¬†It gives you a wonderful support system and sense of community.

    But I’ll be honest, sometimes it’s also nice to not be part of the crowd and to do your own thing. You might feel a little lonely and left out sometimes, but as a blog reader myself, I personally appreciate and look forward to the blogs that aren’t just about half and full marathons. It’s refreshing to hear from someone who is exploring another side of running. This winter, Heather was the only person I know training for a short distance (5K), and I loved reading about her training because it was so different than anything I have done before and I learned a lot about the short distance preparation process.

  4. What comparison trap?
    The nice thing about training for a distance most other runners aren’t focused on is that it’s a lot harder to fall into the comparison trap.¬†Why would I worry that Suzie Q Marathoner¬†is running 20 more miles per week than I am, and why would she worry that I’m hitting faster paces in my workouts than she is? We are each developing different systems, and we have completely different goals and different training needs.
  5. Better feedback
    I love this comment Ali left on my blog recently in regards to a 10K racing season: “it will give you a chance to really see what your race pace is for a 10k consistently, not just in one magical race.”¬†There are numerous reasons we shouldn’t judge our fitness and progress by one race performance, especially if it was affected by external factors outside our control. But the more we can race, the better able we are to draw conclusions about where our fitness stands and how well our training paid off, and the shorter the race, the more often our bodies can tolerate racing it.
  6. Overall fitness
    When you’re training for a longer distance, you have to run a lot (duh), leaving less time for other fitness activities. Even the most diligent cross/strength trainers I know confess to falling off the wagon in the depths of marathon training. And who can blame them?

    Enter the shorter distance training plan! Less overall mileage leaves you with more time (and energy) to work in cross training, strength training, yoga, and whatever other fitness-related things you enjoy. Not only can you do more of these things, you’re more likely to, as strength and overall fitness become increasingly important in shorter distances when you really have to rely on bursts of speed and power. Training for a 10K won’t set me up to run a killer half/full marathon or give me stellar aerobic endurance, but it will help me get in better overall shape.

    .2 Variety!¬†.2 because this is baked into the overall fitness point –¬†this type of training regimen allows for more variety. One of the things I really struggle with in long distance training is that I start to get bored with the monotony of running almost every day¬†and keeping so many miles at the same¬†slow steady pace. With short distance training I’ll still do long and easy running, but not as often, and I’ll have more time and energy to include other types of running workouts in addition to the cross and strength mentioned above. Plus, since I’ve never trained like this before, much of this will be new and novel for me. YAY!

 

I am going to be blogging a lot about my 10K training when I get back, which I’m pretty jazzed about. Since Laura is creating a custom plan for me, I’m not going to be sharing a ton of workout/pace/training details on here (and anyway I just don’t want to do that, since that kind of blogging is really not my style), but I am really excited to document my shorter-distance running and fitness life as much as possible.

I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t have a little bit of an agenda here as well. I flatter myself to hope that maybe I can inspire someone out there to take on shorter distances, much in the way Heather and Ali have inspired me. I hope that if my training is successful enough and my blogging about it is engaging enough, I can show you all that you don’t have to complete marathons or run gobs of miles to be a strong runner, and that pursuing the shorter distances can be just as interesting and worthwhile as training for half and full marathons. At the end of the day, we all have our preferences. But I think we can all agree that the blogging world could use a lot more representation from the sub-13.1 club, so let’s make it happen!

 

So what do you say – have I convinced you to take on shorter distances yet??

Brain Freeze

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Summer is really not off to a¬†rip-roarin’ start over here.

Kevin has always hated this time of year, but this year I too am really struggling to acclimate to the summer heat. I swear, my heat tolerance gets lower every year.

But I have been struggling to adapt to summer in other ways. June has largely passed me by and my Instagram collection has yet to fill up with the typical summer photos of ice cream cones, festivals, legs by the pool side, drinks on the patio, or Garmin stats from my marathon training run. Because other than a race here, and a farmer’s market trip there, I’ve spent the past few weekends…not doing much of anything. I get up in the morning, I do one productive or fun thing, I imagine following it up with more fun productive things and then I just…sit around.

When Kevin hasn’t been working or brewing during the day on Saturdays, it’s just too effing hot for us to do active things outdoors. So…I stay inside. As I plop down on the couch and pick up the remote, my mind floods with guilty thoughts of all the summery things I should be doing and all the summer days I’m just wasting away. Of course, I could do something. But for some reason I also just…don’t particularly want to. What gives?

How is it that the more the air fills with sun and warmth, the more I’m drawn to binge-watching Medium and Roseanne?¬†How is it that the sun is rising so much earlier in the morning but it’s harder than ever for me to drag my increasingly-tired butt out of bed to go running? How is it that the more I grow restless and annoyed with myself for sitting around my apartment all day, the more I…sit around the apartment all day?

In contrast to the subtle upward energy of May, June has been, for the most part, a heap of humidity and burning hot sunlight and idleness and lack of inspiration.

It’s enough, June. You’ve made your point: not every month can be a winner, and it’s time for me to slow down and regroup.

July is coming. In 10 days I will begin what I have been looking forward to for 6 weeks: my month-long digital detox. No Facebook. No Instagram. No blogging.

There is so much I’m looking forward to, and when I first started writing this post it was all stuff like “going camping! The Women’s Olympic Gymnastics Trials! Our 4th of July weekend getaway!” While I am still looking forward to those things, in light of the recent lethargic funk I’ve been in I now feel compelled to go a little deeper, if you’ll bear with me.

I’m looking forward to starting over. Calling a truce. Summer and I got off on the wrong foot this year. I would love to put all the blame on Mother Nature for that: for the intolerable heat waves that curiously always seem to strike just on weekends, and the allergies, and the humidity. But, maybe I didn’t give summer a chance, and maybe I expected a little too much.

I’m looking forward to letting go. To forcing myself to sit still while the massive build-up of overstimulation and information overload from the past 6 months works its way out of my system like a bad drug. I’m looking forward to not harboring any fantasies that it’s going to be this magical fairy-tale time of ice cream sprinkles and fireworks and youthful innocence; instead, I’ll embrace its messiness, its underlying twinge of discomfort, its occasional boredom. And I’ll embrace its way of forcing me to make the most of the little things and look for the unsung heroes in daily life: the bites of cookies and cream on another sweltering evening in our un-air conditioned apartment; the new joys of the daily bike commute in spite of its frustrations (and copious sweat), and how it helps Kevin and I connect in a new way; and the occasional familiar roll of Midwestern thunder and drumming of hot night rain.

I’m looking forward to the social media disconnect – oh, the quiet! I’m looking forward to turning my brain off and sinking into the routine of daily life like an old couch. I’m looking forward to just being me for a while. Not thinking about me, just being me. And yes, I’m looking forward to not blogging for a while. I’m looking forward to bowing out and letting the whole run blog world pass me by while I take a minute to figure out who I am besides “3:43 marathoner” and “training for [insert race]!!!!” – and whether the person who exists underneath those things actually has anything interesting or useful to offer the blog world anymore. And finally, I love you all so please don’t take this personally, but I am looking forward to a break from the constant cycle of marathon training recaps in my blog feed. I love my little run blog community. But I need some space. Lately it is getting harder and harder to muster up any enthusiasm whatsoever for blogging.

July, here I come! Let’s be friends, okay?

And June’s not over yet, so I’ll try to muster up some post ideas and not be such a wet blanket for the next 10 days.

Pre-Training Summer Fitness Plan and Mini-Goals

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My next race is the Cudahy Classic 5 miler on July 31st (just in time for me to write up a nice recap when I return to blogging the next day!), and¬†I’m already looking forward to it. It’s a 5 and 10 mile race put on by the local Badgerland Striders Running Club, which means you are guaranteed impeccable race organization and logistics and great post-race treats – this year they’re having a pancake breakfast!

Anyhoo, like the quarter marathon, I’m not going to go out of my way to train or do anything special for¬†this race, but I would like to be in better overall shape going into this one than I am now.¬†Which means it’s really time to start upping my fitness game and getting back into a regular exercise routine.

I actually wouldn’t really have a problem training for this race – or even putting myself through a training program just for the hell of it right now – if it didn’t butt up against my upcoming 10K training cycle. While it is very important to have a solid fitness base going into any training cycle, I also want to feel fresh going into it. I like to make myself crave the structure¬†and routine¬†of training so that when Day 1 hits, I am raring to go and loving all things training plan. Thus the “pre-training” approach that I see a lot of run bloggers take just doesn’t work for me.

This means¬†I am in a¬†murky space where I need to start turning up the volume a bit and getting more exercise without it feeling like “training”. So, how do I do that?

The biggest thing is that I am undergoing a mindset change in how I approach working out. Instead of feeling like I need to get to a certain running pace or run a certain number of miles or days per week, I’m trying to remember how beneficial it is for me to get regular and varied exercise, and how good it feels to do so. Instead of having the motivation of being a faster runner, I’m having the motivation of taking care of my body and making it stronger and healthier. At the end of the day, my run speed is gonna be¬†what it’s gonna¬†be. But no matter how fast or slow I run, I can always feel good about being healthy, strong, and fit overall.

However,¬†a mindset alone isn’t going to get me out the door every day. I’m one of those people who needs to know the “why” of everything. In training, the whys are¬†obvious. But outside of training, they¬†are harder to recognize. So I thought it would help me to put together a plan for how I can go about improving my fitness and what success will look like this summer in lieu of any formal training or goals.

Fitness as lifestyle

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One of the things that prevents people from getting into a workout routine is having to carve out time in your day to do it, and having to go through the hassle of driving to a gym or meet-up spot, purchasing special equipment to have on hand, etc. The reality is that you can actually improve your fitness a lot just by incorporating more activity into your day-to-day routine. You don’t have to sacrifice much of your free time – heck, you may not even have to change your clothes. I’ve identified a few ways I’d like to make my days more active:

  • Biking to work. GOAL: 3-5 days per week.¬†
  • Stairs. Sometimes the simplest of things can be the best of workouts. I’ve sometimes gotten the same endorphin high from 15-20 minutes of lunchtime stair repeats that I get from a 5-6 mile run. Similar to hill repeats, stairs are both a great strength and cardio workout. They can be done over the lunch hour, or before/after work – no change of clothes necessary! GOAL: 1-2 days per week, building to 3-4 days per week.
  • At-home strength training.¬†I am a huge fan of any workout that doesn’t require special equipment and can be done in the comfort of my own home. While I do have to set aside some time for this like I would with a run, a yoga class or a bike ride, I can do it while I watch TV or scroll through my phone so it seems much less intrusive on my free time. Strength training will be a big part of my 10K preparation, so I want to spend the next 5 weeks gradually building up and letting myself get used to it rather than trying to be super gung-ho right off the bat. GOAL: 2 days per week, building from 15 to 30 minutes at at time.

Start working on speed again.

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I am one of those crazy runners who thinks speed work is fun. 6 miles worth of intervals feels like it goes by a lot faster than a plain vanilla 6 mile easy run, and I really like that “spent” feeling I get after a good, thorough workout.

There are numerous benefits to speed work other than just training to hit a time goal. Speed work, especially interval training, is great for improving form and boosting overall fitness. It also offers numerous physiological benefits. On the mental side of things, I think it will help me spice up my running routine with a little variety.

I’m planning to head over to the park every week-ish¬†for some fartlek style workouts and to the short hills in my neighborhood for some hill reps. Nothing crazy, just a little something to put pep in my step and help me feel more fresh and fit. With just the right amount of summer speed work, I can make sure I’m not overexerting myself while also putting¬†myself in a good place come training time.
GOAL: Once every 7-14 days

Diet.

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Something I’ve never done before, even in the depths of PR marathon training, is make a real effort to monitor my diet and eat healthier.¬†Running performance aside, there’s no denying that when you consistently eat better, you feel better. When I’m going through a stretch where I’m making good dietary choices, I’m not¬†as¬†tired and lethargic throughout the day, I don’t feel all bloated and gross, and I’m not hungry again 30 minutes after I just ate.

With an abundance of fresh local produce and super simple healthy meals that cater to outdoor eating, summer is the best time of year to start getting our diets in shape. I don’t follow any special diets or restrict my eating, so for me, getting my diet into shape basically means tidying it up a bit. A little more proteins, veggies and greens; a little less dairy, carbs, and refined sugar. A lot more home cooking and grocery shopping; a lot less eating out. A little less coffee, a lot less soda, and so much more water. Again, this really isn’t something I have down to a science, but I’m still keenly aware of improvements I can make.
GOAL: Daily!

Yoga.

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This one’s pretty self explanatory. I’ve been great so far about keeping up with weekly yoga practice, so – keep at it! While yoga is¬†not some mind-blowingly intense workout, I like having a little yin to the yang of my usual fitness routine. Yoga helps me work on flexibility, body awareness and a little bit of strength too, while giving me a nice little space in the week to escape from the grind and calm my overactive brain.
GOAL: Once per week.


 

In the end, what I think – what I hope – I’ve created is something that will keep me in shape but is also a little more down-to-earth and well-rounded. The bulk of this will take place during my month-long social media and blogging hiatus, so I will really have to be on my A-game with accountability and self-motivation. To be honest, that does worry me a little bit. But if all goes well, I’ll be ready to have a great 5 mile race without either putting pressure on myself or wishing I would have been a little more in shape, AND I’ll be ready to start kicking some serious butt in 10K training!

Race Recap: Rock n Sole Quarter Marathon

So this is going to be a slightly short and sweet recap, and it’s also going to be text-heavy because I didn’t take my phone with me to the race so I only have a couple pics. I wasn’t even going to write this at all, actually, because I just didn’t feel like it. But after being in¬†putting-out-fires mode at work these last 24 hours, I need to unwind. So, here you go.

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On Saturday, June 11th I ran my first ever quarter marathon (6.55 miles) at the annual Summerfest Rock n Sole Run. This annual race, which kicks off Milwaukee’s famous Summerfest Music Festival each year, is the largest race in Milwaukee, drawing upwards of 10,000 runners between its half marathon, quarter marathon, and 5K distances. It’s very popular in the MKE running community but also draws a lot of new faces due to its popularity and the more “everyman” feel it has. I have run this race once before, in 2014, as my second half marathon. This year, in light of my extended break from long distances, I decided to do the quarter marathon instead and, given the conditions we ended up with, boy oh boy was that a good call.

img_0981I really honestly had no idea what to expect going into this race. The farthest I’ve run since the marathon 6 weeks ago is roughly 7 miles. For the majority of those runs I had¬†very little clue as to my distance or pace. In each of the last two weeks I only ran¬†one time, and before that I was running only 3x per week. While my fitness seemed to be holding up well on those runs, still, my mileage hasn’t been high or consistent, and a tracked run in Tuesday showed it was starting to catch up to me.

And then…there was the heat. It was HOT on Saturday. Not only was it also very humid, but at the 7am race start, temps were already in the mid 70s and forecasted to hit 80 by 8am. I realize this sounds pretty mild to some of you, but it’s not for us – this was the warmest day we’ve had this year and many people around here are not quite acclimated to the heat yet. As we waited for the race to start, announcers told us numerous times to slow down and stay hydrated, and also that they had canceled pace teams for the day. The course started out yellow flagged and was bumped up to red flag about 2:2o into the race; they also shut down the timing at that point, so while the runners after that point were allowed to finish and get medals, no one finishing after 2:20 got an official race time.

While running in heat and humidity is miserable, I can’t say I was that upset about our bad luck. I mean, it’s not like I was in racing shape or had trained for this anyway. [Edited to add: I didn’t realize how much I suffered in the heat until after this post went up – I actually got an email from RnS with my race photos. In the photos from the end of the race I have SERIOUS TOMATO FACE going on. So yeah, it was hot!]

So anyway, after the usual milling about the start area, using the bathroom and getting into the corrals, we were off. It just goes to show how sneaky heat can be – while it didn’t feel that bad standing around at the start, within a couple minutes running already felt awful and hard. I made myself relax a little and let people pass me. I tried to focus on getting comfortable but I could also tell this was one of those days when comfort is just not going to happen. I had to just hold on and hope the miles didn’t go by TOO slowly.

There’s nothing remarkable about the rest of the race, really. Although I had no idea what to expect given the conditions and my fitness, I decided going in that I would be happy with a sub-8:20 average overall. But I wasn’t married to it or anything. After two miles when I saw that I was maintaining an 8:12ish average, I decided to keep pushing and go for my original goal.

The middle of the race takes us onto I-794 and¬†over Milwaukee’s infamous Hoan Bridge, with great views of downtown and Lake Michigan. But it was rough out there. It was just one long, long, long incline that honestly felt like it would never end. I could see the aid station at the top but it never felt like I was getting any closer. My pace slowed here, naturally, but I wasn’t worried because I knew that there was an equally big downhill coming on the other side of the bridge and I could make up speed there, which I did. When we finally crested the top of the bridge and started going down, I could instantly feel my breathing relax and my legs start to turn over faster.

We got off the interstate, the half marathoners split off, and the quarter marathoners made our way into the Summerfest grounds for the last mile of the race. The crowds had really thinned out and I actually ran alone for most of this. It was a hard last mile and I could feel weakness in my legs (STRENGTH TRAIN! STRENGTH TRAIN!), but I kept pushing and pushing and finally saw the finish line in sight. With .1 to go, a few people surged past me en route to the finish, but I just let them go. For starters, I’m not one of those people who really cares when I get passed in a race, but mostly I just didn’t have it in me for a finishing kick. And¬†honestly, I didn’t feel like it was worth it for a non-goal, between-training-cycles race. I remember thinking that finishing kicks will probably be something I need to work on in 10K training, and I already started to dread it. I hate them!

After finishing, I went straight to the results tent and found out I had finished in 54:00 even (8:15 pace). For the first time ever in a race, this matched my Garmin time. Which just confirms my unusual talent for finishing races right on the minute. I’ve now run three races that end in :00, one of them being the Rock n Sole half in 2014, meaning that each time I’ve run this race I’ve finished in :00. 3 races out of dozens doesn’t seem like that many, but considering that the odds of finishing on the minute are 1 in 60, it’s crazy I’ve done this 3 times now.

Anyway, I also found out I was 7th in my age group. A top 10 finish is always pretty cool! Later I found out that it was out of 176. Even cooler!

All in all I’m happy with how Saturday went. I think I handled the heat well. I have no way of knowing how much faster I would have run on a cooler day, or what my results mean in terms of my fitness, but my gut tells me it was good.

I think this race also gave me a little pep in my step in terms of getting back into an exercise routine. I was proud of how well my body came through me on Saturday despite how infrequently I’ve been running lately, and I want to reward it by making it strong and healthy. I want to feel what I felt on Saturday more often: excited about my fitness and the things my muscles and lungs can do for me. Usually it’s poor race performances that inspire me to get in shape, but this time, it’s seeing how much potential I have.

I don’t start 10K training for another 6 weeks, so I don’t want to go too crazy yet, lest I peak too early or burn out. I still want to keep the weekly running more chill and make more room for cycling and strength training and yoga. I just want to start being a little more active and exercising regularly. While I need to make sure I’m not putting pressure on myself, I also feel like I make a lot of excuses to not be active lately, and I want to nip that in the bud.

 

Okay. I guess this wasn’t that short. But you know me!

The Future of My Blog

Hi everyone, happy Friday! I hope you had a great week and a fun weekend ahead. Me, I’m gearing up to run a 6.55 mile race in THIS weather:

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The upcoming digital detox I mentioned this week is actually coming at a good time. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about this blog and where it’s going. I know I’ve said numerous times that I want to revamp my site and up my blogging game and blah blah blah, but now more than ever I feel like this blog as at a crossroads and I’m just not sure where to take it from here.

These thoughts have been brewing for a while, but what brought them to a head is actually kind of weird. So, I recently discovered GOMI (Get Off My Internets), which is basically like a reddit for the blogging world. There are several forums people use to talk about blogs and bloggers they love, or love to hate. A lot of it can get super petty and mean girl-y, but there is also a lot of good discussion and constructive feedback for blogs (and no, no one I know is on there. It’s usually limited to the super popular mega bloggers. There are several I know of, though. The perks of being a wallflower!).

Reading through several of these threads, not just on run bloggers but healthy living bloggers, lifestyle bloggers and even a food blogger, have been kind of eye-opening for me about what¬†readers tend to like and not like in blogs, and where my blog might stack up were it actually popular and worthy of GOMI’s constructive criticism. While we should always stay true to ourselves, there comes a time when in order to grow you have to be open to ideas about where you can improve.

I’ve always known that “niche” blogs tend to be much more successful than multi-topic blogs, but only recently have I realized that this is probably my biggest weakness about blogging. Even with the blogs that aren’t hyperfocused on one topic, the blogger usually has some kind unique of story or brand. I don’t. And while I don’t have any desire to get to the level of blogging-as-a-job, I do wish I could grow my blog more, and it’s becoming more evident that if I want to do that, it will require me to make some changes.

But what changes? My issue with this as always been that I don’t want a one-topic blog. I’ve done that before and it just feels way too limiting. But at the same time, blogging about a plethora of different things has started to make me feel like I’m stretched too thin. It’s almost too creatively stimulating, nevermind all the work that goes into writing only to see my readership go way down on non-running posts.

I have to confess a small part of me has flirted with the idea of throwing in the towel. I genuinely love to write, blog, and connect with others, but blogging has become a lot of work for not a lot of return on investment (readership, comments etc), and I sometimes feel like it causes me to get a little too wrapped up in my own life. I don’t want it to come to that, which is why I’m really looking forward to my upcoming hiatus to do some thinking and to “test out” what life without a blog would be like.

Another idea that occurred to me on the bus ride home yesterday was having two blogs. My first instinct was to immediately dismiss this. One blog is time consuming enough, but two? Wouldn’t that be way too much work?

But in many ways, it makes sense. With each blog having a more defined focus, I could attract a bigger following and build a more cohesive “brand” (god I hate that term, but it just fits here). I still don’t think I’d ever get to mega status because frankly I don’t have the patience to self-promote on social media all day long, but I think I could have two¬†halfway decent blogs.

If I decide to go this route I would probably go with one “lifestyle” blog about my minimalism endeavors, and one fitness blog. This one would probably stay as the lifestyle blog and I would create a new fitness blog.

Notice I keep saying “fitness”, not “running.” For the longest time, I haven’t run for fitness. I ran because I like to run; the fitness benefits were just icing on the cake. It sounds like a weird thing for a runner to say but I just wasn’t that interested in “fitness”.

Again, this will sound crazy, but running marathons hasn’t really made me feel that much¬†fitter overall. Sure, I could pick up and run 10 miles at the drop of a hat…but I struggled hard to make it through more than 2¬†push-ups or go up a flight of stairs without getting winded. And let’s not even talk about the lack of “balance” in my diet.

One of the many changes I’ve gone through since I hung up my marathon shoes is that I am more interested in fitness. Mixing up running with other activities has made me feel rejuvenated, and I’ve also started to take more of an interest in healthy eating as well. One of the things I’m most excited about for my upcoming 10K training is to build some stellar overall fitness with running workouts, strength training and cross activities.¬†I see a lot of potential for a blog – and a workout regimen! – that focuses on more than just my training schedule and race times. I really want to be more than just “running fit”.

Another thing that has me thinking is that my blogosphere seems to be going through some changes. Things just haven’t been the same these past few weeks. Half the people in my regular blogging rotation seemed to have dropped off the face of the earth lately and stopped updating their blogs and social media, or have stopped being active in the blogging community. I completely understand that this is a busy time of year for many of us, but I also get the sense that some people are just moving on. And I can’t say I blame them – I have been wondering if this sudden quiet is the universes way of hinting that maybe I need to get more of a life myself. In any case it may be time to start regrowing my following, and launching a new fitness blog would be a great excuse to do that with a fresh start.

 

I’m definitely going to take the month of July to think about all of this some more. I do appreciate all my readers who have stuck with me lately and would hopefully continue to do so if I made some changes!