Coaching, PRs and New Goals

Hi all!

I needed to post today because I’m needing a distraction after the election. If anyone else is like me, reading something positive will help you get through the day.

I’ve been coaching a few people locally, and I’m finding it really rewarding. I haven’t hung out a shingle for my coaching services, but I am accepting new clients. My “fees” are in the form of donations to charity, and I’m willing to work with runners for what is affordable to them depending on their running goals. I am currently RRCA level 1 and NAASFP certified, and I just started working on the RRCA Level 2 certification. If you’re interested in being coached, shoot me an email or comment below.

Since my BQ at the Wineglass Marathon last month, I’ve resumed training. With my personal trainer, we’ve started doing a heavier focus on lifting, which is a lot of fun. This aspect of strength training got a little neglected during marathon training as we kept on top of any niggles I was feeling and addressed mobility and flexibility. I’m hoping to do an unassisted pull up one of these days. This strength work has been critical in keeping me injury free. I’m so grateful for my personal trainer who gets that running is my number one goal and designs his training around supporting my running. I had a couple personal trainers before him who, while great, tended to give me the workouts they wanted to give (a lot of crossfit/boot camp/tabata type stuff) and didn’t keep in mind my race goals and schedule. I ended up with an injury from one because it was too aggressive. She wasn’t a good fit. She was one of those “pain is temporary, glory is forever” people, but that didn’t do me a lot of good when I was limping three days before my first marathon.

I took a couple of very easy weeks of running post-Wineglass, but then I ran a 10k I’ve been wanting to run for the past few years, the Great Pumpkin Challenge. It’s held in the park I like to train in, and I had a 90 minute long run on the schedule, so I thought I’d run 4 miles pre-race then run the 10k for fun.

As usual, I did not look at my watch for the race, and just picked a tempo that felt like I was working, but not too hard. Imagine my surprise when, after running hard up a pretty good incline and around the corner to the finish, I saw the clock and realized I was going to finish with a sub-50 minute time and get a new PR. I also managed to negative split the race, which considering that all the hills are in the back half was also a pleasant outcome. I was 4th in my age group, so no award. But then, I’d gone into the race thinking I’d be satisfied with a 54 minute finish.

After a ton of research and deliberation, I recently switched coaches after being with the same one for three years. I’m so super excited about this change and have really been thrilled with my new coach, who is with the RunSMART program. Because the Boston Marathon is so far off, I decided I wanted to focus on shorter race distances in the interim. My PRs for races shorter than a half marathon are very soft. In fact, unless you count the first few races I ever ran in the spring of 2013, I’ve never trained specifically for shorter races. In other words, lots of room for improvement.

Basically, I need to be more aggressive in where I line up to start races and get comfortable with being uncomfortable. I’m so used to holding back early in the half and full marathon, that I find it hard not to panic when I feel that lactic acid start to build up or my breathing gets hard.

The new workouts have been fun and a good new challenge. We aren’t quite up to my usual mileage, but we’ll get there soon. I want to stay in half marathon shape because it’s my favorite distance and I’d like to be able to hop in and run one if I’d like. Plus I’d like to maintain my aerobic base since I feel it will really help with the shorter distance racing.

The weekend before Halloween I decided to run the Goblin Gallop 5k, again for fun. I love Halloween races with people in costume and lots of little kids and families participating. I wore a shirt with Munch’s The Scream on it and some Halloween socks. I think the socks brought me good luck because I ran a 24:19, only one second off my PR. Again, this was not a full race effort. My splits were: 7:59, 7:45, 7:38, 6:56 (.1). I got second in my age group and a cool pint glass.

Last weekend my coach assigned me an 11 mile fast finish long run. For the last 3.1 miles, I was going to run the Revolutionary Run for Veterans cross country race. I warmed up on the race course with 8 miles at an easy to moderate pace. As I did this, my legs felt kind of tired because I’m not really used to running off road these days. But my coach had told me to not worry about “saving” anything for the race, so I just did my thing. The race was delayed to start (ugh), so I kept running around in circles for another half mile (with stops and starts whenever I thought the race might get underway) as I waited for the announcements to end. This race starts with running across a field, and then has a big bottleneck where only 2 runners can fit. I didn’t line up right in the front, but close, because there were 300 runners and I knew from previous runs that this spot is an issue. It really made a difference and I ran the first mile in 7:35.

The second mile is the hardest, with some single track, a short but steep hill, and roots, grass and curves on a dirt trail. I ran this mile in 7:46. I did feel this one some in my legs, but my breathing wasn’t particularly labored and I could still speak in full sentences without trouble.

The third mile has a short but very steep hill on pavement, them returns back on the path from mile 1. One lady passed me in this mile, but otherwise I wasn’t passed by anyone after the first half mile or so of this race. I ran this mile in 7:45.

The last bit is down a hill then back up a little onto grass, which really feels tough and slow. I was shocked to see that it was still 23 minutes on the clock as I approached the finish. I ran the last .1 at 6:56 pace for a finish time of 23:55. A new PR by 23 seconds. On a hard course with 8.5 miles on my legs before the race start.

I was 5th female of 158 and first in my age group. Pretty darned exciting for me, even if it was a small race. It also shows me that, as I suspected, a good deal of my “problem” with shorter races is mostly mental and being afraid to push myself for fear of falling apart in a race. It’s a silly fear, one I keep reminding myself that no one cares but me how I do in a race and so what if I fail, but it’s easy to say when not in the moment. I still struggle with feeling upset about my DNF in December despite that it was CLEARLY the right decision given my health at the time. 

So, it’ll be interesting to see where I go from here as I train for a couple goal races. I have a 10k goal race in December and I am looking for a 5k to run in early to mid-January. I’m also running a 5 mile Turkey Trot, which I will make an honest effort of, but it also is a huge, crowded race (4000+ runners), and the first couple miles can be difficult to jockey for a place to run.

I’m really having fun with the new workouts from my coach, although I’m finding it hard to “feel” the faster paces in a consistent manner. I’ve become a huge fan of not looking at my watch and running by effort, but the faster intervals have been a little all over the place as I try to reintroduce myself to speed work. Yesterday I did a hill workout that was getting a bit more consistent, so I’m hoping that I will quickly be able to gauge my paces better on the faster end of my speed.

I’m sad that it will soon be winter. Temperatures have been darn near perfect for running lately. I’m a wimp once temperatures go below freezing and when there is ice and/or snow on the roads. I don’t mind treadmill running at all. In fact, I’m behind in a bunch of tv shows and look forward to catching up while running on the treadmill. But I’d rather be outdoors and enjoying the park.

Speaking of the park, I have a couple huge pet peeves. First, why is that horses are allowed to shit all over the pedestrian paths? I know, I know, you can’t prevent a horse from shitting where it wants, and I have no problem with horseback riding in the park, but it is gross to have to sidestep piles of poo. My second, related, beef is with dog owners. Why oh why do some of them pick up their pet’s poop in a baggie and then think it’s ok to leave the baggie laying around and not throw it in the trash? How is that better than just leaving the shit on the ground?!?!?! Now you’ve littered and your poop-filled baggie is not biodegradable. I also don’t like it when people take their dogs off leash — we have leash laws. I don’t care if your pet has never bitten someone or is the sweetest doggie ever. That’s what all pet owners say after their pet has an incident: “Weird, Fluffy has never bit anyone before!” And it is scary as a runner to have a dog, friendly though it may be, run at you. I love dogs and they generally don’t scare me, but for crissakes people, leash your pet in public parks!

/rant

The back of my house with the newly closed in porch on the bottom

In non-running news, we closed in our screened porch so now it’s a three season porch. Sadly, they just finished and it’s too chilly out there to use. We’re also looking into theater seating for our basement media room. We’ve been meaning to do it for 8 years, and I finally got really sick of the cobbled together futon and office chair combo we have going on down there. The one issue is that the chairs we like are soooooo comfortable that we think we’ll fall asleep while watching our tv shows, lol. Tough life.

I guess I could ramble on, but I won’t. I hope everyone else is doing ok. I’d love to hear how your fall is going, if you care to comment below. Or give me any book or television show recommendations. Or tell me anything else you want to talk about🙂

Best wishes to everyone!

I BQ’d!!!

For those of you who aren’t into the running jargon, BQ is short for Boston Qualifier. Which means a runner ran a marathon in a specified time (or faster) according to gender and age that will allow the runner to run the Boston Marathon. 

And I got my first one today at the Wineglass Marathon, with a tad over 4 minutes wiggle room below the qualifying standard. It also an over 4 minute personal best time. 

This couldn’t have come a a better time for me since I’ve been going through a fairly stressful time at home. The short and un-detailed story is that my 21-year-old son is failing adulting and is temporarily crashing in my basement. It’s not a great situation and I’ve lost a lot of sleep recently over it. Plus, he brought home some nasty cold that I caught a minor case of last weekend. Shitty timing. I pounded Airborne vitamin C gummies and I staved off the worst of it, but I watched my resting heart rate climb as I headed into my big goal race. 

Luckily, running is the one time that all worries over my wayward child float away. It’s been a blessing to get out and listen to the first Harry Potter book on audible and chill for a bit. I’m also lucky to have some terrific friends and great listeners who helped me through. 

Also, if you’ve followed along with my paltry blog postings, you know I had a big set back in my training from November through mid-April when I was suffering from an undiagnosed hormonal imbalance (early menopause). Until I got on hormone replacement therapy in late March, my running was pretty terrible. I struggled to break  2 hours to run the NYC Half in March. So, I was really worried that a BQ would be out of reach by Wineglass. 

So going into my race, I was a little concerned how the germs and stress might affect my run. I decided to just do the best I could, and so I did. My last few miles of the race were rough. I walked through the last few water stations, which was disappointing. However, I’m am so thrilled with my race, I’m not going to dwell on those difficult miles. 

I highly recommend the Wineglass Marathon. It’s my second time running it, and I just think it’s a wonderful race. The swag is pretty awesome (this year we got stemless wine glasses and an embroidered 1/4 zip shirt, plus the signature pressed glass finisher “medal”) and the crowd support is pretty great. 

Now excuse me, I need to eat dinner and go to bed😉

Looking a little stiff & worse for the wear… but happy

I’m Still Alive

And kicking. More or less. 

Since my last post, training has been going considerably better. My hormone replacement therapy seems to be working, and I feel I am about in the same fitness level as I was about this time last year. I’m trying to be content with that, but I must admit I wish I were at the next level rather than returning to my previous peak. I still have off days a lot more than I remember having previously, but my good days are better than where I was last year, so there is that. 

One of the most interesting, measurable improvements is my resting heart rate. When I got metabolic testing done last summer, the tester was perplexed at my higher than expected resting heart rate given my good VO2 max. It fell between 60-64 beats per minute. He thought it was a nutrition thing, that I was perhaps catabolizing muscle by not eating optimally. I do not doubt that I eat sub-optimally, but I didn’t feel like this was the case. However, I didn’t have a better explanation. 

For the past month or so, my resting heart rate has gone down to the mid 40s. It seems like my hormone issues were having an effect. 

In early June, I managed to slightly PR in the 5k at the Freihofer Run for Women. I still ran the race stupid — I massively negative split the race, which anyone who runs 5ks regularly knows is not really the right strategy for 5k racing. I haven’t gotten the hang of how I should feel going out hard that first mile, instead approaching the race like I do half and full marathons by easing into my pace. I suppose I need to race more 5ks to start to understand how to better run these things. 

Case in point, yesterday I had a fast finish long run on my schedule, so I decided to run the last 3.1 miles of my 13.1 run at a 5k in the park I usually run in. So, I ran the ten miles, trying to keep moving until the air horn, then ran the 5k. I did not look at my Garmin the whole race (I had it on the time of day screen) and just ran at a pace/effort I hoped to run next week at the half marathon I’m running. I was chit chatting with some of the other participants as I ran, and felt pretty alright most of the race. 

Turned out, I ran that 5k only 34 seconds off my PR. Aaaaaaaaand I won the women’s race. I kid you not. I got to break the tape and everything. Granted, my 5k time is nowhere near what I would expect to win the majority of 5ks, so it was pure luck that all the speedsters stayed away, but it was still a hoot to win a race. Plus I got a $25 gift card to the local running store. 

But, really, if I can run 10 miles then run that close to my 5k PR, I clearly have a lot of work to do to figure out how to run a goal 5k race better. It’s a mental thing. I also negative split the race, but not as badly as the Freihofer run.

Sadly, I have no photos of the event. It was just part of a training run for me, and my husband doesn’t come to little local events like this anymore (he was also getting ready for his own event — see more below). Boo. 

The other big happening here is that today my husband broke the record time to swim the length of Lake George. It’s 34 miles and it took him 19 hours, about 3 hours longer than he expected. He said it was a rough swim, with navigational issues during the the night (he started at 5pm to avoid boat traffic and take advantage of smoother waters). He’s passed out on the sofa right now, poor guy. I’m so proud of him. He’s a badass who doesn’t know he’s a badass. 
That’s about it, folks. Thanks for reading, those of you who have stuck around despite my lapse in posting. 

NYC Half Marathon Weekend and a Bit More About my Diagnosis

 

Pre-race corrals

 In my last posts, I didn’t talk about my NYC Half experience. I was feeling a tad overwhelmed about my early menopause diagnosis. I’m sort of settling into that news still. A part of me is very relieved to know why I’ve been so off since November. Another part of me is feeling freaked out and old before my time. I realize the latter is silly, but that’s my feeling nonetheless. A lot of this post is more about my diagnosis followed by a wee-cap of my NYC race and trip. 

Leading up to when I started feeling sluggish, my periods were very regular. However, I had been experiencing night sweats for quite awhile. Since my blood tests were coming back normal on the related hormones, the thought was that perhaps I had a metabolic issue related to nutrition. So it was recommended that I front load my eating during the day. I didn’t really do a terrific job following that since dinner with my husband tends to be my largest meal of the day and I like it that way. 

In October, I ran the Wineglass Marathon. Training went well for that race, and all the way up to mile 21 when I bonked (a fueling fail on my part), it was a great race. I even had my period during the race. 

But since I missed qualifying for Boston by 16 seconds, my coach and I devised a plan to try again at the Kiawah Island Marathon a few months later. At first, training went very well. Then the mild injuries, getting sick and a perplexing slow down began. By time I was supposed to be ready to go for the marathon, I was feeling like crap and very discouraged. I had a few workouts when things went ok, but most of them were in a range of “meh to shit.” If you’ve been following along, you know I cut the Kiawah marathon short mid-race and ran just the half (which officially gave me my first DNF). For about six weeks after, I limped around with a series of mild injuries and would get winded while running at recovery paces. I thought maybe it was overtraining (which is entirely possible, but now I’m doubting it). My last normal period was late November. It was perhaps lighter than usual, but I didn’t think much of it because I’d been marathon training for half the year. 

My training after Kiawah, once my injuries subsided, has consisted of mostly easy runs with a few stamina workouts each week. Most of these have gone fine, if slower than I’d like and at a higher heart rate than previously for similar paces. But I continued to have the odd workout where everything felt off. Particularly when I was running in the heat of Florida in early March, I struggled way more than seemed right. I know it’s normal to have a bad workout every so often, but this seemed different. 

By mid-February, I was starting to have hot flashes in the day. That’s around when I worried that my uterine fibroids might be causing the trouble. My primary care doctor had mentioned back in May that she felt a largish one during my annual exam. So I found myself a new Ob-Gyn who specialized in laparoscopic surgery in the event that I needed them removed again. When I previously had the surgery, it took a long time to even walk without pain. Laparoscopic procedures are minimally invasive with quicker recovery turnaround. 

I fortunately got an appointment right away, and the doctor didn’t feel anything regarding the fibroids, but she took some blood and scheduled an ultrasound. I do have fibroids, but they are very small and not in need of removal. I don’t know what my primary care doctor was talking about (this is the second time she felt growths on my that weren’t there when I went to experts for the follow up). The fibroids are not likely to get bigger because my estrogen levels are in the crapper and high estrogen makes them grow.

My blood tests indicated that I am in menopause, not peri-menopause. We’re not sure why it happened so rapidly or so young, although there are a number of possibilities — the amount of training I’ve been doing is among them, as is my past life of excessive drinking. In some ways, I’m lucky I didn’t go through years of suffering from the symptoms. Hopefully the hormone treatments will get me feeling much better. I know mentally I feel better. Oh, and my new gynecologist is an avid runner. She could kick my ass in the 5k since she runs it in 20 minutes at age 51. (Doesn’t everyone athlink their doctors after they mention they’re runners?)

All of the above was the long explanation for… my race at the NYC Half kind of sucked.  

Central Park during my Saturday run

 The race was post-blood test but pre-diagnosis. I had a really great run Saturday running through Central Park. Maybe too good. I wasn’t expecting anything close to a PR at the race as I’ve only been easing back into training, but I didn’t expect the slow pace I ran the half to feel so hard. As in, I wanted to walk starting around mile 4 and had to talk myself out of it every. single. mile. I had my first positive split half in a really long time. And I basically felt unwell the whole race. 

I eked out a sub-2, but barely and was almost 12 minutes over my PR. I felt really lightheaded when I finished. I was also disappointed. It wasn’t so much the time as it was concern over how poorly I felt. I’d really wanted to soak in the awesome race atmosphere, and instead I spent the race locked in my own headspace. 

The days after the race, I felt fine, which was frustrating. Of course, I blamed myself on the bad race by assuming I was mentally weak. I really need to quit being so harsh to myself — especially as it turns out my poor body has been undergoing a major upheaval these last few months. 

I guess I’m glad that my primary care doctor misdiagnosed my fibroids because I never would’ve pushed to get a gynecology appointment when I did. My gut said something was wrong, and I’m really glad it is what it is rather than needing surgery or having a life threatening illness. 

I’m still reading up and trying to ignore some of the anecdotal stuff I ran into regarding some women who say they are much slower runners post-menopause😦 . I’m feeling optimistic about my hormone treatment. 

I did skip an 8k race I was signed up for yesterday. I decided that I didn’t mentally need to have another lackluster performance before I gave hormone therapy a chance to do its thing. Instead, I had a very nice run solo. 

Scene from MoMA… dude, I feel ya

Scene from MoMA — it was disconcerting seeing patrons just walk by. plus this seems uber uncomfortable

Scene from MoMA

 Other than my NYC Half performance stinking, I did have a good trip to the city. Somehow we ended up in a junior suite at our hotel, and the room was giant. We had two great dinners, one at Quality Meats and another at Quality Italian, both of which I highly recommend. We also went to Num Pang for lunch, which is a Cambodian sandwich shop​, and Maoz Vegetarian for a falafel salad, both favorites. On Sunday, we had some free time before our train and so we went to MoMA. There was a live exhibit of people laying around called Plastic that was kind of fun. 

Up next is the Disney Star Wars half. By then, I should be benefitting from my meds, although I expect the humidity will be a shock to my system. Since I am planning on doing photo ops this race, my coach suggested I do some fartleks between stops if I felt up to it. I think this sounds like loads of fun. I’m in corral A, so I hope to be among the first in line to see BB-8. 

I hope everyone who celebrates has a wonderful Easter, and even if you don’t, I hope you’re having a lovely day!

 

Our room at Hotel Elysee

  

Balcony below our room

  

My Num Pang Japanese yam sandwich

  

Saturday’s Central Park run

  

Saturday’s Central Park run

  

Tableside made cannoli at Quality Italian

And some medical news

I mentioned a few posts ago that I was going to the doctor to get some stuff checked out. Most of my tests came back very healthy. However, apparently I am in early menopause. 

I’m only 46, and average menopause age is 51. This may explain why my running has been crap the last three months, which is how long it’s been since my last period (which was an abbreviated one). I wasn’t expecting this news, so I’ve got a ton of research I want to do. But I do believe low estrogen isn’t great for running. 

I’m going to take hormones to help with the symptoms, and fingers crossed things start getting better. If the night sweats stop, that’s got to be an improvement!

RRCA Certification ✔️

  
I received notification today that I am now an RRCA Certified running coach. Yay!

This is my second certification, following my NAASFP running coach certification that I received earlier this year. 

Shortly I will be getting details up and running about my coaching for charity causes. As I’ve mentioned, 100% of the proceeds from my coaching will go to the charity of the runner’s choice. If you have any questions in the meantime or charities to suggest (I’ve got a list started) feel free to contact me. 

I’m so thrilled to be able to get this party started!!!

Never Say Never

I once swore I’d never run a race in costume. I’ve never begrudged those who chose to do so, but it just wasn’t me.

Well, I’m running the Disney Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon next month. And I’ll be wearing a costume.


I’ve not got it entirely together yet, but I’ll be going as Rey. I’m ridiculously excited and I plan to do photo ops during the race despite that that’s another thing I thought I’d never do and I hate getting my picture taken. I’m a serious runner, don’t you know?

My husband has some understandable concerns that I will try to run off with BB-8 if I spot him during the race. I told him that BB-8 wants to come home with us. I don’t think I have him convinced.

 I don’t know why he puts up with me. He did give me a BB-8 necklace for our 19th anniversary yesterday. He’s enabling my Star Wars mania. It’s cute that he thinks I’ve seen The Force Awakens only six times in the theater.