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!


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 šŸ™‚

Best wishes to everyone!


21 thoughts on “Coaching, PRs and New Goals

  1. Loads of great stuff – and I totally get what you are saying about shorter races. You know I have *never* run a 10k? I’ve run 5k, 8k, half and full. And given how I love my normal long runs, I am very comfortable at my longer distances … and fear the 5k! Haha. I have done OK with the couple I have run in the last couple of years, but it is hard to get comfortable with that level of discomfort!

    Fall is going well – we were able to hit Parent’s Weekend for both kids, and turned then into mini-vacations. Kids are both doing well – older son had a rough roommate situation freshman year, much better this year! Gorgeous 23rd floor view of Manhattan too! Younger son is also doing well – and has integrated really well into Ithaca – it is great going there and seeing all the friends he has in the film school.

    For a TV show, we’ve gotten hooked into ‘Designated Survivor’ with Keifer Sutherland. Actually pretty solid. We tried Timeless, but found it plodding and not very engaging .. .and honestly liked ‘Sliders’ from the 90s much better! We are also enjoying our ’empty nest’ quite well … Thanksgiving with a full house should be interesting!

    • You have two kids in film school? How awesome! I look forward to seeing their work in the future!

      You’ve never done a 10K? Lol. I guess they are harder to find than other distances. It really is easy to get comfortable cruising along for miles and miles — heck, it’s a lovely way to spend time out in the world! You do some crazy distances from what I can tell šŸ™‚

      I’m so glad you and your family and doing well. I’d take a 23rd floor view of Manhattan! And I envy your empty nesting — my kid has been temporarily living here since September šŸ˜› . I hope you guys have a fabulous thanksgiving! I’ve enjoyed seeing your Facebook posts for sure.

      Finally, thank you for commenting. It’s so wonderful having a friendly voice appear when it’s sorely needed. šŸ™‚

    • Oh, and we loved Sliders! I weirdly had a dream about Jerry O’Connell the other night — he was some investment banking big wig. Don’t ask me where that came from, lol. We started watching Designated Survivor and like it as well, but we’re only 2 episodes in because my husband has been traveling for work.

  2. Good for you! So glad you’re hitting your stride, so to speak. How cool about your coaching.

    I used to feel bad when my horse took a dump. As much as I enjoy riding, I don’t like having to dodge the stuff either. As to the waste in the bag but not in the garbage, I too wonder what they’re thinking. The job is only half done.

    I’m back up to walking 2 miles (instead of only 1) 3 days a week.

    Go you!

    • That’s awesome that you’re getting so much walking done šŸ™‚

      The doggie doo in the bags on the ground (or nearby rocks, tree stumps, etc) really bother me. I’d rather they just leave the dog doo if they’re going to be lazy.

  3. Doug says:

    After yesterday I would recommend you working on your speed as well as your distance. You never know when you will have to out run a jack booted thug.

  4. tundrawoman says:

    Was gettin’ a bit worried-so good to “see you” and read you are doing wonderfully well! I don’t know squat about running but my left foot (the one I have spent a lifetime sticking in my mouth and three unsuccessful surgeries later) makes walking any distance a real challenge so all shoe recommendations/brands/inserts etc. gladly accepted. Yep, did try a “Hail Mary” in the form of an orthotic and nope. But hope springs eternal sooo…

    The ones I have now-while well padded-weigh a ton: It’s like walking with two cinder blocks chained to your feet/legs a la “Godfather” style. I also had to stick some of that most excellent stuff, Magic Shoe Stretch in the left one-which helps greatly with the strange independent-of-each-other orientations of my toes. I will never be a runner but I would love to rejoin the world of regular walkers which I was a part of for decades. It greatly cut down on homicidal ideation šŸ˜‰

    Any ideas any of you all have are gratefully accepted. Might help to know I’m inconveniently located in not-on-google-map country-but there is an Olympia. Whoopie, huh?
    Seriously, many thanks in advance to anyone who takes pity on a crazy old widow broad and her messed up foot, wait, no feet-because they burn too (two? bilaterally? both?) regularly/occasionally/unpredictably. I forgot to mention that-but it’s a secondary concern: Eventually I figure the nerves will just burn out (hopefully before the free Roast and Toast arrangements I’ve made with a medical school.)

    The sun rose yesterday morning and this morning. For the most part, nothing is all good or all bad-blow up one party and it may force the remaining party members to quit the partisan crap and do the People’s work, not the Party’s. I think I saw Lincoln bent over in that big ol’ Morris chair holding his head in despair but hey, we ARE a “grand experiment.” And sometimes, experiments that go awry (or just explode) ultimately reveal new positive possibilities that *unfold over a longer trajectory,* outcomes we never expected either. We’ll be OK-eventually. And ohhellno, this is NOT “unprecedented”-read your history: It isn’t that long.

    Keep puttin’ one foot in front of the other: That’s how you became “more than,” something you never thought you could be, Ms. “Athlete!” MS. BQ! Your enthusiasm is much appreciated as is your expertise-and humanity.
    And thanks to all of you. I read every comment with wonder-how do they DO that?!-and cheer for your every success.

    • I’m ALWAYS so excited to see a comment from you. šŸ™‚ I hope your right that eventually we’ll be ok — I think the ride to “ok” is going to be VERY bumpy at best.

      As always, your thoughtful voice makes me feel a little soothed. That vision of Lincoln you mentioned isn’t going to leave my mind’s eye anytime soon.

      For shoes, try out either Skechers Go Walk with memory foam (I swear by these when I’m not in running shoes) or Hoka One One Cliftons. The have a nice wide toe box, are super cushioned and are lightweight despite their kind of bulky look. They’re on the Clifton 3 version, which I think is suitable for somewhat wider feet than the version 2. Oh, and order up a half size from your usual size.


      • tundrawoman says:

        Oh thank you! I have some Sketchers Memory Foam flats I found at TJ Maxx that are a simple ballet style in a light blue and I love those things-but the style isn’t meant for a lot of prolonged walking. Yeah, they are wonderfully light weight and so comfortable. I wear them in warmer weather when I do my once a month “run to town” thing.

        I’m taking notes-a necessary concession to stroke brain-and I will defiantly check out your suggestions and so appreciate your ideas. Frankly, I’m at the stage of life where I’ve accepted neat, clean and presentable is as good as it gets so style of shoes is really no longer a consideration; comfort is all I care about for a good long walk.

        Love your fingerless gloves/arm warmers in your picture BTW. I’m a huge fan of them as my hands (and feet) freeze so I wear them frequently with or without gloves. Etsy has some really cool unique styles-just a suggestion to check out if you’re interested.

        Thanks again!

        • I have a bunch of fingerless gloves from Etsy! I wear them in non-running situations too.

          As for footwear, I’ve completely stopped with even trying to buy heels. I’m a shorty, but I’m ok with not trying to elevate myself anymore in favor of being kinder to my feet and legs. I ask a lot of them, so I shouldn’t torture them with stilettos!

          I hope one or more of the shoes I suggested work for you šŸ™‚

  5. Darlene says:

    Congrats on your 10K PR. I love that race.

    Maybe I’ll hire you as a coach someday. But I’m not convinced that I am coachable but I would like to get faster (before I get too old to be fast.)

  6. Hi, great post! I am modeling my blog to be fitness inspiration and definitely want to use content like this as my own motivation to continue to inspire people. I look forward to seeing more of your ideas and following your success!

  7. Hope your running is going well for you this year Judith. Good to read about your training and it’s up and downs and the races you have had. Hope Boston went well for you a few months ago.

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