A Decision

I’m not going to run a fall half marathon yet again. This will be the second year in a row that I have skipped a fall 13.1. When I finally said the words out loud to Mr. Neon, “I don’t want to run another half this year,” I felt an instant whoosh of relief. I’ve run 3 half marathons already this year, more than I’ve run before in 365 days. My body and my mind are rejecting the notion of training hard for 13.1 miles.

But I still want to train for something. And I feel the pull to do more XT. To brush off the dusty ole Beach Body on Demand app.

I’m heading back to my roots. 2013 was the year I became a runner and I fell in love with running over 5Ks. So…

I’m going to train for a FAST 5K!

It worked out perfectly that I start training today using the ten-week Train Like a Mother Own It plan. Run for the Roses in my town’s local 5K…the very first timed 5K I ever ran. After the first couple of weeks, I’ll see where I’m at and set my goal officially. My PR is 26:40. I’d like to see if I can get down to the low 25s. As close to an 8-minute flat pace as I can get.

In other news:

  • I’ve updated neonrunnergirl.com. It’s got lots of new info with more updates planned.
  • I’m done with grad school! Just waiting for grades to be posted and then the diploma will be in the mail. I’m still waiting for it to sink in. I have my MLS! I’m a real librarian.
  • I signed up for RRCA coaching certificate this fall. I’m hoping to offer very affordable run coaching on an individual basis later this year. Runner Boy and Tiny Boy are VERY excited to have Coach Mom write their training plans as an official run coach.
  • I’m on page 854 of Stephen King’s It. It’s not as scary as I thought it would be. But the new movie scared the crud out of me. Mr. Neon is excited because I said I would go see Chapter Two with him in the theater. I might regret that decision later!

That’s all for now. More tomorrow, since I don’t have grad school clogging my brain anymore!

Silent Progress

Good for her. Not for me! ~Amy Poehler

This has become one of my mantras this year. As I watch what other people are doing with their running and triathlon-ing via social media, I fight the urge to compare myself to them.

As a result, I went back through my Garmin data and hid everything. It’s all marked “Only Me.”

I didn’t do it because I didn’t want people to see what I was doing. I keep my training and my goals mostly transparent. But I was tired of comparing what I was doing to what everyone else was doing. And I was tired of worrying that other people were doing that too.

It’s changed the way I think about my training. It’s for me and only me. I run for me. And my progress is mine to claim, whether it’s good or bad. And right now it’s good. I finally feel back on track after a craptastic 2018.

I did a 5 mile tempo this morning. 9:14, 9:05, 9:05, 8:57, 8:50. Those are the kinds of times I was putting down before my 2:00:59 half marathon. The effort felt good, not too hard, not too easy. Just right.

Today is day 114 of the step streak. And I’m sitting at 408 miles for the year…the most I’ve ever run at this point in the year. I’m on target to break 1000 by the end of the October!

Prairie Fire is 10 days out. Please, weather gods, do your magic!

100

Sometimes I miss a run.
Sometimes I don’t hit a time goal for a race.
Sometimes I feel like a failure and that I’m failing at every single goal I’ve set in 2019.

And then I swipe left on my phone and see this…

This goal surprised me. It started with wanting to get the 60 day challenge badge on Garmin Connect. Once I hit 60, I didn’t really see a reason to stop. So I just kept going and here we are…100. 100 days of 10,000 steps. (note: I manually set my goal to 10,000 since that is what my work requires for getting health points for our wellness program.)

This goal didn’t happen easily. There were many nights that I hopped on the treadmill and walked anywhere between half a mile and 2 miles…sometimes a little begrudgingly. I’ve watched YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu to keep myself entertained as I truck along at 3.0 mph. Occasionally I’ve walked my final mile of the day a little tipsy after a glass of wine.

I’d like to say that this goal has helped me drop those few grief pounds I’ve been carrying around, but it hasn’t. It has given me something to look forward to every day. That little buzz from my watch when I hit 10,000.

How far am I going to go? The rest of the year would be pretty cool. Knock on wood, I haven’t gotten sick yet, outside of my occasional upset IBS, food sensitive tummy, so I have no idea how that would affect it.

Either way…it’s pretty cool. I’m not sure I’ve stuck with anything this long, outside of breastfeeding the boys. I hope I can keep it up. I’ll keep you posted. And as always…

The Un-Race Report

I’m nervous before every single race. It doesn’t matter if I’m trying to PR or if I’m just running for fun with my family. I’m nervous every single time.

I’ve tried a lot of different things. Mantras. Meditation. Warming-up a lot. Warming-up a little. Nothing works. I’m crazy nervous waiting for that gun to go off.

I put a lot of pressure on myself for Chisholm Trail Half Marathon. I knew the weather would give me a good chance to PR. Of course, PRing in a half marathon for me means breaking 2 hours. And I knew I hadn’t trained right to break 2 hours. I had gotten the distance in. I was ready to run 13.1 miles…no problem. But I had skipped too many speed days. I had missed too much strength work. I wasn’t ready to run 13.1 miles FAST.

But I’m stubborn, so I gave it a try. I told Mr. Neon that I wasn’t going to worry about where he was. I wasn’t going to worry about the 2-hour pace group. I wasn’t going to wear a pacing band. I knew the pace I needed to run.

The gun went off, I pushed the nerves away, and I moved forward. I ticked the first mile off at a 9:09. Perfect. I kept my head down and just got to work. The sun was beating into our faces, and we could barely see ahead anyway. Mile two was a 9:09. Ok…maybe I can do this. Mile 3 has the biggest hill of the course. I didn’t let that get to me. I gave myself license to slow down a tad. 9:30. Not the end of the world, but not where it should be. I still had 10 miles to make up time.

Mile 4 was a 9:07. Back on track. I tried to pick up the pace, but my body revolted. And not in the normal ways…my stomach felt fine, my legs still had pep, my mind was still sharp. I just didn’t want to try and run nine more fast miles and come up short. I knew a sub-2 just wasn’t going to happen. I wasn’t ready. I couldn’t trust the training because I hadn’t done it.

I decided to just run and enjoy the course. I took a deep breath and turned my watch to clock mode. I didn’t know that I ran a 9:13, 9:16, 9:26, 9:50, and a 9:45. I do know that at mile 7 there’s a Krispy Kreme. And the hot sign was on. I laughed and imagined Mr. Neon stopping for a free donut. I wondered how far behind me he was. He had to pull out of half marathon training at the beginning of February with an Achilles injury. He was hoping to run with the 2:15 pace group and get a good long run done in the midst of gravel bike training for a 50 mile race series.

Imagine my surprise at mile 9 when a shadow pops out on my right side and says, “See! I told you we’d run right past my school.” I could have cried. There he was. My handsome bearded man. I pulled up to a walk for the first time all race. Mr. Neon just grinned at me and said, “I’ve been watching your butt for the last 9 miles.”

We ran walked the remaining 4 miles. My left IT band started giving me trouble, so I’d run a few minutes and walk a few minutes. We finished with a 10:16, 9:48, 10:13, 9:51.

At mile 12, I got choked up. I had those existential thoughts I always have at the end of races. Mom isn’t at the finish line. She’ll never be at the finish line again. Am I supposed to ever break 2 hours without her there? And then the completely random thought of “maybe I should run a marathon again?” It’s nice to slow down. Could I slow down for another 13.1 miles on top of this one? Mr. Neon knew what my brain was doing, so when we turned the last corner towards the finish line he hollered at me to stay on his hip. We finished the last half mile with a sub-9 min pace. I’m not sure what he was trying to get me to, but he got me to a 2:05:59. A time I was good with.

Exactly 5 minutes slower than my PR and exactly 6 minutes slower than I wanted to be.

Now I’m sitting here contemplating doing something crazy. Should I try again SOON? Based on my data, I’m peaking. I’ve run once since Sunday and those 3 easy miles didn’t feel ridiculous like they often do after a big race. My legs feel good. I’m ready to throw down some speed workouts. I had my IT band released right after the race, and it doesn’t hurt at all.

Stay tuned and…

Go for it…

Tomorrow is race day. Nerves are at an all time high. I feel the least ready as I’ve ever been for a fast half marathon. This will be attempt #3 at a sub-2 half. I’ve gotten all but one of my long runs done, but I’ve missed a lot of speed days. At this point, I think I’ll go out and give it a shot. If I bonk, I bonk, but at least I tried again.

I’m trying so hard to relax. Maybe if I just enjoy the experience and not worry about the pace, not worry about the distance, just enjoy being outside running through the streets. I’ve spent so much of my training on the treadmill that it will be a dream to run outside in ideal temperatures. Thank you, weather gods. You smiled on us.

I need to get some other posts up. I’ve got a new team to announce. And of course, there’s always the what’s next for racing for the Neon Runner household. The grad school graduation countdown has begun, and I anticipate all that spare time being devoted to all things NRG. And reading books that don’t talk about metadata and library theory.

Good luck to all runners of the inaugural Chisholm Trail Marathon. It’s gonna be a good time!

FEAR

I think FEAR has been keeping me from posting.

I was really making awesome progress with my running. The Hanson training plan was working. I was running more miles than I ever had before. I had my biggest month ever with 138 miles.

And then we discovered that our treadmill was broken. Specifically the deck was broken…cracked, but not all the way through. So what did I do? I kept running on it. My calves ached. My shins started getting nagging little pains in them. And then my left foot started hurting. It felt like I had rolled my ankle, except I don’t remember doing it.

Except I did. When you run on a broken treadmill deck for almost a month, you essentially roll your ankle slowly over time.

I took two weeks off. I was afraid to post that I was injured yet again. I did yoga. I stretched all the things. I did every PT exercise I could find. I retired both pairs of active running shoes and got new ones.

And the pains subsided. Running became good again. Easy again. And yet the FEAR morphed into something else.

Did I miss too much training? Can I still break 2? We are about four weeks out from race day. I had my first tempo run in almost a month this morning that felt good, but the paces weren’t quite where they need to be.

FEAR. I want to break 2 so badly. I’ve ever said out loud that I might take a break from half marathons if and when I break 2. Fear of letting myself down. Fear that I’m doing the wrong thing, making my body do something it’s not ready for.

Passion Reignited

The benefit of being a data junkie who has only ever worn a Garmin for running? Stuff like this…

Notice anything special about 2019?

Data like this tells a story. These are the six full years that I’ve been a runner…the first two weeks of each year. (2013 data starts in July.) I can see what happened with my paces and where I made mistakes in training.

2018 started with the flu. 2017 was a comeback from injury and a triathlon year. 2016 started with an injury. 2015 saw me as an overzealous beginner. 2014 was my first full year running.

2019 started with a gamble. I already had my training plan written, short easy runs with some tempo speed mixed in with lots of bike XT and one swim per week scheduled. But I was sucked into the FREE training plans offered by First Gear for the Chisholm Trail half and full marathons. I stopped by to grab a copy of the plans. It was explained that this was Hanson’s training plan. Initially I rolled my eyes.

I knew the Hanson plans. Back in March 2016, I ordered their half marathon book. I bought a lot of running books in 2016 when I was sidelined with bad hip bursitis. I wanted to fix whatever I was doing wrong. I skimmed through the Hanson book when it arrived. I saw the mileage expected for half marathon training and immediately shelved it and didn’t even bother reading it. No way could I put down that kind of mileage and not end up injured or burnt out within a matter of days.

But speaking with Raquel at First Gear, my eyes were opened. Most new runners, specifically those who pick up the sport as adults, run their easy miles way too fast. And I think it’s for various reasons: slower running takes too much time, running fast is fun, the way to get faster is to run fast. Or new runners skip the easy runs all together, assuming the speedwork and the long runs will get them to their goal.

The seed was planted. Could I really run 30-40 miles each week? If my pace was slow enough, I just might be able to.

And after two weeks, I think I can! My legs are catching up. My shin splints from 2018 are gone. I have more energy than ever before. I feel like myself again. And more than that, I have fallen 100% head over heels in love with running.

Passion reignited!