Postpartum Running Goals

crossfit, goals, postpartum fitness, races, running

Though I have been anxious to get back to running and CrossFit the last two weeks, I have not been anxious to jump the gun. I have no idea if I have pelvic floor problems or diastasis recti, but I do not really want to take the chance. I’m not sure what my return to CrossFit will look like yet, especially considering we are moving at the end of my fifth week postpartum. However, running I have a bit of an idea. I’m going to ease into it very, very, very slowly.

That said, that does not mean I have not been active. After we arrived home from the hospital, I started taking just five minute walks. And frankly, that was about all I could handle. I still waddled a bit, but within a few days I could tell I felt significantly physically better from labor. When Henry was a week old, I added another five minutes. I did a week of ten minute walks followed by RomWod stretching.

This week I’ll do fifteen minutes of walking, but I’ve added a few core movements to do before including just one set of ten bridges, clam shells, and pelvic tilts. At this point, I’m just trying to establish good habits. I’m getting closer to being able to walk a mile and I’m still following the walk up with some RomWod.

So far, this has been working for me and I’ll keep it up until six weeks — just adding five minutes of daily walking every week. After six weeks, I’ll start adding in some running. I’m not sure what that will look like yet, but I will continue to ease into it slowly and cautiously.

I do have a race goal. I would like to build up my running fitness enough to finish the Mosaic Trail half-marathon in Liberty Hill, Texas this year. Note I said finish, not race — so if I’m still run/walking so be it. The race is in December, so who knows where I will be fitness-wise. I don’t want to put any sort of time goal pressure on myself. I’m just ready to enjoy running outside and enjoy the trails. Plus, it will be my first Texas race as a Texas resident!

I’ll start posting Monday Miles again next week, especially considering I’m starting to accumulate a few!

 

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583.5: 2018 Running in Review

crossfit, pregnancy, races, running, swimming, training, triathlon

According to my Strava, I ran 583.5 miles this year. This is not a large number. Nor is it a particularly pretty, nice round number (I mean if I did not take this last week off, I could have at least made it to 600 miles). That is an average of a little over eleven miles a week. In a world where I am in constant admiration of women who call fifty mile weeks low mileage, I know it does not seem like much.

I started this blog with two big goals: run consistently and finish the Serious Series.* The past few years since my first and only marathon were filled with plenty of hopes and goals, but no finished races. Usually my hamstring and hip would act up and I would back off, give up, then start again.

I am not exactly sure what changed this year. My goals were humbler to be sure. I never had a single time goal for any of my races other than to finish. I did just that in April at the Trail Half-Marathon in Pinckney, Michigan. I cried at the finish line.

On the way though, I started new things and as the stress of “can I just make it to the race?” started to diminish, I rediscovered joy.

I started CrossFit — Bruno’s idea, but it did not take me long to love adding it to the schedule, something social to offset to my usually headphones in the ears, solitary running. I did my first Murph a month after starting and survived.

Then out of nowhere, I decided I wanted to try out a triathlon. By fate it seems, I found a beautiful used Trek bike at a shop near my local hometown. I started swimming again. I rode my bike down the same country road and bought a pair of those biker shorts.

And all the time, I kept running usually four times a week, sometimes three. Hills became easier (thanks, CrossFit). I won my age group for an August trail half-marathon. A friend of mine and I decided to run sixteen miles on a random weekday, just to see if we could (we could). I did my first triathlon later that month, deciding that yes, definitely, I would try for a sprint next year 2019 (now, as a pregnant lady, I say — we’ll see, ha!).

After several years of wanting to, I finally went to Run Woodstock in Pinckney. Bruno and I camped out, drank beers, hung out with fellow trail runners, listened to sixties and seventies cover bands, and cheered for ultramarathoners as they made their way through the finish line. I ran a 5k and then a miserable half-marathon, the slowest of my entire year. Little did I know, at the time I was racing for two!

The rest of September, October, and the first half of November, I ran very little, if at all. I found out Baby C was on his or her way and while excited about the pregnancy, I felt horrible. I continued going to CrossFit, which I think helped maintain some fitness, as I didn’t really lose that much speed when I started running again (well, aside for the sudden lack of aerobic capacity that comes with being pregnant — but I’m still faster than what I was at the beginning of the year).

I have been consistently running, along with CrossFit, again for the last six weeks. In those six weeks, I ran a 5k — the first race I knew I was running pregnant. I honestly did not think I would be able to run it under thirty minutes, but managed to do about two minutes better than that (and only around two minutes slower than what I was able to do this summer). While that made me happy, mostly I was and have been just grateful to be outside running again. I’m not kidding. It is cold and Michigan and in six weeks of running, I have ran on the treadmill only once.

So, yes, 585.5 miles might not seem like much, but to me those miles brought me to a lot of places and a lot of joy in 2018. At the beginning of this year, I did not know if I could consider myself a runner anymore. Now, at the very end, I not only consider myself a runner, but a CrossFitter, and a triathlete.

If 583.5 miles could bring me to all that, who knows where the miles will bring me in 2019?

xo, Ali

*I had a third goal in mind for this blog: de-stressing from my dissertation. I’m happy (relieved) to say it helped.

Race Report : Harmony for Ohio Turkey Trot in Minster, Ohio (November 22, 2018)

pregnancy, races, running

I was not planning on running this race. Hell, before that week I had not ran consistently since August. Finding out I am pregnant with its ensuing nausea put a damper on my consistent running, at least until recently. But I wanted to run it just for fun. Bruno and my whole family joined me. It was my sister’s first 5k. My mom and step-dad moved out of my hometown this past summer, so I thought it would be a nice way to pay a quick visit to Minster before spending the rest of Thanksgiving in Coldwater.

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Turkey Trot for six. 

Three years ago — when Bruno and I first started dating — I had a PR 5k at this race. No surprise, because Minster is flat-as-a-pancake and stand-on-a-tin-can-and-see-for-a-hundred-miles land. I can run thirteen miles and maybe change my elevation only ten feet. When I first moved to Hillsdale, Michigan, I struggled. Now whenever I go back, I can run about 30-60 seconds per mile faster than I can in Hillsdale. Anyway — that PR is 23 minutes 55 seconds.

I knew that was not going to happen. I ran a 26:30 5k this summer as a CrossFit work out. I knew that would not happen either, so my main hope was to stay at the very least a ten minute pace. Or just not walk. Or not puke. They were pretty minimal goals.

It was cold, but we were able to hang out inside my old high school until the race started. I decided to crank up some U2 (Beautiful Day gets me going every time people) and just see what happened.

I felt pretty good during the first mile. I had to stop and tie my shoes at least three times during the race. Side note: I am loyal to Nike running shoes, but what is up with their shoelaces? I considered going faster and just hanging on, but decided to just take it easy and inch my way up. Mile 1 – 9:40.

The second sort of flew by and I don’t remember any of it. Some woman tried to talk to ask me a question and I just kind of looked at her with a face that said, “I’m a nice person, but can’t you hear me panting like I’m about to spontaneously implode right now?” Around this mile though, I decided to make sure I finished under 30 minutes — something I was not sure I would be able to do before I began the 5k. Mile 2 – 9:10.

I started to hurt during the third mile, but mentally I felt ok with it. I think I was just so surprised at how I was doing. I know. I know. This is slow to most people. People run marathons minutes faster than the pace I was going for a 5k, but here I was having not run for two months, twelve weeks pregnant, and going 8:45 for the pace for the rest of the 5k.

I finished at 28 minutes exactly (damn you, Nike shoe laces!), only a minute and a half slower than my timed 5k this summer. So much better than I thought. The only thought I had was “maybe I could have went a teensy faster on that first mile.”

As I begin to eventually lose speed, I will be very grateful that I decided to see what I could do. It was not my fastest 5k, but it was definitely my proudest.

As for the race itself, I highly recommend, especially if you would want a 5k PR. You could not ask for anywhere better or easier to do so. I did not buy a shirt this year, but thought they were cute and bought one for my sister. Sign-up, registration were well-organized and easy. I’m not sure where I’ll be next year, but if I’m still able to make it home for Thanksgiving in the Midwest, I’ll look forward to returning to see what my post-baby self can do.

xo, Ali

 

Monday (Ok, Ok, Tuesday) Miles : November 19 – 25, 2018

crossfit, monday miles, pregnancy, races, running, training

There’s a new game I like to play: What is Causing Ali’s Aches and Pains? Working out, sitting too much at a desk, or pregnancy. This has been the story the last two days as my tailbone aches and I wonder if this is from dead lifts last week or just general pregnancy or the fact that I did a lot of driving over the weekend. Or perhaps all of the above? After this post I’m making a call to the chiropractor.

This was my second week of consistent running. I’m not training for anything, but following Hal Higdon’s Winter training plan. A lot of the “running while pregnant” advice I read suggested going by minutes instead of miles. Supposedly, as you grow slower, it is less disheartening. I’m so grateful to be back at it again, I’m not sure how disheartened I would even be.

I will admit that first week out there was hard. I huffed and puffed. This week, the second week, was significantly better. I know I will continue to get slower, but I felt good. I did not feel like I was huffing or puffing. Instead, it felt leisurely, enjoyable, even if slow.

11 – 19 : 15ish minute run, 1.45 miles. 10:46/mile. CrossFit: Strength – build to three rep max for push-press in seven minutes. I managed eighty pounds, a PR. WOD – AMRAP 7 minutes, 10 push-presses @ 35 pounds, 30 single-unders, 3 double-under attempts. I managed six rounds plus five push-presses. I even managed successfully some of those double-unders.

11 – 20 : 45 minute run, 4.36 miles. 10:19/mile.

11 – 21 : 30 minute run, 2.8 miles. 10:34/mile. CrossFit: WOD – 40 calorie bike followed by 4 rounds – 8 split jerks (45 lbs.) and 8 dead lifts (85 lbs). This was hard. Dead lifts are hard for me. I have improved so much in my back squat, in really almost everything I have done in CrossFit except for the deadlift. I was supposed to do five rounds and could only manage four in 19 minutes 8 seconds.

11 – 22 : Thanksgiving! You know what this means…Turkey Trot! I was not planning on running one and then decided at the last minute to run the hometown trot. I’m glad I did, because I did much better than I thought I would be able to and felt damn good too. 3.15 miles in exactly 28 minutes, around 9ish per mile. Race report here.

11 – 23 : REST.

11 – 24 : REST.

11 – 25 : 60 minute run, 5.5 miles. 10:57/mile.

Totals: Miles run – 17.2 miles, 3 hours. CrossFit, 2 hours. 5 hours.

Onward to next week!

xo, Ali

Race Report : Robert Huntley Memorial Mini-Triathlon in Coldwater, Michigan (August 25, 2018)

races, triathlon

It happened! I am officially a triathlete. After the race, I told Bruno I’ve been adding a lot to my identity this year. I’m now a trail runner, a Crossfitter (is that a word?), and now, finally, a triathlete. I also feel like a runner again. I keep saying it, but I do not take it for granted. I’m still so grateful. There are only a few months left in the year and so far, I’ve been consistently active in all of them.

But I digress! The race! The Robert Huntley Memorial Mini-Triathlon is a local race in Coldwater, Michigan. The proceeds go to scholarships for Coldwater cross country runners, so it was a race I was especially happy to pay for.

I woke up close to 5 in the morning and did my normal routine. I made coffee, drank water, put the dishes away (this is the way the first ten minutes of every single day of my life goes!). Bruno woke up and started making me breakfast, so I hopped in the shower. I ate breakfast, oatmeal with strawberries and granola. Bruno brought most of my stuff in the truck. I double-checked to make sure I had everything. We left at around 6:15.

I do not know why, but the quiet morning drive to a race is one of my favorite parts. It is dark. There is hardly anyone out on the road. It feels peaceful. Even though I always feel like I’m scrambling to get things ready, the drive to a race always calms me down. I drank some more coffee and water. We listened to tunes and talked about my plans for the race.

It was beginning to storm by the time we arrived. I checked-in and set my bike and my first transition stuff up (I had no idea how to rack my bike). I kept everything in a plastic bag, hoping that it would not get soaked. It actually ended up working out, my towel was a little damp, but my shoes and socks were dry. At this time, every time it would lightning, the race would be postponed for another half-hour.

We waited in the truck and every time it seemed like the storm was ending, lighting would strike again. I broke the no-new things rule for racing and ate one of those Honey Stinger waffles. It was delicious. In the words of Madonna, absolutely no regrets. Bruno read his kindle while I continuously refreshed the doppler radar. Around 9:30 I noticed more people getting out of their vehicles and heading up, so I figured I would follow. Good thing I did, because the race was about to start!

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I’m so excited, I just can’t hide it!

The swim portion started in the lake. Coldwater Lake is shallow. I think they said only eight feet deep in its deepest parts. We walked out to the lake and waded to the starting line. I did not feel too nervous at this point. The water was cold, but I felt like I acclimated quickly. I just was ready to get swimming. The whistle blew and the gun went off and we all started swimming.

And it was like I forgot how. My heart was racing, not from fear, but I felt way more out of breath than normal. When I swim in the pool, I swim three strokes then breathe to my right, swim three strokes then breathe to my left. It was like I completely forgot how to do that. I was breathing almost every stroke, then I would stop every few strokes to see where I was, making sure I was heading in the right direction. It was so shallow that sometimes I would take a few steps, swim again. I eventually got myself to do some consistent normal swimming, but I’m sure it was not efficient or effective. I’m not sure what happened. I was not afraid of swimming in the lake. I felt safe. I’m not sure if it was lack in trust in myself or what. Next time. Next time.

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The part I was actually most nervous about was the transition from swimming to biking. We were helped out of the water and I waddled, I mean ran, back into the transition where I changed into my socks and shoes. This was actually not as difficult as I feared. Little things. I put on my helmet, grabbed my bike, and as soon as I left the transition area, I hoped on and was back on my way. Once again, not as bad as I feared. All these little things that I was afraid of: not being able to get my socks in shoes on over my half-dried feet, struggling to get on my bike (weird fear, right?), or that I would have problems getting my helmet on. None of it happened. It went as smoothly as I could hope for a beginner.

The bike part was my favorite part. My odometer was not working because of the rain. I could not get it to turn on and tell me how fast I was, so as of now, I have no idea how fast I did those six miles. I just tried to go as fast as I could. It was an out and back. Some people were wearing headphones on the bike which made me a little nervous in passing them. I tried to say “left!” as loudly as I could. My fear of having a collision never happened. The only difficult part was the wind on the way back, but I just kept pumping my legs as hard as I could. The best part was a cute blond three year old shouting on top of her lungs to me, “YOU CAN DO IT!” Little girl, you had no idea how much I needed that. Also, you are the Rob Schneider of the mini-triathlon. I mean that as a compliment.

The first mile of the run was the second hardest part. I know that running post-bike does not feel good. It is like your muscles are in whip-lash mode. It took me awhile to get my watch started, but when I looked at my pace I was initially going at a 12 minute mile pace. My plan for the run was to take the first half mile to warm up and increase pace as I went along. I ended up finishing the first mile in around 10 minute pace. And then, just to show you how hard that first mile was in comparison to the last two, the second mile I ran in 8:30 minutes and the last in 8:15 minutes.

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Pace checking.

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I did it!

I finished! I’m still not sure of my time. They are supposed to be eventually posted on facebook and as I’m not sure of our exact starting time, I can’t really estimate.

This race was such a reminder that doing new things can be so rewarding. It was also another reminder of the happiness of the beginner mentality. So many of the faster triathletes, the ones with carbon triathlon bikes and aero helmets who seemed like they really knew what they were doing, were so kind and encouraging. They were happy to answer questions about the course and questions about transitions. Some cheered when I saw them on the out and back of the run. When I told a few it was my first triathlon they were especially encouraging. It really helped with feeling intimidated. They really helped me celebrate the joy of accomplishing something brand new.

xo, Ali

‘Twas the Eve Before my First Triathlon Eve

cycling, goals, races, running, swimming, training, triathlon

The weather forecast warns of storms on Saturday. I keep checking and the storms remain. I’m hoping for a brighter day for my first triathlon, the 34th Annual Robert Huntley Memorial Mini-Triathlon in Coldwater, Michigan, this Saturday. Even rain is fine. I do not want another cancellation. I could not find a replacement sprint triathlon for my original plan. I do not think I can find a replacement any-distance triathlon that would not involve extra travel.

I’m happy I found this race. What I read about it makes it sound like the perfect triathlon for someone like me, a beginner who has no idea what she is doing. It is a local race. The profits go to the cross country team. I’m excited to be a part of it. I’m excited to swim the 300 yards, bike the six miles, and run the three miles that will take me to my first triathlon finish.

That said, I have no idea what to expect. I have no goals other than to just go by feel and see what happens. Mainly, I am trying to see this as a learning experience. I want to learn how to do transitions. I want to learn what it is like to race my bike, and I want to get comfortable swimming in the open water again. I want to do well, but I’m trying to keep my expectations minimal and one step at a time.

It is hard not to think of the future as I plan for this race. It was not necessarily what I had planned. I wanted to do a sprint triathlon. But I think the big thing I am going to have to focus on is just staying present. Yes, doing this triathlon will help when I finally do a sprint next year. But I also am racing this race. I want to be in this race too both mentally and physically. I do not want to future-trip through it the whole time.

That said, I have a vague idea of what I’m hoping: under one hour. I have no idea if that is feasible. I could be severely over-estimating what I think could happen. I do not think I am under-estimating. We’ll see.

Tomorrow I’ll get Cat (the bike) ready and get everything set up. I’ll have my fingers crossed for good weather the whole time. Rain is fine, but storms can stay away. This runner wants to become a triathlete.

xo, Ali

 

 

All [I] Need is Just a Little Patience

goals, races, running, training, triathlon

I mentioned last week that I was seriously considering running the Freak 50k at Run Woodstock instead of the Hippie Half. I ran sixteen miles and planned out two more long runs and figured it would not be pretty, but I could get it done. I still stand by that. I know I could get it done. But I do not want to just get it done. I want to get it done well.

I had a plan. I wanted to do a mini-triathlon in Coldwater, Michigan as a replacement for the sprint triathlon I had planned for late September. I thought very seriously about training for something more, a marathon or a 50k. But then decided against it. Running has been going so well. I did not want to jump the gun. I wanted to have patience.

Patience involved going shorter instead of going longer. Rather than find some later fall marathon or 50k, I found Michigan’s Holiday series trio of races (schedule permitting — but you know I want that magic mug!) – a Halloween 10k, a Turkey Trot 5k, and a Christmas 5k. Rather than focus on endurance, which I know I have, I wanted to focus on speed. It would be a literal change of pace.

Then the possibility of this 50k came up. It isn’t like visions of grandeur popped in my mind, but as I said, I have been wanting to be an ultramarathoner since I graduated college. This is a life goal, like finishing my Ph.D. or writing a book. The temptation to put a “checkmark” next to it is strong.

But honestly, as I told Bruno, it would not be the same. I do not just want to run an ultra. I want the process of training specifically for an ultra too. I want to think about the training and hard work I put in while running. I do not want to break the ultimate running commandment: respect the distance. I don’t want to blow up at mile twenty and have to walk the last eleven miles. I do not want to injure myself. I want to do this right.

So, I picked out a 10k plan. I have a time goal (more on that later). I’ll do my first triathlon in a little less then two weeks. Then, I’ll run the Woodstock half and have a good time listening to classic rock. I will celebrate that I have been able to run this year. I will have gratitude instead of trying to push it.

I will eventually run an ultramarathon. Maybe the next year. Maybe the year after. They are not going anywhere. I’ll take it slow. It will work itself out fine. All I need is just a little patience.

xo, Ali

 

Monday Miles (100th post!) : August 6 – 12, 2018

blogging, crossfit, cycling, monday miles, races, running, training

Today is my 100th post! When I started this blog back in February, I wanted something to add to my day that was not just graduate school related. Don’t get me wrong. I love graduate school. I love Rousseau and political theory, but I wanted something else to add to the day that would help bring the stress down and to help me remember I’m not only a student. In return, it has added some more fun to my day that is not just mindlessly scrolling the internet (so guilty).

It is strange how much has changed in one hundred posts. Back then I was working on my third chapter of my dissertation. Now I am working on my final chapter, chapter five. Then, I had not ran a race in two years. In the time I have been writing this blog, I have raced four. Then, no CrossFit, just on and off lifting. Now, I have been doing CrossFit for three and a half months. When my brother saw me yesterday (for the first time since January), his first words were, “Jeez! Triceps!” (Excuse me, while my ego explodes.) In the day to day, when I do not think progress anywhere is being made, it is nice to look back and see that actually a lot has happened. I’ve accomplished a lot in these one hundred posts. Who knows where I’ll be in the next one hundred?

So, yes, to the main purpose of this post: this week of training.

8/6/18 : Yoga with Adriene: Yoga for Tired Legs. Romwod. I was still exhausted from Saturday. I just wanted to focus on stretching and getting my hamstrings feeling better.

8/7/18 : Morning – Leg shake out. Bike 30 minutes. This was so slow. 4.8 miles. Yoga with Adriene for Cyclists. Afternoon – CrossFit. Back squats. Find eight rep max, every three minutes for five rounds. Round 1 – 65 lbs.; 2 – 85 lbs.; 3 – 95 lbs.; 4 – 105 lbs.; 5 – 110 lbs. I fought hard those last eight reps. Keep in my mind my last 1-rep-max was I think 123 pounds, so it is probably higher now? I love back squats. Front squats – every two minutes for five sets, three front squats with one thruster. Round 1 – 43 lbs.; 2 – 53 lbs.; 3 – 63 lbs.; 4 – 73 lbs.; 5 – 78 lbs. I like these too. My wrists hurt a little bit after, but I was told that would go away as I gained more forearm strength. Romwod.

8/8/18 : The impromptu sixteen-miler. Good lord. This may have not been the best decision, but I’m glad I did it. My legs were already tired and I did more than I thought possible in three hours. I’m most likely not going to run that 50k, but I’m looking at a possible race later in the fall. More on that later though.

8/9/18 : I could do no more than Romwod.

8/10/18 : Romwod again.

8/11/18 : CrossFit. Also, known as the work out where I’m pretty sure Bruno and I got lapped. This was a partner wod and Bruno is a little further ahead in his ability to do pull-ups than I am, so this was kind of a mess in trying to do everything synchronized. Still, it ended up being a good work-out. Here is what I managed in a little under 20 minutes: 4x 10 ring-rows, 200 meter run. 3x 17 jumping pull-ups, 200m run. It was ugly, but it still happened. Romwod.

8/12/18 : Rest. Sweet rest. Bruno rolled my legs out and that is about all we did. Glorious.

Totals : 16 miles ran, 4.8 miles cycled, 2 hours CrossFit. Pretty good for a recovery-ish week.

xo, Ali

 

 

 

 

 

 

Race Report : The Legend Trail Half-Marathon in Laingsburg, Michigan (August 4, 2018)

races, running

This race report begins with a first. As a couple, we decided to make our first camping trip together at Sleepy Hollow State Park, the location of the trail race. We received a tent and other camping equipment for Christmas, so had been planning all year to use it, but had yet to find the perfect time. This race seemed to be it. So on Friday (procrastinating as usual) we grocery shopped, packed our things, and with a few trips back to the house to grab things we forgot, we eventually made our way to Laingsburg and Sleepy Hollow.

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Bruno shows off our domain.

We eventually managed to set up our tent (we didn’t practice at home). Then we walked over to registration and received our shirts and bibs for the race. I will say this. It was super convenient, maybe only a nice eight minute walk from our campsite. We finished setting up, Bruno bought some wood, and I started making dinner: Turkey and swiss sandwiches cooked over the fire and mashed sweet potatoes. Nothing fancy. I was more concerned about making sure I got plenty of carbs, thus the sweet potatoes.

Our human neighbors were initially noisy, but nothing obnoxious though. By ten pm everything was mostly quiet. It was perfect. The bugs were a different story. Loud. Obnoxious. I wished for them to be eaten by some wild predator. I put earplugs in and eventually fell asleep.

We woke up at 6:30ish. This was one of the best parts of staying in the campsite. After a few 4am wake ups with long drives to races, it was nice to just be there. Bruno made coffee and oatmeal for breakfast. We walked over the starting line around 7:40 and met up with some friends. It was all pretty relaxed, no rushing around, and no problems. I was grateful. I am grateful.

And now, the race. They announced the waves and I could actually hear the paces. This was nice, because the last few I could not hear the paces and I think in Trail-half started further back than I should have and ended up stuck in back-ups a lot the time. This did not happen to me once during the entire Legend race.

I had a plan. I was going to start around 10:30/mile pace and speed up. I did not expect to be able to run under 10 minute pace, because I ran 11:11 at Trail-half and I think over 10 minute pace for the Dirty Duo. I tried to think conservatively. It didn’t work.

My first mile was ten minutes. I tried to get myself to slow down, but couldn’t. I felt good. But I also know that you can’t judge a mile by the first run. So I decided to see if I could keep the pace for the next 3-4 miles and evaluate pace from there. I maintained the pace. It felt perfect. Hard enough to question whether I could hold it, but easy enough that I felt good. I didn’t feel like I was working too hard or was going to burn out. The fourth mile was the hilliest and I easily maintained the pace. I was excited. I began to speed up only a little bit, ten seconds per mile faster. I passed Bruno. Then I passed our friend Mike.

The next several miles flew by. I did not listen to any music, but focused on pace. Aside for my last mile, my fastest mile was mile seven at 9:42 minutes. I tripped several times and fell hard only once. I was ok, but with my ego a little bruised, I hopped back up. Another runner asked if I was ok and I responded, “I’m just so happy to be out here.” I continued to run just fine. Nothing was sore. Everything was going perfect. Until mile nine.

My legs began to get a little tired. I told myself to just ignore it. Around this point I think we started leaving the woods and head out into some grassy areas. It was hot and I struggled during these points only to be able to pick it back up once we ran back into the woods. Mile 9 was a little over ten minutes, mile 10 a little slower, mile 11 even slower, and by mile 12 I admit I was beginning to phone it in.

Here were my excuses: I already am beating my goal time. I already am running faster than I had planned on running, even at this slower pace. I probably already earned myself at least a third place age group award (I researched the paces for age groupers last year and yeah, an age group award was one of my goals). I already (probably) hit all of my “A” goals, so what did it matter anymore?

At this point, with about a mile left my friend Mike caught up with me. I credit him for my strong finish. I cannot remember what he said, but it something along the lines of let’s finish this thing. My pace jumped up. Faster and faster. We ran together for about a half mile, maybe a little more. Then he sped off. I kept the pace, but tried to increase a little bit more, a little bit more. I could not see the finish line so I was afraid of sprinting off and not being able to finish strong.

When I saw it, I bolted. I sprinted in. My last mile was around 9 minute pace. It was my fastest mile and it hurt the worst. As I said, left to my own devices I probably would have ran it at around 10:20 until Mike caught up with me. Shame is powerful, people. Very powerful.

My time was 2:09:10, averaging 9:57 pace. I was shocked. I was expecting and planned for 2:15. That was my race goal and it was almost six minutes faster than what I thought I was capable of doing. My time was only one minute slower than my road half-marathon PR. It was twenty minutes faster than my time at Trail-half marathon, but that could be because that trail was harder (at least in my opinion). I could have cried. I picked up my medal and my huge beer glass for finishing the Serious Series.

Bruno finished a couple minutes after me. I did not have time to regroup after finishing to cheer him in. All of us in our group agreed the race went fine until miles eight and nine. Around then, most of us started struggling. We stood around as they started announcing overall and age group awards. When they began announcing 25-29 women, I was first. I was surprised, but pumped. I love the little age group mason jars.

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Tired and sweaty, but very happy.

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We did it!

Finishing this Series was one of my main 2018 goals. I remember signing up for it and being scared that it would not happen. I was scared that I would get injured. I was scared something would come up and I would not have the nerve for it. I get it. I follow a lot of runners who mainly do ultramarathons or marathons. I’m not fast. I want to do long, but I’m not sure if I am ready for it yet. At the beginning of this year, I was not sure if I really was a “runner” anymore. I had not raced in years. Now I’ve done three races. I’ve not only finished them, but I have finished them well. I have one more trail half on the calendar. I’m still hoping to do a triathlon. I feel like a runner again. I feel like an athlete. I feel strong. These races went better than I could have ever expected when I signed up for them back in January. I’m so grateful.

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Next up: RunWoodstock trail half-marathon. This will be a return to Hell – Hell, Michigan that is. I’m not sure how much I will train for it as I am planning on it being a fun camping weekend with a race rather than a race weekend with camping.

xo, Ali

Monday Miles : July 30 – August 5, 2018

crossfit, cycling, lifting, monday miles, races, running, training

Two days after the Legend trail half-marathon, I am still completely shot. The CrossFit work out today features running (and burpees) and I played around with going, but decided against it. Don’t be stupid, I keep telling myself, rest, recover. So, I’ll put on some Yoga with Adriene and do some graduate student things and some cleaning things. I think I’ll have to ease into this week instead of going full steam ahead.

I’ll share the details of my final race in the Serious Series tomorrow, but for now all I can say is that I’m hella sore and hella happy.

Here are this past week’s work outs:

7/30/18 : REST.

7/31/18 : Run. Easy four miles. 11:09/mile. Stayed under 152 bpm heart rate.

8/1/18 : Bike. 8.2 miles. 36 minutes. 13.7 mph. CrossFit. Strength – push press. Build to max 3-rep weight in seven minutes. I built up to 73 lbs. WOD: 5 rounds for time – 5 pull-ups (banded), 10 push-press, 50 single-unders. For the first round of push-presses, I was not sure what I was going to be able to do, so I played it safe and kept the bar. 33 lbs. As soon as I picked it up, I knew it was too easy, so rushed to add some two 10 lbs. to the bar — so sets 2-5 I did 53 lbs. At one point during my single-unders my coach said, “Jump a little higher.” As soon as I did that, the single-unders turned into double-unders. I was happy about that! I could only manage four, but that is four more than I was able to do before. Time: 14 minutes 40 seconds. Romwod.

8/2/18 : Run. 3 miles. This was just supposed to be whatever feels good. That happened to be 9:16 paced miles in the hot, hot sun. This run was immediately followed up with CrossFit. 5x 500m row sprints. Stay within 15 seconds for each sprint. Times: 2:02, 2:04, 2:09, 2:08, 2:08. Holy hell. Ouch. Here I am humbled again by CrossFit. No big deal I thought when I saw this work out. No big deal when I started my first set. 150m it was a big deal. I was on fire. Pure will was what it took me to finish some of those sets. I cannot imagine sitting on that thing for four hours doing a marathon. Also, here is where I point out another fun fact: the female winner of the marathon row, Margaux Alvarez, for the games had faster 500m splits then I did for my sprints with 3 minute breaks. Romwod.

8/3/18 : Yoga with Adriene for Hamstrings.

8/4/18 : Run Legend 13.1 Trail Half-marathon. I am so happy with this race. It was the perfect end to the serious series and the perfect weekend.

8/5/18 : Rest. Much deserved rest.

Totals : 20 miles run, 8.2 miles cycled, 2 hours CrossFit.

A damn good week. Now to more rest and recovery!

xo, Ali