Goals for Getting Faster – Making it Happen!

You know how on The Biggest Loser the contestants just get to work out all of the time? (Ok, maybe “get to” is the wrong word.) Well that is how my summer has been, except that I enjoy 100% of it. Now, I haven’t lost any weight because I’ve offset all my activity with avocados, but I have had an amazing time getting my heart rate up and endorphins flowing!

I run to eat avocado on everything. That and to eat frozen yogurt daily.

I run to eat avocado on everything. That and to eat frozen yogurt daily.

In Madison there is no reason not to be active every day. There are bike paths EVERYWHERE, I am a college student again and have access to a lap pool, and there are tons of opportunities for free workout activities – from yoga to walks in the arboretum.

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Since I have been on FUNemployment for the last six weeks I’ve decided to stay busy bettering my mind and body as much as possible. As I mentioned, I’ve made the move from strictly running to branching out a little more – including biking, swimming, yoga, and also as of recently – weight lifting.

And let me tell you something – it is paying off, big time.

I am getting stronger.

Just had this mind-blowingly kick ass run today! Maybe it was the pre-run coffee or the tunes, but whatever it was it worked!

Just had this mind-blowingly kick ass run today! Maybe it was the pre-run coffee or the tunes, but whatever it was it worked!

I’m getting faster. 

Best run of my life. I didn't even know this was possible.

Best run of my life. I didn’t even know this was possible.

Oh yeah, and I’m getting tanner: BONUS!

And I love it! I love having helmet hair or smelling faintly of chlorine. I love wanting to cry at the sight of stairs after leg day in the gym. (Ok, OK – I’ve done ONE leg day. I’m far from a regular yet.)

I’ve been noticing that my pace is getting quite a bit faster with running. I am not sure if the cross training is to attribute, or I am pushing myself mentally more. Either way, there are no excuses not to keep it up.

So I’m setting some goals.

Next weekend I am doing the Madison Mini-Marathon. My goal is to PR, which I don’t think should be too difficult given the success of my recent runs. My PR pace right now is 8:49/mi. I’d love to get into the 1:53’s with my half marathon time.

  • Goal #1 is to PR
  • Goal #2 is to break 1:54.

That’s a huge jump from the 1:56ish I ran at the Indy Mini-Marathon in May.

My next goal is for the Quad Cities Marathon in September. The last marathon I ran was the Mississippi Blues Marathon way back in January. (Has it been eight months already?!) but my PR was at the Marine Corps Marathon in October where I ran a 4:13:48 or a pace of 9:40/mi.

  • Goal #1 is to PR
  • Goal #2 is to break 4:10 – or roughly a 9:30 min/mi
  • Goal #3 is to break 4:00????!! (Probably wishful thinking for Quad Cities, but I’m writing it down anyway.)

I think goals 1 & 2 are definitely do-able. Again, it is going to be more mental strength than physical strength that will push me toward achieving any of them. I know I can physically handle it – I just need to not whimp out and psych myself out.

I am anxious to see what my workout life is going to be like when grad school starts (less than two weeks away) but until then it’s two-a-day workouts galore!

What has helped your pace improve?
Have you ever had a surprise kick-ass run?
Do you have any goals for the fall season?

Race Report: Go! St. Louis Half Marathon

What’s this… two half marathons in two weeks?! Have I finally emerged from winter hibernation? It appears so.

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This Sunday I completed half marathon #9 – the Go! St. Louis Half Marathon. It was impromptu and last minute, but turned out to be a blast! I had secretly been hoping something would work out that would allow me to run it and it did!

Midway through last week I was looking at our schedule and noticed that St. Louis just so happened to be on the way from Louisville to Denver, our route for the weekend. While we weren’t supposed to start the drive until Sunday, I managed to talk my awesome bosses into letting us get a few hours of a head start Saturday night so we could end up in St. Louis. How convenient, right? I just happen to be in St. Louis the morning of the Go! Half Marathon!

Since I received the good news only days before the race I was unable to register online. Luckily, everyone I know who runs in the Midwest just happened to be running the race. My girlfriend from freshman year of college, Annica, was a doll and agreed to register me at the expo on Saturday, since I would be missing that as well.

Freshman year football game at Mizzou. Aww. Throwback.

Freshman year football game at Mizzou. Aww. Throwback.

Annica and I started running about the same time and have always talked about doing a race together. Over the last two years we have both grown as runners (and bloggers – you can read her phenomenal and much more interesting blog at AnnicaNicole.com) Finally, we got our chance to spend some quality race time together!

Before the race.

Before the race.

Eliot and I got into St. Louis fairly late Saturday evening to our hotel at the Residence Inn downtown. I’ve talked about this hotel before and how much I absolutely adore it, especially the staff. They were phenomenal and managed to squeeze us in, even though the whole city was packed for the race that weekend. That is, until we showed up and the desk clerk, “regretfully had to inform us that there was an error in reservations and they accidentally gave our rooms away.” WWHHAATT??? He said they didn’t have my number to call so they had no way of letting us know sooner. WWHHAATT?? He said he would do what he could and headed into the back office.

Instead, Nikkita (one of the fellow desk clerks who we know quite well) comes out. JUUUUUSSTT KIIIDDDIIINNGG. They have rooms – no problem! April Fools! I think my heart rate was the higher during those five minutes than during the actual half marathon. I had already started planning my contingency plan for which sofa I would be sleeping on, knowing there was no chance of getting rooms in downtown St. Louis at that hour. Those tricksters!

Sunday morning I woke up at the crack of dawn and Annica and her boyfriend Amer picked me up. Annica had warned him that I would be quite cheerful and sure enough, I was filled with my usual pre-race enthusiasm! Amer dropped us off at the race start and Annica and I made our way through the throngs of people.

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The half marathon portion of Go! boasts around 12,000 runners, so it’s huge. The marathon has far less runners, approximately 3,000. I mentioned I knew a few runners in the race and before the gun I tried to find a few of them. I managed to spot Tim, but was unable to find the others.

Tim and I at the race start - he was doing the full marathon on his own quest for marathons in all 50 states.

Tim and I at the race start – he was doing the full marathon on his own quest for marathons in all 50 states.

The race itself went really well. The first few miles smelled of carbs, carbs, and more carbs! Through mile 5 the course led up to and through the Anheuser-Busch Brewery and you could smell all of the yeast and hops. That was just a prelude to the beer to come…

Around mile 4 I stumbled across a few more running pals. I saw a group of Marathon Maniacs ahead of me, with signs saying one of them was running their 100th marathon. ONE HUNDRED MARATHONS. Yep – that’s a maniac if I’ve ever heard of one. Being the peppy runner I am, of course I had to yell out a congratulations. Who turned around but none other than Peter, one of my roommates from the Mississippi Blues Marathon in January.

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Ahead of him was Danielle, from the T-Rex Runner blog that I’m a huge fan of!

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The rest of the race was ups and downs. Mile 7 boasted the “Holy Hill!” Honestly, after last week’s Run the Bluegrass, it didn’t phase me too much. I imagine if I had not done the Bluegrass it would be a much different story. Right around there I saw the best sign of the course.

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Of course, that sign was closely followed by this one. As a fan of internet memes, I found it hilarious. Since my name is Kelly, I found it beyond awesome.

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There were a few other good race signs along the way, especially at the hill…

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Sorry mom! :-/

While there were a few friends I didn’t get to see, there was one I did get to hear from. Ashely, who was one of my students when I was a TA in undergrad was running. Before the race she had sent me a text that read “Call if you’re bored.” Yes, I am one of those people that runs with their phone AND uses it. Shamelessly, I might add. We chatted for a bit, compared notes, and then wished each other a happy run!

Mile 10 was were the half and full marathon split. At that point there was a DJ playing the song, “I would walk 500 miles and then walk 500 more.” The pacer nearby sung merrily along, but changed the lyrics to more accurately sing, “I will run three more miles and then run no more!”

Annica, on her way to a course PR!

Annica, on her way to a course PR!

Annica was getting comments on her butt all race. Thank goodness her boyfriend Amer wasn't running with us!

Annica was getting comments on her butt all race. Thank goodness her boyfriend Amer wasn’t running with us! I was starting to get a little jealous by mile 9.

The last mile was brutal and uphill. I said to Annica as we neared the top of one hill, “We just have to get over this!” to which she responded, “It’s like this the rest of the way!” She was right! Those final uphills always get me. I don’t feel victorious coming into the finish off of those, which may be the intended purpose. But my butt probably looks good, so that’s great!

The first place marathoner finished before us. No big deal.

The first place marathoner finished before us. No big deal.

Of course, along the way we had to do some fueling. My race favorite appeared in the hands of spectators around mile 9 – Twizzlers! Yum. Nothing hits the spot for me more during a race than those. Friends – take note! There was also beer, beer, and more beer! This is St. Louis after all. Those are carbs, right?

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Annica and I crossed the finish in that adorable, holding hands up high cute finishers photo kind of way. (I’ll post those cheesily whenever they show up online.) After that I embarked on my favorite post-race ritual, grabbing as much food as my arms will carry.

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A loaf-sized pretzel – Check!
An ice cream sandwich from the infamous St. Louis Ted Drewes creamery – Check!
Toasted ravioli – Check!

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After the race I had to speed off back to the hotel since it was still technically a work day. 15 minutes and a shower later, we were on the road – Denver bound!

From 0 to 50 MPW in 1 week!

You know what feels great? Achieving a goal. Last week I set out to get all five of my runs in for the week – and I did!

Monday – 5 miles – 44:22 – 8:52 pace
Tuesday – 10 miles – 1:30:16 – 9:01 pace
Wednesday20 miler from hell – 3:26:23 – 10:19 pace
Thursday – OFF
Friday – 5 miles – 48:27 – 9:41 pace (hey, it was a recovery run!)
Saturday – OFF
Sunday – 10 miles – 1:32:57 – 9:18 pace

This was quite the week to jump into with a total weekly mileage of 50. Quite a leap from the zero miles I logged on my 10 day hiatus.

The Tale of the Terrible 20-Miler

It looks like I’m headed to the Mississippi Blues Marathon for the full 26.2!

After 10 days off last week I was pretty worried about being ready for the race. I told myself if I could get a 20-miler in this week then I would commit to the full marathon, and not switch down to the half. Well one absolutely brutal and miserable morning of running later, I knocked out all 20 miles. It wasn’t pretty, but I made it!

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Normally the first three miles of a long run are the hardest for me. After that, I’m warmed up and in the zone. Today, I just couldn’t get my mind off of all the miles ahead of me. The run just dragged on and all I could pay attention to was nagging muscle pain. By the end, I was verbally giving myself pep-talks every mile just to make it to the finish.

Yeesh! Look at those splits. The only 'negative' thing about them was how I felt with each mile!

Yeesh! Look at those splits. The only ‘negative’ thing about them was how I felt with each mile!

So what went wrong? I have a few guesses:

1. The obvious. My fitness slipped with the extended vacation from running. 10 days is a lot of time to be absent.

2. Fatigue. I ran 5 miles Monday and then 10 miles yesterday. That 10 miler was definitely silly to do right before a long run, but I needed to do it then based on my work schedule this week. It was a nice run with Abe though!

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3. Dehydration. I only had about 48 oz of water yesterday – nowhere near enough for me. An easily correctable mistake that I knew better to avoid!

4. Boredom. This is happening more and more for me lately. While I absolutely deplore running with music (for me it takes away from the introspection that I love and is also just pretty distracting) I think I need a change and this might be it. I need to get pumped up about running again!

Everyone complains about Bakersfield, but it's gorgeous!

Everyone complains about Bakersfield, but it’s gorgeous!

But 20 miles is 20 miles! My goal is to get in every single run in these 3.5 weeks before the marathon. Realistically I’m not going to PR. I’d love to break past 4:10 and maybe even through the 4:00 mark, but right now I just don’t see that happening. However, I’m still starting in the 4:15 corral and going to feel it out on race day just to see what type of fire I have within me just waiting for the big day to come out!

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