RnR AZ One Week To Go

FYI: This post has nothing to do with any work outs of training runs I’ve done over the last week. It’s time for me to focus on the mental aspects of the marathon, so here’s a peak into my brain. It’s a hot mess in there, but you get used to it ;)

Can anyone ever confidently say “Oh, I’m TOTALLY ready to run my first marathon!” I’m pretty sure that feeling doesn’t exist, and I’m 100% certain that with how neurotic I am, I would never utter words anywhere close to that. I will say, however, that I’m not worried about whether I “trained well enough” or “did enough”. I am as ready as I could possibly get at this point in my life, and regardless of what happens on January 20th, I have so much to be proud of.

On the flight to NYC, I began a post about things I learned while training for a marathon. I planned to finish it when I got in, and have it go up the day of the race. Well, let’s just say that emotional Post Race Cancelation Ari stepped in, and it’s not even in the data base anymore. If I had one regret over my training cycle, it’s that after the New York Marathon was canceled, a little bit of my spark faded. I didn’t really lose motivation or drive, but the awe and appreciation for my body that came with conquering these new distances faded as I became more focused on the idea that this extended training cycle needed to make me faster, and less focused on the heart of the matter—why I signed up for a marathon in the first place.

I haven’t gone into too much detail on here, although I have gently alluded to the fact that when I first started running, I was in a very bad place with food and body image. I was trapped in a negative cycle, and I honestly didn’t see a light at the end, and I could not bring myself to believe I would be able to lead a different kind of life. Then I discovered running, and I rekindled my passion to be better—the reason I began my healthy living journey in the first place. I began to focus my success on my physical accomplishments, and I found what I had been searching for: freedom.

I am not running this marathon to break any records, and despite the fact that I am document every last second of my training on pretty much every facet of social media, I’m not doing this so you will think I’ve done something special. I am running this marathon to celebrate a point in my journey. A journey that began when I was 9 years old and realized my body was “different”. I originally thought that deciding to tackle a marathon would be the celebration of my weight loss journey, but what I’ve realized is that it is the celebration of something so much bigger.

So no…I’m not “totally ready to run my first marathon”, but I am ready to have a once in a lifetime experience with one of my best friends. And I’m even starting to believe that it might actually happen this time. I haven’t asked Steve if they’re going to cancel it in a solid 72 hours which I would definitely consider progress. ;)

And because this post obviously isn’t long and wordy enough, here are some things I’ve learned while training for my first marathon:

  • I’m stronger than I think.
  • Dinosaurs are hilarious.
  • It’s not easy to find people that you actually enjoy being alone with for 4 hours every week, so if you find someone who clicks perfectly, enjoy it and appreciate the hell out of them (I DO!).
    "Nicole, why is their Christmas so scary???""Don't worry Ari, I'll protect you! Super Nicole to the rescue!"
    21miles-2
  • I am an individual, and my training plan will probably never fit 100% perfectly into my life, and the challenges that each cycle will bring. All I can do is my best, and it won’t kill me to choose drinking wine with friends once in my life over “feeling great” on my stupid recovery run. I was definitely better about this the second time, but the first time around, I had absolutely no social life, and I don’t think my husband/family/friends appreciated me kicking them to the curb. It’s not the nicest way to treat the people I love. I swear there is a way to find balance, but it’s different for everyone, and that’s okay.
  • Comparing myself to others never ends well. And it’s stupid, and kind of rude. It’s best to avoid it at all costs.
  • Coach Susan knows the answers to all of life’s questions. Also, I think my people-pleasing personality is hooked on this whole having a coach business. I had no idea what I was missing, but now I don’t want to go back (and let’s be honest….I probably won’t. Coach Susan > Lululemon running skirts).

    Hot Chocolate2

    Although running skirts are pretty awesome…

  • I enjoy running without music. This was the surprise of the century, but I didn’t use my ipod for a single long run the second time around. I do plan on having it on backup for the marathon if I need some extra motivation though.
  • Running should be fun. Last time I checked, this was not my career, and I wasn’t planning to win PF Chang’s. I know, I know, you’re shocked by this revelation. Fun doesn’t mean easy. In my sick and twisted world, “fun” means giving everything I have inside me, laughing with Nicole, enjoying the cheers, and celebrating the success of running a marathon no matter what happens. I plan to have so much freaking fun.
"I'VE GOT THIS!!!!!"

This is what fun running looks like.

Alright friends, now is the time—give me pre-race words of wisdom! Tell me your motivational mantras, what you’ve learned (not necessarily from running, but it could be what you learned in math class), and any other gems of positivity you want to share! 

 

**PS: I am putting together a post this week linking up first time marathon recaps, RnR AZ recaps, and any really inspirational running recaps I come across, because I plan on doing a lot of reading to get motivated. If you have a post, email me the link to ari@arismenu.com if you’d like to be included!**

RnR AZ 2 Weeks to Go

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Hey, remember how I used to actually talk about my marathon training? Those were the good ol’ days. Then I just stopped for 3 weeks. Well, I haven’t been writing because there hasn’t been too much to report, other than working really hard to fight off injury and sickness. I could feel really down in the dumps about it, and decide that my training has been ruined forever (that’s pretty typical over in these parts), but actually, I’ll take it now rather than at the starting line. And I haven’t missed a single long run, so I’m honestly not that  worried. I mean, I’m a nervous wreck, but I’m no more nervous than if I had done every run exactly as planned. I’ve been training for 7 months. I can run this marathon. Umm, I just accidentally typed “marathong” which I’m guessing is something completely different. Moving on…

In the last 3 weeks, I’ve probably run 6 times. Right when I decided I wanted to push to make it to 1,000 miles for 2012, I woke up the day after a 14 mile run with a scary knee pain I had never felt before. There was definitely some freaking out, and crazy texts and calls to Coach Susan, my nurse friend Laurel, and anyone else who would listen. Susan told me to take at least 3 days off, and said most injuries can be prevented if you just listen to your body and take time off immediately. I’m not usually very good at that, but as I told EVERYONE about a million times, I can’t not run another marathon. So I listened. I took an entire week off running (WHO AM I??), went to the gym and lifted weights one of the days (more shocking news), and did a 55 mile bike ride on Christmas which was awesome except for the fact that I am pretty sure I need a different seat, like, yesterday. It was pretty painful in all the wrong ways, but I was happy to be doing something “endurancy” and “athletic”.

After my week hiatus, I came back and ran the best freaking 21 miles of my life.

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READY TO RUN!!!

Actually, I’d never run 21 miles before, so I have nothing to compare it to, except for the fact that I did it in less time than it took me to run 20.5 the last time, so that’s a good sign. I actually still can’t get over how much better I felt this time. The last time, after mile 18, it seriously felt like there was glass inside my joints, and every step felt like I was just going to break. It was so incredibly difficult, but this time, I just felt…right. I mean, it was ridiculously tough, but more in an “I’m exhausted, where is the ‘finish line’???” type of way than a “Are you sure there are not shards of glass in my ankles?” type of way. I finally got to run the route I had planned out the first time with Nicole, and she kept me so positive in the middle miles (around 15-17) where I was struggling. By the end we were so pumped that we ran the final mile in something ridiculous like 8:30. I really doubt that will be happening at mile 26, but even after we were finished, I felt energized and I couldn’t believe how great it went.

The next day, I got sick. So then I took more time off, then I ran again and my knee kinda hurt, blah blah blah. Sooooo, I’m just trying to embrace the taper. I felt an injury come on during taper last time, and Susan told me that it really wouldn’t hurt me to take it easier during that time, so that’s what I’m doing. I’ve been training for 7 months, and never missed a long run. My body knows what to do. Sorry, I have to keep reminding myself as well.

So, there you have it friends. Two weeks to go, and I’m feeling the taper craziness in full force, but I know that by this time on January 20th, it will all be worth it. I will finally  be able to call myself a marathoner, and more importantly, I will be able to rewrite my thank you notes (I wrote them after NY, but I hated how pessimistic they sounded, so I decided to wait until after the journey was complete and I could thank everyone who donated for helping me to become a marathoner), and I will be able to feel the reward of crossing the finish line after 26.2 miles. I can’t freakin’ wait.

 

PF Chang’s Marathon Training Week 5

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I have so much to tell you. First of all, I’ve just discovered that my running mileage for 2012 is currently sitting at 925 miles. I’d secretly kind of had the goal of getting to 1,000, but I didn’t really put much thought into it, because honestly, I just didn’t think I would. I don’t do very well with a ton of mileage, so I just tried to follow my plan, and keep this little goal in the back of my mind….Until it got so close that I can taste it! Now I have to do it, right??? I mean, I don’t plan on being stupid and killing myself this close to the marathon if something hurts, but it definitely gives me a little added motivational push when I’ve been struggling a bit mentally.

Also, I *think* I’m getting closer to figuring out my fueling/stomach issues. It’s kind of a constant battle for me. Almost any food before a run can cause a lot of unpleasantness with no gallbladder, but I’m not a person who can do a long run on gu alone. I’ve always eaten Ezekiel bread with nut butter and sometimes a banana before a run since, like, forever. I never thought that was the culprit because back in the day it worked great, but I started to think about the fiber of the bread and the fat of the nut butter. My body can’t process fats as well now, and let’s just say I don’t think my body needs any added fiber in my life ever. So for my long run this week, I bought a white flour bagel and put pumpkin butter on top. My stomach felt the best it has felt in a loooooong time. I was so happy!!! I had to make one stop in the first mile, and then had no issues for 18 whole miles!! This is a big deal in my world, friends.

However, I still get hungry–like stomach growling hungry–and feel somewhat depleted around 15 miles even with fueling often. I’m not sure how to fix that other than maybe playing with my meal the night before and trying to bulk it up? I always make sure to eat a decent amount of carbs at dinner, but maybe I need more? If anyone has any brilliant advice on the subject, I’d love to hear it! Anyway, here’s how last week went down:

Monday: 5 mile run. I was having a realllll hard time getting motivated for this run, but I got out there, and of course as soon as I did, it felt great! I set my garmin to a screen where I couldn’t see my pace, and just cruised at what felt comfortable, which ended up averaging in at 9:40. That is not my usual “easy” pace. I was pretty stoked about it.

Tuesday: Off.

Wednesday: “Track” and strength training. At PT I ended up doing all sorts of crap–one legged dead lifts on the bosu ball, abs, triceps, this thing where I threw a ball at the wall…I was sore for like 3 days, and I felt like a total wimp, but at least I strength trained a little! That afternoon I met up with Stacey to do our scheduled track work out. We met up in the early afternoon, and it was about 72* which is perfect for a picnic, but it felt warm (at least to me) to run in. It wasn’t an easy run, but we still rocked it. We did a short warm up then 1 mile @ 9:03, 1200 @ 8:28, 800 @ 7:55, then 3×400 @ 7:16, 6:56, 6:43, then a short cool down. I kind of wanted to die, but in a good way?

Thursday: Off.

Friday: 18 mile run. You know, I kind of thought the long runs would be easier this time around. Turns out….they’re not. BUT I’m faster this time around. A lot faster. My last 18 mile run took me 3 hours and 8 minutes, and I shaved 7 minutes and 26 seconds per mile off of that this time around! This run was amazing, and hard, and fun all at the same time! Nicole and I both started out feeling a little rough. Her ankle was bugging her, and I woke up with a stabbing pain in my hip (I’ve had it before, and it’s not from running, and it always goes away so I wasn’t worried, just annoyed). We had to stop and stretch a few times in the first few miles, and we kinda decided to let it be what it was going to be, not stress, and enjoy the scenery.

Look at this house!!! We thought their decorations were so cool that we stopped to take pictures. Is it Halloween?? Is it Christmas??? Who knows, but it's awesome!

Look at this house!!! We thought their decorations were so cool that we stopped to take pictures. Is it Halloween?? Is it Christmas??? Who knows, but it’s awesome!

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"Nicole, why is their Christmas so scary???"

“Nicole, why is their Christmas so scary???”

"Don't worry Ari, I'll protect you! Super Nicole to the rescue!"

“Don’t worry Ari, I’ll protect you! Super Nicole to the rescue!”

We took a totally new route which took us through Tempe, Scottsdale and Phoenix and it was gorgeous, and a great way to change things up! Also, fall running is my nice.

IMG_20121214_165027 By the end, we had both totally surprised ourselves, and I ran my fastest long run of marathon training ever with an average pace of 10:02. Granted, we definitely took our share of breaks, so I don’t know how accurately that represents where I am pace wise, but it sure felt great to see such an awesome time! And then there was well earned chocolate milk/coffee with chocolate milk per usual.

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I was dreaming of you too, Dutch Bros…

Saturday: Off.

Sunday: 3 mile run. That 925 lit a fire, plus I figured 3 work outs this week wasn’t really great, so I ran to my mom’s house for dinner. 3 nice and easy miles averaging a 9:37 pace, and then there was food, so that was good.

Tell me something awesome. I don’t care what it is, or what subject it’s about. I would just like to hear awesome things. :)

PF Chang’s Marathon Training Week 4

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Okay, so before I talk about last week, I want to talk a little bit about my mental game because, well, it sucks right now. For 6 months, I’ve been training for a marathon. For 8 months before that I was training for half marathons–my first and then training to PR at a couple of others. That is a long time. Surprisingly, my body feels okay. I feel much stronger than I did a few months ago during the first round of this training cycle, and while my body still doesn’t seem to love the idea of running a marathon, I’m not in a constant state of pain the way I was while training for New York. My mind, however, is a little done.

The last 2 weeks have been lower mileage, and let me tell you, I have done the bare minimum. Last week I ran something like 22 miles, when just a couple of weeks ago, I had a couple 7 day periods (not M-F weeks, but still technically weeks) that were double that. Somehow I doubt cutting back means halving my mileage. Unless I have plans to run with a friend, I’m having a tough time forcing myself to do much of anything. I’m sure I could come up with a million excuses–it’s too cold now to ride my bike in the morning, I’ve been so busy that it’s hard to get to the gym for spinning or strength training (to be fair, last week was tech week…), etc.

I actually think the cutback weeks might be partially to blame. I get excited about challenging weeks with high mileage, and I get excited to get them in. The last two weeks, I’ve felt excited for my races, but the rest of the time I can’t get into it. So maybe the world could just plan races on all of my running days, so I could get excited about them too? I would love if everything could just revolve around me. ;)

In all serious, I know it will be fine, and I know that a 7 month marathon training cycle is a little ridiculous, and I would be a freak of nature if I didn’t feel some burnout, but the fact is, I have 3 weeks left of real training before we go into taper, and I need to make the most of it. I want to get to the starting line of PF Chang’s feeling confident and like I’ve done everything I can do to run the best marathon I have in me. I’m not a person who settles or simply does something to “get through it”. After everything that’s happened, I need to do my best, and cross that finish line with no regrets.

Okay enough rambling. Here’s how my kind of lame week went down.

Monday: Strength training. I did the same thing as last week, but did my push ups and reverse push ups in sets of 12. I know I’ll have to change it up eventually, and get to a gym or get some free weights at home, but for now, I’m adopting the “something is better than nothing” approach.

Tuesday: Speed work!! YAY!! First, let me say, it’s a lot harder when I can’t go to track. I love the track. I love it’s perfect 1/4 mile distance that you can see the end of. I love Coach Susan standing there with her little clipboard, and telling her my paces at the end. I love watching everyone whiz by and leave me in the dust. It’s not quite the same along a path of the canal, but I did have Nicole there to kick my butt. We did a little over a mile warm up, then 4x400s at 7:21, 7:29, 6:58, 6:44, then a mile at 8:59, then a cool down. I kind of wanted to die, but it was good. I really miss the track, and I can’t wait until spring when it moves back to mornings and I can go again! We ended up running 3.7 miles in 35 minutes.

Wednesday: Push ups? That’s all I did. My regular push ups and my dip push ups. I did half of that at the theatre when I got there for rehearsal, and the other half while I was getting dressed. I’d made plans to go for a bike ride, but I forgot about a meeting, and just ran out of time to do much, but I guess something is better than nothing.

Thursday: Off. I guess I could call it “rest”, but I’m not sure what I’d be resting from…

Friday: 9 mile run. After a really stressful week, and honestly, a pretty crappy week emotionally, I just didn’t want to run that morning. At 1am when I was still awake, I *almost* texted Nicole to cancel, but plans hold me accountable, and even Steve reminded me that I’d feel worse if I didn’t do it, so I woke up at 6am and ran with Nicole, and you know what? It was AWESOME. After the run, I felt like a new person, and the stress of the week seemed to melt away, at least for a little while. I felt strong almost the entire run, and Nicole was great and let me vent about everything that was bugging me. We did 3 miles easy, 2 at marathon pace, 1 easy, 2 at marathon pace, and 1 cool down ending at an average pace of 10:03, which is pretty darn good considering my goals for this marathon. In fact, it was probably “too fast” and I probably don’t care in the slightest. ;)

Saturday: Rest. But okay, for real this time. I ran 9 miles on Friday and had a 9 mile race on Sunday. This one was actually intentional.

Sunday: Hot Chocolate 15k, Full recap coming soon. I didn’t really race it the way I had planned, but I’m actually pretty proud of my performance and how I did all things considered.

So there you have it. Hopefully this is the last you see of the whining and complaining about training until I get to taper, where I will inevitable complain about how my life sucks because I’m not running enough, I’m getting “fat”, and how after a 7 month training cycle including 2 20 milers, I’m so ridiculously “under prepared”. At that point, feel free to judge me.

What do you do when you’re in a mental and motivational rut? Inspire me please.

PF Chang’s Marathon Training Week 3

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I didn’t run a ton this week, but it was a great week, and it ended on a a REALLY great note. I don’t have a ton to say other than that, so let’s get to it.

Look! A leaf! Maybe Arizona has fall after all? Anyway, Steve took this picture at the race on Sunday, and this post needed a photo…

Monday: 8 mile run. The schedule called for 4 miles easy, 1 mile at MGP, 1 mile at HMP, 1 mile at 10k pace and 1 mile cool down. Somehow I counted wrong and started the marathon pace mile after 3 miles. Whoops. So after 3 miles Nicole and I did a mile at goal pace, then 9:03, 8:12 (what????), then we added an other mile at goal pace, and a mile cool down. We ended the day with an average pace of 9:54, and I felt surprisingly strong.

Tuesday:  Upper body strength training? Okay, so I’m determined to get back into strength training. I’ve been ignoring it, and let’s just say I’m not too happy with the Atlantic ocean that has become my upper arms, so I’m starting slow with things I can do at home until I at least get my motivation back up enough to get in the weight room, and do some legit strength training. It’s weird, before I started running, strength training was my favorite, and now I dread it. Anyway, I did 3 sets of 10 regular and dip push ups, 2x1min planks, and my dance ab warm up that I used this summer. I was SORE the next day, so even though the whole thing only took me about 15 minutes, I feel like it did something?

Wednesday: 2 mile run. No, seriously. I waited around too long, ran out of time, and that’s just all that was in the cards that morning. It was probably for the best. After my Monday run my foot started really bugging me, and I wanted just a short easy run to see how it was feeling after hours of icing. The good news is, I felt AWESOME! The whole run felt so easy, and I really wanted to keep going, but I had a time deadline, so 2 miles ended up being it. I went out with the intentions of taking it super slow, but without garmin stalking, I settled into a 9:30 pace that felt like a breeze. That never happens for me. It was great!

Thursday: 8.7 mile bike, upper body. Rode to Dutch Bros, then repeated Tuesdays strength training. Twice in one week–WHAT??

Friday: 11.32 mile run. 3 miles easy, 2 at goal pace, 1 easy, 2 at goal pace, 1 easy. I felt super sluggish during this run. The marathon pace miles felt harder than usual, and I was just having a hard time getting my head in the game. Luckily, I had Nicole there to yell at me when I slowed down which was about every 5 seconds. Just kidding, she didn’t yell, she just ran in front of me and told me to hurry up in the way that the best running friends nicely do when you’re kinda sucking ;) . Anyway, I still finished with an average pace of 10:07 and hit all my paces, so even though I wasn’t super into it mentally, I’m glad I got it done.

Saturday: Rest. 

Sunday: Fiesta Bowl 5k. Recap coming soon. Spoiler alert: it was one of the coolest days of my life, and included some happy tears :)

 

PF Chang’s Marathon Training Week 2

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And just like that, I’m back into peak marathon training. Somehow I only have 2 long distance runs left before it’s time to taper. This second section of training that I expected to take forrrrrrever seems to be flying by, and I can see definite improvements from the last time around! It’s nice because I’m no longer scared of these distances, so I can push myself more, and I’m seeing a pretty big difference in speed especially in my long runs. Sweet. Here’s how last week’s training went down:

Monday: Rest. This was the unintentionally real life becoming more important than exercise type of rest day. I planned to do something, but I had no idea what, and then life got busy and I didn’t stress myself out to try to fit it in. Most people have a hard time fitting their work outs into their lives; I sometimes have a hard time fitting my life around my workouts, and honestly, that just seems silly, so I took a real life day and got stuff done.

Tuesday: 6 mile run. My best friend Bethany is working really hard on her running and I am sosoSO proud of her! She wanted to tackle her first ever 6 mile run, so I ran with her and she ROCKED it! It’s so great to be able to run with her and watch her make so much progress!

Wednesday: 3.5 mile run. Easy run before physical therapy with Ashley. 10 min pace, then a whole like 5 minutes of abs that made me want to die. must.start.strength.training.

Thursday: Mesa Turkey Trot 10k. Check out the recap!

Friday: 8.5 mile bike. Easy ride to coffee with Steve.

Saturday: 17.17 mile run. This run started out tough. Nicole and I were both feeling slow and lethargic, and I watched our first few miles clock in ridiculously slow. I knew I wanted to beat my time for my last 17 miler, and I felt like finishing in less than 2:55 would be a nice bonus. I was a little worried about our first slow miles, but I know myself, and I know that’s just how my body works on long runs, and I really believe it’s for the best. I always start ridiculously slow and negative split the crap out of it, but I still always worry that I won’t have enough left in the tank to make up for it at the end. However, looking back at the splits from just 2 months ago, I can see a huge difference even in my slowest miles, and as always, we sped up. A lot. The plan called for the first minute of the final 10 miles to be at goal pace. This was a nice way to break up all of those miles at the end. We had something to focus on for a minute out of every mile that wasn’t “GOOD LORD HOW MUCH LONGER????” At first we were slightly speeding up to make these first minutes happen, but soon we were running faster than goal pace, and then we were confused–Do we speed up? Slow down? Run the same? Sing Call Me Maybe? 

We kind just kept doing our thing, and I finished 17.17 miles in 2:54:25 for an average pace of 10:09. That is pretty darn good for these slow legs! The end started feeling hard, and I was tired, but I felt so much better than after the first time. I was peppy and energized rather than lethargic and in pain. I also did a much better job of taking care of myself afterwards. Nicole and I got in her pool for an ice bath with our Dutch Bro’s, then stretched for quite a while. It made a world of difference!

Sunday: Rest. Necessary and fabulous.

Totals for the week:

Running: 32.95
Cycling: 8.5

Onward.

Tell me about your training!

 

PF Chang’s Marathon Training Week 1

Or actual marathon training week 22? No, definitely starting fresh, otherwise that will make a girl go crazy. It truly does feel like a whole new training cycle. The runs are longer and more challenging (YAY!!!), I’m training more with Nicole since the plan was always for us to train for this race together after NYC, and I have a new much more relaxed attitude about training. This week, I did something crazy and took 3 rest days, and didn’t feel the tiniest bit bad about it. After Shun the Sun, I was super sore and my body needed some extra rest, so I listened. Don’t worry, I’ll probably be back to my crazy self too, but right now I’m enjoying the break from needing to “perfect” in my training. I’ve already completed a full training cycle, and I did that pretty darn well, so I have much more confidence going into this round.

Part of the reason I felt (and honestly, I still have my moments) so devastated in New York is because I made training my entire life. While it’s great to be passionate and devoted to something you commit to, it’s not great to suck at the rest of your life, and feel empty when that thing doesn’t work out. I can’t blow everything off (including my sanity) for an other 2.5 months, so I’ve gotta change my mental game, and ya know what? The world didn’t and, and I still got all of my important runs in. Funny how that works. So here’s a look at how it all went down.

Monday: Rest. I was originally supposed to do Tuesday’s run today, but I woke up on Sunday ridiculously sore, and realized I had put a lot into my half the day before, and my body just needed a little extra rest.

Tuesday: 8 mile run. This run was AWESOME! I was so glad I took the extra day because even though I still felt a little sore and tight on Tuesday, I met up with Nicole and had the most rejuvenating run! I’d been having a hard time getting my head back in the whole marathon training game, but this totally got my there! The plan called for 3 miles easy, then 1 mile at marathon pace, 1/2 marathon pace, and 1ok pace, then 1 mile cool down. Our paces were spot on with mile 6 @ 8:58 and mile 7 @ 8:19! We finished with an average pace of 9:48. Not too shabby.

Wednesday: 4.4 mile run. We had hill repeats on the schedule, and there was no way that was happening for me, but I met up with Ashley, and did the speed workout Coach Susan usually has us do the week following a race: 10 x 1min alternating hard and easy, which for me that day translated to run fast for a minute, then walk slower than ever before for the next, but that’s okay because my fast intervals were faster than ever! Even with 10 min of walking, we covered 2.04 miles in the 20 minutes. At the beginning a had a few intervals in the low 7’s, but after that all my paces read 6:xx with the last one at 6:18! I know it’s only a minute, but a minute is longer than you would think, and that is significantly faster than the last time I did this! I was really happy!

Thursday: Rest. AKA cookie baking. That’s what rest days are for, right?

Friday: 16.1 mile run. I’m not gonna lie, this run was tough. On daily mile I said I felt “great”, but maybe I just felt happy that it was over? No, it actually was really good, but also really hard. I ran with Nicole and we were definitely pushing the pace at the end, but we talked the entire time, and I never once even thought about turning on my music! We sang to each other and had the first official meeting of GSA (Garmin Stalkers Anonymous). I even developed our serenity prayer. You do weird things when you run for 2 hours and 44 minutes. Although Nicole ran slightly less than that because we met up a little over a mile in, and that crazy girl ran her first mile in 8 minutes. I ended up with an average pace of 10:11 which is my fastest pace for a long training run over 10 miles ever. No wonder I was so sore the next day… ;)

Saturday: Rest. Necessary.

Sunday: 9 mile run. Since we long ran on Friday, we did our medium run Sunday to avoid a 4:30am Monday wake up call. It was great–no rush and a really relaxed run, which I definitely needed. We had 3 miles easy, 2 @ marathon pace, 1 easy, 2 @ marathon pace, 1 cool down. My legs were tired (when are they NOT tired during marathon training though?), but 9 miles felt strangely easy! At first it was hard to zone in on marathon pace–we were too fast, then too slow, then too fast, blah blah blah, but actually once we relaxed, stopped stalking our garmins (more GSA meetings…) and just started chatting, we gravitated towards goal pace really naturally, and it felt pretty good. I think that’s a good sign, yes?

Totals for the week:

Running: 37.55 miles
Cross training: Fail
Puppy walks: 2.
 Do those count? Let’s pretend since I have nothing else that is not running to show for my week ;) 

So I’m back in love with marathon training, failing at cross training, and currently accepting new members into Garmin Stalkers Anonymous. How’s your training going?

The Journey

It’s a little ironic. I don’t know how many times I’ve talked about how I just really love the training for races more than the race itself. Fast forward to Friday evening (or flash back since it’s oh, Tuesday now) when my phone started blowing up on my way to the NYCM expo, and despite my best efforts, an overwhelming sadness filled my heart. Yes, I know the best decision was made. I don’t live in the tristate area, and I’ve never experienced a hurricane. I have absolutely no room to comment on the issue, and I don’t intend to. I do, however, know what it’s like to give everything you have into training for your first marathon, and not run it. And I do (finally) know that it’s okay. Ideal, no, but okay.

If I’m being 100% honest, I’m still feeling slightly down about the whole thing, and I feel guilty about feeling down when clearly people are suffering way more right now, but I can’t control how I feel, only how I deal with those emotions. It’s okay to feel disappointed, and to be honest, I knew I would come back from New York feeling down. I always get the post-fill-in-the-blank sadness after big life events, ie: my wedding, my first 1/2 marathon, even a little bit following Christmas and my birthday (you can judge me). I put a lot of build up and anticipation on these things, and when they’re over, I get sad. This one just didn’t end how I expected–or maybe it’s just not over?

I’ve thought a lot about what to do next. I’m trained to run a marathon. I want to run a marathon, like really really badly. Funny story, there’s not as many of those crazy things as one would think. In fact, there’s pretty much non coming up in Arizona for quite a while, and traveling isn’t really in the cards right now. I found a couple that I thought “Maybe I can make this work…”, and then I realized that this is my first marathon, and you only get one first marathon. I don’t want to jump into just any replacement race. I want to make the right choice, and that means waiting until RnR AZ in January when I can still go out and have my friends and family be there to cheer me on. I know that’s not what running is all about, but it’s just something I need for my first marathon, and that’s okay.

So I have 12 weeks to get faster, stronger, and even more ready. Hopefully along the way I will run some shorter distance races and maybe set some new PRs. I am really happy to have a new goal to focus on, and every day I am believing the voice in my head that says “Everything happens for a reason.” just a little bit more. Some amazing things still came out of this trip, and I can’t wait to tell you about running in Central Park on marathon morning, but that is a story for an other time. Right now, I will leave it at: I am still sad, but I’m okay, and I’m refocusing on training and preparing for my first marathon in January.

Thanks to everyone who sent me texts/emails/phone calls/tweets/etc. I felt really loved, and I really needed it. I am so ridiculously lucky, and I honestly still kind of feel like I did it. Running a marathon isn’t about that one day; it is about the months you spend working toward your goal. For 20 weeks, I prepared myself to run 26.2 miles, and although that day I ended up running less than half of that, I gave my heart to that goal for 20 weeks, and one day doesn’t change or define that process. Onward.

NYC Marathon Training Week 18

Week 1 of taper, check. You know, I read about how everyone hates taper, but this week was kinda nice. I enjoyed a slightly shorter Monday run, still pushed myself at the track, and loved being done with my long run at 7:15 Saturday morning! It was also really great to end a long run and not be totally exhausted. 10 miles felt short, and nice. I could get used to this taper thing! ;) Here’s how it went down:

Monday: 6 mile run. The schedule said “3 miles easy, 3 miles at marathon pace”. WHAT IS MARATHON PACE?!?!?! HOW DO I CHOOSE???? LIFE IS SO HARD!!!! Soooo, I ran 3 miles slow, and 3 miles less slow, ending up with a 10:11 average pace. I was not feeling this run. I had canceled on Nicole so that I could sleep in later, then I had to keep making deals with myself like “Maybe I’ll just run 3 miles….” to get myself out and going, but finally I turned on some relaxing music (because I’m a freak and sometimes I want mellow music while I’m running), and just gave my mind some time to do it’s thing. The run ended up being really good, and a nice reminder that even when I realllllly don’t want to, it’s almost always better to just get out there.

Tuesday: 11 mile bike. Easy ride to coffee with Steve.

Wednesday: Track. Ao about this marathon goal pace. I guess I’ve figured it out? Coach Loken sent me my projected finish time, and it scared the crap out of me. My head immediate filled with “I can’ts” and doubt. I’ve since talked it through with anyone who will listen including my super smart coach (you know the person I actually should talk to about it), and figured out what a realistic goal is mentally for me, and I’m keeping her projected finish time as a dream goal, but trying to run my marathon goal pace miles at that pace. I’m not going to talk about what any of these goals are because when I write my recap about how I ran my first marathon, I want to write it with joy and pride no matter what my finish time is, and if I tell you what I want it to be, and that doesn’t happen, I will feel like a disappointment. Anyway, back to the track. We warmed up, had a mile at marathon goal pace, then 4 x 400s, then an other mile at goal pace, then a cool down. I hit my goal pace miles and they felt easy! It was AWESOME! I also pushed really hard on my 400s running them @ 7:05, 6:57, 6:58, 6:42. The whole workout felt awesome! I completed 5.17 miles in 50 minutes. After track, a couple of people from my team came up to me and told me how much faster I’d gotten!! This is the second time this has happened recently, and it made me feel so awesome!!

Thursday: 3 mile run. Nice and easy recovery run with my speedy friend Ashley. She was practically walking. ;)

Friday: 17.3 mile bike. The usual Friday am bike ride/breakfast/coffee with Nicole.

Saturday: 10 mile run. I came, I ran, I got chased by wild dogs, I ran the second half fast to keep up with my friends, I was done by 7:15 and averaged a 9:57 pace. Ask me about the wild dogs sometime. It’s a really funny story that includes some pretty big embarrassment, but I don’t mind embarrassing myself.

Sunday: Rest. Necessary.

Fundraising update: As you know, I’ve been running with Team Chances to raise money for Chances for Children. I committed to raising $5000, and I’M GETTING SO CLOSE!!! I’ve now raised $4,110 and have just $890 to go thanks to so much support from everyone in my life! Please consider helping me to reach my goal by making a donation or placing an order! Remember that all donations/orders are tax deductible and in the state of Arizona, you can receive a full tax credit ($200 individual, or $400 family) for donations. Thanks to all of you for all the support!! I truly believe I can meet this goal by November 4th!

NYC Marathon Training Week 17

17 weeks of hard work down. 3 weeks of taper to go. I had a lot of thoughts about the training cycle as a whole this week. I was feeling tired physically and mentally. Last week was a step back week, but even though our long run was only 10 miles, running it at race pace made it challenging, and I did not go into this week feeling rested, but I started to realize that maybe that’s the point? If I can run peak week on tired legs, then I can certainly run the marathon on fresh legs, right? I’m guessing that’s why the plans work, but really, what do I know? Basically nothing.

I went to bed last Sunday night thinking about how I had to kill it this week, and make every run perfect because THIS IS IT!! Then I woke up Monday morning totally lacking in motivation. In fact, the only thing that got me to get out of bed for my work outs was knowing that this is the most important week, and after this it will all get easier. Here’s a look at how this week’s training went down.

Monday: 8 mile run. It was a good thing I had plans to run with Nicole, because otherwise it just would not have happened. Something has to be really wrong in order for me to cancel on a friend, but it is so easy to hit the snooze button and roll over when it’s just me. I was NOT feeling it this morning. My legs felt tired from Saturday’s time trial and I was quiet, grumpy, and not a whole lot of fun, but Nicole stayed really positive and pushed me through until the end. I was happy when it was over, but it took me until the moment I was finished to be happy I did it. Ran the first 4 easy, then the next 4 @ 9:46, 9:36, 9:22, 8:30.

Tuesday: Spin. I finally went back to spin! It was a great class, but I just mentally wasn’t 100% in it. I gave it a solid effort and had a good time, but I was just more at like a 90%.

Wednesday: Track–6 x 800. Partner 800s!! YAY!! Stacey and I finally got to complete them together. The way it works is partner #1 (me) runs a lap solo, then partner #2 joins for lap 2. While partner #2 runs their 2nd lap, partner #1 gets a short break. I did a mile-ish warm up over to the track, then completed my 800s @ 8:01, 8:00, 7:42, 7:38, 7:34, 7:22. I was dyyyyying on the last one, but it felt awesome! I did a short cool down jog back and ended up completing 4.4 miles in 37:31 for an average pace of 8:31 including the warm up and cool down! I was stoked!! As soon as I got home, I checked out my paces from the time we did this same work out just one month before: 8:07, 8:08, 8:02, 8:00, 7:58, 7:57. I was so ecstatic to be able to see my improvement!! MAYBE I WON’T BE A SLOW RUNNER FOREVER!!!!

Thursday: Rest. Lots of carbs and compression socks all day long.

Friday: 20.5 mile run. Check it.

Saturday: 15ish mile bike. I literally felt like I had been run over by a truck, but Susan had asked me to bring muffins for the team, so I figured while I was there, I should cheer my friends on. I got my tired legs onto my bike and rode around the canal for almost an hour and a half. It was great to be able to to be there for my friends while they finished the toughest part of the journey as well!

Sunday: Rest. You couldn’t pay me enough to work out today. Rest days are awesome.

Sooooo…..now we taper. Everyone says taper makes you crazy, but I’m sososo excited. My legs are beat. My brain is duuuunnnn. My social life is pathetic. Well, that one probably won’t change. ;) I’m sure after a week or so I will start feeling a little nutty about not running, but for now I can’t wait to tone it way down and give myself a break. My goal is to spend the extra time I would have been running, and focus that energy/time on taking care of myself. Lots of stretching and foam rolling. No skipping PT sessions. Good nutritious food and….no more alcohol (wahhhhh) until after the race. I mean, I’m not a big drinker anyway, and I haven’t been drinking during training except to celebrate long runs, and they’re all over, so there’s really nothing to celebrate until Nov 4. I mean, there’s real life things, but I will celebrate those just fine without. I want to go into the race feeling my very best. Oh and I need to make SLEEP a priority. This 5-6 hours a night business is not cutting it for me.

What do you do differently during taper? How do you prepare for a big race to make sure you go in feeling your best? GIVE ME YOUR AWESOME MARATHON ADVICE!!!!!

Twenty Point Five

There’s something you should know about me. I’m the type of person that goes through life with something to prove. Not to you, but to me. This is a trait that’s always made me ambitious, and sometimes made me successful. It’s also sometimes lead to total melt downs, but I think our biggest strengths are often our biggest weakness. Anyway, this entire journey to running a marathon has kind of been about that–having something to prove to myself. I know that my journey never ends, and really this is only the beginning of my path to becoming a runner, but it feels like this picture perfect ending to my weight loss story. That is why even when Coach Loken (I never know if you’re supposed to use the first name or the last name when you talk about your coach–thoughts?) said to run for 3 hours, I knew I had to hit 20 miles, and then I knew I had to run just a little  further. To prove to myself that I can keep going once I reach 20 on November 4th.

This had all the beginnings of a perfect run. I spent the day before hydrating the crap out of myself, eating carbs, psyching myself up, and I planned out the perfect 20 mile route that would lead my two friends and me to breakfast at La Grande Orange where we would toast mimosas, meet up with Steve and have an amazing breakfast to celebrate. I raced home from rehearsal to be in bed by 9:30, and although I laid in bed having trouble sleeping, I woke up ready to go.

At 4:10 my alarm went off, and I noticed that I had multiple text messages, so I went to check them to find out both of my friends were having extenuating circumstances and had both canceled. I freaked the F out. I started crying immediately (dramatic much?) and telling Steve there was no way I could do this, and my training would be ruined. Just be glad you didn’t marry me, okay? I continued to cry and freak out the entire time I spent getting ready, but eventually put on my big girl pants ruffly skirt and made my way to the kitchen to make breakfast.

I kept telling myself how everything happens for a reason. I knew deep down that I needed to do a long training run solo (I’ve run almost every single training run with friends), but I just didn’t want to, and I especially didn’t want to do it this time. I knew I could go wait, start realllllly early on Saturday, and then finish with the team, but I had carb loaded, I had mentally prepared, I had announced it to the world. I needed to follow through. I asked Steve to ride his bike along side for a portion of it (okay, I kinda cheated on the solo part, but 20 miles is a LONG way!), and finally got my butt out the door just after 5am.

I ran a nice 2.5 mile loop around my hood, then headed out for a longer loop. It was GORGEOUS out–absolutely perfect running weather, and I started feeling strong. I had been able to adjust my mind set before leaving to being excited to conquer this on my own, and I knew it was best for me. Mind set is 95% of the battle. I had woken up with a horrible one, but I turned it around. I was proud of myself.

The initial miles just kind of ticked by. I didn’t turn on my music. I just enjoyed being outside. Who am I, right??? I started off at a nice slow, relaxed pace. I felt myself wanting to speed up, but I know what type of pacing works for me, so I kept checking in with myself and reminding myself that if I wanted to feel strong later, I needed to stick with what works.

Mile 1–11:16
Mile 2–11:22
Mile 3–11:08
Mile 4–11:07
Mile 5–10:59
Mile 6–10:54

I took the same route that I took almost a year ago when I did my first 10 solo. It was all kinds of nostalgic. I realized I was running all around where Kara and I used to run when we were training for PF Chang’s. Then I missed the crap out of her, and was pissed at her for moving to Seattle and abandoning me in my time of marathon training need. I passed by Bosa Donuts.

Eating all of these will give me the same result as running my 20 miler right???

I started mentally playing through all of my PF Chang’s training, and how far I’ve come as a runner since then.

I started to feel excited, and I started to pick up the pace a bit. I also found that by not taking the canal, I surprisingly had less stops. It felt like I was able to catch every green light, and just go. It’s so easy to take a break when you have to push a button before you go, haha.

Mile 7–10:29
Mile 8–10:19
Mile 9–10:10
Mile 10–10:11
Mile 11–9:52
Mile 12–9:55

Just after mile 12, I ended up back home, refilled my water, grabbed more fuel and my awesome husband, and we were off again. Somehow I thought running to Dutch Bros and back would give me 8 more miles. Apparently after 12 miles, my math abilities get a little fuzzy… We went the long way through the neighborhood and down towards the canal.

Mile 13–9:56
Mile 14–9:46
Mile 15–9:38

This is where shit got real. It was getting hard, and I was getting scared about finishing. Over the next few miles, my feet and ankles progressively started to get more and more tender and irritated. Every step felt like I was pounding on the pavement, and it was like the hundreds of miles of marathon training were all weighing on my 2 little feet right in that moment. Every time I had to stop to wait for the crosswalk, getting started again seemed impossible. I was mentally doing okay (with Steve giving me tons of support!!), but physically, I was HURTING.

Mile 16–9:45
Mile 17–9:46
Mile 18–9:47.

Once we realized that getting to Dutch Bros would more like 12 miles round trip than 8 (see what I mean about that math…), the new plan became for Steve to turn around at mile 18 to get the car, and for me to do an extra loop to meet back together at Dutch Bros. I tried something different and ate a kind bar here because I was feeling just depleted even though I had fueled at 5, 10 and 14.5. Turns out that was not a good idea. It felt so heavy in my stomach and made me feel sick, but lesson learned. I won’t do that in the race. The next 2 miles felt like an eternity. I tried to decide if I really wanted to go over 20, but since I had committed to the idea of doing just a little bit more earlier in the run, I knew for my brain, I needed to follow through.

Mile 19–9:44

As I was about half way through mile 20, this song came on and I proceeded to cry, Loudly. I should have been embarrassed, but I was too happy and proud.

Mile 20–9:26

I took a breath after mile 20. I stopped for a minute and let everything sink in, and then I ran my little heart out to Dutch Bros and all around the parking lot until my garmin looked like this

Last .5–9:12

20.5 miles, 3:30:03, 10:14 average pace.

And then I thought “Hey, I just trained for a marathon. Cool.” It’s pretty amazing what our bodies are capable of, and all of the sudden 20 miles doesn’t feel impossible. It just feels Fing hard, but that’s okay. I like a challenge. :)

 

NYC Marathon Training Week 16

LOOK COACH SUSAN!! I ran your marathon pace for 6 seconds. I think I'm ready for the olympic trials now too. 6 seconds is basically the same as a whole marathon, right?

Good morning! It is an absolutely perfect fall morning in Phoenix. It is a beautiful 68 degrees with the most perfect breeze. We’ve got the front door and all of our windows open. It’s fall break so I have a much lighter schedule this week. My run is done. I’m just hanging out, enjoying the breeze and a pumpkiny breakfast. It.Is.Awesome. I can’t even tell you how happy I am to have a little bit of a break right now, especially since it’s peak training week. I’ve got a big scary 20 miler staring me in the face this Friday, and I’m super pumped that I have an easier week work-wise to prepare for it.

Anyway, that’s this week, but I’m here to talk about last  week. Here’s a look at how my training went down:

Monday: 8 mile run. Ran with Nicole. 4 easy miles, then 4 moderate @ 9:38, 9:40, 9:25, 8:37. My legs weren’t quite ready to get back to work yet, but they made it through and we averaged a 9:58 pace. Those stupid easy warm up miles totally kill the average. I should track them separately. Just kidding. Kind of…. ;)

Tuesday: 10.4 mile bike. I didn’t feel like working out at all, so I just took an easy bike ride to coffee with Steve. I broke all sorts of records with my amazing cycling speed and averaged 13.6 miles an hour. It’s okay Lance, I’ll take your spot since they won’t let you race anymore. Clearly, I’m at your same level.

Wednesday: Track. Warm up, then 2 x 1200s with 90 second rest @ 8:33, 7:54, then 800 @ 7:45, then 4 x 400s at 7:00ish. Ummm yeah, apparently the work out was so hard I forgot how to work my garmin. I kept forgetting to hit the lap button, then accidentally stopping it–it was just a hot mess. When I went in and tried to figure out my paces, it looked like they were all between 7:00-7:05. My type A brain was a little annoyed to not know every single pace EXACTLY (shocking, right?), but I got a pretty good idea. This workout was HARD. I thought my 400s would be closer to my ridiculously fast 400 at track a couple of weeks ago, but I did my first intervals really fast (for me), and didn’t account for the fact that 4 400s would be hard than, oh, one. It was awesome, though, and I ended up covering 4.77 miles in 42:28 for an average pace of 8:54. Not too shabby.

Thursday: 12.8 mile bike. Had a recovery run scheduled, but I found out when I woke up that I’d be going alone which sounded not at all fun, so I swapped it for an other ride with Steve. Stepped it up to a 13.9 average pace. Watch out cars. I will pass all of you.

Friday: 21.4 mile bike. I guess I rode my bike a lot last week! Nicole and I took a new route and rode to breakfast at Essence Bakery. It.Was.Amazing. My breakfast was, um, a little heavier than I expected, and by heavier I mean covered with cheese from top to bottom, but it was soooo delicious. We also both got some mini macarons for the road. The pumpkin spice and hazelnut were my favorites, but they were all amazing! Oh wait, I’m supposed to be talking about exercise, not cheese and macarons. The ride was great. We chatted the whole time (obviously), and it was nice to ride somewhere new! Oh, and I averaged a speed demon pace of 12.9 miles an hour.

Saturday: 10 mile time trial. EEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

10 weeks ago, we were asked to run a 10 mile time trial. I ran it up in Portland with Tali and Camille. I called it the best run of my life. It was perfection–perfect weather, perfect company, perfect mind set. I finished that run in 1:34:45. Well, it’s 10 weeks later, and I’m 3 minutes faster! Pretty good, right? I was NERVOUS about this run to say the least. The last time I went after a specific time goal was at AFC in San Diego. I posted my big goal of a sub two half all over the internet for the world to see, then I crashed and burned. Hard. I didn’t really tell anyone my goals for this run, except for Steve and Nicole. I didn’t want to set myself up to tell everyone I failed again. Of course, I had a few goals–the main one was just to be faster than last time, which I actually was not sure I could do. Everything last time seemed so perfect–what if I couldn’t do it again?? I really wanted to be around 1:32. 1:32:30 is a 9:15 pace which seemed like a big jump from my previous 9:28, and I knew that would be something I could be proud of. My dream goal was to magically be able to pull a sub 1:30. That one obviously didn’t happen, but I am totally okay with that!

Towards the beginning of the run, I found myself running right behind to other ladies, so I asked what their goal was and they told me 1:32. Perfect! I ran with them until about mile 6, and we chatted most of the way. It was an awesome distraction. A little over haf way through we all started to split off a bit, it was getting harder, and I was starting to doubt myself. I put on my music, and told my brain to STFU. I really started to understand the mental battle part of running. I was sure that I was too tired, and that I couldn’t do it, but I really fought back this time instead of giving up, and I ended up really surprising myself!

Mile 1: 9:32
Mile 2: 9:15
Mile 3: 9:20
Mile 4: 9:08
Mile 5: 8:56
Mile 6: 9:11
Mile 7: 9:09
Mile 8: 8:53
Mile 9: 9:31 <—SOOO TIRED!!!! WHEN WILL THIS BE OVER?!?!?!
Mile 10: 8:43

You know something I love? When you’ve sprinted at the end, and you go and look at your final lap pace on your garmin.

LOOK COACH SUSAN!! I ran your marathon pace for 6 seconds. I think I’m ready for the olympic trials now too. 97 feet is basically the same as a whole marathon, right? Also, I really need a manicure.

Anyway, the time trial was awesome. Really awesome. So awesome that McMillan seems to think I can now run a 4:17 marathon. Silly McMillan. I’ll be happy with half an hour longer than that! Also, I just wanted to say that 9:09 for 13.1 miles = 1:59:59ish half marathon, if I ran the tangents perfectly…. Lost Dutchman, I’m looking at YOU!

Sunday: Rest. Much needed. I’m getting better at this whole rest day thing. I might even go so far as to say I LIKE them! :)

TOTALS:

Running: 22.85
Biking:  44.55
Eating: Everything in site. 

Tell me about your training!! Any big goals coming up? Record breaking bike speeds? Long run PRs??