Run Doodle Run

The long road to 26.2


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Hilly 8 Miler

I apologize for the abnormally short post – I’m super exhausted. It’s been a long day and I’ve had more nights of poor sleep this week than I’ve had in a while.

Being so-not-a-morning person, early training runs are difficult for me, especially in the winter, but sunrises like this morning’s make it all worth it 🙂

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crappy picture, gorgeous sunrise

Today was long run day and we hit up our favorite hilly route around the reservoir. Although there were a number of groups there, it felt unusually empty.

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J, a girl who was also in the fall training group with me, and I planned on 8 miles, tackling the biggest hills first. I successfully crested all three of the major hills without stopping – something I am very proud of 🙂 It just occurred to me the other week that Dreaded Druid Hills is only 4 months away and I’ve been slacking on my hill training, so this made me very happy.

We saw some people fly fishing in the water below the dam and a number of people birdwatching along the road. We were pleasantly surprised to see a bald eagle perched in one of the trees on our return trip! I had no idea we had bald eagles around here and this was only the second time I’ve ever seen one.

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The hills aggravated my achilles so I’ve been alternating ice and heat all evening. I have another run, much shorter though, with another training group tomorrow morning, so I’m doing whatever I can to get it ready for that.

The only down side to running with two groups? No more sleeping in on the weekends. With that, I’m off to watch some tv and hit the hay early. Have a good weekend, everyone!

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Cold Night at the Track

I truly never thought I’d be excited about or calling 30 degrees warm, but it was a good night to be at the track.

We did 3×1200 repeats at tempo pace. Based on last year’s race results, that should be somewhere around a 10:00 min mile.

Well, it was supposed to be at tempo pace. Apparently I still suck at pacing.

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The difference in the net time per repeat and the pace was because I started out in lane 6, then moved to lane 3-4, and ended in lane 2.

It was probably a bit harder than I should have been doing – I could feel my mouth getting thick with lactic acid and had to walk at least a portion of each recovery lap – but overall it felt surprisingly good. It didn’t feel like an 8:20 pace. I don’t think I could’ve kept it up for 2-3 miles nonstop, but it’s nice to feel like I’m heading in the right direction. Maybe that sub-30:00 5k is in my future after all…

My knees felt surprisingly good considering how awful they look. I took an extra day of rest yesterday because they were still achey and stiff, which seems to have been a good call. My achilles was still tight but didn’t give me any trouble on the run (wish I could say the same about afterwards, however).

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On the bright side – we’re in the home stretch to spring! No, not because of some grumpy rodent – because daylight saving time starts in just over a month!! We spring forward here in the States on March 8th!! *happy dance* Although I’m really rooting for the warmth of spring, I’ll happily accept more daylight hours as a consolation prize.


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Stronger Core = Stronger Runner

You’ve probably heard it a few times – runners need to work on their core – but sometimes when you hear something over and over and over it just becomes noise, part of the scenery. I, like so many other runners, religiously work on my core. I do planks and bridges and mountain climbers and supermans and leg lifts and yadda yadda yadda.

Tonight on my run, I realized that a strong core does actually make a difference.

Our track was iced over from the snow doom slight frosting we got this weekend this weekend so we ran loops on the college that so graciously allows us to take over their campus like a neon, neurotic, bouncing Las Vegas light show. The first loop (roughly 1.4 miles) was just a nice, comfortable warm-up. The second was half marathon race pace, and the third was tempo pace (basically 10k race pace).

Admittedly, I’m not the best at pacing, and the second loop was a fair bit faster than HM race pace (about 45 seconds faster per mile, but who’s counting?), meaning I was pretty tired by the time I got to the end of my (even faster) third loop. I could feel my form breaking down, but then I noticed something – my core muscles were holding me in and upright; I wasn’t collapsing like a tired, soggy wet noodle. I don’t really know how to describe it, but there was a very different sensation. It was one of those epiphany moments when you realize that hard work that isn’t all that visible (I’m looking at you, pudgy tummy) is actually worth it!

Once we commit to being runners, often times our progress plateaus or comes in fits and bursts. It can be hard when mother nature is mocking you and you don’t seem to be making progress. But then one night, when you least expect it, bam! Progress.

never discourage progress


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Retribution

All week I’ve been nervous about today’s run. Not because of the distance or the locale or the weather. No, because this weekend last year was the run that landed me in the boot. Truth be told, I purposefully scheduled our girls’ weekend in Connecticut for last weekend so I could skip the long run on the extra-hard brick promenade downtown without guilt. I just needed to make it through today’s run in one piece. I didn’t care how, I just had to do it. 

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Yesterday evening I was trying to explain the runner’s high to a friend of mine. 

I wish I could have bottled up how I felt during/after my run today and passed it along 🙂 

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Sometimes a week off is exactly what the doctor ordered. My legs have been feeling a bit rough this week – the track workout Tuesday left them surprisingly sore and they were still heavy Thursday morning, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from today’s run.

We couldn’t have ordered more perfect weather. It was 56 when I left the house at 6:15am (I actually woke up shivering at 1:00am this morning and had to hunt for more blankets! Seriously, this is August?!). The sun was a glowing orange ball of fire as it came up over the fog-ladden farm fields on my drive in. 

N was running a race this morning, so it was just M and I today. I was undecided as to my distance when we set off this morning, but when we got towards the turn around I decided to be brave and go for 9 miles. And I’m glad I did. I had an AMAZING run – including my first sub-10:00 miles during a long run (the last two miles, no less!!)

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I added on the last .1 mi as a big ole middle finger to last year’s ill-fated 9 mile run.

I could have gone to 10. I should have gone to 10. But my guiding philosophy this year is an overabundance of caution and avoidance of unnecessary risk. And I would have had to’ve crossed the main road, which I really just didn’t feel like doing. I have plenty of weeks ahead to hit 10+ miles. 

If I can keep this up, I am on target to beat my pie-in-the-sky goals for both Army and Baltimore. Holy cow!! 

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After the run I treated myself to two well-earned donuts (I know, you shouldn’t reward your workout efforts with food, but whatev.) and a bath for my car. 

Tonight I plan on celebrating further by rewarding myself with a dip in the hot tub and a glass of wine. I had a bottle in the fridge for Thursday night’s Ravens game but totally forgot about it. Last night it would have gone perfectly with my broccoli and pasta dinner, but I have a strict rule about not drinking before a run. But tonight? Tonight’s fair game. 

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And in totally unrelated news, my ex sent me the prettiest picture of our beast 🙂 She was watching a humming bird flit about their back yard. 

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Did you run long today? How was it?? Or are you more of a Sunday Runday kinda person? 


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Group Run

Several years ago I tried joining a training group but bailed out before I even finished the first run. I wasn’t really a runner at the time and I got left behind by the group, which was horribly demoralizing. I had to stop barely a mile in, walked back to the store, and got in my car and left without saying anything to anyone. After that experience, I never thought I’d like running with a group.

As my confidence in my running has improved, as have my times, I’ve learned to love running groups. I started in the half marathon training group last year before my stress fracture side lined me, but then got my first full-length group experience this spring with the 5k women-only training group. With that group over, I’v really been looking forward to half training.

This morning was the first run of the fall half marathon training group and it was like the first day of school all over again. Everyone was saying hello, catching up with old friends and meeting new people. The coach is the same woman from last year, so I was super excited to see her again. She’s just a really nice, happy person who’s easy to be around. I was pleasantly surprised though when I ran into two other women who I ran with for the short time I was in the group last year.

Last year they were gracious enough to include me in their long-run group, even though I was a bit slower than them and didn’t have their stamina. It was hard, but I really appreciated having a group of women include me the way they did. This morning, I was actually pushing the pace and found myself holding back pace-wise in order to stay with them – that felt amazing. It’s one thing to know you’re progressing, but to see it like that is just awesome.

fawns frolicking in a field near my house this morning :)

not the best picture, but two fawns were frolicking in a field near my house this morning 🙂

I ran almost the entire 5 mile course which is a huge deal for me. I even made it up the hills that we use for hill work without stopping – HUGE ego boost! My piriformis was getting a bit cranky with the hills, but it wasn’t that much of a problem. We ran past my middle school in the last half of the run. I had the same gym teacher for all three years of middle school. She was a member of the local Road Runners club and always tried to get us to be excited about running. I remember always wanting to run and run well, but I always struggled. Never the less though, she tried to keep it positive. Running laps around the campus always gave me anxiety attacks back then. It was great running past there today and not only doing 5 times the distance I could(n’t) do back then, but being confident about it and actually enjoying it. (I tried to get a picture of the old loop, but didn’t realize my phone was on photo mode rather than panorama mode. Ah well.)

I finished the run in 56:37 with an average pace of 11:11. Afterwards most of us hung around the store for a while just catching up and chatting. The manager was gracious enough to let me borrow a foam roller for a few minutes to beat my piriformis into submission, which helped immensely. The runner’s high lasted a good two to three hours after the run.

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Aside from just loving the camaraderie of the running group, I’ve been looking forward to this for another reason. About a month ago, just two days before our three year wedding anniversary, my husband and I separated. Having a group of people to get through these tough summer runs with is even more cathartic this time around.


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Long Weekend Wrap-up

What a gorgeous weekend!! I hope you all enjoyed your long 4th of July weekend as much as I did.

Friday a friend and I took the beast for a nice, long(ish) 5 mile walk. Sadly for her that’s just not nearly long enough, but it’s what we got done. It was actually a bit chilly when we got to the trail in the morning, but it considering how much it had rained the night before I really can’t complain.

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lazy, lazy cows relaxing in the long, long grass

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I just hung around the house for the remainder of the day. One of the best parts about living in a rural area like I do is that we don’t have to go anywhere for fireworks – our neighbors always bring amazing fireworks displays to our backyard, literally. On most July 4ths we can see at least 4 great displays from our property. This year, the house directly behind us had a party and a wonderful display right from their back yard which lasted every bit of 20 minutes and nearly looked professional.

Unfortunately due to WordPress restrictions I couldn’t load the video right into the post, but it’s up on youtube, so just click the link or click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FBrC4LgdtaQ). 

Because of all of the fireworks in the neighborhood, I didn’t get to bed until after midnight on Friday, so I pushed my Saturday long run off a day. I intended to sleep in, but ended up waking up at 6:38 – just in time to see the Duke and Duchess officially open the Tour de France!! I love and hate the TdF – it’s a great competition and amazing scenery, but it’s so early and lasts forever so I feel like I lose had of my day. I know, I can get up and walk away. But that’s like leaving in the middle of the football game and catching the box score on your phone! Just not the same.

Momma, wake up! It's time for the Tour de France!

Momma, wake up! It’s time for the Tour de France!

This morning I slept in a bit but still got out for a nice run. This was my “off” weekend between races and half training, which begins next weekend, so I just planned an easy 4 miles. I got out a bit too late, though – my new favorite place was packed, so I had to find another location to launch from. With the holiday weekend and the gorgeous weather, the trail was much more crowded than normal, but it was a good crowded.

I told myself I couldn’t stop running until I got to my turn-around point (2 miles) .When I got to the turnaround I hadn’t quite hit 2 miles, so I ran two laps around the parking lot, and getting some odd looks from tubers, before heading back. At that point, I kept going without taking a break. I told myself I could stop when I got to the gnome hill. But when I got there, I was like “well the waterfall is only half a mile away… keep going until then.” When I got to the waterfall, I was like “but there’s only half a mile left in your run – why stop now??” So I ran all 4 miles non-stop (10:54, 10:59, 10:53, 10:22; avg pace of 10:47), which is still kind of a big deal for me. I’ve been shattering my physical barriers lately, but I still get hung up on the mental barriers from time to time. Knowing when I want to take a break versus when I need to take a break is a big hurdle I need to work on, especially in training for ATM.

Seeing as I missed much of this morning’s TdF stage, I’m catching up on the encore presentation this evening while drafting this and enjoying a glass of wine. A perfect way to end a wonderful weekend.

How was your 4th?? What amazing things did y’all do this weekend? Any great runs?