Wednesday, December 31, 2014

December Recap

Well this is awkward! I haven't said one hot word on here about running since my Top of Utah Marathon recap back in September. Truthfully, I took some time off from running for a few weeks after the race, then I took longer off from the blog. It was a great time of recovery and giving increased focus to some other parts of life for a while. I didn't run a heck of a lot in October or November. But I'm back, with some miles and some pics.

Miles Ran: 68.9. I'm really good with that.

# Runs: 12. No speed work, but some variation in distance.

Favorite Run: It's always hard to choose, but running with my friend Tessa in the snow at the Jordan River Parkway was really, really nice. It was a sunny, bright day, with mostly clear paths, but with the sound of our shoes crunching on the snow here and there. We ran 7 pretty quick miles that day.

Other Notable Runs: Just before heading out for the run pictured above, I realized that I was 20 miles shy of hitting a pretty big number (stay tuned for the year end!), and decided that was my goal. After Tessa and I ran, I had 13 to go. I planned to split them up Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week (December 29-31). Monday, 5 miles, check. Tuesday, 3 miles planned....wind gusts up to 50mph, felt like it was -10. Our pipes froze (seriously). We heard on the news that there were hundreds of accidents on the interstates, so driving to an indoor track seemed like a bad option too. So today, NYE, I was due to run 8 miles. Mr. Joanna, the kiddo, and I all packed up and headed to the Utah Olympic Oval. It's a 442m/lap indoor track that loops an ice skating rink. The boys skated while I ran. It was really fun to get to watch them. And what runner wouldn't get inspired by all the Olympic paraphernalia? So cool. (if you can't make it out, the banner in the background says "US Olympic Team Trials").

Training Update: I am still in the off-season. I've registered for a half in June, but nothing else yet for next year. I'm mulling my options for a great race season. In the meantime, I'd like to drop some weight. My clothes are all fitting well, but I'd still like to drop some. 

House Project Completed: Unfortunately it's been a bumpy road on house projects (I'm planning a whole post called "What I Learned from Renovating My House for a Year"). However, so much has happened since I last shared. I finally finished re-painting my craft desk and putting the office back together. My Mom finished the window treatment for the master bath. We chose an area rug for the living room (love!). I painted the dining room, and am working on painting the master bedroom. I found end tables for the living room (finally), and some accessorizing in various rooms has happened. We've also given away and sold a bunch of stuff, which, if you know me, you know I love to de-clutter. So freeing. Our house is coming together, finally. It's been quite a process. 

Other Lovely Things from Life: White Christmas. Sledding. Hot chocolate. Knitting projects finished. Baking lovely things. New friends and very new friends. 

I hope your December was great, too!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Being a Woman in Academia

I've wanted to write this post, and about 15 related posts, more times than I can count. Some recent conversations I've had, and some recent media on the topic, have convinced me that now, finally, is the right time. There is so much to say on the topic of women in academia; I cannot cover all I'd hope to say in one post. So I'm going to post on a narrow topic: sometimes, everyone can win.

Disclaimer: Much of what I want to say has to be made anonymous. Yet very little of what I'm saying singles out any one job I've had in academia, and as such, very little of this singles out any particular university, department, or individual.

Aside from the recent media discussions about gender in academia, I'm motivated by a recent email conversation I had* with a male assistant professor who I've known for some years. He sent me the following, of which I have removed only identifying information:

Men and women are different, and I'm not a sexist for saying it. The social values and cultural norms of some minority groups leave their sons and daughters ill-prepared to take on the real problems in the world, and I'm not racist or elitist for saying it. Though correct, these are thoughts that can't ever be uttered among educated, upwardly-mobile people....In reality, I avoid these subjects. There's no winning....It's more that there's no not losing. There's no socially-acceptable way for any such conversation to conclude, except for the white man to agree with whatever a non-white or non-man or non-white-man is saying.

Now, there's a lot going on here, and several points of response would be warranted. In the interest of being constructive for my colleague, I chose to send some suggestions of how everyone can win. Here again, I'm editing my response only to veil identifying information.

Let's discuss. "There's no socially-acceptable way for any such conversation to conclude." No. I feel pretty strongly that there are a lot of things men can do to improve the situation, you probably just don't realize they are happening. I could start sending you recaps of the instances where my gender affects the way I am treated in the workplace. You'd tire of it quickly. Imagine how sick of it I am. But without doing that, and more rooted in research on the topic (and some of my own experiences), here are everyday things you can do:
  • Take advantage of your university's parental leave policy if/when you have children. I attended a symposium by the authors of this book ( and this was one of the key findings they discussed. Parental leave policies stigmatize women unless men legitimize them by also using them. Don't have time for parental leave? Neither do women. And if men "don't have time" for parental leave, women feel stigmatized for having to "take time" for parental leave. 
  • Women, and especially women of color, are presumed incompetent in academia ( I realize that this seems easy to wave off, but it's true, and it manifests itself in many ways. Here are ridiculously common things that happen, and solutions:
    • I have often been given less time to speak during committee and faculty meetings than have male peers, even when the male peers are unprepared or junior to me, and even when I have important things to discuss. It is maddening, and I've had to believe that these men assumed that they were being given lots of time on the floor because they were brilliant. It would be wonderful if just once someone would realize that this is happening and say something like, "but, I've taken up too much of this group's time already and need more time to prepare a more finalized product for your consideration. Jill had less time on the floor for a topic that seems well developed, so I'd like to make sure we're giving that enough time, and I'll ask for a time slot at our next meeting to more fully present my agenda item." Or some such thing. 
    • I've sometimes found out about various opportunities later than have male peers because the senior, male faculty members assume that they will be interested and capable of pursuing those opportunities. As you find out about cool things, just take a minute to make sure your female peers are also being invited to the conversation. 
    • Women work harder to achieve equal status in academia. Just be aware of it. I don't have anything more practical here. Read this:
  • There's all kinds of evidence that women are given higher service loads. When you realize that a female peer is on 4 more committees than you are, offer to sub in for her on even just one of them. 
  • When personnel decisions are being made, I've too often seen men praised for style rather than substance, and women criticized for it. Object to this. Make sure candidates are being evaluated for the things they have actually achieved, and not for their ability (or inability) to present a glossy veneer. Stick, firmly, to what they have actually achieved. 
  • True story, I once heard the need for male breadwinning given as a reason to hire a particular candidate. Object to this. 
  • I once attended a reception at an exclusive, formerly-male-only social club. A university development director wanted to engage the crowd in billiards, but knew that it was outside the social rules of the place to be so forward. Had a male offered to break the first rack, she could have pursued all kinds of networks (and possible funding) that the social engagement might have opened up. Watch for situations where women are confined in ways like this, and offer to be that gateway. Break the rack for them. 
I wanted to share this list not only to get it out there, but also because my colleague's reception of it was telling: at our next in-person discussion, he angrily informed me that he'd deleted the email without reading it because it began with the word "no". What was that meant to communicate to me, besides an unwillingness to try some solutions? Talk about no way to win. 

*  I do not relish making public what was a private conversation, but after much reflection believe that in this case, that is outweighed by the ethic of calling a spade a spade, and of getting what I hope is helpful, practical information out there in a way I was ultimately unable to do privately. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Race Report: Top of Utah Marathon

I left you a week ago with all the stats heading into race day: miles trained, race goals, mantra, everything. Over the course of the week I continued my preparations like clockwork. On Wednesday I transitioned into a carb-focused diet. On Thursday and Friday I took special care to hydrate and rest. On Friday, I left for Logan right after work. The 90 minute drive took 2 hours due to construction and traffic, getting me there just in time for dinner with a dear colleague and friend (frolleague? collend?) and her son, then they went with me to the expo to see what it was like (and, ok, yes, to keep me from getting lost). We stayed up until about 10 talking, after which I laid out everything for morning, emailed Mr. Joanna a picture of the spectator's guide I'd gotten in my packet, and went to bed.

I slept in fits, waking up at least 4 times before my alarm went off at 4:45am. I got up and went through the motions. I made my pre-race breakfast but couldn't eat it because my stomach was upset (this is normal for me when I get up super early), so I took it with me to eat on the bus, which my friend was so very nice to shuttle me to.

5:15am bagel & jelly
Arrival at the bus to take me to the start line, 5:30am
Once aboard the bus, I sat next to a woman who was doing the race as a training run in advance of her A Game marathon in a few weeks. After we talked for a few minutes, and I unsuccessfully tried to munch on my bagel some more, I closed my eyes. It's unusual for me, but I was having some motion sickness with the bus going up the canyon in the dark. Closing my eyes helped, and 14 miles later we pulled into Hardware Ranch.  Even in the pitch black, it was gorgeous. The stars were bright, a sliver of moon was out. And slowly, slowly, the sun started to lighten the horizon to the east.

I got through the port-a-potty-ing, stood in the warm tent for about 10 minutes, and saw my very fast neighbor, gave up on my bagel and gear checked my stuff, then lined up. I introduced myself to the pacers (who I knew I probably wouldn't run with), set my Garmin, and we were off.

The first 14 miles of the race headed down Blacksmith Fork Canyon were gorgeous. The leaves were changing colors, the sunrise cast these big dramatic shadows over the jagged rocks, and there was a breeze to our backs. Incidentally, we passed a road sign declaring the possible presence of cows for the next 10 miles. But despite it all, I just could not get myself to relax and just enjoy the morning. A few factors were working against me:

  • It took me about 9 miles to get into the groove of pacing on the downhill course. The downhill isn't constant, but is down, then levels out, then down, then levels out, and I'm not accustomed to that. I got there, but it took some time. Partly as a result of this,
  • I went out too fast. About 20 seconds faster than planned in the first mile, and 10 in the second, which was good because
  • Garmin error (where my Garmin reads the course longer than do the mile markers) was exaggerated in the canyon, I imagine because the road curved so much. And all of that is completely unrelated to the fact that,
  • My right eye duct was clogged, as sometimes happens when I run in cool weather, and I could not get my right eye to stop producing tears. Like, lots of tears. Finally, I pressed on the duct hard enough that it felt like my sinus passage (what? yeah, I don't know, I was bad a biology. That's what it felt like) opened, and the tears stopped. This took 8 miles. 
HOWEVER, my trusty pace bands kept me on track mile-to-mile, and I felt fine. I'd successfully Gu'ed at miles 6 and 12 and put a new Gu tablet in my water around mile 11. I'd ran with the pace group for a bit around mile 7, then passed them. When we exited the canyon at mile 14, I was only 40 seconds off of my 3:55 goal time pace band. 

Out of the canyon, I expected the rolling downhill to proceed until mile 18, but it felt like it leveled out a bit. The hills in miles 18 and 19 were pretty much exactly what I'd expected (I'd gone so far as to Google Map stalk them earlier in the week). It took the entire mile from 18 to 19 to ingest my third Gu, and I knew then that there would be no fourth Gu at mile 24. My friend came to cheer for me between mile markers 19 and 20 and snapped this action shot. At this point, I knew that my energy supply was not infinite, but I was feeling ok and was keeping pace with my per-mile target times just fine. 

I ran mile 21 in 8:55, and 22 in 9:07, right on pace. But by the time I'd hit mile marker 22, the miles seemed to be lingering forever on my Garmin. I was ready for a boost from my race crew, but I had at least a mile until I'd see them. That mile took me 9:26, and as such was the first mile where I really missed my goal time, by 13 seconds.

Mr. Joanna had told me to look out for him and our boys at mile 23, but when I got to mile marker 23 I knew there was no way they'd be there. It was in this very residential area with lots of streets closed to traffic, and it wasn't close enough to the downtown finish area for them to have walked. I knew mile 24 was more convenient, and figured that's what he'd meant.

But oh, was I tired. So, so tired. My quads were trashed. My feet hurt. My fuel was running low. I was over it all. And right there, right there, is where the mental element of training kicks in. I started reminding myself of how I'd sworn I'd dig deep when it got hard. And finally, and shockingly on pace, I got to the mile 24 marker, and there were my amazing boys, cheering their hearts out for me. I told Mr. Joanna that I was on track but without much of a cushion. He knew this already because I was a minute behind the 3:55 pacer, but I didn't know that until much later.

As much as my body, and even my brain, were putting on the brakes, I was at the ready to overcome them, begrudgingly. The distance was passing more and more slowly, and I knew that soon I would not be able to make myself go faster. This was my arsenal of mental tricks to power through:

  • I'd trained over 1000 miles for this. There was no chance in hell I'm letting go of my goal with [fill in the number] miles left. 
  • So what if my feet hurt? 
  • Remember how bitter that day in Cleveland was, and how long I've waited to vindicate myself at this distance. 
  • This, this right here, this running while exhausted, this is what I've trained for. This is why I've trained on tired legs. This is why I've trained 5 days a week. For this moment. For powering through when I'm spent. For this. Now. 
  • Turn off the brain, turn on auto pilot. My body can handle this. I've trained it to handle this. 
  • I have a small cushion. I can slow down if I absolutely have to. A little. A very little.  
I ran mile 25 about 20 seconds slower than my goal pace. At about 25.6 I saw my boys again. Please let me be done--keep pushing--I want to be done, I'm so tired--one foot in front of the other--less than a mile. All I could manage to say was, "I'm so close!" I finished out mile 26 about 15 seconds slower than my target pace. 

A few more turns and I found myself looking down the straightaway at the finish line, one turn sooner than I'd expected. I heard my boys before I saw them, twice actually, and I finally spotted them on the left, near the leading edge of the crowd of spectators. I high-fived Mr. Joanna and our older son--there was no way I wasn't going to share this with them--and barreled down, such as I could, to the finish. 

I crossed the line, stopped my Garmin, and yelled. I'd done it. I'd finished in under 4 hours. 

Garmin time: 3:56:16
Chip time: 3:56:13
Gender place: 65/309
Overall: 199/657

The uncontrollable rush of emotions and adrenaline came pouring over me. I recapped to my boys, tried not to cry, drank chocolate milk, and started to cool down and stretch. I was incredulous, but I'd really done it. 

Finally, we headed back to my friend's to have lunch, hang out, and pick up my things, then head home. I'm writing this on Sunday night and I'm sore as anything, but wouldn't trade it for the world. What an experience. Thank you all for following my journey!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Mondays in Love: Race Week!

This is it guys. It all comes down to this. Just five days stand between me and the start line of the Top of Utah Marathon.

It's kind of hard to believe. Back in January I sat down one night and, all at one time, registered for the Salt Lake Running Company's training group, the Salt Lake Half, the Utah Valley Half (my A Game half for the year) and the Top of Utah Marathon (to avenge my standing PR at this distance). I've been training since the first week of February. In that span, I've missed only 2 Saturday long runs--one because I was sick, and one because I was in Paris. I've felt great about this. Training for nearly 8 straight months is a first.

A bigger first came this past week, though, when I cleared the 1000 mile mark for the year. I've never exceeded 1000 miles in a year, let alone by mid-September. I'm proud to finally join the 1000 mile club!

It's looked like a whole lot of long run miles and a lot of easy miles, and some other stuff mixed in.

Yes, there have been mornings that I've wanted to stay in bed. There have been days that I've been really, really tired and wanted a break from it. There have been plenty of times I've caught myself doing calf stretches in public and realizing that people were staring. But the effort put in has been worth it. I can't describe the adrenaline rush that came the day I sub-1:50'ed the Utah Valley half. Or the day I ran a 6:24 mile, having absolutely no idea I could do that until I tried. Or learning to nail my long runs. Or how great it's been to make friends, real friends, through running.

My next post will be the race recap. Heading into race day, I'm feeling excited, nervous, and prepared. I know that there is no certainty in the marathon. Anything can, and does, happen. But I'm hopeful. And strong. And thrilled to have taken this journey.

I'll leave you with the pre-race stats:

My race mantra (thank you Coach Mike, as always!): Run easy, run free
Race goals:
     B--sub-4:10 (this was my goal at Cleveland, which in case you've forgotten, was an epic failure fueled by an epic lack of appropriate fueling, although it's still my standing PR)
Fueling plan: I'm using a pre-race fueling guide I got from RW a few years ago (my shopping cart looked ridiculous today, btw). During the race, I'll Gu every 6, and use an electrolyte tablet in my water every 10ish.
Pacing plan: Taken care of, as always, by pace bands
Expected weather: Very cool at the start line (maybe as low as 40), warning up to maybe the 60s by the finish.

The countdown is on. Wish me luck!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

10 Days and Counting!

I am into my pre-race taper. Normally, I get a little bit of "taper madness" and I don't want to jinx things, but so far so good! I am 10 days out from race day and feeling anxious, nervous, and excited.

During the taper, I still train. The idea is to reduce miles, not intensity. This past weekend I was supposed to run 15 miles. I convinced my friend Tessa to join me. We met at o'dark thirty to start (5:30 I think?). A rough sequence of events:

  • We got started in the pitch black
  • The sunrise brought gorgeous colors into the western sky--gray, blue, white, purple, orange
  • I busted out a rendition of the West Virginia state song
  • Way off in the distance, to the west, we saw bolts of lightening
  • Followed, some time later, by the feet of two rainbows (bottoms? pillars?), and then, lightening flashing across those, then more of the rainbow appeared
  • We saw a recently finished "Walking Bridge" and decided to see where it went. We quickly discovered that the sign was incredibly literal--this bridge ain't made for running, due to bounce. doesn't really go anywhere. But here I am giving it a try. 

  • Then we got into uncharted territory (for us) on the path, and ended up somewhere we didn't know the path went. Along the way, we ran past what appeared (over the cinder block wall) to be a shanty town, with a very real random horse hanging out (sans wall, just a wire fence) by the trail. 
  • After our turn-around, it started misting. 
  • And we made a wrong turn which,
  • Took us about a mile out of our way
  • And then it started full-on raining, when we had about 1.5-2 miles to go (I don't really mind this, for the record)
All told, we ran 16 miles at a 9:25 pace. It felt easy, which is crazy. This was a case where a good attitude prevailed. We believed the distance was short, so it felt short. 

Otherwise this week, I've already done 1 easy day and 1 tempo run, and have 2 easy days to go. I've started making final plans and arrangements for race weekend logistics: dinner reservation is made, race clothes are picked out, Gu flavors are selected, pace bands have arrived. The only big thing left is to plan my nutrition during race week, because I will not let poor fueling sink my race! Been there, not going back. 

Who else has a race in the coming weeks? Do you have taper madness? Are you excited? Anyone on the fence about signing up for a race?

Monday, September 1, 2014

August Recap: Insanity

August 2014 is going down in the record books as my highest mileage month ever, by a large margin. It's been epic. It's been intimidating. It's been confidence-building and tiring and wonderful. Here's August, by the numbers:

Miles ran: 204. Yes. TWO HUNDRED FOUR.

# Runs: 20, including an 18-miler, a 20, and 2 22-milers, plus 2 sets of Yassos that went amazingly well, a ton of easy runs, 2 pace runs and 1 tempo run.
BoB posted this on FB and I thought it was too funny not to pass along!
Favorite run: It's always hard to choose, but I think the first set of Yassos, early in the month. They felt much easier than I anticipated, and that built confidence for race day.

Other notable runs: A 9 mile tempo run about 2 weeks ago was certainly notable! We started in the pitch black--as in, so dark I felt like I should have brought a head lamp. As the sun was rising, we saw movement to the right of the path, and quickly realized it was a skunk, then 2 more. We both jumped to the other side of the path (maybe 3 feet?) and hurried up, but they were hissing at us and watching us. I was sure we were going to get sprayed, but luckily they kept to just hissing at us. Then of course every tiny motion in my peripheral vision for the next 36 hours was a suspected skunk. Also, the last 1.5 miles were in the rain. Because...why not?
What these morning runs in the mountains look like. My friend Tessa took this.
Other workouts: Maybe I should just stop posting this section at all.....(I swear I'm gonna do yoga at some point!)

Training updates: While I've been running 100+ mile months back-to-back for a while (since March) Running a 200-mile month taught me a few new things:
  • Managing electrolytes. How did I learn this? For years, at the end of a long run, my face would be gritty with salt, gritty enough to self-exfoliate practically. Recently I switched up my fueling routine so that I Gu every 6 miles I plop a Gu Brew electrolyte tablet into my water bottle every 9 miles. And just like that, the grit stopped. Also, my stomach isn't getting upset from ingesting too much sugar any more. It's like magic. I balanced my electrolyte intake.
  • I can do this: I always feel funny saying this, but it's true--even though I've been a runner since I was 15 and I've been doing enduring running since 2007, I still get intimidated sometimes. This past month, looking at 2 50-mile weeks, a new threshold for me for sure, was intimidating! And even though I love (love!) going fast, I still get intimidated sometimes by speed work. And you know what, I can do this. I DID do this. I AM DOING THIS. 
  •  I need to actually eat before a long run: I've realized that half a bagel with jam is a good call. Otherwise, I spent at least 10 miles thinking about food. 
  • When I run mileage like this, I need more sleep. TrainingPerks told me this a while ago, but I had to see it first hand to believe it. 
House projects completed: Our office is this close to being finished (and should have been finished weeks ago...), but alas not yet. My Mom and I made curtains for some of the windows in the living room (the last of the pink is gone! Hooray!), but the drapes are yet to come. 

Other lovely things from life: We had a One Year Party to celebrate the first year we've been here in Utah. We had a really nice, low-key evening with the crew that helped get us here, and people we've met since. 
My selfie from the end of the night
Also, the blackberry harvest is nearly complete, and the grapes are in full force. I've been making jam and jelly, and Mr. Joanna is going to can applesauce this week. Like I've said many times before, we never intended to become farmers, but homesteading is a beautiful lifestyle.

Photo: And back in Utah, the blackberry harvest begins.
Berries from the yard
We've also been getting into more local events here, and have more lined up over the coming weeks. The longer we're here, the more I love it.

So, my friends, I am three weeks until race day, and I'm anxious and excited! The taper is on (although I'm still running 45 miles this week), my pace bands are on their way, and we're in the final stretch. Stay tuned while I count down!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Paris + Running: A Picture's 1000 Words

If you read my last post, you already know that I just returned from Paris. As I was packing for my trip and throwing in some running clothes, I was immediately taken back to my old running route.

When I studied abroad in Paris I lived near Le Parc Monceau, a beautiful, under-appreciated urban neighborhood park. A few times a week I ran there. I ran in clothes I wouldn't be caught wearing on a treadmill now. In my defense, it was 2002 and black or gray cotton yoga pants (fitted through the hip and thigh, flaring below the knee, of course) were in style. I can't do much to defend the cotton t-shirts, except to say I didn't know better. Wearing this get-up, I'd walk out of my Paris flat, where I lived with an old couple, onto Rue du Saint Honore, turn right, and wound through the neighborhood a bit, and enter the park. I'd have, usually, Lincoln Park blaring on my Discman. Hand held. That's how we rolled back then. I'd run a few laps in the park, maybe for 30 minutes, people watching and listening to the city around me, before heading back.

One of the two girls I traveled with last week also wanted to run during our trip, but to save time we decided to run near our hotel, which was much closer to the Tuilleries than to Le Parc Monceau. We ran several laps there, hitting about a 5k distance, before deciding to head back to get cleaned up and start the day. We started back the way we came, but took the wrong side street. Only then did it occur to us that we were two directionally-challenged women in Paris with no money, phones, or maps. Oh, and, Paris is not on a grid. Once you've made a wrong turn, it's never as easy as going around the block.

We headed in what we thought was the right direction, and all told probably only went about 0.3 miles out of our way. In the process of this, we came across a Longchamp store, which my friends had been hoping to find. I took note of the cross streets: Rue Saint Honore and Rue du Chevalier de Saint-George.

Later than day or the next, when it was a good time to do our Longchamp shopping, Jenn and I told Lynn that we could find the store, we'd seen it and remembered the names of the cross streets. Except, Rue du Chevalier de Saint-George was nowhere to be found in our trusty guide book, Paris par Arrondissement. And, naturally, we only remembered about half of the landmarks necessary to get there. Lynn didn't have to say out loud that she absolutely did not trust our memories, and could be heard muttering repeatedly how completely ridiculous the two of us were in our unreasonable inability to navigate.

Finally a gentleman saw us gazing around, clearly not sure where to go, and asked what we were looking for. He pointed us down the street, telling us where to turn. So we did. And you know where the store was?
Let me turn that up for you if you can't read it: Rue du Chevalier de Saint-George
I couldn't resist posing for my victory. But when I look at this picture, I see myself in the middle of a high training volume summer, strong, fit, and all these years later, still discovering new corners of Paris by running. La vie est belle.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

July Recap, aka, Running All Over the World

This July has been unlike any other. It was my fifth consecutive month running over 100 miles, and I ran those miles all over the western world (I was back and forth between Paris and Florida, which is why I've been AWOL for 2 weeks). Here's how it all went down.

Miles ran: 124.4

# Runs: 17. I had another 4 planned that I did not get done while on vacation. However, we walked a lot while in Paris (miles not counted), so I don't feel bad about this at all.

Favorite runs: Oh, it's hard to choose! There was a 7 mile hill run (accomplished by running a bridge both coming and going) in St. Augustine, where this was the turn around spot.

And I got to run down this gorgeous street

And well, I was in Paris. PARIS! We walked probably 5-7 miles a day, so I wasn't super rigorous about getting my workouts in (plus, if we're being honest, I think I was facing some training burn-out, and the break was good for me). I did run one day with my friend Jenn in the Tuilleries. 

Other notable runs: In July I did 18 mile long runs twice. The first time ended in me being sick. The second time, I started earlier, hydrated more, and ran slower and had zero problems. It felt good to figure out what adjustments I needed. 

Other workouts: As I said, I walked a lot in Paris. And it was magnificent. The old girl is still amazing. I made her promise to stay amazing until I return.
A completely gratuitous photo from inside the Louvre. I didn't realize it until much, much later, but the person standing on the stairs on the left if one of the two girls I was traveling with.

I also swam a few times while in Florida, although that was more playing with my nieces than really exercising, but I'll count it!

Training update: Sweaty! But good. Seven weeks to go until race day!! My paces are certainly much slower than during my half-marathon training, but my miles have increased and I'm feeling strong. The break this past week was welcomed (it was a cut-back week which helps reduce the guilt!), and I think I'm ready to get back to it and see this thing through.
I'm sweating so much it actually looks like I'm crying. Hello humidity!!
House projects completed: I painted the Lady Lounge (the living room) a fabulous green, and we worked to finalized the plans for our office shelving & cabinetry, which is being installed next week. Can't wait! More curtains are coming very soon, as they are very much needed. 

Other lovely things from life: Taking my older son camping for the first time (pic below). Getting to spend time with my nieces and snuggle my new nephew and help their momma around the house. Discovering a sub-area of my field that I honestly did not have a decent grasp on previously. It felt like pulling back the curtain on a new world (#nerdsrule). And, um, PARIS. 
Moonrise in the mountains
Pedis with my nieces!

My trip to Paris was precipitated by an email from a friend a few months ago. She asked if another girl and I wanted to go to Paris, where we all met while studying abroad in 2002 (yep, I feel old after typing that). At first I wasn't sure if I could manage the time off, but after going, I can tell you that I couldn't afford not to take the time off. Seeing incredible art, relaxing, laughing a lot, reminiscing, and forgetting all the day to day stress was beyond therapeutic.

There you have it, my July. Like I said, it was unlike any other July I can remember, and honestly, one of the best.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Training Update: Stories from the Road

Here we are, just under 10 weeks from race day. The long runs are getting long, and the days are hot. That's the short version. But like any good training cycle, the day-to-day has brought so much to life. Today's post is devoted to sharing with you some stories gathered from life in training. I hope you enjoy these as much as I have.

The Day I Out Ran the Cops
One day a few weeks ago I was doing speed work in the park. It's ideal for it when a track isn't convenient. It's 1.5 miles around, and almost perfectly flat. One one trip down the eastern long side of the park, I saw a few cop cars parked next to each other. Then I saw two more drive in and park by them. Then about 6 more. What was going on?? Was there some sort of danger? Was I going to get to watch some super exciting bust go down? What?

As I was making my way around on my next lap, going somewhere between a 7:00 and 7:30 pace (speed work), I can hear this guy huffing and puffing behind me, heavy foot falls, the whole deal. He passes me, then hangs on right in front of me through the end of my interval, then kept going when I slowed down. I did my recovery, then the next interval, and it happened again, with another dude. WHAT WAS GOING ON? So I come to the corner of the park again and see one of the cops standing there with a clip board. I ask the guy what they're doing. Fitness assessments. Some sort of incentive program they're part of. I said, "Oh, then that's why your guys were so adamant about chasing me down." He laughed.

But then it occurred to me, only two of them passed me, and they just hung on. I out ran the rest of the cops. They better be glad runners aren't generally the criminal type, 'cause I'm pretty sure I just saw exactly how that chase would go down. Unless they shot me.

It Wasn't Exactly On My Bucket List...
I was out for my long run one Saturday morning. It was about 7:50 and I was 6 miles in. This was the end of the first loop of my planned 13 miles, and by far the toughest, so I was feeling pretty good about my pace and whatnot. I wasn't thinking about anything in particular; I rarely do when I run long distances. Until, oh shit, seriously? 

I looked down, and just a few feet before me on a side street laid four small, plastic, zip-top style baggies filled with a white powder. I stopped cold and stared for a second, then moved in, bent down a bit to get a closer look. They've got pot leaves printed across the top! I backed up a step, looked around to see who was there. No one. Just me and some random cocaine. Here in sweet little Salt Lake. I'm looking at bags of drugs on the street. 

What else could it be? I think to myself. Kids have toy replicas of all sorts of shit they shouldn't have real versions of--guns, knives, but not crack! Why would someone have anything like this that wasn't drugs? It's not like someone says to a friend, hey, do you have any miniature bags around that I could use for my tiny sandwiches? No one carries sugar to a cookie swap in tiny baggies. No. Holy shit! There are drugs on the sidewalk!

So I turn around and run back to my house--less than a mile--to get a phone and call the cops. The lady asks me where I saw this, and asked me to describe it, and to slow down because apparently I was speaking too quickly. Then she says, So, you saw the bags, and left them there?Yeah lady, I left them there! Sure did! 

What, was I supposed to carry them home? To, you know, that place where I live with small children?? Pick them up and wait to get beaten by whatever poor decision-maker had dropped them in the first place? Pick them up and wait for a cop to drive by and think they were mine? Nope nope nope nope nope. Sure did lady, I left them the *%#$ there. 

So later I called my best friend and told her all of this. Her response was really spot on, Well, now you can just cross that off the old bucket list. Finding drugs and calling the cops on a run. Checked 'er off. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

June Recap

Miles ran: 123.2, making this my fourth month in a row above 100 miles!! I'm at just shy of 600 miles for the year. Woohoo!!

# Runs: 21

Favorite Run: Easily the Utah Valley Half!! Gorgeous course, a wonderful visit from one of my favorite runner girls, and a new PR. What's not to love??

Other notable runs: Last week I did my first all-out 1 mile time trial in about 4 years, and I crushed my standing PR, finishing in 6:26!! What a rush!

Other workouts: Zero. Nada. Zilch. Unless you count short hikes and bike rides under 2 miles. I KNOW.

Training update: I'm into my third week of training for marathon #4: Top of Utah. My theme is FOUR UNDER FOUR. It's my 4th full and I really would love to get 'er done in under 4 hours. Given my races this spring, it seems like a feasible goal. So far, this training cycle has been easier than the peak of my half-marathon training. I'm kind of enjoying that, and also looking forward to really pushing myself later in the schedule. I've got 16 on deck for Saturday. It's been a long time since I went that long!

Current need: I don't usually include a "current need" section, but I do need help. I need new running blogs to read. I used to have a good group of them, but a few bloggers abandoned ship, and a few others got too good to respond to comments. I need some good new reads. Please recommend some of your faves!

House projects completed: I finished my niece's Christmas stocking. That's about it for things finished. We are ramping up right now to begin work in our office. We're planning to add shelving and cabinetry so that everything that's been in piles for the past year can be put away. I can't wait!

Other lovely things from life: Mr. Joanna and I attended a Fitz and the Tantrums show on Monday. We had so much fun!!! I LOVE living in the mountains and living in a city so we can do stuff like this. The best of both worlds.

Also, my nephew was born last week! Mom and baby are both doing great. I can't wait to meet him when I go to Florida here in a few weeks. Life is great.

How'd your June shape up?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Utah Valley Half Race Report

Ahhh, what a wonderful, whirlwind few days it's been. It's been epic, and so shall be this race report! And so it begins:

Thursday morning after the usual frenzied kid drop-offs, I headed to the airport to pick up my friend Rachel, who was flying in for from St. Louis vacation time and to run the Utah Valley half with me. After getting her stuff deposited at the house, we headed out for some ridiculously yummy lunch at Niche (elk burger's to die for y'all), then in the afternoon decided to head downtown for a tour of Temple Square (where the Mormon temple is, along with their visitors center, tabernacle, and other buildings). There are several varieties of these tours available, and I'm not sure we found the one we were really looking for, but that was fine. I learned more about the Mormon faith and history. After the tour we went through part of the Church History Museum. While the Mormon faith is not one I am looking to join, I really appreciated the time and welcome given to us by the missionaries who led our tour. I'm happy to know a bit more about their faith. Afterward, we wandered across the street to the grand City Creek Mall for a little retail relaxation.

On Friday we got up into the mountains, first for breakfast then for some exploring in Emigration Canyon. You might recall that I described the same trip taken another day here. Gorgeous day, gorgeous terrain, great company (my older son joined us too).
At Emigration Canyon
After dropping my son back off at home so he could go to his afternoon activities, we headed to Provo to hit up the expo and drive the course. The expo was typical--no surprises there, except the guy wearing his 2014 Boston jacket despite the 80+ degree day. I'll return to this detail later. 

Packets in hand, we headed up Provo Canyon to the start line for the race, then turned around and drove the course. This is something I've come to appreciate doing. Sometimes the hills that look inconsequential on an elevation profile map turn out to be a HUGE F'ING DEAL on race day. It's also great to be able to anticipate where there will and won't be shade, where the course will be on partially-open roads and where it's on residential streets, etc. An added bonus for this race: the course is jaw-droppingly beautiful, so we got to play in nature a little bit. 

We went down to the water's edge and dipped our toes in. That water was COLD!

Tunnels in races--love them or hate them?
We turned in early Friday night--I was in bed by 9:25, my race clothes laid out for morning and my gear ready to pick up and go. Predictably, I slept in fits, waking every 90 minutes or so, until the alarm went off at 2am. Race day!
Bibbed up and ready!
I was really startled to find a packet of leg cramps in my race bag. Don't they know we're trying to race?!?
You know the routine. Stumble out of bed. Fall into the clothes so carefully laid out the night before. Force yourself to eat, or bag the breakfast & force yourself to eat on the way to the race (the latter happened in my case). I have to hand it to Rachel here. She had no trouble at all downing an entire pre-race sandwich and chocolate milk. Girl's got this running nutrition thing figured out.

We arrived at the race parking lot at 3:30, just as planned. We did some last minute drop-bag adjustments, donned our throw-away clothes, and boarded a bus up the canyon to the start line. Once there, we huddled momentarily around one of the many bonfires before Rachel decided to do a little warm-up. When she came back we abandoned the fire (and its smoke) for a darker, colder spot near the port-a-potties (of which we made repeated use) and the start line. In line for our final trip through the port-a-potties, we were behind a shirtless runner. It was maybe 50 degrees out. We were wearing Goodwill zip-up hoodies and I was still chilly. We were giving each other looks like, can you believe this guy? I'll return to this, and Boston jacket man, again below.
At the start line, dancing in the pale moonlight
The start area was laid back, and I loved it. They played music, let us know when the bag drop van was coming, and didn't roll out the timing mats until maybe 20 minutes before start time. We watched the sky start to lighten behind the mountains as sunrise approached. As we got near the start time, Rachel and I split up to find our pacing groups. I waffled about starting with the group, then remembered her telling me about a race where being known by the pacers had really been what pulled her through. So I approached the 1:50 group and introduced myself. The pacer was really energetic and outgoing. He asked what my goal was, what my PR was, where I earned it and when. Then assured me that I was going to crush it. I chalked it up to pre-race enthusiasm on his part but appreciated it none the less!

In all of this excitement, it never occurred to me to turn on my Garmin. $h*t!! With less than a minute to go I started the satellite-finding process (did I mention that we were in the middle of nowhere??). With maybe 5 seconds until the gun, it found a satellite, I breathed a sigh of relief, and we were off. Since the half was only 1500 runners, we sort of casually walked to the start line before running.

The pacer's plan was to bank a little time in the first two miles, then spend it in the ~175 feet of elevation gain we would face in mile 3. It's a fine plan, but as I'd planned to negative split, I let the pace group get a bit ahead of me while I hung back. Second reason to hold back: my right shin was cramping. This had happened during our Thursday late morning run, and for a few minutes I really worried that I'd tied my right shoe too tight and would lose feeling in my foot. Thank goodness, the cramp eased up and my pacing plan worked. I headed into the big mile 3 hill feeling good. It's by far the hardest spot in the course, and I took it without incident. I didn't know it then, but Rachel was facing altitude issues through these early miles, which we'd known was a risk coming from sea level.

Splits: 8:25, 8:11, 8:42

The hill reached its apex just after mile marker 4, then a steep descent followed before the course became more gradual, easing out of the canyon around mile 7. I took the steep descent just a hair too fast and paid the price in my quads, but was having a blast. I felt strong, felt good, and when I started to get tense I repeated Coach Mike's race mantra, run easy, run free. By about mile marker 5 I'd caught the pace group again. This time I didn't let them go. The scenery was breathtaking. The sun was rising, casting shadowy light across the rocky edges of the mountains. Gorgeous.

Splits: 8:27, 8:07, 8:02, 8:17

The one and only timing mat on-course was at 9.17. Random, I know. This timing mat also housed a fun new service where people could make a sign for runners, have their picture taken with it at the expo, then that picture was displayed on a huge screen at this spot on the course. Rachel and I made signs for each other and it was fun to watch for mine to show up on the board. There she was, holding a sign that said "Joanna: you'd better negative split!" I fist pumped and yelled "Yes ma'am!!" At this point my quads were starting to whisper about being tired, and I knew it, but I was ignoring them. The rest of me was feeling great. And I was really enjoying the casual, lighthearted, fun conversation going on in the pace group.

A few miles prior, my pace group leader had told me that I was looking strong, so after the (much smaller) hill at mile 10.5, he thought I should go ahead of the group. Dutifully, right after that hill he sent me on my way. I thought 2.5 miles out was too far out to gun it, so I went ahead of the group but sped up only a little. I kept gradually pushing the pace until I hit 12.1.

Splits: 8:15, 8:13, 8:11, 8:06, 7:59

One mile left to go. Slight downhill. I could see the finish line. All of that = international sign for let it fly. I flew down the final few blocks, past the huge banner on the side of a building that read "FINISH STRONG", and toward the finish. I'd trained for this last mile. I thought about all those speed sessions. I glanced at my Garmin and wondered if I could finish under 1:48. I pushed hard. I was farther out than I thought, and couldn't quite make it in, but I came close, and I didn't care. I'd exceeded my goal for the season. I'd finished in 1:48:04. A freaking 5 minute PR.

Splits: 7:47, 1:21 (distance read 13.15)

Although Rachel and I had a plan in place just in case we couldn't find each other, she was standing almost immediately over the finish line waiting for me. Panting, I showed her my Garmin. And she'd hit her goal too, of going sub-1:40 for the first time. We were flying high on adrenalin. What an incredible feeling!! I honestly cannot describe it. Just bursting at the seams with energy and excitement and badassery!

We walked slowly through the finish area, picking up that all-hallowed Utah staple, Creamies, plus water and a few other snacks. We left the finish area, wandering to get post-race "massages" (really assisted stretching), watch the elite full marathoners come in (we met the family of the #5 overall full finisher--really nice folks), and eventually retrieve our bags, take pictures, pick up Rachel's plaque for finishing fifth in her division (again, badassery), and eventually find the buses back to the parking area.

Since Rachel was visiting the western US, we'd planned for some "passive recovery" at In & Out Burger on the way home. Being my inaugural trip, I wasn't sure what to expect. The rumors are true. It's a little bit magical. The whole menu is about 15 items, total, and it's super cheap. I practically inhaled my cheeseburger and milkshake, plus a coffee from the Starbucks next door (one cannot survive on the caffeine found in Gu alone!).
In & Out Burger
When we got home, I promptly collapsed on the couch and was so far asleep that when a phone alert woke me up 30 minutes later, it took me a few seconds to figure out where I was and who was in my house. Out cold. Slowly I pried myself up, got a shower, and moved on with the day. And what a day it was! Rachel and I took my older son to Antelope Island, this magical place at the Great Salt Lake where bison and antelope roam, migratory birds appear, and lots and lots and lots of bugs swarm the shores in the summer. Getting down to the shore, then getting back up, was by far the most disgusting hike of my life. There were so many insects on the rocks that they hummed and appeared darker from a few feet away, until you realized that it was thousands of tiny black insects hovering just above the rock surface. Then there are the brine shrimp, but we won't get into that.
Rachel & my kiddo. It was an unholy mess getting down to the shore, but we made it.
That evening we had a yummy dinner out, where Rachel and I hatched the plan to someday do a race where our sole purpose is mockery of race stereotypes--clearly inspired by the few we saw along the way. Our weekend would include:

  • gratuitous appearances of elite race jackets
  • showing up just in time to run to the last bus/train/car heading for the start line
  • unnecessary clothing removal, including both going shirtless and wearing teeny, tiny spandex shorts that stretch credulity
  • matching shirts on race day that aren't the race t-shirt
  • running 4 abreast in mile 1
  • sprinting past clearly newbie runners in the chute to claim a 2:30 finish time, while wearing our matching shirts, and while clutching hands and screaming
What else am I missing? Who wants in on our escapade? It's going to be fun. 

And there you have it. A wonderful, relaxing, adventuresome race weekend. Rachel and I have had an easy friendship from the moment we met volunteering at Rock & Roll St. Louis in 2011. I can't wait to see what other adventures in running lie ahead for us!

Final stats
Chip time: 1:48:04
Pace: 8:15
Overall place: 222/1503
Gender place: 88
Division place: 20/156

Monday, June 9, 2014

Running in Utah Part 3: The Canyons

Today's post comes as the third installment in the "Running in Utah" series. Parts 1 and 2 covered inversions (you can find that here) and altitude (here). Today's post is related but distinct: the canyons.

The equivalent of a canyon in Appalachia is a hollow. GAH--that word is actually hard to type, because it's pronounced "holler" and that -ow at the ends just kills me to type. Anyway, in Appalachia, the folds between the mountains, where roads often wind and homes nestle, is a holler (I CAN'T DO IT!). Here, in the much bigger Rockies they are canyons. Around Salt Lake we have some canyons people know well because they host popular ski resorts like Snowbird and Alta. We have more residential canyons like Emigration. But to today's point, regardless of where or what they are, we run them. 

Below are the elevation profiles for the race I did in April, the one I'm doing next week, and my full in September. Why would you not race here???
Salt Lake Half
Utah Valley Half Marathon: Half Marathon Elevation
Utah Valley Half
Top of Utah Marathon

And amazingly, people train in the canyons. About a week ago I took my parents up Emigration Canyon for breakfast and a drive. We saw people running and biking all the way up the canyon. My Dad watched the bikers in wonder, comparing their calves and hearts to those found in other parts of nature. 
At the top of Emigration Canyon, a gain of about 1300 feet over 8 miles
The courses are fantastic, but training with this as a backdrop ain't shabby either. I took these at the end of last week's mile repeat speed workout. During the run, we got to watch the sun rise over the mountains, casting every shade of gorgeous across the landscape. 

If you're considering a destination race, I hope you'll consider Utah. Just be sure to arrive a few days in advance to acclimate to the altitude! I'm super excited to welcome a friend from St. Louis to town later this week, as she'll be running Utah Valley with me on Saturday. I hope she enjoys running these hollers as much as I do!

Monday, June 2, 2014

May Recap

With absolutely no preamble, here's what I've been looking forward to shouting from the rooftops for about a week: this was my highest mileage month ever! Except, it wasn't. By less than 1 mile, the month preceding my last full marathon was my longest. Considering that I'm training for a half and not a full, I think this is still worthy of celebration! Here's more about my month.

Total miles ran: 147.6

# runs planned/ran: 23/21

Other workouts planned/done: a big fat zero/and a big fat zero

Most memorable run: I have to name 2 long runs here. First, my 15 mile long run, both because it was a do-over from the shorter run I did with a training friend in the rain the day before, and because I had the city all to myself in the quiet early morning.

Second, the long run I did in Indy on May 17 on the Monon Trail. Read about that here.

Hardest run: This is a toss-up between my mile repeats and last week's tempo run. Since then, I've realized that I mis-read the schedule for the tempo run and was attempting to make it much harder than it actually was. The mile repeats were just brutal though. That pace! Yikes! And I love mile repeats!

Firsts: May saw my first Yasso 800s. Read more about that here. I also for the first time did a 15 mile long run before a half-marathon.

House projects finished: Our master bathroom and closet are FINALLY 98% of the way finished and we've actually started using both spaces. It feels like an incredible luxury to shower, get dressed, brush my teeth, and dry my hair all in the same place. And, it's gorgeous. Huge shout out to The Design House for making that happen!! Other house projects finished:

  • I removed the curtain rod and existing curtain from the beautiful Craftsman window in our office and am loving seeing the window trim!
  • My Mom made the sheer for the window in our closet, replacing a homemade roman shade that was here when we moved in (and which no longer worked adequately)
  • We got a new light for the man cave and it looks great!
  • Our parents all pitched in on gardening and got our front beds cleaned up substantially
  • My parents re-stained our porch furniture
The office is up next. Our house is coming along. I'm hoping that in another full year we'll have all the paint, curtains, decor, etc done to our liking--can't wait!

What I'm looking forward to in June: 
  • My friend Rachel's visit for the Utah Valley Half!! She is delightful and we're already planning all sorts of fun things to get into. 
  • And the race. I've trained so hard! 
  • Next week I'll cross the 500 mile mark for the year, which I've never done so early in the year. 
  • Continuing to train with and hang out with my SLRC girls!!
  • Switching to Training Version 2014.3, as I switch into full-marathon mode after the half in 2 weeks. 
  • Some non-running things: welcoming a new nephew into the world! (I'll get to meet him in July), celebrating my 9th wedding anniversary, getting caught up a bit at work and starting to transition into a new role there. 

How'd your May shape up? Looking forward to those recaps.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Yasso 800s, a Rain Check, and Chuck E. Cheese

I shall not contain my Three Things to Thursdays! Last week was quite the week in training, with more than one "first". Let's check in.

First up, I did my first Yasso 800s. So what's all the hubbub about? Ultimately, I'm happy to report that y'all can calm down about these and run them like a boss when the time comes. They are essentially similar to any other track workout, they just happen to be the workout that you use to gauge your likely marathon finishing time. How do they work? A Yasso 800 is an 800m (half mile) interval followed by a 400m (quarter mile) recovery. You do this 10 times, and the time you hold for the intervals is the reduced version of your marathon time. So, if you do them at 4:03, you're likely to run about a 4:03 full marathon. For a half, generally divide your full marathon time by half then subtract about 10 minutes (or, to go the other way, multiply your half time by 2 and add about 10 minutes).

My training schedule was written for a 1:45 half finish, even though I'm aimed closer to 1:50, so the times are a little bit faster sometimes than what I think is realistic for me. So I knew my Yassos might be a little slower than the schedule read. Splits (intervals only): 3:35, 3:58, 3:39, 3:51, 3:41, 3:49, 3:46. I averaged 3:45, only 9 seconds slower than my too-fast schedule. I'm good with that!

A rain check: A bunch of girls from my training group are continuing to meet up for races and training runs (love that we're doing this!!). I'd planned to meet up with a friend on Saturday morning to do my 15 mile long run, but when I got up it was pouring. I was getting dressed thinking, the running clothes are totally for show. No one's actually running in this, right? But she didn't text to cancel and I didn't want to be our resident quitter, so off I went. We ran 5.5 miles before deciding that we were soaked and cold and deserved a yummy breakfast instead.
At Miner's Cafe in Midvale

I did the full 15 miles early early Sunday morning instead, in the quiet, gorgeous dawning sunshine of a sleeping city. This is the first time I've done a 15 mile long run before a half-marathon. Am I alone here? Do people do this more often than I'm aware of? How do you feel about it? Incidentally, the weather lately has been gorgeous

Chuck E. Cheese
Later on Saturday we had my older son's birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. If you're like me, you remember this place as dark and smokey with a somewhat creepy mouse wearing gold lame (pronounced lamA) shorts. I'm happy to report that it is no longer dark or smokey, and the mouse has changed his shorts. But, whoa, over-stimulation and poor nutrition. The kids had a blast. And I found this. See, Chuck E. Cheese is here to support local athletes!
I present to you, the "Marathon Runner: Great Run! and Fun!" An honest-to-goodness human hamster wheel.

Total for last week: 44 miles. I think this month might shape up to be my highest mileage month ever, but I'll have to double check the logs about that. How'd your week go? Are you loving this spring weather? Are you jazzed about the human hamster wheel? I knew you would be.

Monday, May 19, 2014

[Long] Run Away!

I had the pleasure of attending a friend's wedding reception this weekend back in the Midwest. I'm going to get to the running part, hold on (!), but 2 things happened that I can't let pass unmentioned. First, I saw a friend's MIL in the Denver airport. Random, right?! Now, I've only ever met this MIL once, several years ago, so I wasn't 100% sure that's who I was looking at. I texted my friend, who confirmed the sighting, but by then the MIL had gotten away from me. Rascally, that one. Second, I landed in Indy, went to the car rental counter, and got all my paperwork taken care of. I walked to the parking spot where they said my car was waiting. I think the Thrifty Dollar rental people must have gotten the toilet paper companies to do their marketing, because this is what I got as my "economy sized" vehicle. Seriously?!?
I actually laughed, audibly, in the parking garage when I found this.  My "economy sized" Xterra.
Back to the running part: Like the good runner that I am, I planned to do my long run while there. Since I didn't know the area very well, I looked up various 13 routes near the hotel using MapMyRun. I found a few and saved one of them to my phone for Saturday. I mentioned this to my friend, who recommended the Monon Trail instead. Commercial/industrial suburbia or a paved rails-to-trails trail? Trail FTW, every time.

So I put Monon Trail, Carmel, IN in my phone's GPS. It tells me it's a 14 minute drive. Fine. I follow its instructions. Right up until it says "You've arrived at your destination", and I'm here.
Maybe the party supply people encourage running in the aisles?
Fairly certain that my phone is trying to get me lost or thrown in jail, I look around for signs for any trail nearby. Across the parking lot, I see a guy loading a bike onto the back of his car, so I lumber the ol' Xterra over there and sure enough, there's the trail entrance. I asked the guy which way I should run, and apparently the trail goes on more or less forever in either direction. But he vaguely pointed right, so right it was.

WHAT A FANTASTIC PLACE TO RUN!! I ran through charming Broad Ripple, over rivers, canals, past playgrounds. Most of it was shaded, it was almost perfectly flat, and the few road crossings were well marked. There were tons of runners, walkers, strollers, and bikers out using the trail.

I turned around at 6.5 miles and hit 13 just as I returned to my school bus car. Just for fun, I tacked on an extra 0.1 to say I rounded out the half-marathon distance, and I did it in 1:59:04. It felt amazing to casually run a sub-2 half-marathon distance. Hell, it was delightful even. I'm not sure I've ever done that during a training run. Love, love, love. 

Fortunately, I was parked in front of a grocery store, so I went in and picked up some chocolate milk and a few healthy snacks for the rest of my trip. But, something about having just stopped running, combined with the fluorescent lights of the store and being hungry left me mildly disoriented for a minute. I realized I was standing unnaturally close to people. And still sweating, natch. I pulled myself together, clearly drank the chocolate milk, and headed back to the hotel to get pulled together for the reception. 

The reception was lovely. I got to hang out with Dr. Ears and her new husband (they were married in December, but waited for spring to have the picnic reception), and meet a bunch of their friends who I didn't previously know. They had all sorts of costume pieces so guests could take silly pictures.
I tipped my hat to them! There's a picture of me dressed as a pirate somewhere...
But here's where I need some feedback. I spent a good chunk of time chatting with another guest who has spent years getting healthy, staying healthy, and getting strong. She's a strong advocate of the Adkins diet. I mentioned that I just.stay.hungry, all the time. This launched an hour-plus discussion about how I almost certainly do not eat remotely enough protein. I'm feeling a little unsure about making dietary changes, and would love some feedback. She recommended:
  • Ditching my long time morning staple, Mini-Wheats, and replacing it with a whey protein shake and 3 hard boiled eggs (fewer carbs, way more protein)
  • Eating 3 entire meals, rather than 3 small meals and 3 wimpy snacks through the day. 
  • Eating about 1 gram of protein for every pound that I weigh, per day. I'm probably shy of half of this, currently. 
  • There was some guideline for fat consumption, too, but I've forgotten what it was, except, a lot (I believe the words "no upper limit" were used). 
  • Cutting way back on carbs during breakfast and lunch, on the belief that they provoke me to want to eat more, rather than filling me up. This includes fruit. 
  • Actually doing weight training, which we all know runners suck at. 
What do you guys think? Does this work for runners? Is it really possible to lose weight and not starve all the time? Do I really not eat enough protein? Please chime in!! I'd love to make some nutritional changes before marathon training gets into full swing next month.