Monday, January 27, 2014

Yes! I joined [a different] lot of us

I last left the ol' blog with a question: should I join the running group I checked out? That decision, and the conversations I had with a few of you about it, have set off a series of possibly-great-but-definitely-terrifying decisions, which I will present in order of least to most terrifying.

Least Terrifying Decision
They said come join the lot of us, and I said....    (btw, this line is from But Not the Hippopotamus, which you should read whether you have small children or not)

I said, I should come join a running group. Yes. But...not that one. Per Jodi's suggestion, I met up with the group a second time, this time for a regular Saturday run. It just didn't click for me. I think the issue was two-fold. One, despite having a dazzling array of pace-themed training groups& coaches, and the frighteningly low number of people in my training group, the "group" (a term I have to use loosely because I'm not sure it was anyone other than the coach and his son) took off for a distance appropriate for full marathon training, leaving me more or less on my own. Second, and as a result of the first point, I was the fastest person among those left behind by a fairly wide margin, and, isn't avoiding solo long runs the whole point of joining a group?

In an effort to find an alternative, I scouted out other local options and struck upon a Saturday-only training group run by the Salt Lake Running Company. Having missed the kick-off and having spoken to no one about it, I signed up. It was now or never. It's only 4 months, I told myself. Wait, 4 months? Not 6? Yes...because this group is training for the Salt Lake Marathon & Half in April, which leads me to Decision #2.

Second Least Terrifying Decision
So, I registered not only for the running group, but the Salt Lake Half, to be held in April. Since it's only 11 weeks out, I planned to use my trusty old RW sub-2 half training plan. I've used it several times before. I know I can do it, and I know it will bring me over the finish line in the anticipated time frame. No biggie. I didn't anticipate training so early in the year, but it will be good for me.

But then I thought...I have some pretty specific goals for the Top of Utah Marathon in September. Specifically, to not Fuel Fail a la Cleveland. And with appropriate fueling, turn in a shiny new PR. And if I wanted to do that, I would need to up my training.
immediately post-fuel fail at Cleveland, with the aforementioned Jodi (center, right)

Which brought me to...

Decidedly Terrifying Decision #1
...registering for the Utah Valley Half in June and [gulp] buying the sub-1:45 RW training plan for it. Now, before you jump all over me, yes, I know that dropping 10 minutes off my PR is probably too much. But I do think it's time for a new PR, and this is the next step up in training. It's time. Plus, it will help me to accomplish that last goal...

Terrifying Decision #2 attempt to sub-4 Top of Utah in September. I've long said that it would take me another 2 marathons to break that barrier. But, I'm going for it. Unapologetically, and fully aware that it's entirely possible that it won't happen. I bought the RW sub-4 marathon training schedule and it's in my handy dandy Excel training spreadsheet.

The net effect of this is that I'm scheduled to run about 1,000 miles between now and late September, when I've never done more than 850 in a year, and I'm asking myself to set 2 new PRs over the course of 3 races. I've bitten off a lot. Especially considering that the rest of life is CRAZY, but we won't get into that.

I told all of this to a good friend a few days ago and I thought her response was apt. Remember that time you called, enormously pregnant, and told me you were about to stand on a ladder and use power tools? This might be similar. 

Pretty much. Except that this time, it isn't going to end with said friend installing curtain hardware while I sit in a rocking chair. Ready. Set. Go.

Monday, January 13, 2014

They said, come join the lot of us. And I said, I just don't know.

I have a big decision to make. Is this the right time to join a running group? And, have I found the right group for me?

A few weeks ago my neighbor invited me to attend an info session for our local chapter of USA Fit. I dutifully checked them out online. The registration fee is $110, which gives you group runs on Saturdays for about 4 months, with pace group coaches, and a 1-year membership to the Olympic Oval (indoor track that's 3.5 laps to a mile--love!!). This past Saturday we headed to the Oval to hear all about it.

After the obligatory greetings and info sharing, we did time trials. This I did not anticipate. Honestly, I had no idea what was happening for a while. The coaches led us in a half-ish mile warm-up then stepped off the track, leaving us to do our time trial. What did that mean? Our fastest 2 miles? Race pace for some distance? An easy run? Tempo pace? I had no idea, so I just let loose and ran. After a few minutes I was running alongside a guy I'd guess was about 20, and clearly we were both having fun and neither of us was going to blink first. So....we ran. We ran 2 miles in 15 minutes flat. Uhhh...was I supposed to do that? I still honestly don't know, but I'm guessing not.

Why? Because the coach came up to me after and told me I should aim for a 3:30 marathon. I laughed out loud. I told him that I'm hoping to sub-4 in my next marathon or 2, and have no ambition to run a 3:30. Like I said, uhhhhh. Huh.

Aside from setting them straight on pacing if I do join, I just have a lot of questions. More reasons for and against joining come to mind, but I'm keeping it to the top 3 of each.

Reasons to join:
1. We are still pretty new here, and while we've made some real progress on finding friends and starting to get involved in the community, we still have a long way to go before this place feels like home. Joining the group would be an opportunity to make new friends.

2. It would motivate me to sign up for a late spring half, which would be healthy. Without a training plan, and with winter weather happening, I've found it a little harder than usual to find motivation to run. A concrete goal would help.

3. The coach seems like someone who could push me to the next level. I may be able to do this on my own to some extent, but a group never hurts.

Reasons not to join: 
1. The coach seems to have some delusion about my potential race pace. This sort of intimidates me.

2. I realize this somewhat contradicts the above point, but the group seems to be geared more toward beginners. I'm a little concerned about ending up in a very small pace group and not getting to know the larger group, since they have different coaches.

3. As it turns out, my neighbor can't join this season, so I'd be going in solo.

So, what do I do? How do you know if you've found the right training group? Should I just go for it? It's only 1 season, right?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

2013 in Review

Hello hello, and welcome to 2014!! I realize this recap post is a bit late. December turned out to be a wee bit on the crazy side, so I decided to give myself some time away from the blog. I'm excited to be back and have lots of stuff planned to share with you over the coming month or so.

Where was I the last month? The wee crazy was also lots of fun. There was a lot of travel, which was kicked off with a Thanksgiving trip to Florida (see here), then back to my beloved St. Louis for a perfect weekend (here, it was a work trip for my hubby and the rest of us happily tagged along for a very abbreviated weekend). Then the following weekend I was off to Detroit solo to meet up with ODP, Kdot, my neices, Big Pete and Pepper for ODP's graduation. (idea: I should add a tab to my blog that gives the cast of characters. That would be fun to put together!! Yes! This is happening. For the time being, see the footnote on this post if you're not familiar with my peeps) I seriously could not be prouder of my big brother, or more thankful for Kdot for being his rock through the whole adventure. Love you guys!!

My parents (Big Pete and Pepper) flew back to SLC with me that weekend. They stayed through the New Year and while Christmas was lovely, and I made great strides toward learning to sew, and our bathroom remodel Part 1 was completed, the real headline was that Pepper managed to wreck two cars while seated in the back seat of my Prius. I really wish I were kidding. GAME: I'll give you two images of the damage and you try to figure out what happened. Leave it in the comments. The more outrageous detail, the better. 

Shortly after the accident, it was NYE and time to summarize another year of running (not my best segue, I know. Leave it alone). Here are the basic stats:

Total miles: 737. I'm pleased with this. I ran a grand total of 281 in 2012 (had a baby people, quit gawking!) and estimated that I'd cover about 700 in 2013. 

Total other workouts: I honestly don't know because I didn't track most of them, but I'm really pleased with my yoga work this past year. I went to several great classes with my good friend LW back in STL, and I attended at least 1 class per week from early August through early November, then a few after that. I enjoyed it so much that I signed up for another class that runs through May. 

Types of run workouts: Every year I post a graph like this. I love these. 
I joined the hundo club twice in 2013 (woot!!) and built in a good variety of workouts in both of my training cycles. July's dip in mileage isn't surprising considering the cross-country move that happened that month!

Races: As anticipated and planned for, I completed 2 half-marathons in 2013. First up was the Lincoln Presidential Half-Marathon in early April (race recap here). My goal was to come in under 2 hours and I just barely did. I ran the whole thing with a smile on my face, SO THANKFUL to be out there racing.

My BRFF and I ran the Raleigh City of Oaks Half in early November (race recap here). The course was a bit hillier than we anticipated, but 6.5 years after setting our goal to sub-2 together, we finally did. SO proud of how we ran this race, and even happier that we got to run it together.

Acclimating: As I said, we moved across the country in July, and to a climate unlike places we'd lived before, and at an elevation I haven't lived at in many years. For longer than I'd care to admit, I was sucking wind while running, but eventually my body did adapt to the dry, thin air. Now that I'm used to it, I see it as a training benefit of living here. Racing at sea level should feel great! Acclimating is more than that, though. It also means settling into life here. We've slowly started to make new friends. We've made some investments in making this place our home by buying bikes, finding other outdoor gear, and renovating large parts of our new house. I'm even checking out a running group with my neighbor this weekend! Here's to expanding my circle of running buddies in 2014.

Looking forward: I have big goals for 2014. Two very specific ones, to be exact. I want to set new PRs in both the half and full marathon. Admittedly, I'm way more committed to the idea of a new marathon PR, as I still, badly, want to avenge my last 26.2 (Cleveland 2011--I know it's been a while. I had a baby, people!). I'm strongly considering registering for a half in the late spring/early summer, and it seems like PRing that would lay good groundwork for PRing the full in September. 

I'd also like to set a new mileage PR in 2014. After digging around my blog, it looks like that PR stands at 830 (and I was pregnant for half of that year?!??!!), which might be tough to top! I will plan to train for my races, and if that means posting a new annual mileage number, wonderful, but I'm not going to stress over it. 

How did your 2013 shape up? Did you hit your goals? Did you get inspired to set new goals? 

Cast of Characters:
ODP: my brother
Kdot: my sister-in-law, ODP's wife
Big Pete: my Dad
Pepper: my Mom
Mr. Joanna: my husband
BRFF: Best Running Friend Forever, Meg
Salt (not appearing in this post): my MIL