Wednesday, August 26, 2020

I Had a Plan, 2020 Laughed

 Alright y'all. We're up to 2020. Then, 2020 happened. 

I'll start by backing up (again). I ran marathon #5 in the spring of 2017. You can read about it here, but the short version goes like this: I was trained for a PR. I felt confident. Then, it was something like 87* on race day. It was not a day for PRs. I don't even remember what my time was, but it was not fast. I got a sunburn on my back I could see the lines of for a year. 

By early 2018, when maybe I would have considered picking a fall full, I was trying really hard not to be injured, then of course I was. In early 2019, I was focused on getting back to race shape, which I did. I PRed the half twice in 2019 very happily. After the Indy Monumental, I was feeling it. It was time. I wanted my moment with the 26.2. And I knew where. 


Detroit was my first. It has stood out as a significant day in my life. I believed something new about myself after I finished that race. It was time to go back. So I registered. I registered January 1, the day registration opened. I wanted it for me. 

* sidebar: there's more of a story here, but for another day 

Then, 2020 laughed at all of us. 

Hermes 10 Miler in April: nope
Towpath Spring: nope
Towpath June: nope
Coronabusters 19k Survivor Virtual Race: yes

Lots and lots of running alone, then cross-training from home. At first, I tried running alone on well-known paths, but there were too many people too unwilling to move over, or not take up the entire path walking in pairs, and it was too much. The cyclists refused to yield when, with nowhere else to go, I'd end up in a bike lane occasionally. Eventually, I opted for smaller neighborhood streets, and settled in. 

In late June, right after we got back from the most socially-distanced vacation ever--to my native West Virginia--the training cycle started. 

  • I made one interval workout harder than it needed to be and that was not a good choice. 
  • In Week 4, I was scheduled for a sub-46 minute 10k. I need emojis. It was crazy. I ended up about 46:40. In my defense, I was running on pea gravel that did not help. Also, it was stupid hot. I left what I had on the path and called it a win. 
  • In Week 6 I had a hill workout. Friendship is texting your friend saying, "hey, remember that hill we ran on like 3 years ago and our other friend drove past us? I don't know what it was called and I need to go run up it ten times at 6am tomorrow. Wanna come?" And they say yes, and they respect your effort to stay socially distanced while doing so. 
  • In Week 8 I ran 200s for the first time in years. That is a fun workout. The interval is so short. You fly and by the time you want to die, it's over. 
  • Also in Week 8, I was supposed to run a sub-1:50 half marathon, with a slower mile on each end. I don't know what happened. I did it, but it destroyed me. This was this past Sunday actually and I think I'm just now over it. 
To no one's surprise, Detroit went virtual. Sooooooo.......Plan B. 

You guys, Plan B is NOT what I wanted, but it's a pretty great back-up plan. I opted for the Detroit Virtual race. It won't be in Michigan. It won't be officially measured. But it will BE. A lifer friend of mine who lives about 45 minutes away is going to bike with me on race day (at least part of it) to make sure I don't die. My family and a few friends are planning to come cheer, distanced of course.

I'm in Week 9 of training and it's a big one: 45 miles. There are days I wake up and my body hurts. There are days I realize my calves are more muscular than they were 3 months ago. There are days I'm starving. There are many, many days I greet the sunrise from the quiet streets with nothing but joy. This is what training looks like. 

The pandemic has been, well, y'all know how it's been. I've been so thankful for running. Running isn't canceled. Running is a hobby you can do alone. Running has been a safe way to get out of the house. Running-based time to myself has been crucial. Like Fleet Feet says, running changes everything. Running has enriched my life in so many ways, for so long. Especially now. 

Saturday, August 22, 2020

OMG, 2020.

It's a title that requires no explanation. The home haircuts. That Ohio allowed us to buy cocktails with our carry out orders. The three day hold-before-opening period many households use for mail. The homeschool learning pods. But none of that is even why I titled this post "OMG, 2020." It's that I haven't posted since the end of 2018. A gap like that is, like everything 2020, new for me. Let's back up a little. 

A Brief Tour of Running in 2019

In August of 2018, I had long been pretending I wasn't injured. Then, in one step at a trail race, I was sidelined. The long version of this is chronicled here. By the end of 2018 I was up to 6 miles. 

I kept pushing, kept building. In early 2019 I started working with a trainer (miss you! mean it!) every other week and started going to yoga or HIIT classes each off week. By April, I was able to run a half-marathon time that told me I was ready to return to training, and later that month I ran the Hermes 10 miler in 1:19:36. I was on fire and had the best time. 

Explosive Sitting at the Gym

With Katie at Towpath Half, Spring 2019

In June I ran the inaugural Sweet and Savory 60 Mile Relay, a benefit for the Cleveland Food Bank. In theory, it was a great race. We started on the west side of Cleveland and ran the Emerald Necklace of the (honest to goodness truly amazing) Metroparks system. The reality was more chaotic, goofy, and raining. It involved pastry. We got lost at least once. I got lost in a parking lot. I learned a lot about managing the logistics of an ultra-distance relay. We laughed a lot. 

Then THE NEXT DAY, I ran the Towpath 10-10, opting for the 10k option because are you insane. It wasn't one of my faster races, but I placed third in my age group and had a great time with friends. 

By early August, I'd buckled down with an actual training plan--my first in, what, two years?! Speed work intimidated me all over again, but I did it anyway. It was on. It was time for my comeback at the half-marathon distance. In October I set a shiny new PR: 1:43:18. This picture is how I felt about it. 

My friend Katie also posted a new PR that day. The ending of that race is one I'll never forget. In the last mile or so she'd told me to go ahead. But I KNEW she's a strong sprinter than I am, and this made no sense. But I went. Then just before the finish line I heard her behind me and she'd caught me and it was all the feelings. 

All along, I'd hedged my bets. If the weather was bad for Towpath, or if I just wasn't feeling it that day, I'd run easy and try again a few weeks later at Indy Monumental. My dear friend and St. Louis BRF Rachel loves this race and we'd planned to meet up for it. She was running the full marathon. I was running the half. We were both bringing friends. It was going to be the kind of runner weekend we live for. 

Erika, me, Leslie, and Rachel post-race brunching

The first few miles were a lot of weaving. I settled in without expectations. Then, the course opened up, my legs started turning over more quickly, and I knew. I went for it. There were a few miles of real effort, but the beast never came. I finished in 1:41:54, 40/716 in my division. Euphoric. Zero doubt in my mind strength training had made this possible. In 2017 I'd fallen out of yoga's half moon pose every single time because my hips were weak and my obliques were weak. By November 2019, I could hold not only half moon, but crow pose. I'd gotten stronger. 

Meanwhile, Erika was getting introduced to the magic of race day--the energy and the rush of it. When the time came, she and I went out to cheer Rachel in. After brunch, Erika and I spent our day enjoying shopping, boozy milkshakes, and a craft distillery before meeting back up with Rachel and her crew for dinner. Five stars. Recommend

By the end of 2019, I'd logged 1,256 miles. I had to foam roll religiously. I was still strength training religiously. But I was clearly through the injury and in fighting form. 

I think I'll stop here and write a second post about 2020 and my current training cycle. I'm halfway through it with a lot to say, so stay tuned.