Wednesday, December 30, 2020

66 Days Until Race Day

Wow, I am wiped out! I slept a little later today, but it was a busy and full day. I made it out for my speed work this morning and crushed all of my paces for 1000 m repeats; the recommended pace for a 4:45 marathon was 9:10 minute/mile, and I was on the money. I was even able to push the pace on the last repeat, which was a nice treat. 

Now, I’m ready for bed. I will either do easy miles or a tempo run tomorrow. 

Something that made today great: Richard is done with his work week!
Time I woke up: 9:40 am

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

67 Days Until Race Day

Short post today because I am tired!

I had another productive morning writing at CC’s with Willie and Alicia. On the way home, I picked up an LSU roll from Hello Sushi 2, and it was every bit as delicious as I remembered. Then, I took a big fat nap. 

Tonight, I video chatted with Ashley and Emma (and different Ashley and Steve, briefly), wrapped some gifts (yeah I still had wrapping to do...), and played a lot of Animal Crossing. 

Due to poor time management, I missed my run today. Fingers crossed that tomorrow goes better for me!

Something that made today great: Video chatting with Ashley and Emma
Time I woke up: 8:40 am

Monday, December 28, 2020

68 Days Until Race Day

Today was a really good day! My only shortcoming was that I am still one workout behind on my training plan. Maybe tomorrow will be the day I double up, or maybe I will say "Forget this!" We'll see.

I took a new approach to the tempo run, which was to start around the 5:00 pace and increase the speed every mile. Across the 5 tempo miles, I averaged an 11:01 minute/mile, which is slightly closer to the 4:45 training pace than the 5:00 training pace. Much better than yesterday for sure.

In non-running news, I met Willie at CC's this morning as a baby step back into preparing to write my dissertation. The morning was quite productive, as I wrapped up a journal submission from the paper I co-presented at ASHE in November. I still have a few other submissions to knock out, but this was a nice middle ground between what I've been doing (nothing/recovering from the fall) and actually working on my dissertation.

Afterward, we went for pedicures because there was no line at the salon next to CC's. I initially resisted because I have some funky toenails, but it turned out to be a welcome treat. I probably can't justify a beauty treat every time I am moderately productive, but it was nice for today. :) Then, I came home and destroyed my leftovers from last night. I wish I had more leftovers. I'm meeting Willie for another writing date tomorrow and am probably going to pick up another LSU roll from Hello Tokyo 2.

Tonight, I have been practicing making and decorating sugar cookies, because Maryanne, Rebecca, and I are planning to do some baking and decoration for New Year's. I still have a ways to go before I am any good at cookie decorating, but it is fun so far!

Something that made today great: I loved my writing/pedicure date with Willie!

Time I woke up: 8:30 am

Sunday, December 27, 2020

69 Days Until Race Day (Plus Belated 70 Days Update)

I completely forgot to post yesterday, which is not like me at all. I ran the prescribed workout for Saturday, which was 6 easy miles. I was a little under my prescribed pace (11:53 rather than 12:05), but I blame that on coming off of a rest day on Friday.

After yesterday's great run, I had a not-so-great attempt at a tempo run today. I ended up deciding to count it as my 5-mile easy run and leaving the tempo run to re-attempt tomorrow. Since I am working on a personal record (PR) for this marathon, I don't need to blow off any runs, but especially not a tempo run or speed work day. I will attempt the tempo run again tomorrow and hope for better results.

Here's how my training week went compared to what I tentatively planned:

  • Wednesday (12/23) - Speed work from 12/22 - Check! Did this according to plan.
  • Thursday (12/24) - Christmas Eve run with Louisiana Ultra Runners - depending on pace, I'll either count this for my weekend long run or my easy runs on Friday and Saturday - Counted the LUR Run and decided that the slower pace was okay since (a) my run was longer than called for (11.58 miles versus 10 miles) and (b) the wind was gnarly.
  • Friday (12/25) - 4-6 miles easy OR rest day - Went for the rest day
  • Saturday (12/26) - Tempo run from 12/24 - 6 miles easy (which was originally the Saturday workout anyway)
  • Sunday (12/27) - 10-mile long run OR 4-6 miles easy (depending on how I count Thursday's run and how I feel) - 5 miles easy

Other than taking an extra rest day and botching the tempo run, I stuck to my plan this week. Ideally, I'll knock out the tempo run in the morning and do tomorrow's 5 easy miles in the evening, but that seems unlikely based on when I have been waking up lately.  

Outside of running, I have been playing Animal Crossing on my Nintendo Switch Lite that Santa Claus brought for Christmas. Playing on my Switch has done nothing to help me progress with tasks in my life such as reading the stack of books I ordered last semester, spending more time knitting, writing my dissertation proposal, organizing my desk, or straightening up my closet, but it sure is a fun game.

Tonight, I had dinner with some ladies from LSU at Hello Tokyo 2, and it was such a treat! The best part was the company, but the second best part was discovering the LSU Roll. The menu says the LSU Roll is "Snow crab, cream cheese, crawfish, Masago, wrapped in soy paper deep fried topped with spicy mayo and eel sauce. " I'm still thinking about how delicious it was. I'm going to meet Willie tomorrow to hopefully finish some lingering manuscripts and work on my dissertation, and I'm thinking about ordering one to go or going back to the restaurant since I'll be nearby. I also overordered hibachi and sushi, so I have leftovers to eat sometime tomorrow...but I really want another LSU Roll. 

Something that made today great: Sushi and good conversation with LSU ladies!

Time I woke up: 2:00 pm...YIKES! It was fantastic though.

Friday, December 25, 2020

71 Days Until Race Day

 Well, this was an unusual Christmas. Richard has been working nights, so our schedules are a bit flipped around at the moment. This morning when he came home from work, we opened presents, FaceTimed Richard's dad, and ate some cinnamon rolls. Then, we slept for a few hours and spent a little time together before he went to work.

As he was leaving, Elena showed up with a smorgasbord of Christmas food. We hung out in our Christmas jammies while I ate food, and I broke out a Blenheim hot ginger ale for cocktails. Elena also educated me about alien abductions and encouraged me to always have a dog who will bark at 3:00 am if aliens come for me. I am convinced!

Even though my run yesterday was shorter than planned, I opted to take a rest day today mostly because I let time get away from me. I might try to run tomorrow morning and evening to make up for it, or I might just allow myself to miss a work out on Christmas. We'll see.

Something that made today great: I enjoyed the quiet holiday with my best husband and dog.

Time I woke up: 7:33 am

Thursday, December 24, 2020

72 Days Until Race Day

Sometimes I am tough, and sometimes I call things early and go to McDonald's. Today was one of the latter.

The Louisiana Ultra Runners Christmas Eve run was a good time, but it was cold and windy! Lake Ponchartrain was not playing around today. The route involved an 11.5-mile loop followed by a 16-17 mile loop, but my new friend Gwyn (my running buddy for the day) and I decided that we'd bow out after the first loop rather than continuing to take a beating from the 20 mph winds for another 3-4 hours. 

On the way home, I stopped at McDonald's. After taking a hot shower, I promptly plopped into bed and took a fantastic post-run nap. One of my favorite things about getting my run done early, especially on a cold day, is taking a hot shower followed by a cozy nap. 

Tonight has been much more productive than the afternoon was. I baked, did laundry, and wrapped presents, and I have almost watched all of the Christmas/holiday episodes of The Office. I might have to finish them tomorrow, as I don't want to stay up so late that Santa Claus skips my house!

 Something that made today great: Cooking and eating holiday treats. 

Time I woke up: 4:25 am 

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

73 Days Until Race Day

Back in the saddle today! Apparently, the rest day was good for me, because I was on the faster end of the paces I wanted to hit (between 9:10 and 9:50). The plan says that recovery should be between 50 and 100 percent of the interval length, and I was closer to the 100% side (except the last one where I went over...oops). I am okay with that, though, and I am satisfied with my work thus far.

Outside of running, I dropped my car for its repair, did a bit of last minute gift shopping, picked up prescriptions at Walgreens, and went to two grocery stores. One store was out of buttermilk, but it's not all bad because the second store had Christmas petit fours! If I am not too tired tomorrow, I hope to get some holiday baking accomplished. (I can hardly believe that Christmas is in two days!)

Something that made today great: I found petit fours at the grocery store near my house. (Actually eating them might be the thing that makes tomorrow great.)

Time I woke up:  10:30 am

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

74 Days Until Race Day

In non-running news, I had a surprisingly busy day! I went to the Diaper Bank this morning, and on my way, either something hit my passenger side-view mirror, or my passenger side-view mirror spontaneously exploded. Fortunately, the car dealership was able to order a replacement part, so I'll be back in business with a brand new mirror tomorrow afternoon or evening. 

As for running news, the Louisiana Marathon announced today that the race is rescheduled for March 7, 2021, so my countdown has also been moved back a weeks to be exact. I'm going to try to keep blogging daily until then, but that could change. I am excited about having more time to train and reach my goal, but now I feel a little more pressure to actually reach it. Before, I could blame missing the mark on making a decision to break 5:00 too close to race day. Now, I have most of a training cycle to prepare. Overall, I am grateful for this gift of time, though.

To mentally prepare for the adjustment to my training, I printed a fresh plan and updated the dates and paces. (I was initially off by a week; counting can be challenging.) After all of that hard work (ha!) I decided I would go ahead and take my rest day today. My tentative plan for the remainder of the week is:

  • Wednesday (12/23) - Speed work from 12/22
  • Thursday (12/24) - Christmas Eve run with Louisiana Ultra Runners - depending on pace, I'll either count this for my weekend long run or my easy runs on Friday and Saturday
  • Friday (12/25) - 4-6 miles easy OR rest day 
  • Saturday (12/26) - Tempo run from 12/24
  • Sunday (12/27) - 10-mile long run OR 4-6 miles easy (depending on how I count Thursday's run and how I feel)

Something that made today great: Ariel called, so we were able to catch up for a few minutes!

Time I woke up: 8:15 am

Monday, December 21, 2020

27 Days Until Race Day

Today was not bad, especially for a Monday! A manuscript I worked on was published online, and the weather was lovely. I also cooked this delicious vegan cauliflower and chickpea coconut curry for dinner, and Elena and Sandra came over to help me eat it.

Despite the lovely weather today, I did not make it out for my training run until after dinner. A perk of night running right now is that I am able to enjoy the Christmas lights in my neighborhood. Soon, however, I am going to have to get serious about running while the sun is out. 

Nothing huge or unusual to report from today's training run. The plan called for 7 easy miles, which I completed at a 12:02 min/mile pace...right about where I need to be if I'd been training for a 4:45 marathon this whole time. Tomorrow is speed work day, which I am actually pretty excited about. If it goes anything like my last few runs, it should be a good one.

Something that made today great: Cooking dinner and sharing it with friends!

Time I woke up: 8:30-ish

Sunday, December 20, 2020

28 Days Until Race Day

Since I did 10 miles yesterday, I did 8 easy miles today. I held to the faster range on the pace and averaged a 12:03 minute/mile pace. Tomorrow is another "easy" day, then speed work on Tuesday.

My watch is a bit confused by the bump in pace and advised me to train easy or rest today. Thus, I considered taking the day off. However, Richard reminded me that I committed to 35 days of following this training plan, so I laced up and got out the door shortly before sunset. 

After a run, I am almost always happy that I made myself get out there. Tonight was an extra special treat because many people in my neighborhood were setting out luminaries and lighting them as the sun went down. I have had little enthusiasm for decorating for Christmas this year, but I enjoyed seeing everyone else's displays.


Something that made today great: Having a lazy day with Richard
Time I woke up: 9:00 am

Saturday, December 19, 2020

29 Days Until Race Day

Ken and I regularly flipped our Saturday and Sunday runs, and this week was no exception. Slow Mode Running Club ran this morning at Highland Road Park, but I met Sandra about an hour early to get a few miles in before everyone else showed up. We had a nice little group and spent part of the time chatting about Ken. It was chilly at first, but it turned out to be a beautiful day!

I didn't keep a close eye on the pace today, but our 10 miles at 12:13 was fast enough to count for my long run pace (11:41 for 4:45 marathon, 12:16 for 5:00 marathon), so tomorrow I have 8 easy miles! Well, "easy." Easy used to be about a minute slower per mile, but I guess it's easier to race faster when you train faster. 

Something that made today great: Brunch at Beausoleil with two of my Junior League friends
Time I woke up: 6:15 am

Friday, December 18, 2020

30 Days Until Race Day

Today's attempt at this week's tempo run went much better than yesterday's. The recommended pace for a 4:45 marathon is 10:52. For a 5:00 marathon, it's 11:27. I held on and kept my paces at/under 10:52 for all 9 miles! I allowed myself to walk most of the cool-down mile at the end. These faster workouts are tough but not impossible. I'm proud of today's performance!

Next week, I will also be shifting my training schedule around a bit. On Christmas Eve, I am joining some folks from Louisiana Ultra Runners for 27-28 miles. Depending on the pace, I will likely count that day as two easy days and take an extra rest day. If the pace is good, I'll count it for my long run. Regardless, I'm excited to have something to do (Richard is working) that will involve running and spending time with good people.

Less than a month until race day!

Something that made today great: Baton Rouge Youth Coalition threw a drive-through holiday party tonight, and it was so much fun!
Time I woke up: 9:30 am

Thursday, December 17, 2020

31 Days Until Race Day

I love running (I really do!) but not every run is wonderful. A less-than-ideal run can occur for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:

  • Imperfect weather (heat, humidity, cold, etc.)
  • Starting too late/when you're already tired
  • Eating crazy stuff earlier in the day
  • Side stitch
  • Bathroom issues
  • Just feeling weird/off

Today, it was a combination of the first four (a bit cold tonight), so I decided around mile 2.5 that I was going to adjust my plan. I ended up going for 5 miles at an easy pace, which was tomorrow's workout. Now, I'm going to do today's workout tomorrow. If I go at lunchtime, the sun will be out, so it won't be dark or as cold as my attempt tonight. 

Something else worth noting is that I was unusually tired today. I also had no caffeine all day, and I think the weekend and grief are catching up to me. I took time to relax tonight (FaceTimed Tricia, drank hot chocolate, read a book for pleasure) and am heading to bed now. Fortunately, tomorrow is Friday!

Something that made today great: I was able to attend a staff meeting for the first time in a few months! 

Time I woke up: 8:45 am

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

32 Days Until Race Day

I read some sort of "10 Commandments of Running" list a while back, and one of the commandments was "Honor the rest day, and keep it holy." I'm proud to report that I did exactly that today; I did get outside for a dog walk, but that is business as usual. I'm nervous about tomorrow's run, but after I'm through that, I shift into easy runs for two days. Although my definition of "easy" has changed since Sunday, I welcome the [literal] change of pace.

Ken's funeral today was tough, but not as tough as I expected. It feels good to be covered in prayers and support. Maybe some of my good fortune will carry over to tomorrow's run. Hope springs eternal.

Something that made today great: My grades are in, and they were better than anticipated!

Time I woke up: 8:15 am

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

33 Days Until Race Day

Good news! I am still sticking to my training plan. Even better news is that tomorrow is a rest/cross-training day, which means the most I will do is ride my bike.

For the most part, I had a good run today. The schedule called for 10 miles: 1.5-mile warmup, 2 sets of 3 miles with 1-mile recovery between, 1.5-mile cooldown. I started sobbing around 8.8 miles into the workout when I thought about finishing the rest of this training plan without going on another run with Ken; it's really starting to sink in that he is gone. On a happy note, however, I managed to hit the prescribed paces for a 4:45 marathon (10:42 min/mile!), and I happen to believe he'd think that was pretty rad. The only modifications I made were (a) walking most of the recovery mile between 3-mile sets and (b) walking the cool-down. I have no illusions of running that fast for an entire marathon that is roughly a month away, but it did feel good to push today! 

Thursday's tempo run calls for 9 miles only slightly slower (I'm aiming for 10:52-11:27 min/mile), so I am beginning to mentally prepare for that. 

Something that made today great: Ellen and I ate lunch outside her house today to celebrate the end of the semester! She made salads, and I brought McDonald's...balance.

Time I woke up: 8:30 am

Monday, December 14, 2020

34 Days Until Race Day

Last night, I went through the Hanson Beginner Marathon training plan that Ken and I had been following to train for the Louisiana Marathon on January 17, 2021. Using a table in the Hanson Marathon Method book, I filled in my calendar with the paces I will train at to hopefully reach my goal of breaking 5 hours in the marathon distance. My thought is that I should build in a little cushion, so I am aiming to fall somewhere in the range of the 4:45 and 5:00 prescribed paces  I'm a little nervous (but in a good way!) 

Revised training plan! I accidentally highlighted the wrong 5 mile Monday tonight...oops.

Today, I decided to revive my blog at least through the Louisiana Marathon on January 17, 2021. This should be helpful for processing grief, staying accountable for my training plan, and making sure I do some non-academic writing. I will maintain my three rules of writing at least two sentences daily, including something that made the day great, and reporting what time I woke up.

I went out tonight for 5 miles and managed an overall pace of 12:01 min/mile, so I was a little speedy, especially for an easy day. Tomorrow will be tough emotionally because Tuesday was a day I typically ran with Ken but also because the recommended paces are a little faster than I have been running. I will also allow myself some grace as I recover from finals week and multiple races this weekend, but I can already tell that I am going to appreciate the rest day on Wednesday!

In honor of Ken, I wore new shoes today. After accumulating a closet full of running shoes, he recently determined that the Brooks Ghost 13 were his favorite shoe, and he was going to stock up on them. I ordered these fun red, white, and blue shoes after Thanksgiving and figured there's no time like the present to break them out. :)

Something that made today great: Richard was off work, and we went to Costco tonight!

Time I woke up: 8:30-ish

Sunday, December 13, 2020

My Friend Ken

Richard often makes fun of me because I make friends everywhere I go. My friend Ken is one example; I met him back in February after I told him he was doing a good job on the out and back section at the Mardi Gras Mambo 15K. Later, I happened to see a post-race photo on the Red River Road Runners Facebook group, and I commented that I saw him at the race. Within minutes, we were Facebook friends, and we ran together for the first time about a week later. 

Ken started running in 2019 and caught the race bug quickly; he racked up several half marathon finishes in a matter of months. After races started going virtual, Ken helped me meet several of my goals. Then, when he decided to run the Louisiana Marathon 2021, I offered to train and run with him.  We slogged through some hot and humid summer days. We knew where the porta potties were on our regular running routes. 

Over the last few weeks, we have been running longer than he had ever run before. One week we did 15 miles for our Saturday run, and two weeks later, we upped it to 16.  This semester was a bit of a nightmare (hence my blogging silence, but that's not what this post is about) but our training made me get out and run a few days a week. Ken was also a good sounding board for venting about actual problems and the small stuff that I shouldn't sweat. 

Last week was the last week of my semester, and it was incredibly busy and stressful. Usually, Tuesday is our day for speed work, and Thursday is a tempo run day. I missed out on both this week and thought I just wanted to sit on my couch all weekend. He asked me to go run the Cajun Country Half Marathon in Lafayette yesterday, which I initially resisted but ended up registering for on Friday when I had a burst of energy. 

Not knowing how I would feel after the stressful week I had, we agreed to treat the race as a training run. What ended up happening, however, was that we started off pretty well and managed to hang on to our pace and earn Ken a comfortable little personal record (PR) for the half marathon distance! We carpooled to the race with another one of his friends, Julianna, and it was a really nice way to spend the morning and burn off some stress from the semester.

I was also registered to do the Mississippi Gulf Coast 5K on Saturday and the full marathon on Sunday with some friends from Baton Rouge, but life and COVID happened, and we did not have our girls' weekend. Since I felt good after the half yesterday, I decided to make the drive over to Biloxi early this morning and toe the line. He encouraged me to go, saying "Don't miss out. It's a great event. Wish I could go." I'd told Ken that I would run with him if I stayed in Baton Rouge, but I was going to make that decision when my alarm went off at 2:30 am. He told me not to text him at 2:30, and I said I would wait until 2:31. In actuality, I sent him a text at 5:30 this morning:

I decided to run! Waiting for my shuttle to the start now. I have a funny porta potty story for you next time I see you.

I didn't hear from Ken all day, which is a bit unusual. Typically, if he knows I am running a race (virtual or otherwise) he checks in for updates, but I heard nothing today. After I drove back to Baton Rouge, showered, and put on my pajamas, I wrapped up in my super soft new blanket, climbed in bed, and started scrolling through social media. A few minutes later, another local runner messaged me and asked what happened to Ken. I was confused, and then they said they had seen a post that Ken passed away. I heard from a few other people that it was true.

This terrible news is, of course, not at all what I expected after racing yesterday and texting last night. I am struck by how short life is and how quickly things can change, but all of that seems trite. Really, I don't think I'll realize what has happened until we don't do speed work together on Tuesday. I am modifying the paces on the training plan we are doing together to see if I can break 5 hours at the Louisiana Marathon next year. It's a little late to be making this adjustment, so it's going to be an ambitious goal. However, I am going to commit to doing my training runs as prescribed (including striving to make the recommended paces). Maybe I'll shift my blog into training mode between now and race day (January 17!)

Until then, here are some lessons I can think of off the top of my head that I learned from/with Ken in our short friendship:

  1. Cool Shades are a quick and easy way to up the coolness factor of your post-run selfie.
  2. It is perfectly acceptable to sing anything from "Ave Maria" to "We Didn't Start the Fire" while running.
  3. Long runs are a great time to work out lyrics to that parody you've been keeping in your head.
  4. No matter your pace, if you start your Saturday long run early enough, you can get to Chick-fil-A before they stop serving breakfast.

Also, here are a few photos from our friendship, including a pre-race photo from yesterday's half marathon and a finisher picture from yesterday (courtesy of my new friend Julianna)!

June 5 during my Crazy Desert 100K Virtual of the rare times that I also wore Cool Shades.

September 17 - 5 mile run from my house!

 October 10 - Slow Mode Run Club

November 14 - Ken's first time running 15 miles!

December 6 - I ran 5.65, but Ken ran 6. Also, I got a flat tire.

Pre-race at Cajun Country

Sweet, sweet finish line at the Cajun Country Half!