Thursday, August 21, 2014

Autumn / Winter Dreaming

I find that I have been overusing the word "sweltering" in my running log this summer, but it's an accurate description of the past few months. Last summer was hot, but I was running in the rain at least two or three mornings each week, and I came to love those stormy runs. This summer, I can't recall running in the rain at all -- just suffocating humidity every single morning. I believe it was 94% today. Suffice it to say, I am dreaming of fall weather. When I am sloshing down the street looking as if I just went swimming in my running clothes and shoes, I am fantasizing about crisp cool air and effortless miles.

My consolation for most of the summer was that, hey, at least I wasn't training for a marathon. I still ran double-digits on the weekends, but I wasn't following a training plan and I certainly wasn't doing any speed training. I had the best intentions, but it's hard for me to run without a goal for that long. I started toying with the idea of a fall or winter 50k earlier in the summer, which was one of the reasons I kept up with my weekend long runs. About a month ago, I decided that the Tallahassee Distance Classic in December would be a good first ultra for me. I pulled up a 50k training plan, and started following it loosely on July 28. With kids' end-of-summer activities, I've had to make some modifications, but now that school is in session, it looks like I should be able to stick with it. 

I am using the UltraLadies 50K program. The best thing about this program is that every other week is a recovery week. Not only will my body be able to recover from the many 20+ milers, but so will my brain! Two weeks in between long runs, and I will have forgotten how hard the last one was.

As it turns out, the training plan has me scheduled for a 26-mile long run over Veterans Day weekend. Coincidentally, the Pensacola Marathon is the same weekend, and I have a friend who is making that race her first half-marathon. I ran the full in Pensacola in 2012. It's a tough course, but it's affordable and it's close to home. I decided to sign up for the 26.2, and I hope I can treat it as a training run instead of a race. So after the many times I swore I wasn't running a marathon this fall, I am completely eating my words.

I'd really love to race some shorter distances this fall, but it's hard to work those into a marathon / ultra marathon training schedule. Hopefully, with the week-on/week-off structure of my training plan, I will be able to run a few shorter races. 

Planning for chillier races has made these hot soggy mornings a little more bearable. I just hope all this humidity training pays off and makes me stronger.

This was only 2.5 miles into an 8-miler. Already drenched.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I think I just outran the law.

My blog is titled "Running from the Law" in large part because I've spent most of my adult life struggling with the fact that my chosen career as an attorney turned out to be the wrong career for me. I've worked in a large city at a large firm, and I've worked in smallish town in a solo practice. I've tried litigation and I've tried transactional real estate work. I didn't like any of it. Well-meaning friends and family members were adamant that I could find a path within the legal community that would bring me satisfaction and happiness, if I just kept looking. I've had near-strangers ask me why I don't like to practice law -- after all, don't lawyers make a whole lot of money and why wouldn't I like that? Note: not all lawyers make a lot of money, but that is beside the point.

I have chosen happiness. For me, that means NOT practicing law. This month, I started a new job in which my law license is not required. Can I just tell you how liberating it felt to deactivate my license? My new job is not as prestigious as some of my former jobs, but it has been a lot of fun so far. FUN. For real. That's me talking about my job.

The realization that I can go forward and really enjoy my life has carried over to my running. I pushed back an October race in favor of a December race, so I could spend a little more time taking it easy this summer. I haven't followed a training plan in months, and I haven't seen a track in six months. I'm still out running four or five mornings a week, but only because I want to be there. I know that at some point, I'll feel like training for something epic and fast, but I also know that it is completely fine that I don't want to do that right now.

In the meantime, I am just going to soak up some Florida sunshine and enjoy my new, more relaxing life. I just outran the law after all.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Case for Training Logs

I recently read an article about why runners might NOT want to keep a log. The issue had to do with runners pushing ourselves to meet certain mileage or speed goals when out bodies were telling us to back off. I'll admit I am completely guilty of running an extra mile or three to hit a nice round number at the end of the week or month.

But here is my argument in favor of training logs: they remind us how far we've come and what we have actually achieved. The month of March is a fine example for me. I've been logging my miles at for a couple of years, but this year I also started keeping a paper calendar for each month, just writing down the distance and pace of each run, a monthly goal, and a monthly recap. I update the paper calendar a few times per month.

I ran a half marathon on March 29. It was a blast of a race, which was my #1 goal. However, I also made some stupid fueling and pacing errors that left me feeling pretty beat up and disappointed in myself. When I have been thinking back on the month of March, that race has been the first thing to come to mind, and I have been feeling like March was a month of lost fitness.

However, I pulled out my March calendar today and entered about half a month of running. Total mileage was 105 -- that's more than I ran in February. My goals had been a 5k PR and a half-marathon PR. I may not have run a half-marathon PR, but I ran two strong 5ks, including a 23:57 PR in which I was also the 2nd place overall female and 1st place masters female. I ran a beautiful 5-miler on the beach while my kids were on Spring Break. I ran another beautiful 5-miler the day after my half-marathon, which was my 41st birthday. I finished the month at our Monday night run group, accompanying two fun-loving little girls for two miles. March was actually pretty awesome for running.

April goals -- now this is going to be fun! No mileage goals. No pace goals. My goals are to run at least one trail run, run at least three double-digit runs, and strength-train at least four times. Totally do-able.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What next? Running without a goal

I officially started marathon training in July last year, ran the Chickamauga Marathon in November, caught my breath for about a minute, then trained for and ran the Tallahassee Marathon in early February. Before the official marathon training started, I spent months training to get myself ready for my marathon training, and before that, I was training my way out of an injury. Before the injury, I trained for and ran two fall marathons in 2012. In other words, it's been a long time since I was not working toward a marathon.

Tallahassee went well. I did not reach my time goal, but I did accomplish one of my other goals, which was to cross the finish line feeling like I had run the best race I could on that day. I still don't feel like I have conquered the marathon. It's a totally different beast from the other distances I have raced, and even after five finish lines I still have a lot to learn. For now, though, I'm satisfied to give it a rest for a while. 

So now what? I don't want to run a marathon this fall. Correction: I don't want to train for a marathon this summer. It's one thing to run twenty miles when it is 50 degrees out, but quite another to do it when it's 85 degrees with 90% humidity, and that's what summer in Florida is all about.

In the next month, I'll run two 5ks and a half-marathon. The half will be the last opportunity for a long race around here until fall. I'm not going to stress over that one. It's the day before my birthday, and it looks like a party race. No time goals. No expectations. It's going to be fun.

But that leaves me feeling a little lost. Without a goal race, how do I structure my training? I don't want to get complacent and lose the gains I've made in the past year. On the other hand, my body is telling me loud and clear that I can't maintain the mileage and intensity of this last marathon training round.

So with no big goal race, here are a few mini-goals I might think about:

1.  5k PR: With all the focus on the marathon and dedicating most Saturday or Sunday mornings to the long training runs, I've missed out on shorter distance racing. It's been a year & a half since I ran my fastest 5k, and I know I'm faster now. I've got a 5k this coming Saturday, another two weeks from now, and most likely a few others before summer hits.

2. Trail running: Get a few friends together to run the trails. Something I've been missing.

3. Think about an epic relay for the fall. I've been approached about a couple of them.

4. Maintain the mileage. Maybe not 20 miles, but I could aim to run at least two long runs over 14 miles each month. It would make the next marathon or half-marathon training cycle that much easier.

5. More naked running. Not nude-naked, but free from technology. No watch, no music.

Food for thought.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 in review, 2014 aspirations

2013 was a pretty darn good year for running. I kicked off the year recovering from an IT band injury and ended it with a strong New Years Eve track workout that made me realize just how far I've come this year.

It was a year of firsts: my first race as a Master (40+) runner (where I finished as the first female master), my first 8k, my first 1st-place overall female finish.

Total mileage was 1,240, by far the most miles I've ever run in a year.

I didn't race much, as I was mainly focused on rebuilding base mileage and training for the Chickamauga Marathon, but the races I ran were all great experiences. The marathon was superb: a beautiful course, a fun family trip, and a new personal record.

The last race of the year was the Round the Bay Relay. Last year when I ran this race, I had to take the shortest leg and I had to walk parts of it because of my injury. This year, I picked the last leg, which included three bridges and some traffic-dodging, and I felt wonderfully alive and strong. Running with five mother runner friends made it even more fun.

I'm looking forward to 2014. My goals are not time-related, although I am due for some new personal records in every distance. My most challenging running goal is to stop obsessing about the numbers. I love running, and that should be enough. I have been beating myself up every time that I don't meet my goal race time, and that just ruins the fun.

My next goal is to share running with others and make it meaningful. I was recently matched with a virtual running buddy at "I Run 4". Ciaran is six years old and he lives with cerebral palsy, along with several other challenges. I am already quite smitten with him. We cheer each on, and I hope to earn him several medals this year.

Race-wise, I am planning on the Tallahassee Marathon in February and the Pensacola Run Rock n Fly half marathon in March. After those races, I'm looking forward to just running for fun through the summer and growing our fledgling running club Run 30A. I've got some friends whispering about the Chicago Marathon this fall, so that's on the radar too.