Can You Handle the Heat?*

Here is some of my best advice for running and being active in the summer:

1) Keep drinking! Or start, if you don’t. I suggest a low gravity beer so that you can keep it up for most of the day. If you time it just right, you won’t care about the heat. Bonus: dehydration from the alcohol will help give you that sick and gaunt look of someone putting in 100 mile weeks.

I'm a big fan of this Gose style beer from Westbrook out of Mt. Pleasant, SC. At only 4% abv, it's a summer dream come true!
I’m a big fan of this Gose style beer from Westbrook out of Mt. Pleasant, SC. At only 4% abv, it’s a summer dream come true!

2) Get creative. If you need to run intervals, there is no need to go to the scorching hot track. You already need to prepare for tip #1, so head to the grocery store! The aisles are just long enough to get into full flight, it’s air-conditioned, AND who hasn’t dreamed about being on Supermarket Sweep? GET THE TURKEY! (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, watch this: http://youtu.be/ZSwmFurzkpQ?t=1m44s)

3) Wear sunscreen. I’m actually serious about this one; wear your dang sunscreen kids. Everywhere, everyday– and don’t forget the tops of your ears!

My favorite sunscreen of all time.
My favorite sunscreen of all time.

4) Avoid your watch. First of all, you’re going to blind yourself from the sun glare on the way-too-big watch face of your fancy Garmin. However, since your eyes will already be watering from nearly blinding yourself, no one will notice that you’ve started crying once you realize how slow you are going. Not that you’ll have the moisture to spare, if you’ve been following tip #1 correctly.

5) Outsource! When you’ve dragged your carcass back home and are collapsed on the floor in a puddle of your own body fluids, it can seem impossible to drag yourself further to the shower. That’s okay! You can get a head start on your shower by getting your dog to lick the salt from your legs.

6) Finally, make sure you’re recovering well. Nothing says summer running quite like shocking your body at the other end of the temperature spectrum with an ice bath. The higher pitched your shrieks are as you lower yourself into the tub the better!

"Some say the world will end in fire, Some say in ice. From what I’ve tasted of desire I hold with those who favor fire. But if it had to perish twice, I think I know enough of hate To say that for destruction ice Is also great And would suffice." Robert Frost must have trained in the summer.
“Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.”
Robert Frost must have trained in the summer.

*It’s August, folks, and I’m getting a little loopy. But seriously, wear your sunscreen.

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A Win, a Fail, and I’m Bad at Math

Sadly, I am not here to report my triumphant new 5k PR of sub 20. The somewhat manageable temps at the Red, White, and Blue Shoes 5k did not carry over to this week and by racetime on Friday evening it was 93°F with 60something % humidity(I remember looking just before the race but I can’t remember exactly; I probably blocked out such trauma). I mean, that isn’t all that uncommon for summer in South Carolina so I wasn’t surprised, but I decided to go for it anyway. First mile= 6:20. And then I was toast. I turned off my watch and just began managing my efforts. I was first place woman at that point, so I kept an ear out for anyone coming up behind me for the next couple of miles. Near the very end folks cheering on the side of the road yelled “Go girlS” so I was clued in that she was close and since I was running SO SLOW at that point, it didn’t take much of a kick for me to keep the lead and get the win.

I won beer! And a nice little metal bar sign. I have nowhere to put said sign, so if anyone wants it let me know!
I won beer! And a nice little metal bar sign. I have nowhere to put said sign, so if anyone wants it let me know!

Side note: I don’t look back during races. I don’t know why, but it freaks me out to know what is looming behind me. I think that is probably a metaphor for life about keeping my eyes on the road ahead and not worrying about the past, but it’s also legit abject fear of knowing what lurks just behind me…which is also probably a metaphor for life.

Anyway, I won! But also failed in my pursuit of the sub 20. I have a couple more shots at it before training turns to the marathon in earnest, but the courses aren’t that ideal and it’s still summer in South Carolina. I am going to give it a go, but I also know it might be November or December before I can crack the (mostly mental) 20 minute barrier.

Finally, I guess it’s a good sign of your training when you think you haven’t run very much that week and you then realize that you hit 54 miles. I honestly thought my mileage was WAY down last week and that I’d have a hard time even getting in 40. Lo and behold, I’m very bad at math. Come Sunday, I got back from an awesome 16 mile cruise around town to see that I ran an actual decent amount! It’s not the mileage I’ll be hitting the the next few weeks for marathon training, but the low-50s is what I’ve averaged in the two months since Cleveland Marathon and I’m clearly stronger for the consistency.

Also, my poor math skills continued when I was convinced, absolutely convinced, that I had 14 weeks til Spinx Marathon this past Saturday…except it’s 15 weeks.

Good thing I teach English.

Summer PRs and Reaffirmed Goals

Running fast in the summer is hard. There. That’s my only rant/complaint about the heat. I hate hate hate winter so much that I try not to whine about the summer because I still much prefer it over being cold.

That said, I ran a new 5k PR (finally) on July 4th. 20:03. It’s 24 seconds faster than I’ve done before, but I am so frustrated that I didn’t get under 20.

I've been working on my arm carry, I promise!
I’ve been working on my arm carry, I promise!

It’s my own fault because I had told myself that I was NOT going to look at my watch during the race. I just wanted to focus on running hard and strong the whole time. In hindsight, perhaps looking at my watch to see how close I was in the last half mile or so might have propelled me under the 20 minute mark.

The weather was on our side that morning with much cooler temps than is usual for July in South Carolina. I’m racing again this coming Friday night and it’s likely to be in the 90s at the race start, so even though I’m confident in my fitness, I’m less confident in how the weather pretty much ruins everything (okay, I complained again).

One little running tool I have been loving and slightly obsessing over is the Daniels VDOT calculator. Given my 5k performance, my VDOT is right about a 50. The equivalent marathon performance is about a 3:10…soooo, yeah. There’s my fall marathon goal. My hope is to improve my VDOT by a couple of points in the upcoming months (and improved weather) so that come race day in October, the 3:10 will be very reasonable.

So many numbers!

All in all, the summer has been treating my running pretty well. I’m trying to learn to love ice baths and spending quality time with my foam roller. Drinking my weight (in ounces) of water each day is a fun challenge, and creating new ways to use up our excess of cucumbers from the garden has me SO over anything cucumber flavored for the rest of my life I think. Hopefully I’ll be updating with news of my first ever sub 20 by next week! Until then!

Love the run (and race).

There’s something to be said about experience.

I did my best to sabotage myself in the last few weeks leading up to Spinx Marathon. I hated running; I didn’t want to run; I barely ran. Instead of focusing on race day and what needed to be done, I only focused on all the things I didn’t do perfectly. I very nearly didn’t race.

But, race day dawned, bright and beautiful. It was the perfect day for me (a bit too warm for some, but I do love the heat). Experience at the marathon and ultra took precedence and I was able to force my body into race mode. I chose to go out very conservative, managed to settle in with a great group, and slightly negative split my way to a 3:18:32. Good enough for a 2 minute PR. I’ll take it.

I was 9th woman here, about 7 miles in. Steady, steady.
I was 9th woman here, about 7 miles in. Steady, steady.

Of course I wish I’d been in the mindset to really go after the 3:15 or better. I know my body could have done it, but I just wasn’t strong enough mentally to do it. I’ll be better next time. I have a new game plan, new race goals, and an awareness of my faults and strengths at racing. I’ll be better next time.

By here, at almost 16, I was 7th. I finished 4th. My fastest miles were 23, 24, and 25 (mostly thanks to my pacer that just kept pushing)). Yes, I'm that pigeon-toed. It seems to work.
By here, at almost 16, I was 7th. I finished 4th. My fastest miles were 23, 24, and 25 (mostly thanks to my pacer that just kept pushing). Yes, I’m that pigeon-toed. It seems to work.

In the almost two weeks since the marathon, I ran about 25 miles and am on pace for about 55ish for this week. I’ll race a trail half on Saturday and spend the next few weeks remembering why I love running. I love hill repeats, I love fartleks, I love slow meandering runs that take me through the best parts of my city. I love running, and heading into winter– my least favorite season, I’ll take all the love I can get.

Until Paris Mtn 20k (that is on Dec. 6th and I care how I race at that one)….

**Photos Courtesy of Pace Running Magazine’s Facebook page**

Time Keeps on Slippin’

Name that song!

 

I certainly meant to blog in the last two weeks, but I mean to do lots of things and that rarely works out. I’m generally one of those that is a content consumer rather than a content producer which pretty much means I’ll never write a book because I’d just rather read one.

 

Anyway. Things happened since I last wrote, and most of it had nothing to do with running:

Exhibit A: I'm engaged to be married
Exhibit A: I’m engaged to be married.

 

Exhibit B: I really did graduate from Clemson.
Exhibit B: I really did graduate from Clemson.

 

Exhibit C: I have a job. I'm a barista, and doing my part to perpetuate the stereotype of underemployed persons with advanced Humanities degrees.
Exhibit C: I have a job. I’m a barista, and doing my part to perpetuate the stereotype of underemployed persons with advanced Humanities degrees.

 

As you can see, it’s been a reasonably busy couple of weeks. I’m not really sure on many wedding details, but it’ll work out and be awesome. And I’m not really sure when and how I’ll find a proper career, but will also work out and be awesome. And I don’t know how long I’ll be able to maintain this level of optimism, but it’s worked out for the better part of 30 years and is mostly awesome.

 

I’ve also been running, and there are now only 9 weeks left until the marathon. In many ways I’m pleased with how my mileage and quality are going, but it’s often difficult to see progress in the day-to-day. Mostly I’m just kind of tired and feeling the cumulative fatigue that leaves my legs feeling flat. However, this morning I did a 20-miler that, while nothing all that impressive, was a negative split run that ended up being quite similar to a long run I did 5 weeks out from the marathon last year. But I’m 9 weeks out now and hitting about the same times in much hotter weather. So, progress? I hope so.

 

This coming Friday I’m going to race Midnight Flight 10k. I was fourth place woman there last year. I’m honestly not expecting much more than that, but I do hope to race smart and not let the hill in the last mile do too much damage to my legs (and ego).

 

I never know how to end blogs, so here's a picture of the fence Palmer built to keep the chickens out of the garden area in the backyard.
I never know how to end blogs, so here’s a picture of the fence Palmer built to keep the chickens out of the garden area in the backyard.

Summer Haze

I love surprise sprinklers when I'm running in the summer.
I love surprise sprinklers when I’m running in the summer.

I know it isn’t officially summer yet, but it’s close enough, and the summer racing schedule is heating up for most people. I noticed that there was a spike in traffic here on my oft-neglected blog, and realized that most people are reading my race report from Merrill’s Mile a couple of years ago. I hope everyone who read has signed up for this year! Unfortunately, I will not be attending the 2014 edition as I have a wedding to go to for a college friend.

My own summer racing schedule is actually looking rather sparse. I ended up dropping from the Bad Marsh 50k (yes, even after all my talk about crushing it this year), but I AM still doing a 50k that weekend. It just happened to work out that there is an ultra event here in Greenville and it felt like a better plan to switch to the race close to home. Not only that, but I’ve been helping coach some newbie runners to their first 5k and their big “graduation” race is on the same day (in the evening), so I’ll get to do my own racing still AND be able to go support my hard-working athletes at their race.

I feel pretty solid going into this 50k, even though I’ve had to slightly adjust my time goal since I’ll be running on (albeit fast and flat) trails instead of the track-like route of the Bad Marsh race. I still think I’ll run a huge 50k PR, it’ll just be a touch slower than I initially expected.

Oh yeah, I finished my Master’s degree. It sort of doesn’t feel like it happened, or maybe that it isn’t really over, but I am a Master of Arts in English now. For about two weeks after I finished I was just in this weird malaise of:

My brain hurts.
My brain hurts.

And also, I’m still unemployed. I have several options in the works, but I’m reaching my panic threshold about my career– or lack of. On the upside, I have been enjoying the opportunity to schedule my running and other cross-training stuff as I want, and explore some new creative projects that I have wanted to try, like photography and HTML stuff (and maybe I’ll stop ignoring my blog?). Most importantly, I needed the time to decompress from it all and recharge. I’m ready to get this show on the road though.

So, yeah. I’ve got the 50k in eleven days, then I’ll be transitioning into a road runner again as I prep for a fast fall marathon. I’ll find a cool job soon enough, and in the meantime my goal is to appreciate this chance to take in the world more mindfully and leisurely.

Summer mantra.
Summer mantra.