Friday, May 31, 2013

May Recap


Can you believe this year is almost half over?

Total run mileage: 50 -- plus 2-ish more tonight after it cools down for my Streak!
Highest weekly run mileage: 
# Runs: 18
# Rest days: 14
# Cross-training workouts: 7. A few walks, a day of yoga and a few core workouts.
# Races: 1
     - Marigold Festival 10K { Race }

Favorite run: No special run this month - seriously, none at all. However, I will say that finally breaking my sub-60-minute goal on my 10K was pretty awesome. And knowing that I can go faster than that (damn side stitch) is even more encouraging. 
Successful finish!

Most hardcore run: I'd say as of recently, this ladder track workout was a doozie. But awesome.

Current need: Few extra bucks so I can sign up for RnR Vegas. Please and thank you. Anyone wanna donate?

Current song: I know how many times I've told y'all that I love me some Macklemore, but every time this comes on the radio (like this morning, on my way to work - can you say perfection?), I get so excited and dance by myself... in the car... yeah, that's right. Love.

Current triumph: I'm finally getting to the point in the month of running naked where I'm almost at peace with just running. Sure, it's still hard, and sure, there are mornings where I'm bolting out the door and I'm curious just how fast I bolted out the door, but it's become almost... refreshing. I'm enjoying just going, doing whatever pace, and seeing however many minutes have passed by the time I get home. Kind of awesome.

Current goal: Chillin'. Running naked for a little while longer. Who knows until when.

My secondary goal is the Summer Running Streak. I also did it last year, and in 38 days ran 80.88 miles. This year's goal in 39 days is to run further than that. I'm also in a bit of a challenge with Tina and Erica to see who puts on the most mileage over the timeframe, so there's a little extra oomph of fun in there! 

Best weekend ever: This weekend.  Food, aquarium, Coke, wedding, and good times with some seriously fantastic people. I'd like to do that all over again.

This May has been super mellow - and I think just what I needed after a super busy spring and a little too much racing. Yes, I said it. I burned out, and at least I recognized it, but am certainly trying to allow myself to totally and completely recuperate now. It's a hard thing to swallow, but if I'm going to jump back in in the fall, I need to be ready to roll.

I'm heading to California next weekend for Disneyland (!) and a wedding, and am looking forward to another uber mellow month. Cheers for that!

What are your biggest accomplishments from this month? Goals for June?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Weekend Wrap Up

First and foremost... 
So many thank yous to our service men and women, who probably don't hear thank you enough and deserve to have more than a day of our gratitude. To those who have served, to those who do currently, and to those who will: thank you!

I love weekends. Long weekends, to boot. This weekend was no different: Saturday morning, I headed out for our weekly group runs with the Athens Road Runners. I'm loving this group more and more - new connections, new folks, and an extra little motivation. For the first time in awhile, I ran the long route (there's usually a group that splits off and does a shorter route) and had a blast with Nina - we even yard saled along the way! Stupendous.
Post-run at Jittery Joe's.
After that, I made my way to Publix for some supplies for Saturday night's OMG SUMMER celebrations - our friend Amanda was celebrating summer (weren't we all?) being that she just survived finished her first year of teaching high school math.
Did anyone call for cupcakes? Highly recommended after running 6 miles.
Molly and I made our way to Cumming for a little summer celebration, complete with grilling, beverages, and these shenanigans:
Have you ever played before? I sure hadn't and I am hooked! So much fun.

Sunday consisted of eventually rolling out of bed (and by 'eventually' I mean, really, we were up by 9) to get packed and ready to go TUBING! My favorite part about summer. Sadly, all the photos are still on the (awesome) waterproof digital camera that Amanda's got, so for now, you get our tubing preparations:
I think we're prepared, don't you?
Sadly, still sunburned. Womp.

And today it's been chillin', cleaning house (thrilling) and generally enjoying having an extra day to myself. Nothing better than a three-day weekend.

To all of you that raced this weekend, congrats on some seriously awesome accomplishments! Especially to the kick-ass Sandy who just knocked off 16 minutes from here marathon time and achieved her dream sub-4! She kicks serious tail. I'm bummed I didn't at least go do a 5K this weekend or something, but also really grateful! Enjoyed some much-needed downtime.

What did you do all weekend? Did you race? And have you ever played Cards Against Humanity? 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Runner's World Run Streak

If you recall, last summer I participated in Runner's World Summer Run Streak (I reactivated last year's page so you can check it out again!) - a challenge that has you running at least one mile a day, every day, from Memorial Day to Independence Day. That's 39 days to get in at least a mile! Totally do-able, totally awesome and super fun.

Last year, my ventures in this challenge had me running a 5K or two, running on a cruise ship, and running in the world's largest 10K on the Fourth of July through Atlanta. It was pretty spectacular. In 39 days, I ran 80.88 miles, something that at that point I was really proud of. I wanted to use the challenge as a way to ensure I'd stay active and accountable over the summer so when I jumped into a training plan in August, I knew I'd be ready. I'm also apparently an advocate for a little self-torture, being that summer in the South is no freaking joke.
Running on a cruise ship is not as fun as you would think.
This year, I'm back it. #RWRunStreak, here I come. No specifics in sight, as I plan to still run naked for most of it, but I have one goal in mind: surpass last year's mileage. 80 miles in 39 days? Done. I know a mile route to and from my apartment front door, so this is pretty easy peasy even running sans-Garmin. I think it'll be fun to participate in a challenge like this, where it's solely about seeing what you can put out each day, whether a mile or more, and that in itself is a feat, where it doesn't matter if your mile is a 15-minute mile or a 7-minute mile. Last year, I was able to improve my mile time and went from an 8:26  mile in week 3 to an 8:09 mile in week 5;  now in a mile test I'm busting out 7:30s. How much changes in a year! I'm excited to see where this takes me.

I have no races lined up as of yet for June, even no 5Ks (the horror!) so this truly may be 39 days of just... running. What a concept, Megan.
Peachtree Road Race 2012.
Are you participating in the challenge? Do you have a goal in mind?

You can get some really awesome badges (like the one on top here) and even a Facebook cover photo from Pavement Runner. Join the streaking!

Happy Friday and Happy Memorial Day weekend, friends! I'm off to sleep in, get a little running in and most importantly, going tubing on Sunday. Aaaah, sunshine, tans and beer. Happy weekend indeed!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Track Tuesday 17

The alarm went off this morning and while I felt wide awake, the last thing I wanted to do was get to the track. I've been sleeping terribly lately and while I wanted to go straight back to sleep, I figured that wasn't really realistic. Up I went. Of course, when I got to the track and told Al that this was the last place I wanted to be today, he lit up and says "That's what I like to hear!" I knew we were in for some fun.

Per usual, I don't regret going. It was a tough workout, and certainly pushed me, but as always, I end up so much happier when I leave the track at 6:30 am and head home for my walk with the pup. Today turned out to be no different. There was a new woman, Nina, who hadn't been before, and she turned out to to be a great chaser - she was right on my heels the whole time, which worked well for me.
Today's toughie was a ladder workout, a concept still new to me (I've only done one prior): 800, 600, 600, 400, 400, 400 meters. Whew!

800m: 3:33 (7:06)
600m: 2:27 (6:37 pace)
600m: 2:40 (7:12) <-- I wanted to die here
400m:  1:32 (6:08)
400m: 1:36 (6:24)
400m: 1:32 (6:08)

Tough workout, but a great one. I hope, more than anything, that as I continue to build speed and keep this in my regimen, it'll drastically increase my speed and stamina when I get back into a training plan... sometime in the future... eventually... for now, I'm enjoying seeing the progress and being able to run 90-something-second 400s fairly consistently. Victory!

Joining us for Track Tuesday this week? Make sure you link up!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Race Report: Marigold 10K

38th Annual Marigold 10K | May 18, 2013
Winterville, GA

I decided mid-last week that I was going to run this 10K on Saturday - 10Ks around here (certified, no less) are hard to come by, and given the distance fail of my last 10K, I knew I could set out with something to prove. The course is fast and almost flat, unlike most courses around here, so that was certainly an added plus!

The forecast was that it was supposed to storm this entire weekend, so I was prepared to face the weather when I woke up on Saturday at 6:30 (perks to 7:30 am race times that are 4.3 miles from your home!): drizzly, warm, humid. At first, I was wearing long sleeves with my Athens Road Runner shirt over, and capris and even once I got to Winterville, knew I'd regret that and made a quick costume change at my trunk.

There were a number of folks from ARR who came out to race - check it out! So fun having a group of people who you can hang out with prior and have a great race with - and in matching shirts, to boot.
Photo credit to Julie!

I ran naked for this race - no watch, no phone, no nothing. Still a really odd, but increasingly liberating feeling. I decided I'd just run, go solely based on how I felt, and just see what happens. For the good, I would PR and break my sub-60-minute goal, and for the bad, I'd come in at least close to my standing PR (1:00:19). I knew I bolted out that first mile, as always, but didn't realize how fast until the couple in front of me said so; the lady goes "Oh crap!" to which her boyfriend replies, "What?" and she says "That was like an 8:20!" Oh crap is right - I've picked up on speed, sure, but not that like for a 10K! I backed off and let them take wind.

Ridiculous. At its best.
Just after mile 2, you come by the finishing area (such a tease) and at, let's say, 2.2 miles, I was at a 19:xx, so I knew I was making great timing and feeling pretty strong doing so. It was warm, humid as all get out, and I knew it'd catch up with me. Around mile 4, I got a side stitch that got me down a little bit; Denise, who'd been running behind me, finally caught up, said "C'mon girl, let's go!" and I jogged with her as best as I could before I needed to walk again.

At mile 5, where we come back around to do the first 2 miles(ish) in reverse, I was only at a 47:xx! I had full potential to finally break that sub-60 goal I've been itching for (this is my third 10K of the year already after all!). I banked as much as I could early into that last mile, allowed myself to walk for about 15 seconds. It was about here that it started to sprinkle again - at this point, it was so freaking humid, I hoped it would just pour to cool off, but no luck, it stuck around to sprinkle for a bit and ended just as quickly as it had started.

As soon as I saw the mile 6 sign, I treated those last .2 miles like I was doing my last 400 m lap of a track day - and gave it all I got.

BOOM. Goal accomplished - finally! I finished like 7th out of 16+ in my age group, but was happy about that almost-one minute PR, finally making that goal, and having a successful race while running naked. Running off of feeling helps, people. That was fun!

Other ARR members dominated their age groups, with at least five other folks taking home age group awards and one of our own taking Overall Masters Female. Victory for ARR!

Did you race this weekend? How'd you do?

Friday, May 17, 2013

On Running Naked

Just about two weeks ago, I committed to running naked for the rest of May - a challenge that I knew would be tough, but I wasn't expecting in the way that it's turned out to be. I'd been training since August, from starting an easy half marathon plan to jumping into full training, to taking a solid month off (and feeling super guilty) to jumping into a six-week grueling dreamer's sub-2 training plan for a half on April 28.

I'll admit that part of this burn out stems from not attaining that sub-2 goal, the one I'd blasted all over the interwebz, had talked about for weeks and had been literally dreaming about since mid-March. I'll admit that the emotion, the disappointment and frustration that spawned from that is what really got me thinking hard about what I was doing, what I was working towards and what I had worked for already.

So with that came the harsh self-realization that I was probably a little more burned out on running than I thought I was - I was almost forcing  myself out the door to get in 3-4 miles, only looked forward to finishing my runs instead of starting them, and generally... didn't care. I knew something had to change and fast or really, I'd give up on it all together.

And thus: running naked. No Garmin. No iPhone. No anything that would tell me how far I was going, how fast I was going, my heartrate, my pace, any number that should have mattered previously. I wanted to run for the sake of running without worrying about the things I (sometimes pretended) to care about before.

And how's it going, you wonder?

The toughest part was the first few runs where I all I could think was I wonder how fast I'm going, how long have I been out? It's so much harder than I anticipated to break out of that training/racing mindset. I will, however, credit myself twice: both track days.

The first track day was rough at first: during my warm-up mile again, all I wanted to know what my pace was. Running 4 laps around the track was easy, but how fast? Was the second lap slower than the fourth? We did a second warm up mile, followed by some striders and a mile test - here it comes. I told Al not to tell me my 400 splits as I came through, as he was planning on for everyone else. And he didn't. And I ran as good as a I felt. I ran my fastest mile to date, at 7:29. 

The second great run came with this week's track workout, too. I ran my six fastest (all of them!) 400s ever, the fastest of the day being at 88 seconds and the slowest two being at 93 seconds. Never in a million years did I think it'd be possible. Truth be told, it's not like I look at my watch while I'm doing 400s anyway, but I certainly know it's there ticking away. Mental barrier breakthrough?

I still have some ways to go. There are still a number of mornings where I don't run and by the end of the day I'm like Man, I suck, I didn't go run and actually feel guilty. Why am I feeling guilty? Running is supposed to be freedom, stress relief, anxiety and tension eraser and the cure to any bad day. I'm looking forward to continuing to find that place again. Progress for sure, but it's only been two weeks. More to come - this will probably extend well past May!

Have you ever given yourself a digital break from running and let yourself just RUN? Did you face the same mental block? How did you work past it?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Track Tuesday 16

This week was my first track morning without Chandler or Evan - and truth be told, I was a little nervous for how that would affect me. Chandler's a speed-demon bunny for me and Evan's been hot on my heels lately, so they have helped me find a happy pace as I pace myself during those 400s and on. Alarm went off at the bright shining hour of 4:50 and off I went.

I was the only "regular" person there this morning! One woman has been a few times and two ladies were brand spanking new, so this was definitely going to be a test in my ability to pace myself and find where my zone is, being that I didn't know how any of them ran. Ooph.

I would like to lie and say that I totally bottomed out but instead I can say that I totally rocked this morning! Fastest 6 x400s ever : 92s, 93s, 88s, 92s, 93s, & 92s. Holy hot damn, I have no idea where those came from. Dani came in for the last 3, which gave me a bunny to chase finally and those hurt but man, felt oh so good!

I've definitely tapered back in my mileage and running overall since going naked last Monday, but after this morning I can also see how much of a difference it's made, in simply just letting my legs, body and mind recuperate. Aaaaah, bliss. More thoughts on running naked coming on Friday, but I'm really happy I see a physical difference; now it's just working on that mental block.

Joining us for Track Tuesday this week? Make sure you link up!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Weekend Wrap Up

Mondays are cruel. Mondays after a superbly fantastic 3-day weekend gallivanting around Atlanta with your boyfriend and some great friends make it even more cruel. Woof. With that, reliving the fabulousness of this past weekend, mostly through photo - enjoy!

Thursday night started with a trip to the airport & this creeptastic restaurant.
Friday's adventure was a trip to the Georgia Aquarium - I can't get enough sea otter adorableness.

Saturday was the World of Coke - my fave!
A gorgeous wedding at the Atlanta History Center.
Kid you not - the doors opened, she stepped out & it started to rain. Hard.
A college reunion for these guys.
Post-rain costume change. Good decision.
And ended with a trip to Stone Mountain on a perfect day.
How was your weekend? Did you anything special? Have you ever attended a wedding in the rain?

Friday, May 10, 2013

Friday Fun

I'm out for a weekend away! Well, not really away considering I just got back from DC, but a weekend down the road in Atlanta until Sunday evening. So excited!

Get to spend the weekend with this guy! <3

Doug's teammate from college (they played football together at Pomona-Pitzer out in LA) is getting married in Atlanta, so it's pretty much going to be a mini-college reunion for a whole bunch of them. Last night, Doug, his roommate Chris, and his girlfriend Nancy (who we went to Vegas with at Christmas, love them!) got in about 8:30 pm, we grabbed dinner and promptly crashed at the hotel up here in Buckhead. Today it's a day of exploring and fun times showing Chris and Nancy around, since Doug's been before, at the World of Coke (my favorite!) and the Georgia Aquarium (world's largest!) and some other randomness around the ATL.

Tomorrow it's whatever we please and the wedding at this absolutely stunning place on the left. It's absolutely gorgeous and I cannot wait to get to explore, even if there's a forecast of storms looming over. It's going to be stunning. I've been ogling over photos online since we found out the wedding was here. Gorgeous. Lots of photos to come on Monday! Long story short is that I'm looking forward to a (mostly) stay-cation for me and gallavanting around Atlanta with some great folks. It should be a great weekend a nice escape from Athens on its graduation weekend (chaos). Hooray!

Hope you have a most wonderful weekend!

What are your exciting plans for this weekend?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Review: Huma Energy Gel

A few weeks back, I got an awesome invitation to try a new gel product, Huma. While I haven't talked a lot about fueling and my choices for such things on here a lot (note to self, blog post in the future), I can tell you that I'm normally a chewy-fruity fan (think Jelly Belly Sport Beans and Clif Shot Blox), and that I'm disgusted, appalled and terrified of Gus. I hate them. The texture, the whole concept. Gag.

So when I heard about this, and the opportunity to try them out, I was a little hesitant at first, admittedly, but I figured it was also a good chance that maybe I'd find something else that I liked aside from the Blox and Beans.

Where did Huma come from, you wonder? I think part of what got me so excited was this unique, awesome and running-inspired story - many thanks to the incredible story that is Born to Run (if you haven't read it, stop reading this piddly blog and go read that first. Then come back here):

The idea for Hüma was born in the sands of Iraq. In the summer of 2009 a US Army soldier named 1st Lieutenant McCollum was charged with leading grueling missions throughout Iraq. At the time he was reading a book about the Tarahumara, a tribe of Mexican Indians who regularly compete in epic 100+ mile races as part of their culture. To fuel themselves on these ultramarathons, they use a special chia seed blend. He figured if it worked for them in Mexico, maybe it would work for him in Iraq. It did. In fact, the stuff was amazing at keeping him going, and that discovery eventually led to the creation of Hüma. Today, Hüma brings together Tarahumara tradition, sports nutrition research, healthy ingredients and great taste as our best shot at helping you enjoy your gel.

Fantastic, right? As I do often, I admit to being the worst eater ever, especially as it regards my running, so I had no idea about the power of chia seeds. But now I'm sure intrigued! Huma bases itself on three key words:

I was also nervous trying this new thing out given that my tummy is selectively sensitive, and I have yet to figure out what really triggers anything (especially come race day), so I tried these twice. And because I sucked at being a blogger, I have no photos for you... lame, I know. 

Ian sent me (two packages! Because USPS is silly) apple cinnamon and strawberry packets to try. Strawberry is my go-to for anything, so I jumped on those first. The first time I used one before a Saturday group run with the Road Runners on a planned 5-6 mile day - I took one about 15 minutes before our run began, and decided to see how that held me up - no tummy trouble. Success. The second I took once I got in my corral last week at Nike DC to get me started for the race - maybe that's why I felt so good until that 10K mark! At any rate, I'm convinced these work.

Now, regarding that Gu-like substance... these aren't as creamy as I feel Gus are. I'd describe Huma more like a thick applesauce - a little more fruit-like substance, and definitely not as hard to swallow as Gus are (to me). Love. 
All good stuff!
Ian mentioned releasing new flavors in the summer, so I'm pretty excited to check those out too. I passed off one of the Apple Cinnamons to HP, queen of tummy issues (hey, we're runners, it happens) and I'm curious to see how it holds for her! She also likes Gus more than I do so we'll see if Huma passes the test.

Many thanks to Ian for letting me try this stuff out! If you want to read up more on Huma and/or check out if there's any stores near you that are stocking up on this awesome new stuff, visit their site here and of course, check 'em out on Facebook and Twitter too!

You can also get some cash off your first go at Huma too! Use code RUNNERMEGAN and that'll give you 10% off anything in the store until May 14 (not including shipping, and they only ship to US residents for now). 

What do you use to fuel on long runs/race days? Are you a gu/gel or a block/chew fan?

PS. This kind of replaces my typical Track Tuesdays posts. But you can still link up and share!

Monday, May 6, 2013

May (No) Garmin Challenge

Marathon training (or even half-marathon training, for that matter) is all about increasing your mileage, bit by bit, so your body doesn't freak out on you when you try and convince your legs that you can, in fact, run 26.2 miles. Marathon training with a goal race, goal pace, goal time in mind is all about nailing those runs - not only that mileage, but nailing every goal pace run, tempo run, speedwork session and even those 'easy' runs to ensure that you're on target to where you're supposed to be to nail that sub-2 goal.

I did that. I did all those things. I nailed runs, nailed speedwork most certainly, and watched as every Garmin lap got faster and faster. And sub-2 didn't happen. And since then, I have crashed and burned.

I'm burned out.

Admitting it is the first step, right? I'm burned out on training, on schedules, on a plan, on times, paces, charting, planning and mapping every run, and making sure I'm not letting myself slack (too much). I've been in a training plan since August, when it first set up into Wine and Dine (and what would become AthHalf) training which bled into marathon training. Save for taking nearly all of February off, I jumped back in in March with two halfs and then six solid weeks of goal-race insanity.

I'm burned out.

 I miss when I was giving myself the freedom to just run. Run to be free, run for stress relief, run because it was raining and it is fun to run in the rain, and run just for the hell of it. I took Molly on a jog this morning, a whole mile and a half of it, and all I could think was, "I wonder what our pace is with the pup in tow?" instead of enjoying a gorgeous morning with my fur-kid by my side.

And with that, friends, I bring you my May self challenge: digital-free running. Here until (at least) May 31. No Garmin. No iPhone. Me, my shoes, and occasionally, Molly. I need to revisit when I ran for the sake of it, and because I could, and because I didn't care about nailing 1:40 400s or 9:09" miles. I won't lie - this will be quite the challenge, as I've grown so accustomed to having my Garmin on my wrist and have almost become neurotic in checking my mile time every time it beeps. 

No, it's time to run just because I have the health and strength to do so. I'll check in every week with some random on-goings and let you know how it's going. 

Do/have you given yourself the freedom after a goal race (or even just accomplishing a race) to go digital free and just be? How hard is it for you to run without something telling you your pace, your time, your distance?