Tag Archives: need for speed!

Running for Fun, and Feeling the Need for Speed

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As stated in my previous post, I came out of July with the need to fall back in love with running. In order to do so I signed up for a few races in August that I had always enjoyed running in the past, but that I haven’t been able to enjoy in the past few years due to a constant marathon training schedule (you aren’t going to waste your time running a fun 10K when you have 20 miles on your schedule). I also discovered some new races as well.

August was a great month for fun races, starting with the Advokate 10K in Rochester, Michigan. I’ve already stated why this race was so much fun in the past, and though I didn’t even come close to the 52:10 I ran there four years ago, I still had fun supporting a great cause, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. The very next day I ran another 10K in town, the Milford Memories. It was decent enough, except for the fact that I run that route all the time for free. The Milford Memories is a big festival with art and vendors but unfortunately I had to get home to get ready for a 23 mile bike run with friends. Yeah, I kicked some ass that day.

Next up was an 11 mile trail race in Marquette, way up north in the Upper Peninsula. The rugged terrain of the UP made technical trails back home, such as Bald Mountain and Pontiac Lake, feel like an easy stroll through the woods. As difficult as it was, it was nowhere near as difficult as running the 50K going on that same day, which Shawn was able to finish while still in the upright position and without crying. I had fun watching the ultra runners come in after my puny little run (that took three hours!! rocks everywhere!!!!) and was amazed by how so many finished their runs looking like they’d just completed an easy 5K. I want to know the secret to not crying in ultras. Some 50 Mile runners crossed the finish line and strolled over to the food station without even collapsing. Oh, and speaking of food, the post-race spread was delicious burritos from a place called Border Grill in Marquette. Their Border Sauce is the stuff of dreams and I tried unsuccessfully to find a knock off recipe on the internet.

My next super-happy-fun race in August was the famous Crim Festival of Races. Four years ago I finished the 10 mile run in 1:25! This year, well, I took an extra 15 minutes. I spent that extra time drinking mimosas and beer found on the course. My only goal- consume all alcohol offered to me. Goal met. I stayed in Flint the night before and enjoyed a very tasty vegan burger at a bar called The Soggy Bottom, which would be the last place I’d expect to find vegan food. We also enjoyed a “Mystery Beer” off of the menu, which tasted like an amber, but the server wouldn’t give up the secret. I guess it’s iron-clad until the keg is tapped. Part of me still wants to call and see if it’s finished yet.

Last but certainly not least was the Milford Labor Day 30K on September 2nd. This race really shouldn’t be included in this post because 1) It wasn’t in August, and 2) It’s not at all fun. In fact, two years ago when I ran it I almost quit twice. It’s notorious for its relentless hills and the fact that it always seems to be 1,000 degrees on the day of the run. This year, we enjoyed some mild fall-like weather that helped me finish 15 minutes faster than two years ago. Finally, some improvement! When all was said and done, I actually had a great time running the “Milf” this year. Beautiful course, fun after party with Fat Tire beer and burgers, and it doesn’t hurt that I live less than 10 minutes from the start line. There was also an angel who appeared on the course distributing Oberon. You can see my new kittens, Luna and Luigi, modeling the medal in the photo above.

Running the Labor Day 30K somewhat successfully, I really want to give ultra distances a rest for the time being and focus on speed again. The only real races I have coming up are the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon and the Charlotte Marathon. I’d love to maybe break 2:10 for the half, and if the running gods allow, 4:40 for the full. My PRs in both distances are much faster than that, but I fear those days are behind me and it’s time to accept a new running normal. In order to reach these goals, I’m going to run with friends as much as possible. Looking back on my fast finishes from four years ago, I realize it was constantly running with my faster friends that got me there.

 

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 HAWAII, KITTENS, AND AGE GROUP AWARDS, OH MY! (or, what I’ve been up to since my 50 mile race)

Widget Medal

Our newest medal model, Widget

After my 50 mile race on April 29th, May arrived and flew by in a flash. Though I only logged about 80 miles of running that month (my lowest monthly mileage since 2012), I guess I had a few good excuses.

First was my trip to Hawaii. OH MY GOODNESS WHERE ARE ALL THE PICTURES?!?!?! Well, though I was in paradise, it was nonetheless a business trip in paradise. I took some pictures but the business at hand left little time for exploring outside of the Honolulu city limits. That’s not to say I didn’t have a blast. Waikiki is full of great shopping, bars, restaurants, and beautiful ocean views. Though the weather was perfect for outdoor running, the amount of tourists and some scary, sun-fried locals made me cautious about running outside by myself. Alas, all the miles I logged while in Hawaii were on the hotel treadmill. Shout-out to Maui Brewing Company for having some delicious beers, and to the person who invented the Mai Tai.

The morning after I landed in Michigan, after sleeping in until 11am because I had just flown through a billion different time zones, Shawn whisked me away to a belated birthday brunch (oh yeah, I had a birthday while in Hawaii). Suspiciously, he grabbed our cat carrier before we departed. We had been casually looking at kittens available for adoption but suddenly I realized Shawn’s longing for a kitten was serious. He had something up his sleeve. After having lunch at the New Hudson Inn (they stopped serving breakfast at 11am, jerks), Shawn drove us to a local Pet Supplies Plus that was having an adoption event. Long story short- Laura spots black kitten, Laura holds black kitten, Shawn and Laura walk out with black kitten. Black kitten is now Widget.

During the joy that comes with raising a kitten, the first week Widget was in our home, I unfortunately missed some issues going on with our existing kitty, Beans. Shawn mentioned he didn’t eat much while I was in Hawaii but I selfishly attributed it to him being anxious that I was away. After Widget’s arrival Beans began to eat less, rarely use the litter box, and hid away from us. After the first couple days I blamed it on stress from the new kitten. But by mid-week I was concerned. He began vomiting regularly and showing absolutely no interest in food. He stopped purring, meowing, and acting like his normal cheerful self. By Thursday night I decided he needed immediate help and took him to the emergency vet in town. After examining him until 1:30am, it was found Beans had Pancreatitis, a UTI, and a possible mass showed up on an X-ray. My poor baby kitty had to spend all of Memorial Day weekend in the hospital recovering while Shawn, Widget, and I went up North to my parent’s home in Charlevoix for the first time in a year. It’s been over a week since Beans has been home, and I wish I could say he’s made a 100% recovery. However, he has a follow-up appointment tomorrow to find out for sure about that possible mass. In short, I’ve been an absolute mess. I blame myself for him getting sick and I just want my normal chatty, affectionate, goofy, kitty back.

In the midst of Beans’ illness, I ran my first race since my 50 miler, the Miles For Mankind Half Marathon in Westland, MI this past Saturday. I finished in a time of about 2:13ish, which while slow, was still my fastest half marathon time in over three years. To quote our current president: Sad! But it also gave me hope that faster times are ahead. Since this was a small race, my completely non-impressive time was somehow enough for me to win 3rd in my age group. I got a lovely green ribbon that you can see modeled by my Widget.

Before I knew it, May was completely over and June was upon me, leaving 13 weeks until my next 50 miler. I’m happy to report that in addition to the 13.1 miles I ran in Westland, I was able to log 48 total miles this past week. My butt is officially in gear. I have a lot more “life” being thrown at me lately- a sick kitty, a busy job, a house, a husband who sometimes appreciates having me around, but I’m determined to rock North Country in August.

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Back to Basics

Yesterday the doctor confirmed what I’d already known (and have known) for months years now: I am very anemic. While this is information that concerned doctors have been warning me about since the age of 16, it’s usually something I ignore like the stubborn idiot that I am. For example, it’s probably not good to be gasping for breath after climbing one flight of stairs, or blacking out whenever you stand up at work. Believe it or not these are symptoms that I’ve learned to live with over the years, and even laugh at. However, once my running became affected, I decided to start taking better care of myself. According to the doctor, my current hemoglobin level is 7. A normal level is 12. As he put it, I’m running on a half-empty tank of gas.

It’s no secret my race times have drastically slowed in the past year. I used to blame my accident (that whole getting hit by a car thing), but now I’m not so sure. I think it’s more of a combination of health, too many long distance races, running alone, and abandoning speed work and strength training. I’ve been unhappy lately with my slow running and that ever-increasing number on the scale, so it is no wonder that this article I read resonated with me so well:

Crossing the Finish Line 25 Pounds Lighter

In the above article, the author talks about how years of running marathons and eating as though she could justify every empty calorie lead to a steady weight gain, and slower race times. She took charge of her health and running progress by training for a mile race (yes, one singular mile), eating cleaner, and training with weights. Obviously, training for shorter distances means more sprinting and speed work, which we all know burns more fat. She lost the weight and beat her mile goal as well.

I was completely inspired by her progress. Why had I been treating marathons as the be-all-end-all of race distances? A fast 5K, and even mile, takes lots of hard work and training as well. Also, there’s no way I’m ever going to get faster running slow, long, distances every weekend. I made a goal then and there to train hard for a 5K. My 5Ks lately have been disastrous, with average times around 29 minutes. I’m thinking a realistic yet challenging goal would be sub-26 minutes. I’ll be following this plan by Hal Higdon to get myself there, as well as incorporating more weights in my week, oh and taking my iron pills like a good girl:

Hal Higdon’s Advanced 5K Plan

Being the impatient and impulsive creature that I am, I decided to start working towards this goal NOW, instead of waiting until next spring/summer when there are literally 50 5Ks any given weekend. Thanks to RunMichigan.com, I was able to not only find a winter 5K that’s exactly 8 weeks from now, but also a mile race in Milford on November 28th as well! Granted, both are marketed as more “fun” races, but I’ll be having fun kicking so much ass. You know what else is fun about smaller distances? Smaller registration fees! I’m sure my boyfriend is happy to hear that.

But Laura! Don’t you have two winter marathons to train for as well? Yes, unfortunately. I figure I can train for both by still doing a long run on the weekend, but not killing myself mileage-wise during the week. Hopefully the extra speed work will contribute to faster marathon times as well.

I’m excited for a new and refreshing running goal. If all goes well I can work towards a 5K PR in 2016, and get back that running mojo that once allowed me to run a 50-minute 10K on a 85 degree day in August (I still can’t believe I did that!!). Also, if I sign up for any more full marathons for 2016 you have my permission to stab me repeatedly.

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