Countdown until the race

My goal race is getting closer and closer. It seems like just last week that I was returning to training after my 10-month-long stress fracture ordeal. I'm so glad that I decided to cut out the half-marathon and marathon distances and focus on my speed for the 10K. The changes I've made, both with the running and with the calorie counting, have really helped me to get refocused on my goals, and it's been awesome.

This week, being the week before race week, means that it is my peak week for the race. This is the last chance for me to push myself and see what I can do! Yesterday's speed work was going to be my final, big, confidence-building run. Last week, I completed the "best 10K workout", and I felt SO excited to have nailed it. However, I completed it just a bit early. Ideally, it would have been done between 9 and 12 days before my race.

I wasn't quite sure what to do--should I do the same workout in the ideal time frame? Or should I try a different tough workout? When I mentioned it to Jerry, he said that he didn't think I should do the same one, because what if I couldn't do as well as I had before. It would destroy my confidence in the race. I knew he was right, so I decided to try something different, but just as effective.

Week 33 Weigh-in

I was really, really tempted not to post today's weigh-in. I had a small gain last week, but I wasn't concerned about it at all. I was thinking I should cut back on calories just a touch (to 2,000 per day or so); but then this week just... happened.

I want to start by saying that I didn't binge! I am very proud of my binge-free streak right now. But we had a couple of days when we went out with friends, when we ate at Jerry's friend's memorial, and when we splurged on dinner and dessert in Detroit on Monday--all of which caused me to consume more calories that I probably should have. Which is why I was really tempted not to post a weigh-in today! However, we all know that's how it starts... a bad week, and then a skipped weigh-in. Maybe one more. Then the weigh-ins are few and far between, as the scale climbs.

So, I'm posting this for accountability. It's hard to post a gain (especially two weeks in a row!), but I don't want to allow this to get out of control. The whole point of my weigh-ins is to keep me accountable, whether I gain or lose weight. Besides, I'm still far under my goal weight, so I am happy about that.

Kids first Wings game

Ever since Jerry and I went to the Red Wings game in October, the kids have been asking for us to take them to a game. We finally got tickets, and yesterday was the big day. They were super excited to go!

The game wasn't until 7:30 pm, so we decided to plan on having dinner in Detroit beforehand. In the morning, I did speed work on the treadmill: 4 x 5:00 at 7:30/mi pace with 2:00 jogs between. I would have preferred to do it outside, but it was crazy windy yesterday, and doing speed work outside is hard enough without wind.

I started with a mile warm-up at 6.0 mph, and then bumped it up to 8.0 mph for the intervals. I'm surprised at how good I feel at that pace now! Doing five minutes at 7:30 pace isn't all that hard anymore (on the treadmill; outside is another story)--it definitely gets my heart rate up, but I don't feel like I'm struggling to get through it. I did the two minute jogs at 5.0 mph, and then I finished the workout with a short cool down. Good workout!

Mark, a long run, memorial service, and cookie cake

Today is the two-year anniversary of Mark's death. I cannot believe that is has been that long already! It seems like just last week that I was bringing him milkshakes and coffee. There really hasn't been a single day that has gone by in the last two years that I haven't thought about him in some way or another.

This was Mark waving good-bye to me a few days before he died
I won't go over his whole story again, but here is the link if you want to read about what a special person Mark was in my life. He has made me see life differently--I'm extremely grateful for what I have, and I always try to find the positives about situations.

Week 32 Weigh-in

Today's weigh-in was pretty much what I expected:

I was at 124.4, meaning I was up 1.4 pounds this week. I'm not worried about it, considering I'm still so far under my goal weight, and I didn't binge. My appetite has been crazy for the past couple of weeks, so I've just been going with it. And I certainly can't expect to lose or maintain my weight every week for the rest of my life! I just have to make sure that it doesn't turn into an upward trend over a period of several weeks, and I'll be fine.

The Best 10K Workout

As I'm sure you're sick of reading about, I have a big running goal this year: to PR my 10K. I set this goal during the summer of 2015, when I was at the heaviest (and slowest) I'd been in five years. I almost said it as a joke, because of the impossibility of it. But once I said it out loud, "I'm going to get back to my goal weight and PR the 10K next year," I decided to give it a try. The first step was getting back to my goal weight, because I knew I wouldn't be able to run my fastest with an extra 30 pounds on my body.

I researched for what felt like MONTHS about the perfect training plan for a 10K, and I tried out a few before making any decisions. One article that I came across, however, has stuck in my mind the entire time I've been training: Greg McMillan's "The Best 10K Workout".

A special kind of motivation on this Monday

The anniversary of Mark's death is approaching (the 26th), and I'd been trying to think of a way to honor him in some way. A couple of weeks ago, it was like an opportunity fell right into my lap. I got an email from Marissa, a reader of my blog who was very touched by Mark's story when I shared it a couple of years ago. Marissa has a son named Atticus, who has special needs, and Marissa says that he is her "main fitness motivation". 

Reader Questions #28

It's been a couple of weeks since my last Reader Questions post... so here is a fun one! 

Q. You're obviously a big Friends fan based on the names of your pets! Do you have a favorite episode? How about a favorite character? And the ultimate: who is your Favorite Friend???

RUNdetroit group run!

A few days ago, I asked Stephanie if she was doing a long run this weekend, because I was hoping for some company. She told me that she had plans Saturday morning, so she couldn't; but we decided to make plans to run next weekend instead. All day yesterday, however, I'd forgotten that it was NEXT weekend that we were planning to run together, and I was so sure it was this morning.

Last night, I laid my clothes out on my dresser so that I could just get up and get dressed for our run. Just before bed, I was going to send her a confirmation text, when I realized that I may have remembered incorrectly. I'm glad I texted her, because she reminded me it was next weekend! I would have shown up at her house at 7:30 this morning if I hadn't asked, haha.

I really wanted some company on my run today, so last night I was thinking about asking on Facebook if anyone was interested in running 10-12 miles with me today. Then I decided to Google "group runs" in my area, and saw that RUNdetroit (a running store in Detroit) hosts a group run every Saturday morning at 8:00--a 3-miler, a 6-miler, and a 10-miler. I'd never actually gone to a group run before, so I wasn't sure I wanted to do it. Attending a new group thing without a friend by my side made me very nervous. However, maybe the psychotherapy and anxiety meds are working, because I decided that I was going to go.

I set my alarm for 5:00 (even though I've been waking up earlier) and my clothes were already laid out. This morning, I actually was asleep when my alarm went off! I immediately thought, "Forget it, I'm not going... I'm tired!" but I couldn't go back to sleep after that, so I decided to go. I knew I'd have to run 10-12 miles today regardless, and it would be more fun with other people.

So, I got dressed (it was going to be a cold morning!) and headed up to Detroit at about 7:00. The store was easy to find, and there was free parking right across the street, which was nice. I could see a lot of runners heading into the store, so I just followed them in. It was my first time inside of RUNdetroit, and it was a nice store! I was greeted by an enormous dog (I later learned he belongs to the owner, who brings him to work--although during store hours, he has to stay in the back of the store). Thankfully, I'm over my fear of dogs, so I gave him a pet before standing around a little awkwardly.

Everyone that came in seemed to know each other already, which I expected. A woman named Stacey introduced herself to me, and I'm grateful for that! I told her it was my first time there, and she explained how it worked. She gave me a mini map, and introduced me to the co-owner of the store, Justin Craig. He explained the route to me, and said that once everyone got there, he'd find out who else was running the 10-miler at my pace. He pulled up the route on the computer to explain it in more detail, which was helpful later.

A few minutes later, he introduced me to a couple of women (Nelly and Sherry, who were sisters). They were doing the 10-miler, and Nelly told me that they'd be doing about a 10:30-11:00 pace, which was just fine with me. Since it was my long run, I wanted to keep my heart rate under 146... I didn't mind going slower than I would have on my own, but I didn't want to go faster. There was a guy that joined us as well (I missed his name, unfortunately!). At 8:00, everyone headed outside, and just started running.

Most people were doing the 3-miler, several doing the 6-miler, and there were very few doing the 10-miler. I ran next to Nelly, with Sherry and the guy (who I think was her boyfriend) just in front of us. I was happy just to follow along. Making small talk helped pass the time, and the three of them were super nice.

It was interesting, because they were all from the area, while I only go to Detroit about 10 times a year. I LOVE Detroit, but I still don't know my way around. I loved looking around at the scenery, and I asked about certain buildings. The things that I found so fascinating were just everyday scenes for them, so they probably thought I was a little odd being so excited and interested in it all.

The course we ran was pretty nice. I wish I'd taken pictures, but I already felt out of place, so I didn't want to feel even more so. The whole 10 miles passed really quickly, and I felt great! My heart rate was pretty low the whole time (except for running up an overpass at mile five). We made it back to the store, finishing the run at mile 10.5.

I'm so glad that I ended up going! I would definitely do it again (and I likely will). Stepping out of my comfort zone is never easy, but a lot of times, I'm glad I did--and today was one of those times. I wish that we had a running group in my hometown, but Detroit is probably the closest that I know of. If any of you are thinking about going to a run group, I encourage you to give it a try! Just introduce yourself to some people and let them know you're new--they will likely be happy to help you find someone to stick with during the run.

I thanked Justin and told him I'd be back again. When I got in the car, the middle finger of my hand was cold and completely white. It's from Raynaud's syndrome, and I usually get it on my toes and the heels of my feet... but once in a while, it'll happen to my fingers. Today, it was just my middle finger:

Kind of creepy looking, right?! My younger brother, Nathan, has it pretty bad on his fingers. Every time he runs, all of his fingers turn as white as the tip of my middle finger above. He has medication for it, but you have to take it a full day ahead of time, so it's hard to remember. When it happens to my heels and toes, it drives me crazy! They get totally numb. It's harmless, but it looks kind of freaky ;)

Anyway, fun run today! New scenery, new friends, new experiences :)

Root canal!

Yesterday, I finally went and did it--I had my root canal! I wrote about it back in October, explaining what a nervous wreck I was. There was truly nothing more terrifying to me than the thought of a root canal. I kept putting it off for the last several months, even though I kept getting twinges of pain in my tooth. Finally, when we got our tax return money, I decided to make the appointment (it's crazy how expensive a root canal is, even with insurance).

My original appointment was on February 29, but I ended up rescheduling because I'd forgotten that was the day of the Leap Day 4-Miler race. I didn't want to go race after getting a terrifying dental procedure! The next appointment available with the endodontist was today. I almost chickened out again, but I knew I couldn't put it off forever.

I made the appointment for the initial consult as well as the root canal, should I end up needing it (my dentist was confident I would need it). First, I went to my psychotherapy appointment in the morning. It was my second appointment, and I'm very happy with how it's going so far. I really like the psychologist, and I feel confident that she can help with my anxiety. I felt very comfortable with her right away, so I'm looking forward to continuing the therapy sessions once a week.

Right from there, I went to the endodontist's office. He and his assistant were super nice, and made me feel very comfortable (well, as comfortable as I could get, considering the situation). He explained everything well, without freaking me out any more than I already was, and assessed my tooth. Like my dentist had explained, there was a tiny crack in my tooth (from when I fell and broke my jaw) and the tooth was dying.

The endodontist said that he could drill into it and see how deep the crack went. If it wasn't too deep, then he could do the root canal treatment and I wouldn't have to worry about it anymore. If it was deep, then I'd have to have it extracted. I almost fainted when he said that--extracted?! I prayed that the crack wasn't deep, and I cursed myself for not going sooner. It never occurred to me that I might have to get it pulled out.

I told him that I needed to do it right then, because if I went home, I certainly wouldn't go back. He agreed. I sat back in the chair to get comfy for my first (and hopefully only) root canal procedure. I asked the assistant if I could wear the lead apron (for x-rays) throughout the whole procedure, because I like that cozy feeling of its weight draped across me (does anyone else like that? Maybe I'm a total weirdo).

The endodontist gave me an injection of the local anesthetic (which was pretty painful!), then waited for me to get numb. I hate the feeling of being numb! But clearly, it's better than being in pain. He then placed a rubber dam over my mouth to isolate just my problem tooth, and that was surprisingly comfortable. It even helped me to hold my mouth open during the procedure.

I probably should have just put on some headphones and zoned out, but I was too nervous the whole time. Next time (hopefully there won't be a next time), I'll know. The endodontist explained what he was doing without going into too much detail, which was helpful. Basically, he spent a few seconds drilling, and then about 20 minutes poking different instruments in there (I didn't want to know, so I closed my eyes). I didn't feel any pain! I could feel the instruments tapping against my tooth now and then, but no pain at all.

THANK GOD, the crack in my tooth wasn't too deep, so he was able to clean out the root canals and said I wouldn't need an extraction. That was such a relief. He filled my tooth with whatever it is they fill it with, and I have an appointment to go to my dentist next week for a crown. The whole procedure, from the time I sat in the chair to when I got out of the chair to leave, was less than an hour. I really should have done this back in October! It wasn't bad at all. If anything, it's just really inconvenient--feeling numb all day, having to be careful about eating with this tooth until I get the crown, and having to get numbed for the crown procedure next week. Not fun!

After the numbness wore off, my mouth was really sore, particularly where the injection sites were. My jaw feels sore on that side, too. Eating has been challenging, because I'm trying to avoid chewing on that side. I'll be so glad when the crown is done and I don't have to worry about this tooth anymore!

I have no pictures for this post (not that you'd want one to go along with it); so here's a picture of Joey and Phoebe sharing the electric blanket :)

An update on (and explanation of) 80/20 Running

I was putting this post off until after I see how well I do for my goal 10K next month, but I realized that regardless of how I do at the race, I have made some very serious progress in my running--so it's worth posting now. Several people have asked me lately exactly what I've been doing to get faster, so I'll try and explain it here in a nutshell.

I'm basically doing a combination of 80/20 Running and MAF training, which I'll explain below.

80/20 Running
First, a quick explanation of 80/20 Running--I read the book 80/20 Running by Matt Fitzgerald, and the gist is that MOST recreational runners (even competitive ones) tend to do their easy runs too fast and their hard runs too slow. (Note: I don't recommend the electronic version of this book, because you will do a TON of flipping back and forth between pages). Based on an overwhelming amount of data, particularly from elite runners, there is a formula that is near-perfect for most runners: do 80% (or less) of your running at a low intensity, and 20% of your running at moderate or high intensity.

The big question is what does "low intensity" really mean? Most runners will say they went for an "easy run", but in reality, their heart rate was high enough to be considered a "moderate run". The best way to keep yourself from going too hard/fast is to use a heart rate monitor. Fitzgerald has different ways of figuring out the best heart rate to train at, but in general, he says your heart rate on your easy runs should be roughly 77% of your maximum heart rate.

(Note: the 80/20 ratio refers to TIME spent running, not distance)

MAF Training
MAF training (developed by Dr. Phil Maffetone) is something I tried before in 2014, but I just wasn't patient enough to really see it through until I got results. MAF stands for "maximum aerobic function", and it's a training method that builds up your aerobic system. MAF is done with a heart rate monitor, and you never train above a particular heart rate (here is a link to the 180-formula that is used to find the correct heart rate for MAF training).

To do MAF training, you do lots of aerobic workouts (it doesn't have to be just running, but in my case, that's what I use). You never go over your MAF heart rate (mine is 146 bpm). Over time, you are able to go faster and longer without exceeding your MAF heart rate. For example, when you first start MAF training, you may be doing 14:00-minute miles; after several months, you may be doing 12:00-minute miles at the same heart rate. Seeing that progress means that your aerobic system is improving.

The Combination
What I've been doing is combining the two types of training--I'm using the MAF heart rate for 80% or more of my time spent running, and then 20% or less of my time spent running is on speed work. So, in a nutshell, I'm following the 80/20 ratio, but keeping my heart rate low (per MAF) on my easy runs.

This isn't right for everyone, of course. Lately, I've been trying to follow my intuition with a lot of different aspects of my life--including my diet and running. The MAF training by itself felt too boring and I didn't think I'd be able to progress my running quickly enough for my goal race. I did like the low heart rate running, though, because running at such a slow pace is enjoyable for me. I LOVE the 80/20 ratio (keeps me from being bored, and it's very effective). By combining the two methods, I get the best of both--lots of slow, easy running, but enough hard running sprinkled in to get faster and keep from being bored.

Moving on...
When you calculate your MAF heart rate (or even the heart rate that Matt Fitzgerald suggests for his 80/20 Running method) I can almost guarantee you that the number you get will be much lower than the heart rate you've been training at ;) Mine certainly was! I am guilty of doing my easy runs too fast. (If you don't have access to a heart rate monitor, you can try to use other methods of keeping it easy--you should be able to talk easily while you're running. But the best way is to use the heart rate monitor, because people still tend to underestimate how much effort they are putting into their runs.)

When you do your easy runs, you are not supposed to go over that heart rate at all--even if that means you have to take walk breaks. Your body will adapt over time, and you'll be able to maintain that same heart rate while going faster. When I was just going out and doing an "easy run" last fall, I was running a 9:30-ish pace. My heart rate was regularly in the 150's and 160's, which is too high for an easy run. Once I calculated my heart rate, and saw that I was supposed to keep it under 146 bpm, my pace slowed to 11:30-ish! If I ran any faster, my heart rate would get too high. So, as hard as it was to make myself slow down (it feels awkward and embarrassing at first to run at what feels like a snail's pace compared to what you're used to), I did it anyway. 

There are lots of reasons for doing this method, so I would suggest reading about the MAF method and 80/20 Running for all those details. Basically, you're training your body to require less effort for the same result. There are all sorts of physiological adaptations that happen when running at a low intensity; the ultimate goal being to condition your aerobic system. (And, by only doing 20% of your running at moderate or high-intensity, you are able to hit your goals for those workouts much easier!)

I didn't "officially" start doing the 80/20 Method until mid-January, but I was unknowingly doing it starting around December 24th. At that time, I started following a plan that gave me a recommended heart rate for my runs. I decided to go ahead and follow the plan as written, and take the easy runs very slowly, keeping my heart rate under 146 bpm; and then when I had speed work, I would give it my all.

It has worked out so well, in so many ways! After about six weeks of training that way, I was able to PR my 5K time (on November 26th, my 5K time was 27:00; by February 6th, my time was 24:51)--something I never dreamed would happen. 

I also fell in love with running. I used to dread my runs every single day; even though I felt great after the runs, I always hated the actual running part. Once I started doing the heart rate training, I actually REALLY enjoyed my easy runs! I was able to run slow enough that I wasn't at all out of breath, and it felt similar to just going for a walk. Now, I really do look forward to my easy runs--even the long ones.

It's been very interesting to see my easy pace gradually get faster, too. I always keep my heart rate under 146 during easy runs, but now it takes more effort to get there. Before, I was running an 11:30-ish pace at that heart rate, and now I'm running a 10:30-ish pace at the same heart rate. The effort I put into my easy runs is the same; but the pace is just naturally faster, due to the aerobic conditioning. 

This could be totally coincidental and/or irrelevant, but according to Dr. Maffetone, running at a low heart rate burns more fat. There is a ton of info about this online--some people say it's a myth, some preach it--but I have never really paid much attention to that (and honestly, I don't care at this point). However, it just so happened that when I started doing the low heart rate training, I lost more weight, bringing me 10 pounds below my goal weight--and my body fat is now under 18%. I wasn't actively trying to lose more weight, but it dropped down fairly easily. Again, it could just be a coincidence, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

Ultimately, the goal is to continue to keep my heart rate low, but my speed will continue to increase. I'll become more and more aerobically conditioned, and able to run faster without using more effort. Once I'm finished training for this 10K (hopefully I'll hit my goal!) I'm going to continue with the low heart rate training and the 80/20 method. 

Here are some sample runs from my log:

First three-mile self-proclaimed "easy" run on Oct. 1st, after six weeks of no running due to stress fracture:
3.00 miles
HR 165 bpm
9:35/mile pace

First three-mile low-HR run (same course, Jan. 8)
3.00 miles
HR 138 bpm
11:22/mile pace

Most recent three-mile low-HR run (same course, Mar. 9)
3.00 miles
HR 141 bpm
10:24/mile pace

Yesterday's run:
5.03 miles
HR 143 bpm
9:58/mile pace (while keeping a low heart rate, I dipped into the 9:00's for the first time!)


5K race on November 26:
3.11 miles
171 bpm
8:41/mile pace

5K race on February 6:
3.11 miles
172 bpm
7:56/mile pace

Race-pace training run on March 8:
3.50 miles
174 bpm
7:50/mile pace

It's so exciting to be able to train slower but get faster! I am doing speed work, but less than 20% of my time spent running is at a moderate or high intensity. Most people can run fast for a short duration--but to run fast for a long time, we need to build our aerobic capacity (endurance). I wish I'd have listened to this advice a long time ago and had the patience to work on it the correct way ;)

I'm hopeful for my 10K on April 10, but even if I don't hit my goal of sub-49:23, I am confident that with more training, I'll do it sometime this year for sure! 

Week 31 Weigh-in

I was fully expecting to see a gain on the scale this week, because my appetite has been pretty high, but I actually dropped a little weight:

Last week, I was at 123.8, and I was 123.0 today, so I was down 0.8 today. I'm not kidding when I say my appetite was high--my average calories per day this week was 2,213. I must have been making up for the week before, when my appetite was kind of nil. But, I've been trying to listen to my body, and if I'm hungry, I'll eat more; if not, I'll eat less. It's working out well this way.

I originally planned my high-calorie day for Thursday, and I ate 2,891 calories that day. Then, I ate normally on Friday all day until the evening. I went to a birthday party for Jessica at a Mexican restaurant, and I hadn't planned to eat there. But once I got there, and everyone was having margaritas and chips and all that good stuff, I ended up indulging. I had two margaritas, chips with guacamole, and a piece of birthday cake--which brought my calorie total to 3,599 for the day! And honestly, I don't feel one bit guilty about it. I didn't binge, and birthday cake is going to happen in life (as are margaritas). I reeled in my calories the following day, and no harm was done.

My runs were good this week, too. I was SUPER excited about the 10K on the treadmill Monday. Tomorrow, I'll write more about the training I've been doing, and update how it's going. I started to write it here, but it was just too complicated, so it needs a whole post of its own.

As far as my long-term goals:

7,000+ steps per day, 6+ days per week: I got them all in except for Saturday.

Staying binge-free: Today is Day 225, and I'm going strong. It feels amazing! Some days, a binge doesn't even cross my mind. Even this week, when I was clearly eating much more than usual, I just trusted my body to go with it. Maybe I was hungrier for a reason. I didn't try to hold back just because the number of calories seemed really high; I felt like I needed to eat more, and I did. And somehow, I still lost a little weight. But I love that I never let that turn into a binge. In the past, I most certainly would have let Jessica's party give me that "Screw it!" attitude, and I would have just continued to eat everything in sight all week.

One new recipe weekly: I almost let this week slip by. With Jerry being in NYC, I didn't cook much for myself and the kids (we had sandwiches, pizza, and leftovers). Yesterday, Jerry had to bring in something for a potluck at work; and on Pinterest, I found a beer and cheese dip for pretzels. It was super simple--I threw it together quickly and it ended up being delicious! I tasted a couple bites before he took it to work. It's not the prettiest looking dip:

But with pretzels, it's actually really good! There are only four ingredients: cream cheese, beer, ranch dressing mix, and cheddar cheese. I let the kids try it, too, and they really liked it. This would be a good snack to make when we have friends over.

Another good week in the books! :)

A treadmill PR

It's been nice not having a strict running schedule, but yesterday I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do for my speed work. I ultimately decided to try to do 4 miles at race pace (I did 3.5 last week). It was super foggy outside in the morning, and we got a phone call from the kids' school saying that there was a two-hour fog delay.

Once I got them off to school, I really didn't want to run on the roads with it being so foggy out (good chance of getting hit by a car), so I decided to go to the Metropark. It's a 20-minute drive, but anything that I can do to make speed work more pleasant is worth it! When I got there, I drove to the back of the park and parked the car, and then headed out onto the bike path. Not even 40 seconds into my run, I saw that the bike path was flooded in several areas (we got a lot of rain over the weekend).

I did not want to run at race pace with wet shoes, so I just turned around, walked back to the car, and drove home. I was feeling kind of bummed, and I knew I wouldn't want to wake up in the morning and have to do speed work because I didn't get it done yesterday, so I started thinking of alternatives. Lately, I've been asking myself what I can do to give myself the confidence I need going into my goal 10K--and today, I decided to utilize the treadmill.

Since treadmill running feels easier to me than outdoor running, I figured I would give it my all and see if I couldn't run my goal 10K pace for an entire 10K distance on the treadmill! I set up some random movie on Netflix to watch while I ran, and I set the speed at 7.6 mph (a 7:53/mile pace). I've done what Garmin has said to calibrate the 620 to my foot pod, but it always shows me as going faster than the treadmill says--I don't know which is correct, so for today, I decided I'd be safe and use the treadmill pace of 7:53/mile. (It turns out that the Garmin reads that speed as 7:30/mile--kind of a big difference! But without having my treadmill calibrated, I'll never know which is correct.)

Running at 7.6 mph actually didn't feel too bad! I tried to focus on the movie, but it was terrible and I wished I'd picked something else. But, I didn't want to stop to change it, and I was running too fast to change it mid-run, so I just dealt with the boredom.

I knew without a doubt that I could do 4 miles, because I have done 3.5 outside; so I just kept focusing on getting to that point. I even bargained with myself that I could quit at the 4-mile mark if I wanted. Physically, I felt really good--I knew that if I quit at mile 4, it would only be because I couldn't handle the mental challenge. The book that I've been reading about running by feel explains how to make yourself tougher for workouts, and that we are capable of much more than we think.

Since I wasn't watching the movie anyway, I just closed my iPad and focused on a spot on the wall (super exciting, I know!). I had my phone in the cup holder on the treadmill, so I turned on some Eminem for motivation. I imagined my body as a machine, just doing the same motion over and over, legs and arms pumping. I minimized any extra movement in order to save my energy (I noticed that when I closed my iPad, my heart rate went up because I was doing more than just running; same when I turned on the music--just fiddling with my phone caused me to use up extra energy).

Once I hit mile five, I knew I was going to finish. My Garmin was reading a 7:30 pace, which meant I would hit the 10K mark on my Garmin before the treadmill got there, so it was a bummer that I'd have to keep running even after I stopped my Garmin; but I wanted to make sure I got in all 10K at a sub-7:55 pace.

My Garmin beeped to signal mile 6, and then that last 0.22 seemed to take forever! Finally, I hit the 10K mark, and I stopped my Garmin. I had to keep running until the treadmill read 6.22, though, so it took a couple extra minutes. As soon as it read 10K, I stopped the treadmill and spent the next few minutes catching my breath. I gulped down a bottle of water, and it hit me then that I did it--I actually ran a 10K PR (even though it was on the treadmill). I don't "count" my treadmill runs as PR's, so to make it official, I have to do it in a race; but still, running it on the treadmill was just what I needed to boost my confidence some more.

Check out that vein in my forehead! Yikes.
The calorie burn on my Garmin is completely depressing--389 calories for that amount of effort?! I plugged in numbers to several different calculators online, and got everything from 400-750 (the most common being around 500). The burn on the Garmin is the lowest, but I'm assuming it's accurate because it uses my heart rate, weight, time exercised, etc. My heart rate was very steady throughout the run, and didn't have any big dips or rises that could throw off the data. I don't know--I just feel like I burned way more than that! ;)

My big race is in less than four weeks now--so I have three weeks to get as fit and confident as possible, and then one week of tapering before the big day. No pressure or anything ;)

Jerry's adventure in NYC

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Things around here were different, because Jerry was in New York City for four days visiting a friend. I missed him! Since I'm going to visit friends in Portland and Seattle next month, I wanted Jerry to take a trip of his own as well, and he decided to go to the city. He had a blast, and I'm so glad that he went.

I suggested to him that he try out a November Project workout on Friday morning. The November Project is a free, open-to-the-public exercise group that is now in several cities around the U.S. I did one of the workouts in Boston with bloggers who were invited to the Runner's World Heartbreak Hill Half in 2014. It was a super challenging workout, but the people were very quirky and I knew Jerry would fit right in to something like that. So, despite being out at the bar on Thursday night, he actually set his alarm for 5:30 to go to the workout on Friday morning. And he LOVED it. He said it was one of his favorite parts of the trip!

The November Project always does a group photo at the workouts

Playing "power walking" freeze tag
I knew that Ali, from Ali on the Run, does a lot of the November Project workouts, so I told Jerry to keep an eye out for her. I met Ali at a Runner's World blogger event in 2014, and she is super sweet. I've met a lot of well-known bloggers over the past several years at various events, and I was discouraged to find out that many of them are not how they appear on their blogs; but Ali is just as kind and funny and genuine in real life as she is on her blog. After the workout, Jerry texted me this picture:

He'd actually met her! Very fun. He was super sore after the workout, but he was determined to see the city, so he and Mike rented bikes to ride around for several hours.

He also did a ton of walking, and he managed to get 35,000-40,000 steps PER DAY for each day that he was there! The most I've EVER gotten was 35,000 (I didn't have a Fitbit yet when I did my marathons).

Anyway, even though Jerry was only gone for three nights, I missed him a lot (especially with all the pictures he was sending me) and it was nice to have him back home yesterday. I'm happy he had a great time, though! He deserved it.

Yesterday, I did a treadmill run at an easy pace for the first time in a while, and I was very surprised to see how much this heart rate training is working! Since I started heart rate training, and keeping my easy runs at a heart rate of 146 or less bpm, the pace I'm able to run has gotten quite a bit faster.

On December 27, 2015, I did an easy run on the treadmill. My average heart rate was 141, and my pace was 10:04. Yesterday, I did another easy run on the treadmill--my average heart rate was 140 bpm, and my average pace was 8:55! The treadmill feels much easier to me than running outside, so I know that I wouldn't be able to run 8:55 outdoors with that low of a heart rate, but in comparing the two treadmill runs, I was surprised to see over a full minute per mile improvement at the same heart rate!

I was looking through the data from 2013, when I was running my fastest, and I'm almost back to the fitness level I was at back then. In February 2013, I ran an 8:27 pace on the treadmill with a heart rate of 140 bpm. Even after my goal 10K, I'm going to continue training like this, because it's working so well (and I'm enjoying it!). Some days, it feels painfully slow to keep my heart rate low, but clearly, my fitness is improving. Someday, I hope to be able to run at about an 8:00 pace with a heart rate of 145 bpm.

I'll try and come up with some comparison data to write about soon. It's fun to see that this training method is working so well!

Long run with speed play

Yesterday was supposed to be a rest day. I planned on resting, but I started to get antsy to go for a run, which is kind of odd--I LOVE my rest days! ;) Since I've been trying to listen to my intuition as far as my running schedule goes, I decided to go ahead and run. At first, I thought I'd just do three easy miles, but it was super nice outside (chilly but sunny, and no wind), and the thought of doing a long run was actually appealing.

I asked the kids if they wanted to go with me (they could ride their bikes while I ran), and Noah wanted to. So we headed to Huroc Park, to take the path into the Metroparks. The last time we did this, it turned out to be a disaster--I planned to run 10 miles, but I just totally crashed at around mile 5.5. That was one of the worst runs I've ever had! I thought it would be kind of fun to run the exact same route, and see how I feel compared to last time (last time, it was crazy hot and humid, so it wasn't exactly a good comparison).

There were a TON of people fishing at the park when we got there. It was nice and sunny outside, so I'm sure they were taking advantage of the good weather as well. I decided to try something new for my long run, which was a workout I got from the 80/20 Running book. It's called "Long run with speed play", and you do 10 x 0.75 miles easy and 0.25 miles hard (a 10-mile run, with the last quarter of each mile run at a hard pace). I've never tried adding speed to a long run before, so it sounded interesting.

I started running at the park, Noah alongside me, and I could have sworn I was running a 10:30 or so pace, but when I glanced at my Garmin, I saw that it was much slower (even with my heart rate in the low 140's). I didn't want to push myself at all during the easy parts, because I wanted to save my energy for the hard parts, so I didn't really pay any attention to my easy pace after that.

Once I hit the 0.75 mark, my Garmin beeped to start running hard. I assumed my hard interval would be slower than usual as well, but I glanced down halfway through and saw my pace was in the 6:00's, so I slowed it down. But I basically ran comfortably hard for the whole thing, and I was happy to see that my times for quarter-mile intervals are still improving.

I wasn't really sure what to expect out of this workout, because I'd never done it before; but surprisingly, it wasn't nearly as hard as I imagined. Three quarters of a mile is a lot of time to recover from a hard quarter, and I ran at a very easy pace to recover.

We did an out-and-back route, so I ran out five miles and then turned around. I'd brought the pickle juice with me today, and the second I started feeling my ab muscles tightening up at around mile 5.5, I drank 2 ounces of the pickle juice. It may have just been a coincidence, but it worked--I didn't get the spasm.

I was surprised at just how good I felt during the entire run. The only parts that felt tough were the first minute or two after each hard interval, but I felt really good otherwise. The miles went by quickly due to the intervals. I finished up the last interval in Huroc Park, and had just completed 10 miles! I was very happy with how it went. I hit a great pace on my hard intervals, and other than a quick stop to down the pickle juice, never had to stop or walk. Woot! MUCH different than the last 10-miler I did on that path.

The average pace of my hard sections was 7:25, which is probably my best pace for 400-meter intervals so far this training period--and they were in the midst of a long run. Not what I expected! I don't think I'd want to do every long run with speed play, but it was a fun change up from the norm, and I would do it again. There are a lot of great workout ideas in the 80/20 Running book, so I'm going to continue to try some out now and then.

Losing weight while traveling

Lately, I've been getting up at around 4:00 every morning. I don't set an alarm to get up that early, but apparently, my body is ready to start the day at that ungodly hour. I don't even feel tired, though--I wake up and I'm ready to jump out of bed! 

It's been kind of nice to relax under the electric blanket, have a cup of tea, and reply to emails or something when the house is so quiet. This morning, I updated my SparkPeople page, and I started reading some of my old blogs on SparkPeople (there aren't many). I came across one that kind of impressed me--I had totally forgotten that I used to do this before a trip! The title of the post is "Losing Weight on Vacation". When I was losing weight in 2009-2010, I actually went on four trips and lost weight on each of them. 

This post was written in July 2010, and my views have changed a bit since then, but I still thought this might be worth reposting. Currently, I think that vacation is a great time to enjoy local food and splurge a little (key word being "little")--but there is a way to stay balanced without going totally overboard. 

I've gone on a couple of trips since I started calorie counting, and I handled it well! I usually choose one meal to spend most of my calories on for the day, and I eat lightly for the other two meals (maybe something I've packed ahead of time, or just something small that I buy while I'm there). Choosing one meal to splurge on each day is a nice way to get to try local food, and enjoy vacation, but not stuff myself like it's my last day on earth ;)

I also ask myself, "Is this something I could eat at home?"; and if it is, then I usually pass. Why spend my splurge calories on a regular old pizza, when I could try amazing seafood in Key West, delectable New England Clam "Chowda" in Boston, or rich cheesecake in NYC? If the food is worth the splurge, and something I couldn't otherwise experience at home, then I will happily spend my calories on it.

You can't go to Key West without experiencing a Key Lime mojito!
This was Ada, Andrea, and me after Ragnar Florida Keys.

In 2009-2010, I was super-focused on my weight loss goals, so I was extremely prepared for trips (as you'll see below). While I don't think it needs to be quite so extreme, I thought some of these tips might come in handy for anyone who has to bring food along somewhere. 

(The most surprising thing about this post I wrote is that I actually ate YOGURT, my least favorite food on the planet--wtf?! I don't remember that--it must have been a short phase, haha). 

Anyway, without further ado, here is the post I wrote in July 2010 about losing weight on vacation...

July 24, 2010

Throughout my 11 months of weight loss, I've gone on 4 trips--and each trip, I went home a couple of pounds lighter than when I left. Staying on track while on vacation can be very difficult, especially if you're not prepared. But if you plan everything in advance, you never have to stray off of your weight loss plan. 

I don't treat vacation as a time to "cheat" or "relax my eating" or a "free-for-all". I count calories (or WW points) just the same as I do at home. At home, I don't eat out very often--so I make it a point not to eat out much while on vacation. The best way of doing this is to BE PREPARED.  

First, I know that we will be eating out once or twice... so before we leave, I research local restaurants to where we are going and I print off the nutrition info for that restaurant. I highlight a few things that fit into my plan, and I bring it to the restaurants with me, KNOWING what I'm going to order before I even walk in the door. 

If we are staying in a hotel, I call the hotel beforehand to ask if our room has a refrigerator and/or microwave, so that I know what I have to work with as far as food goes. 

For the meals we eat at the hotel (or wherever we are staying), I prepare my own "convenience" foods. You know I'm a HUGE fan of oats, and I eat oats every single day in one form or another. Lately, I've been eating them uncooked, mixed with plain, fat free yogurt, and some yummy mix-ins like chocolate chips, coconut, walnuts, muesli, etc). To prep these, I weigh out 40 grams of oats, and weigh out any dry ingredients I want--throw it all in a baggie, and it's ready to go. All I have to do is add 4 oz. of yogurt and it's a meal. I write on the baggie how many WW points or calories are in that baggie, so I don't have to look it up later. 

"Instant" oats--Just add yogurt (or milk)

I bought a bunch of little plastic cups with lids (2 Tbsp. size, and 2 oz size) from Gordon's Food Service. In those, I weigh out portions of peanut butter, Nutella, almond butter, PB2, etc. I write the number of WW points or calories on the lid and it's a single serving ready to go. I can make PB&J sandwiches with the PB already measured out, or I can use the PB as a dip for baby carrots (a favorite snack of mine). I can eat the Nutella on a banana, or a english muffin. 

PB2, Nutella, peanut butter

I also made some convenient lunch bags--Taco Style Lentils & Brown Rice. In a quart-size ziploc bag, I measure out: 3/4 cup lentils, 3/4 cup Uncle Ben's brown rice, 1 Tbsp. chili powder, 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. onion powder, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, and a couple of beef bouillon cubes. All I have to do with that is add 4 cups of water, bring it to a boil, and let it simmer for 35-40 minutes, and I have lunch for four people. 

Taco Style Lentils & Brown Rice

When we get to our destination, I like to go to a grocery store and buy the parishables that we'll need--fruit like bananas and apples, almond milk, baby carrots, bread or english muffins, etc.  

Before we leave for vacation, I'll sometimes make sloppy joe meat or taco meat and freeze it. Then when it's time to leave, I put it in a cooler and we can use the microwave at the hotel to reheat and that's dinner. 

As far as drinks... I know that vacation is time for relaxing, so if that includes alcohol, you can prepare yourself in advance for that as well. I used to love margaritas--and I'd always order those huge fish-bowl size ones. Little did I know that a margarita is one of the highest-calorie cocktails you can order! You can drink light beer all day long for the same number of calories in one of those margaritas. I prepare for this by picking a "go-to" drink--in my case, I choose a very light beer like Beck's Light or Bud Select 55, or a 5 oz glass of wine--and I stick with that, counting the calories. If you reeeally want a cocktail, just do your research before you go. Look up the calories in a few favorite cocktails and just make sure you keep track of how many you have! ;) 

This counts as ONE beer, right? ;) In Portland, it does!

So, the whole point is, if you really prepare, you CAN stay on plan on vacation. You just have to do some research about where you're going, and get a little creative. But think how happy you'll be to come home LIGHTER than when you left! 

In combining those past ideas with current thoughts, I think staying on track while traveling all comes down to preparing and planning ahead, but allowing yourself the freedom of enjoying some things you wouldn't otherwise get to experience!

Week 30 Weigh-in

Wow, it's been 30 weeks since I started counting calories? It seems like it was just a month ago! I've now been on maintenance for 15 weeks, and I'm kind of stunned at how well I'm doing. I never expected to struggle as little as I have, let alone get under my goal weight. I'm not saying that it's been easy, but it definitely feels much easier than the last time I hit my goal weight.

I got a new scale last week, and I actually really love it! I have been SO attached to my Health O Meter for over a decade, because it was just so reliable; even after trying other scales, I would go back to the Health O Meter each time. Now, I think I've found a winner!

Just for this week, for comparison's sake, I'll weigh in on both scales. Today's weight:

I was 122 again, on the Health O Meter, so I didn't gain or lose anything this week--great! As to how that compared to the new scale:

That said 123.8, so it's almost 2 pounds heavier than the Health O Meter. I did some experimenting to see which is correct, and I discovered something odd. When I would put a dumbbell on my Health O Meter, it would always read the correct weight of the dumbbell (my "accuracy" test), so I assumed it was accurate. The new scale gave the same exact reading for the dumbbell, meaning it was ALSO accurate. How could that be?

After a bunch of experimenting, I discovered that the more weight that is on the Health O Meter, the less accurate it gets... and at my weight, it's off about two pounds. I weighed myself before going to the doctor's office yesterday, and the doctor's scale read the same as this new scale. So, while I didn't gain any weight this week, I'm going to consider 123.8 my current (accurate) weight. (Interestingly, it's very likely that my starting weight was actually 255 or 256 and not the 253 my Health O Meter read).

Anyway, about the new scale... I originally saw it on Instagram, and the girl using it had a discount code, so I thought I was getting it for a good deal at $50 ($64 after shipping). Turns out, you can get it much cheaper! It's called the Balance2 Digital Body Scale, and here is a link to the cheapest place I've found it online--it's $39 with FREE shipping (that's not an affiliate link, so I don't get anything for sharing. Just thought I'd save you $25 if you're looking for a new scale and like this one.) I think it's such a pretty scale, and I'm so glad that it's accurate and consistent!

This week, I ate an average of 1938 calories a day, so I think 1900-ish seems to be the number my body likes to maintain my weight.

I had a great week with my running--two 3+ mile runs at a sub-8:00 pace, which definitely helped with my confidence in going forward with my race training.

My 80/20 ratio (easy running to moderate-hard running) was slightly off, at 78/22, so this week, I'm going to try and add a little more easy running to get the ratio at 80/20. I really need to increase my long runs a bit, too--I'd like to get in a couple of 10+ milers before the race.

As far as my long-term goals go:

7,000+ steps 6+ days/week: I actually got in all 7,000 steps every day this week!

Staying binge-free: Today is Day 218, and I'm getting stronger by the day :) I'm now even able to keep Nutella and even ice cream in the house without so much as a thought of bingeing on it.

Trying one new recipe weekly: This week, I tried Crock Pot Sweet & Sour Meatballs. I love the kind of crock pot recipes that you just throw things in and then they are done when you're ready to eat. The only prep for this was to chop a green pepper and combine the sauce ingredients to pour into the pot. I had six meatballs with half a cup of rice, and it was 430 calories. The meatballs (and sauce) were very good! The whole family liked this recipe, and I'd definitely make it again.

Overall, awesome week and I hope to have a repeat of it next Wednesday!

32 days out!

My goal 10K is sneaking up so quickly! When I set this goal last year, I fully expected it to be a ton of work, but I knew I had enough time to do it if I really set my mind to it. Now, I am just four and a half weeks away, and I'm getting nervous!

Speaking of nerves, I went to the doctor yesterday to discuss my anxiety. My depression is under control right now, but my anxiety has been through the roof lately, and it's been causing me physical symptoms. I also wanted to ask her about the weird abdominal muscle spasms that I get when I run (which started in November).

I asked my plastic surgeon about them, and based on my description, she said it was very unlikely to be caused from the surgery I had five years ago. I also saw another doctor about a month ago, and she was stumped about them as well. They've been frustrating me so much, because there is no way of predicting when they're going to happen. Some runs are totally fine, and I don't get the spasms at all; but when I do get them, they pretty much knock me to my knees and it hurts just to walk.

Anyway, my doctor gave me some suggestions for handling the anxiety. I also made an appointment with a psychologist/therapist for Thursday. I'm really skeptical that it will help, but I'm willing to try anything at this point. About the muscle spasms, my doctor was really unsure about what it could be. She's very interested in sports medicine, and reads a lot about it, so she ended up suggesting that I try drinking pickle juice. I'd heard of this before, but I always assumed that it was just the salt that helped athletes, so I never tried it. My doctor said that it was actually something about the vinegar that helps stop muscle cramps almost immediately.

My issue is more of a spasm than cramps, but I figure that the pickle juice certainly can't hurt, so I might as well give it a try. Luckily, Eli LOVES pickles (as do I), so I bought an enormous jar of them at Sam's Club. I emptied out a couple of 5-Hour Energy bottles (the perfect size and container for a shot of pickle juice), so I'll fill them with the pickle juice and carry one with me on runs. They'll actually fit into my FlipBelt, so I won't even notice they are there--perfect!

Jerry came with me to my appointment, and we went to the running store to get him some running shoes. He's thinking about doing the Rock 'n' Roll Half in Virginia Beach when we go in September, so he's been getting back into a running routine. It was SO nice outside yesterday, and it really felt like spring. We got our first McD's cone of the year, and it was the perfect way to spend 170 calories!

I've been making my way through Matt Fitzgerald's book RUN: The Mind-Body Method of Running by Feel, and some parts have really resonated with me. (It's meant for experienced runners to be able to listen to their intuition when it comes to a running plan/schedule. Since my intuition has been doing very well with my weight maintenance and staying binge-free, it sounded good to me!) One of the things that I found really interesting is that the best type of training workout is what will make you feel most confident going into your race--if you truly believe that you're going to hit your goal, then you probably will; but if your training doesn't give you that confidence, you will have a very hard time hitting your goal.

The training plan that I'm following now (the RunBritain plan for a sub-50 10K) is the exact opposite of confidence-building for me. I enjoy the plan a lot, but I've been saying all along that it's against my intuition (namely because there are no real tempo runs, or longer runs at a harder pace), but I kept trusting the plan. Reading Fitzgerald's book makes me realize that maybe I should listen to my intuition and do the runs that build up my confidence the most. This isn't to say the training plan doesn't work--confidence-building runs vary by person--but I want to feel as confident as I can going into the race.

The workouts that make ME feel most confident going into a race are runs that I do at race pace--if I can do it in training, then I know I can do it in the race. That's not typical of most training plans. I also know that I get bored really easily, so I constantly feel a need to change things up. I always thought that was a bad thing, but the book made me realize that I can trust my intuition and change things up as often as I want while still training effectively. I don't have to have a set-in-stone plan; rather, I can have a basic structure and change things up based on how I'm feeling each day or week.

I've discovered recently that I really enjoy the 80/20 Running method, so I'll still stick with that ratio. But as far as the 20% of moderate to hard workouts go, I can change them up and do whatever sounds good to me. It's kind of exciting!

Since I'm down to the final month before my race, I want to build as much confidence as possible that I can hit this goal. The last three days I did easy runs, and today, I decided to do a race pace run. I wanted to aim for 3.5 miles today, since I did 3 miles last week. If I could do it, it would be the farthest I've ever run at a sub-8:00 pace.

As I started running, I started debating whether to do a tempo run (5 miles at 8:10-8:15 pace) or to do the 3.5 at race pace (7:55). After a half mile, my pace was under 8:00, so I decided to just go for the 3.5 at race pace. My first couple of miles were actually really great, and I hit 7:48 for each of them. The third mile was tougher, but I tried my best to keep going. Third mile was 7:51.

My 5K split actually would have been a 5K PR if I had been racing!

When I hit 3.5, I was so ready to be done ;) I stopped my Garmin and started walking. When I caught my breath, I checked out my splits and was very happy!

If I can build this race pace run up to 5.5 miles before the 10K, I will be super confident that I can hit my goal. I'm super excited for my trip, but nervous for the race itself!

2016 Kona Shamrock 10K race report

Today was the Shamrock Run in Plymouth. The last time I ran this 10K, I finished in 49:23, my current personal record. That day in 2013 was one of my most exciting running moments--I had no intentions of running sub-50, and I never even dreamed that would be possible. I just had a really great race that day!

Today, I wasn't planning to race hard. I had a long run scheduled for today, and Jerry's employer paid for this race, so I figured it would be a fun way to do my long run. Then Kendall (Nathan's girlfriend) said that she would be running it also, and it was her first official 10K--so naturally, I wanted to run with her!

She is training for the Martian Half Marathon next month, and had nine miles on her schedule today; so, she showed up early for the 10K, and ran miles before the start of the race. (In retrospect, she should have signed up for the double--the 10K and 5K, back-to-back.) After picking up my packet, I parked near the starting line and then went into Panera for some hot tea while I waited for the race to start, and Kendall met me there after her "warm-up" mileage.

Her long run pace is about 12:30/mi, so we lined up behind the 70-minute pacer. The race ended up starting 13 minutes late, and my toes were absolutely FREEZING from standing there. I just couldn't get warm! I was so happy when the race finally started.

We ended up running slower than Kendall's planned pace, because we were chatting the whole time. It was actually really enjoyable (it would have been more so if I'd dressed warmer). I hadn't seen Kendall in a while, so it was nice to be able to catch up.

As we were running, Kendall noticed that she would probably have to keep running after the finish line in order to get in nine miles, and she really didn't want to do that. So, we did something I've never actually done in a race before--we took a couple of detours on the course to ADD mileage to our race! We just did a couple of out-and-backs on side streets in a neighborhood, so that Kendall would hit the nine-mile mark before the finish line of the race.

This was her longest run to date (she did eight miles last week), and toward the end, she started struggling a little. Her goal was to run the whole race and not take walk breaks, so she was focused on that. She started talking about how she might get emotional when she crossed the finish line, because it's her first 10K. Nathan wasn't going to be at the finish line because he had work stuff to do, so I offered to run ahead to the finish line so I could get a picture of her at the end. When I thought I had half a mile to go (I forgot that I had added distance, so I actually had just under a mile to go), I sped up to make it to the finish line, get my medal, and then be ready to take a photo when Kendall got there.

Right before the finish line, I heard, "Hey Katie!" and it was Nathan! He'd showed up to surprise her, which was pretty awesome. I didn't notice while I was running through the finish, but Kendall's mom was there, too! She even snapped a picture of me just before I finished.

Always with my eyes closed! 

I didn't even stop to grab food or anything, I just got my medal, and then ran through the chute, looping back around to where Nathan was. I thought I would have more time, but Kendall came through just a couple of minutes later. She was really surprised to see Nathan--she said she noticed his shirt first, and thought, "Oh, Nathan has that shirt--I hope that's him!" and then she realized it was. I love this picture of her--she was so surprised!

Even though Kendall and I ran the first few miles slower than her projected pace because we were talking, she ended up finishing her nine miles with a 12:30-ish pace, so it all worked out well. And we had fun!

I'm super bummed I forgot to get a picture WITH Kendall after the race! We were chatting with Nathan and her mom, and it just slipped my mind. But she did really great, and I'm sure she's going to do well with her half-marathon (I wish I could be there, but it's the same day as my goal 10K). Thanks to running with Kendall, this was the most enjoyable run I've had in a while! The miles went by quickly. Here are my "official" results (for 6.2 miles, rather than 6.6, which is why there is a discrepancy between this and the Garmin):

I wish Nathan had told me he'd be there, because I would have stayed with Kendall through the end; but I wanted to make sure she'd have a picture of her first 10K. Seeing how surprised she was made it worth it, though ;)

Now, I don't have any more races scheduled until my goal 10K on April 10th. I'm thinking I may want to do a tune-up race in a couple of weeks (a 5K), but I'll have to see what races are going on. I get SO nervous in race situations that I'm afraid that's going to ruin my goal race. When I PR'ed the Shamrock in 2013, I felt NO pressure at all, because I was just running it "for fun". I always tend to do best when I don't have goals. I need to work on being less nervous on race day!