Its the MOST wonderful time of the year: Scavenger Hunt Recap

This past week has gone so fast! Jeff and I spent Christmas in Buffalo with my family, and although there was no snow (in Buffalo! for Christmas! Can you imagine?) it was still pretty easy to get in the Christmas spirit. I’d been ramping up all week with the Christmas Scavenger Hunt, and spending several days with family brought it all together. I didn’t get a ton of miles in (one per day to be exact, just to keep the holiday streak alive), but I did get some “cross training” at our annual family bowling competition. Unfortunately, I was unable to defend my title, and the Rudolph Cup has a new home for 2015.

2014-12-26 16.58.10Handing the trophy off to the new champ!

Now, speaking of the scavenger hunt, I said I was giving myself through the New Year to find everything on the list, but I feel like I’ve had enough time, so I’m calling it. Feel free to keep searching, if you’ve decided to play along!

I was looking for 8 items (some holiday in nature, and some tricky ones to keep me on my toes.) And here’s how I did:

SNOW

2014-12-24 16.38.20So lame. But, it’s still snow.

A CHRISTMAS TREE

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A HOLIDAY CHARACTER

2014-12-24 16.41.12Santa in his RV. Yeah, I don’t know either.

 A SNOWMAN

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A DECORATED HOUSE

2014-12-22 18.51.53So Awesome.

 AN OUT OF SEASON DECORATION

2014-12-24 16.33.46Someone forgot to peel the witch off their tree!

 SOMEONE WEARING SHORTS OR SANDALS

2014-12-24 16.44.40Yeah, that’s me, big ol’ cheater.

I did not find a runner wearing red or green. I didn’t actually see another runner at all. I’m sure they were there, but I mostly only ran a single mile at a time, so that didn’t give me much time to see anyone else. I could have worn red or green myself, but I thought I should probably only count myself for one item. 🙂

All in all, not too bad. Getting back to scavenger hunting was pretty fun, too.

Did you have a good holiday? Find any items on the Scavenger Hunt List? 

How to get a lot of likes from travel bloggers

After I posted my Cape Cod marathon recap, I immediately started getting more likes than I normally do, and from new readers. As I checked out these other bloggers, I started to notice a theme…they were all travel blogs. Hmmm…that’s odd. And then I had a realization. I had categorized my post under “travel” because I had traveled to the race. This must have led all these travel bloggers to my post. I think this is really cool, and I will now be using a “Running” category on every post. It’s kind of funny, though because I didn’t actually talk about travel AT ALL in my post. Haha.

After all that, I thought I should write a little about the Cape and our travel experiences. I thought the best way to do this would be to make up a quick travel survey to fill out.

BARE BONES TRAVEL SURVEY

  • Location: Cape Cod, Falmouth, MA
  • Time of Year: Late October
  • Length of Stay: Not Quite 2 days, 1 night

Where’d You Stay? At the beach! Seacrest Beach Hotel. The hotel was nice, and had an off season discount, but I wasn’t super impressed. The pictures on the website are nicer than the actual rooms, and it was a bit more expensive than I felt was worth it given that it’s not beach season, but it wasn’t out of line with the area. In context of the race, the hotel was about a 15 min drive from the start/finish, and it was one of the very few (only?) hotels that didn’t have a 2 night minimum.

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The hotel beach

How’d You Get there? Drove. We had no problems with traffic, but I know it gets very backed up during the summer.

What/Where did you Eat? I purposely tried to eat “boring” things before the race, so I’m not going to comment on this one. It could give the wrong impression. 😉

Any Must See Sites/Attractions? The beach!  Specifically, the Lighthouse was spectacularly beautiful with the ocean in the background. (Mom, I know you’re laughing because of all the complaining about our lighthouse visits when I was a kid.)

lighthouse

Picture from the race facebook page. It’s even more beautiful in person!

Cranberry bogs being harvested. This was just so cool. You’ll have to visit in the fall though if you want to catch the harvest.

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Where cranberries come from.

What was the weather Like? Highs in the low 60s, sunny, and very windy.

What was the Running Like? Beautiful views, and the race was very well organized. Outside of a race, I’d stick to the beach front area, and maybe check out the bike path. There are a lot of blind curves on some of the inland roads and this was also were most of the really tough hills were.

Would you go back? Yes, but probably not during the summer….I’m not a “hanging out on the beach” person, and there’d be too many people, I think.

Did you know that categories actually did something?

Have you been to Cape Cod?

Any other questions I should answer?

2014 Cape Cod Marathon Recap

In which the weather is incredibly windy, the course is excessively hilly, and I run MUCH slower than I have in any of my long runs, but all is not lost as I still manage to finish with a smile on my face.

**Warning: this is a long one, maybe grab some snacks…I recommend Cape Cod potato chips and Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice


This recap isn’t the most exciting one to write because my performance on Sunday was pretty disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy that I finished and I very much enjoyed the beauty of the course, but I think I should have been able to run a faster marathon.  The course, described on the race website as “challenging”, was much more difficult than I anticipated even with that warning, and the goals/paces I had in my mind throughout training were not really realistic. I think that’s what really bugged me. Not that I ran the time that I did (5:31:??), but that it was so far off from what I anticipated (< 5 hours).

Okay, enough of that pity party…let’s talk about the good stuff!

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Saturday was my first trip to the cape. And since it’s October we got to stay right near the beach and pay off season prices! Win!

The race is held in Falmouth, which is about a 2 hour drive from our house, so Jeff and I got a hotel for the night before and called the weekend a “mini vacation”.  Neither of us have been to Cape Cod before,  so we headed down early on Saturday so we could do some exploring. I use the term “exploring” loosely since we mostly did race related activities: packet pickup and driving the course. But we also made it over to the beach for a bit of a walk before the wind blew us back inside the hotel.

The race expo wasn’t anything to write home about, except for the way they did the shirts. When I picked up my number I was given a coupon for a free cotton race t-shirt. OR I could use that coupon for $15 towards an upgraded version of the shirt. And they were printing (silk screening?) the shirts right there. After much deliberation I decided to go for an upgraded shirt. While I don’t mind cotton race shirts, I DO prefer a shirt that fits properly. So I opted for a neon yellow moisture wicking shirt that was available in a woman’s size. I loved the way they did this. I now have a shirt I love and will wear.

#1 reason to finish the race was so I could wear my awesome shirt

After visiting the expo, walking around main street, and grabbing lunch we hopped back in the car to drive the race course. You pretty much already know how I felt about that because I freaked out after and posted about it. I’m glad I saw the course before hand and was able to readjust my goals a bit, but it was SCARY. I pretty much wanted to just go home and not run the race after I saw what I was in for, but we’d already paid for the hotel room, and I wanted to be able to wear that awesome shirt.

Cranberry bogs! I was really looking forward to seeing these, and got a nice good look on Saturday as well as Sunday.

By race morning, I had managed to somewhat pull myself together. I decided to stay focused on my goal of enjoying myself, and try not to worry about my time.  My top priority was to go out slow, but I planned to keep an eye on my pace in case things ended up going better than expected. With a new plan, and some pep talks by Jeff and the rest of my fan club (Jeff’s parents and sister), I was definitely feeling less terrified by the time I got to the start.

The Before Shot

And then, we were off! The race started downtown, and then wound around some residential areas, before heading out to the ocean. I spent these first 3 to 4 miles keeping my pace in check, and enjoying the surroundings. Unfortunately, I had some pretty bad side stitches at this point, but I tried to think positively that this would deter me from starting too fast. That mental game seemed to work as I was about 30 seconds slower per mile than my training run pace and was all smiles when I saw my fans for the first time!

Big smiles around mile 3.5!

By mile 5, the side stitches had worn off, but that didn’t change my pace, and I continued to run at a pretty steady 11:30/mile for almost the entire first half of the race. According to the elevation profile, miles 5 to 12 were a steady incline. While I noticed rolling hills starting at mile 8, I didn’t feel like I was climbing before that. In retrospect, I’m guessing that my legs noticed even if I didn’t at the time. By mile 12, I wasn’t happy with how I was feeling. I’d been running slow and steady like planned, I’d fueled appropriately, and had seen my fan club three times! I should have had an excess of energy at that point, but I didn’t. So at the half way point I decided to throw out all time goals, and just keep moving forward with a smile.

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A couple of signs…just for me!

Then after seeing my fan club again (seriously, they were EVERYWHERE..it was AMAZING), at around 15.5 miles, I changed up my strategy a bit more. The serious hills were getting started at this point, and I was really wondering how I’d make it another 10+ miles. So, I decided to run/walk up the hills. I started with a run a minute/walk a minute strategy, but for the most part I was able to run longer than a minute before I wanted/needed to walk. Even with this new plan, this part of the race was very difficult. It was so hilly, and with the wind constantly blowing in my face, I was starting to get a bit chilly. I just kept thinking about my fan club waiting for me at mile 19, where I’d turn back towards the ocean (and out of the shade), and that got me to put one foot in front of the other. 

Finally back in the sun! I think I’m waving and not hitting myself in the face.

Once I made it back to the ocean, I knew the worst of the hills were over. Don’t get me wrong, there were still more hills, but at least they would be further apart, and I could enjoy some sunshine and ocean views while running up them. And that’s pretty much how the remainder of the race went. I continued to do run/walk (all the time now, not just on the hills), and I enjoyed the scenery and smiled like crazy every time I saw my fan club (another 3 times I think it was). Finally, at mile 24, the course flattened back out, and I plodded along back to main street.

Where I FINALLY, after five and a half hours, crossed the finish line! 

I was very excited to receive my first ever space blanket!

Overall, I had a pretty good day. Like I said before, I was disappointed in my time, but I kept moving forward, and enjoyed everything I could. I had some awesome fans, and the course really was super nice to look at. I even got an oreo frappe right after the race, and it was quite delicious. I don’t regret signing up for this particular marathon, but I think that from now on, I’ll stick to marathons that don’t call themselves “challenging”.

IMG_20141026_140651344_HDR

Me and my biggest fan!

Recovery Week: Adventures in Western Mass.

Last week for me was a recovery week (sort of). I built in a few rest/step back weeks into the long run plan I made up because whenever I’m adding miles, I like to have a few weeks here and there that I get a break. And, last week was a perfect time for this because Jeff had some time off work and we went adventuring out in Western Mass.

It wasn’t a true recovery week though, because I squeezed in some speed work before we left. I just decided last weekend to add speed work into my training plan, and I didn’t want to quit that before I even started. So Monday morning I did a tempo run, then Tuesday an easy run before we left on our adventure.

While out in Western Mass. I didn’t do any running, but there was still a lot (in my opinion) of activity. (Cross-training, woo!). On Tuesday we visited Historic Deerfield Village, the Yankee Candle Store/Village, and the Bridge of Flower in Sherbourne Falls.

Historic Deerfield is a section of Main Street that has several old homes from the 1700s preserved and furnished as they would have been back in the day. It was interesting to see, and we learned a few fun facts (this area is good for growing broom corn, adults with tuberculosis used to be kept in adult cradles to make them easier to care for, and people would put beds in pretty much any room of the house – kitchen included).

Stebbens-House

Photo of Stebbins House from Historic Deerfield Website. Click photo to visit website.

After Historic Deerfield, we went to the Yankee Candle Village store. This place was HUGE! There were tons of candles (obviously), but also a lot of other stuff. They have a whole Christmas section w/ decorations and ornaments, and a room where it SNOWS EVERY 4 MINUTES! And they also have housewares, and toys, and make your own candles. Just a lot of stuff, really.

2014-07-15 16.52.15

After candle world, we stopped in Shelbourne Falls to see the Bridge of Flowers before heading to our hotel. It’s an old (out of use) train bridge that is landscaped every year to be covered in plants and flowers. I hear there’s a 5k/10k, but it doesn’t actually go over the Bridge because it’s too narrow. I’m not sure I’d add this to my race bucket list, but the area is nice enough to make it worth a short trip.

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There should be more bridges like this.

From the Bridge of Flowers, we picked up some food for dinner and headed to our hotel. We had a pretty low key night and got to bed early because we needed to be up early again on Wednesday morning for more fun!

On Wednesday we went zip lining in the morning and kayaking on the Deerfield river in the afternoon. Both were super fun and we ended up being the only two people on both tours! I’ve never kayaked anywhere with a current/”rapids” before this and I really liked it. I enjoyed just floating down the river on the gentle parts and when I wasn’t worried about hitting a rock and falling in, the rapids were fun, too.

After cleaning up from those two activities, we went out for dinner and then ice-cream before heading back for another early night. We wanted to be well rested for another early morning of adventuring.

Thursday morning we hiked a trail at the Western Summit of the Hoosac range. It was a beautiful day, and once I stopped freaking out about being in close contact with so much nature, it was pretty nice. We hiked up to Spruce Hill, which really wasn’t much of anything. There wasn’t even a view, so it was pretty anticlimactic. Luckily there were a few other spots to check out the view because I would have been pretty annoyed; I mean, isn’t the view a big part of why you hike up a mountain?

2014-07-17 10.24.25

From a Vista that was not at the top of so called Spruce Hill.

The hike ended up being 5.5 miles and taking us 3 hours round trip. It was a pretty good workout and I’m glad the weather cooperated, and that for the most part any bugs left us alone. I don’t think we would have completed the whole hike otherwise.

After our hike, instead of heading directly home we stopped over in Connecticut for some casino gambling. Although we didn’t win big (someday!), we didn’t bankrupt ourselves either, and we had a lot of fun. I can’t really explain why I think the casino is fun, even when I don’t win, but it was. And after a few days being all outdoorsy, it was a nice change of pace.

By the time we got home on Friday, I was tuckered out. It was a pretty active week, even with 3 days in a row of no running! For the most part, I usually am pretty good about running on trips, and have done a few running tours that were super fun parts of vacation, but on this little adventure, it made more sense to enjoy some other activities. So that’s what I did.

Do you run on vacation? Do you feel guilty if you don’t? What if you’re doing a lot of other physical activities?  

What’s Up? Niawanda Park, Easy Running, Intervals

Hey, it’s Thursday! When did that happen? I’m still a little behind from my short trip, I guess.

Let’s talk about running!

Last Thursday Jeff and I hopped in our car and shuffled off to Buffalo. I made sure to get as many of my planned weekly runs in before we left so that Thursday could be a rest day and we could spend several hours visiting Baby C (our new niece!) immediately upon our arrival.  It’s a nice thing about my training plan that it doesn’t matter which days of the week I do which runs, so I can mix it around and then spend 8 hours in a car followed by 6 hours on a couch holding a tiny two and half week old baby.

2014-06-05 18.45.27

I hate to say it, but: more fun than running!

Because I front loaded my week with running, I only had one run to complete while visiting the City of Good Neighbors. My schedule called for a 45 min run at a medium pace/effort. It was technically my long run for the week, but my long runs aren’t currently very long (I ran longer in my speed work on Wednesday), so I’m not really sure what to call it.

Normally when I run from Mom’s house I just run around the neighborhood, but this time I wanted to get a little more scenic. So, Jeff and I made the short trip over to Niawanda Park to run along the Niagara River. And, scenic is just what we got. It really is beautiful over there.

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That water’s heading to the falls, folks!

We started out running towards the Grand Island bridge, I thought this direction was more scenic than running towards the Canal, but it resulted in us running into a pretty decent head wind.  Along with the dead legs feeling I have at the beginning of most runs, this had me feeling like I was running in molasses. We ran along the path for 25 minutes and then turned around, I think we also took a walk break sometime in the first half and/or around the turnaround point. The sun was feeling hot, and neither of us were feeling very fast.

After turning around, I slowed us way down for about a half mile. My super easy pace is uncomfortably slow for Jeff to run, so normally when we run together I try to limit the amount of time spent at that speed, but I just knew that if I could only slow down for a bit things would turn around. And it worked, when we picked up speed again, I finally started to enjoy the run.

I even felt up to snapping a picture!

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Look at this cute little bridge Jeff is running over!

The second half of our run felt like it went by much quicker, and we had picked up our pace for a decently quick last mile and a half. I’m glad the good half of the run was the second half. I wouldn’t have been in a bad mood if the whole run had felt hard, but it’s nice to finish on a high note.

Overall, I had a pretty good time running along the river. The view was nice, and of course I was reminded of all the times I had walked down/around there as a kid with family and summer camp. There weren’t too many other people out because it was Friday, but I imagine it might get busier on the weekends. The path is pretty much dead flat (as is most of the area), so there were no uphills to whine about or downhills to give me a little oomph!

I would definitely run here again when I’m in the area, especially if I have a longer run on the schedule. The one complaint I had was that there weren’t enough trees. I suppose they might block the view a bit or get in the way of some of the open spaces, but I know we both would have appreciated some more shade on the path.

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After running last Friday, I didn’t run again until Tuesday. We got back home late Sunday night, and I was too busy missing my little BFF (baby C) to get a run in on Monday. Tuesday’s run was an “easy” 25 minutes. Easy is in quotes because I didn’t really take it easy – effort wise at least. I think I need to do a better job of warming up and starting slowly, so my legs don’t feel like concrete blocks so often.

Then, yesterday, I ran intervals. It wasn’t the first time I’ve run intervals, but it was a first in a few different ways:

1. It was the first time I had run 800m intervals. In the past, I’ve done 400s on a regular basis, and last week I did 8 minute intervals, but this was my first time with 800s. It was tough!

2. It was the first time I ran measured intervals on the road rather than a track or treadmill. Our local track was redone a year or so ago, and now there are ALWAYS people using it in such a way that I cannot. Harumph! I mean people playing sports on the field in the middle and watching from the bleachers outside the track and/or standing on the track, or people from the high school track team using it for practice. So it’s not as available as it used to be. I didn’t even bother checking it out yesterday, I just decided to run my intervals on the road.

I picked a long straight stretch of road that’s about a mile long and ran back and forth until I was done (4 intervals). I wasn’t really sure what pace to run the intervals at because the road is not flat. I tried to stay in the 8’s and I think that worked for the most part, although it’s hard to tell if I stayed consistent over all 4 intervals because my speed was impacted by the inclines and declines. My overall pace, including warm-up and 3 minute recovery, came out to 9:45/mile. This is a bit slower than I’d like, but hopefully I’ll improve.

And, that brings us up to date on my running adventures. Next week we should be back to our regularly scheduled programming.*

*In case you noticed that this is not a Throwback Thursday post and you are concerned (not sure why you would be, but just in case), let me explain. I love and am excited about writing the Throwback Thursday posts, and they will continue, just not today. I had some more recent runs to recap.

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Okay, one last picture with Baby C because it’s my blog and I said so! You can’t tell but her onesie says “Auntie is the Best” (that’s me – auntie…bet you can’t guess who got her that!)

 

Spring 1/2 Training: Week 11

Week 11 is now behind me, leaving me with only one more long run before the race. I wish I could say that I feel like I’m going to kill that two hour time goal, but that would be a lie. Instead, I’m contemplating what my other goals for this race can be so that I still feel accomplished when I finish slower than I’d like. 

This doesn’t mean I had a bad week, on the contrary look at all the stuff I did: 

  • Monday: Travel day. I took almost every conceivable mode of transportation (car, plane, shuttle bus, subway, feet – walked, and train), but no running. 
  • Tuesday:  3 mile easy run outside with Jeff. No watch, but I was using the charity miles app so I know it was something under 10 min/mile. Being able to use Charity Miles again is one definite plus to running outside.
  • Wednesday: 45 minute tempo run (treadmill). As far as speed work goes, I much prefer intervals. Ended up with 4.8 miles, so even during speed work I’m a bit shy of that 9 min/mile average I’m hoping for on race day. This is why I have my doubts. Also, stretching and foam rolling.
  • Thursday:  5 mile easy run out to Salem. There were hills and a bridge and beaches and Jeff. It was pretty nice. Ended up around 10 min miles with a tad bit of walking and some stopping for traffic lights. I think it’s key that I start slow at my race. That seems to really help me make it through the run at a decent pace.
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Not a bad view.

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Look I got my finger in both shots!

  • Friday: I did it! I did my pace run, and I succeeded! 5 miles in 44:36, that’s 24 seconds to spare, even! I had pretty much given up hope of succeeding on one of these pace runs.  Silly me. I guess there’s still a chance I’ll get my sub-2 hour half. I just have to keep up that pace for twice as far, and then a 5k. Piece of cake!
CIMG0546

Mmmmm…Cake!

Oh, also, I had a pretty impressive dance party after the pace run success. Unfortunately, I skipped spinning in the morning in order to keep my legs fresh for the pace run attempt. 

  • SaturdayI set out on my long run of 12 miles, but decided to cut it short at the halfway point and finished only 6.34 miles.  My legs were BEAT. I clearly should have waited until Sunday morning to try the long run. And I knew that at the time, but mentally I was ready for it, so I went anyways. Oh well. I know I could have finished out the 12, but I just wasn’t having any fun. It was cold and windy and a little wet, and my legs were so tired from running the previous 4 days. I guess this is the beauty of this training schedule I made, it was my second 12 mile run, so I didn’t feel horrible about going home when my legs were done.
  • Sunday: Much needed rest day. Stretching and foam rolling.

This is how I did on my goals last week:

  1. Long Run: 12 miles – Did 6.34 miles
  2. Speed Work – 45 min tempo run Check!
  3. Easy Runs: (2) – 3 mile + 5 mileCheck!
  4. Pace Run: 5 mile Check!
  5. Strength – Once – Nope..so, bad at this.
  6. Stretch & Foam Roll – 2 times Check!
  7. Spinning Once Skipped

Once again, I didn’t get all my goals. It’s a high bar I set for myself. 😉

This week I’m hoping to:

  1. Long Run: 13 miles
  2. Speed Work – 10x400m intervals
  3. Easy Runs: (2) – 3 mile + 5 mile
  4. Pace Run: 3 mile
  5. Strength – Once
  6. Stretch & Foam Roll – 3 times
  7. Spinning Twice

 

Spring 1/2 Training: Week 10

I can’t believe I’ve been training for 10 weeks. This is a long training plan! I think I made it this way because I was excited to get started. Ha! 

Here’s how week 10 went:

  • Monday: 3 mile easy run followed by spinning. Also, stretching and foam rolling. 
  • Tuesday:  Jeff and I planned to run together tonight, and despite neither of us feeling like it we got all dressed up for intervals at the track. Unfortunately, when we drove over to the track we found it was taken by the high school track team. We then decided to do a short run from home instead. However, we still weren’t feeling it and after stepping out into the wind we quickly headed inside in favor of dinner and a few episodes of Friends. (Am I a bad runner if I find this more funny than guilt inducing?)
  • Wednesday: Did my intervals that I skipped on Tuesday. I REALLY didn’t want to go, but Jeff sort of dragged me with him to the gym. It turned out to be a great workout, so I’m pretty grateful that he didn’t give in to my whining. On another note, I really like intervals. They feel easier than just a regular 4 mile run. Think I can do intervals for the whole race?
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I love intervals!

  • Thursday:  Took the night off to get ready for my weekend trip to Buffalo.
  • Friday: Traveling and visiting with family, no running.
  • Saturday: Baby shower day for my sister, again no running.
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Shower success!

  • Sunday: After talking with a few people, I decided to do my long run on the trail by the Niagara River.  Unfortunately, because it’s Buffalo and Spring is not coming this year, there were 3″ of snow on the ground when I woke up. After dawdling as long as I could, I finally forced myself on to my mom’s treadmill for 12 miles. I didn’t really feel like running (theme of the week), but again, once it started, I was fine and had a good time. I even ended up with negative splits!
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Oh, hello there March 30th.

This is how I did on my goals last week:

  1. Long Run: 12 miles Check!
  2. Speed work – 9x400m Check!
  3. Easy Runs: (2) – 3 mile + 5 mile – 3 mile yes, 5 mile no
  4. Strength – Once – Still have a wrist problem, but shouldn’t be failing so badly at this
  5. Stretch + Foam Roll – 3 times – Only once
  6. Spinning Once Check!

This week I’m hoping to:

  1. Long Run: 12 miles
  2. Speed Work – 45 min tempo run
  3. Easy Runs: (2) – 3 mile + 5 mile
  4. Pace Run: 5 mile
  5. Strength – Once
  6. Stretch & Foam Roll – 2 times
  7. Spinning Once

One of these weeks, I’m going to meet all of my goals, but it certainly wasn’t week 10. I’m happy with how I did though, considering I was doing a bunch of last minute baby shower planning and then traveling to Buffalo. In addition to that, my motivation to workout was definitely lacking this week, so I consider everything I did an extra little victory.

Do you ever have weeks like mine, where everything is 10 times harder to do than normal? I tend to give in and skip some workouts, but not all of them. I find that taking it easy on weeks like this can help me get my motivation back quicker, but it’s good to have some workouts to look back on that were hard to start but turned out good.