Reach for the Stars

I recently caught myself using the phrase “I may never run again”. The weight of that short statement was not so obviously downtrodden until it was the time of year where my favorite shoe company releases a new iteration of my go-to shoe style.

If you’ll recall (new readers may not know this), I won a contest in 2020 titled the 20 Year Drop. Essentially, Brooks Running supplies with me a free pair of shoes each year for 20 years. Wow, right?! This is my only claim to fame, but I’m claiming it forever! My favorite shoe is the Adrenaline GTS. Each year, I receive a new pair as the contest winner. However, pandemic and supply chain issues have caused a slight problem with my ability to locate the newly released Adrenaline GTS 22’s. They were advertised online, but out of stock at my local Academy and even on the Brooks Running website, as well as Amazon. Figures. I had resigned myself to not needing any new shoes because I’m doing a whole lot of no running right now.

And then this happened.

L: 22 R: 21

I was wandering around an Academy in a different part of the world (not exactly) and stumbled upon these. Two pairs of shoes flew into my cart. The rest is history. Ok, not exactly. But kind of. I successfully located my size in the new 22’s; then, I found my size in a pair of 21’s. Stars: aligned. Thank goodness for shoe money. The fun part of this whole expedition is, unbeknownst to me, the 21’s were nearly half price at checkout. I don’t question these things! Stars, remember?!

So allow me to land this plane. As I slipped my feet into the Adrenaline GTS 22’s, I felt the SPARK. You know…the one where you dream big and see yourself in front of millions of people singing on a stage! No? Really? Too far? Oh right, the plane. I felt that tingle of remembrance on what it feels like to run just to be running. Just because I can.

And I thought…Kel, you may never race again, but you will definitely run. And it can’t come soon enough!

______________________

I ask you –

Have you ever won a contest? Or lottery?

Where do you typically purchase shoes?

Name something you thought you’d never do but have been able to!

Year in Review

So as 2021 will be closing out in just a few days and I will be on my way to retrieve mini from her holiday, today is my – surely anticipated – year in review!

In actively trying to remember how many races I’ve run, I returned to admiring my medal and race bib holder. There’s a lot of jingle on that wall! Pre-pandemic, I was accustomed to training for and scheduling at least 2-3 half marathons per year. Since then, I’ve been extremely lucky to complete one per year. 2021 was a wash/rinse/repeat of 2020, but I don’t let it get to me. Sure, I could blame the lack of events for my injury (which makes no sense and still doesn’t make me feel better); however, one is more than none! Knowing I run much better in the cold, a December race just works for me. I tried to establish a base through the summer, but between the heat and the dreadmill, it sucked. Not only did my base not get built, in retrospect, perhaps I should have used that time to ensure I wasn’t dealing with an injury before I started fall training. One day I’ll learn the lesson the first time!

10 – is how many half marathons I’ve run. Technically, I only completed 9. But I’m still proudly saying 10! Never did get around to counting the assorted 5k and 10k medals. Instead, I took a trip down memory lane. It was fabulous! I have made some amazing friends who also run. I’ve talked to people from different areas and connected with them solely online. I even get super excited when they complete a race because sharing in another’s accomplishment is such a rush of emotion! There are people whom I still refer to as my running buddy, my coach, my mentor – life brings with it different seasons but those people stay in my heart. I imagine for forever. Running just does something wonderful for me.

Ok, moving on…

I love when an app puts numbers together for me! Sometimes I don’t number well on my own. What can I say? – I’m a writer, I like words! Since I won’t be running much (any) anytime soon, I shall live vicariously through my previous endeavors and your stories! Give me all the stories! Disclaimer: for 2021, I only started using Strava in April so this doesn’t include any miles I ran January – March.

thank you, Strava

Being uncertain of which of the past years have been my favorite, I am extremely grateful I chose running! Or maybe it chose me. There’s joy in the adventure running brings to me. It is a huge sense of accomplishment when you complete a run, no matter how fast or slow it was. Running gives back tenfold what you put into it. I want other sports to BE that for me; alas, I don’t know if it’s in the cards for the dream to ever be a reality. Time will tell. Some days I’m rushing to know; others are a slow crawl. Guess it just depends on the mood of the day. I’m anxious to ditch the brace and lace up my trusty running shoes, but I know it can’t happen. Yet.

_________________________

I ask you –

Anybody else love looking at their year’s stats?

Are you following me on Strava? Share your ID so I can follow you!

Goal time! Tell me what you have planned for 2022!

BMW Dallas Half Marathon Recap!

Let’s start off with the good stuff, shall we, on this edition of the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Yes, I met my goal of a 2:10 half marathon! Specifically, I ran 2:10:45 with an avg 9:58 pace. I asked my feet to fly and they did what I’d trained for with an 8 min PR! It was a lovely 35° at the start line – I met the most awesome people! My 2:10 pace crew also seemed nice.

Now the bad. Allow me to be a bit dramatic. My pacers were pushing us 20-30 seconds faster than what we were told we’d be running. I was able to stay with them the first 5 miles, then I dropped back. I don’t train to run non-stop. In fact, only one time have I ever run an entire half marathon without walking. It’s just not me. I’m super proud for holding on for 5 miles! But that wasn’t the plan. After the race was over, I remembered hearing pacers talk about this course “running long”, no pun intended, which means in order for pacers to lead their runners across the finish line in their prescribed time, the pacers were going to have to run faster. My unofficial course time was 2:12, but Garmin showed I ran my 13.1 in 2:10. Thank you, Garmin! Finally! I reject the course time.

So here’s the ugly. Because I spent the first almost half of the race running faster than I had trained for, miles 6-11 were brutal. The walking increased, even though I was still mostly holding on to a 9:45 pace. I began to favor my left hip/leg/hamstring/knee which caused a lot of pain in my right foot. So glad I decided to put BCAAs in my CamelBak and fuel with jelly beans. Even then, those middle miles felt awful.

pre-race injury treatment – long story for another day

Overall, course support was amazing! There were people giving out donuts, beer, mixed drinks, extra energy bars, and who knows what else. The water stops – though I used my own hydration – were frequent and plentiful. The bands on nearly every other street corner were more entertaining than anything I’ve seen in a Rock n Roll event. And those events should be bursting with music! Finish line food was great: pizza, tacos, bananas, enrrgy bars, more Gatorade, tons of chocolate milk, sweets; it was all incredible!

Morgan from Oregon kicked butt out there! She, too, dealt with the disappointment of a long course and too-fast pacers, but I think she rocked it! She’s got an upcoming 15k event and we’ve discussed a late summer run nearer to her so we’ll see.

At this moment, I’m retiring from the half marathon. Remind me next time I tell you all I want to race again!

_________________________

I ask you –

How was your weekend? Anything exciting?

Runners, do you write motivational things on your pace band, arm, etc?

Chance I’ll stay “retired”: 60/40

It’s Race Week!

Disclaimer: I didn’t bring my laptop to edit posts so I’m sure the photos below are not centered and are probably so large everyone in space can see them. Apologies.

Garmin conveniently says I’m in Recovery mode, but on Monday, it felt like anything but. The wind was 90,000 mph with a wind chill of 30-something°. I opted out of the optional 10 mins on the end of the run which gave me a solid 2.48 miles.

the gloves in my reflection saved my life!

More “recovery” work, even at a tempo pace. Seriously, Garmin, I don’t understand you. I suppose working harder than what is expected during the race could be considered a recovery. In some worlds maybe.

Final run before race day was as expected…I don’t know what I mean by that because I had no expectations. My hamstring was really bothering me, even with the medicinal regimen, but my plan is to power through it all and reach my goal. I’ll keep you posted.

Beautiful day!!

Tomorrow morning is the big day! I didn’t sleep well last night due to a comedy of hotel errors but tonight my plan is to get to bed early and rest up. I’m excited about an actual, real life expo because I realized I haven’t been to one of those since Morgan from Oregon and I ran NOLA in 2019! Time flies when you’re having fun (that’s my mantra for tomorrow!)

Hotel life

Final call: You can track me using this link (find my name – Kelly Atwell):  https://rtrt.me/ulink/RRSA/RRS-DALLAS-2021/tracker/RBRE5GLH/focus

Hope you all have an amazing day!

Race Weekend is Upon Us! + Track Me!

You can track me using this link (find my name – Kelly Atwell): https://rtrt.me/ulink/RRSA/RRS-DALLAS-2021/tracker/RBRE5GLH/focus

I love races with real time tracking! There’s many cool things about tracking race participants, notably finding out if they finished, but also being able to receive real time stats (that’s my favorite!). And who doesn’t love a good stalker app. It’s literally permission to stalk someone. So weird.

So I don’t have a “real” post for today – this might be the only time I’ve ever said that. I’m really excited to race and then take an extended, forced break. More on that later. On Sunday afternoon’s drive home, I’ll re-cap the race, load photos, and give you all the ins/outs of racing the BMW Dallas Half Marathon for Monday’s post. I’ve tried to take it easy this week – doubling down on low stress, stretching religiously, eating well, and sleeping more to ensure I can meet my goal.

It may not be much to anyone else, but to me this goal is doable and a long time coming. I’ve really put my body to the test during this cycle – never before have I been so cognizant of tempo runs, cadence workouts, strides, and progression runs. Some of those have become dirty words in my vocabulary!

Wish me luck!

___________________

I ask you –

What are you currently training for?

How often do you use tempo and progression runs in your training?

Give me some words to use when it gets hard!

Wk 14, HM Training

Officially on the next-to-last week! My goals are to survive two full days of training mid-week, begin a successful taper, and end the week with a long conference.

Garmin says Monday’s 4 miles is just maintaining, so whatever. I think it was a solid effort!

Since the two days of training got cancelled, I went back outside for a tempo run on Tuesday. At first, I was disappointed because I only ran 2 miles, but then I realized it wasn’t so much about the miles…it was about the pace (avg 9:15-9:35). Duh, tempo run.

And THIS! 48 VO2 max!!

Did some cadence work on Thursday, then my final long run Friday! I had to shorten it by 30 mins due to lunch time constraints vs after work when I usually complete my long run. 5.84 miles with some tempo training toward the end. It was incredibly hot out.

“Chaos Coordinator”

Still stalking next weekend’s forecast. Hoping for mid-30s on the overnight! Trust me, I’ve never said that before.

Wk 13, HM Training

Clearly this week’s schedule doesn’t think I have a job. Sheesh. I know it’s Thanksgiving, but that’s doesn’t mean I have the week off. Anyway, I did have several days at home so I made do.

Typically my VO2 max is 45. One day it was 46. Honestly I don’t pay much attention to it, until Monday, when it reached 47! No idea what this means, but whoohoo. Garmin also said my training was peaking, so there’s that, too.

Funny not funny story: this training cycle has resulted in some strange chafing situations. And by strange I mean incredibly painful in places one would never wish to be chafed.

For Tuesday’s goal pace run, I went to the track so I wouldn’t have to think about crossing roads. But when the headwind hit me, I had a hard time sticking with it. My legs were seriously struggling but I managed to stay on track (pun intended).

haHA! Check out that 9:12! Learning I really don’t like progression runs but I do rather well at them so there’s that good moment. Considering it was pre-turkey, pre-stuffing, pre-pie…and extremely windy…

Long run completed! Super early, super cold (real feel 15°), and super long! I started with 23 layers, a hat, gloves, and a whole lot else, but I made it.

Lucky #13 (week) done. Just a few more remaining!

Wk 12, HM Training

Started off – after a long weekend and my longest run yet – with a short(er) run(ch) session at the track. I forgot how good my feet feel when I do track miles.

Speed repeats on Tuesday were tough but overall I think I did really well! Anything in the 7-8 min/mile pace is way out of my league from an endurance perspective. Glad I ate my oatmeal that morning.

Friday evening long run went better than expected! We had a potluck at work which ended up being me standing for nearly 3.5 hours so I was worried how my legs would feel. Answer: very tired. It took 3 miles to “warm up”. Then the blissful numbness took over and I sailed right on. The more I do progression runs or goal pace miles, the more I believe I’ll be able to reach my goal.

The other day I had this wild idea to run in the 2:00 pace group. My thinking was I’ll start out strong and then drop into the 2:10 group (my goal time). But then I felt like an idiot because everyone knows you don’t start out too fast or you’ll burn up at the end. Yet somehow this still sounds so tempting… Stop it, Kel. Week 13 is up next. Taper is sounding better and better!

Wk 11, HM Training

Garmin says it has the utmost confidence in me reaching my goal. Utmost! I remind myself constantly.

With several appointments and work obligations with a holiday thrown in there for good measure, I adjusted the training schedule to make sure I hit all the workouts.

We celebrated Sheppard AFB’s 80th birthday with a 5k/8k – keeping in line with the prescribed run, I chose the 8k. Started out great, then gradually got slower. It was warmer than expected. Even though Garmin said I was unproductive, I felt very good!

As I took off an extra day at work – because why would I have a holiday on Thursday, them return to work on Friday – what better way to kill two hours than by running circles around my favorite lake. Two hours.

Done and done! Too bad it was 10.98 – I could’ve run the extra 0.02 to round up!

Nonetheless, another week has been conquered. Almost there!

Wk 8, HM Training

It started off rough and that’s putting it mildly. From getting out of bed approximately 5 mins before my butt should be at work (like, in seat at work)….I’m just reminding myself my standards and work ethic are much more strenuous than anyone else’s expectations of me.

forced smile pre-run

So of course I still had that frantic mindset when it was time for Monday’s run. Nonetheless, I managed to keep it within the guidelines. It just wasn’t pretty and I wasn’t feeling it.

Then Tuesday came around and kicked me some more. Once again, my watch died in the night, but at least I awoke earlier than the day before. (Garmin was really failing me at this time.) In my positive, uplifting way, I never thought it would do it again so of course I didn’t set a secondary alarm. Anyway, after a chat with Garmin, some sort of sync issue was identified as the culprit. Fast forward to mid-day and a prescribed 63 min workout of speed intervals. I thought I did really well. Garmin said otherwise. As if it had some room to tell me I was being unproductive when it hadn’t done its job two nights in a row.

To throw water on a proverbial inferno, Strava happily informed me I ran over 6.5 miles during the workout with an avg pace of 5something. Right. Like that’s ever happened. Upon calibration, it was more like maybe 4 miles at a not-too-shabby 8-or so pace. Unproductive, my foot.

Just pretend there’s a photo here because, by this time, I was livid.

Thursday rolled around, but at least my watch was working properly at this point. I thought I was doing well with fueling, but I missed the mark that day. I ate breakfast, then got busy during the time I would normally eat pre-run. Note to self: 4 hours between food and running is way too long. I slugged along, my legs hurt, and I couldn’t find a decent rhythm. Couple it with PMS = recipe for disaster.

In an effort to right the whole week’s wrongs and turn everything for good, I meticulously planned to complete my long run Friday night! Yes. Night run!

A little over 3 miles for my “long run”. It was a progression run, and although I feel like I did a great job, I don’t think it was exactly what the plan intended. Coupled with the fact my watch kind of gave up on me and wouldn’t register anything lower than a 10:34 pace, I’m just happy it’s done.

And I finally got a ‘you’re being productive’ message. Today I slept in and drank copious amounts of coffee. More than halfway through the training cycle now. Week 9 will be here soon!