Gym Faux Pas

As I’ve made going to the gym a regular occurrence, it’s time to report on what I’ve witnessed thus far.

  1. Stretchy Lady – the one who chooses to stretch in the locker room, centered in the walkway, the only entrance/exit to said locker room which forces the remainder of us to navigate around her with our gym bags. She’s going to get whacked. Sorry, not sorry.
  2. Treadmill Guy – who leaves his gym bag and various other paraphernalia behind the treadmill which impedes patron’s ability to reach other treadmills and equipment. Then, he laughs obnoxiously loud whilst watching Fox News. What could possibly be funny is beyond me.
  3. Weight Whiners – these pieces of work take one of every single weight of dumbbell back to their bench lair and hide them under it like little trolls. I’m thankful we have a gym with multiples of the same weight, but it’s annoying to go search for another dumbbell. My obvious glare should be enough to reason with them.

Sort of gym-related, I need a shirt that says DO NOT FEED DONUTS! This is not a weight issue. It’s a serious problem for me! I see donut. I eat donut. What’s self control anyway?

The weather is completely uncooperative. 98° in April? Someone told me we beat a previously held record in the 1920’s because this particular day it hit 103°. I’m not ready! For those of you who faithfully read my blog and mention snow or rain, I’m jealous. Texas is in a pattern of tornado-wind-drought-hell. Send rain!

photography skills are exceptional

As time goes on, I feel even more strongly I must have some Italian heritage because I can’t talk without my hands. The injury above proves it. How does one scratch the skin off of the area above their eye whilst telling a story? Oh so gracefully! I’m sure it won’t be the last time.

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I ask you

Do you relate to any of the 3 aforementioned gym fanatics?

Are you a hand talker, too?!

Go ahead. Tell me what weather you’re experiencing this week. Hot, hot, hot.

Released Unto the Wild

I graduated! For the fifth time (or something like that).

(L to R) PJ, me, Max

PJ and Max at Reneau Rehab have been quite incredible on this entire 6 week journey. When I started there, I could barely stand on my left leg for any amount of time. The pain levels were intense, I was pretty depressed about the status of my injury, and I wasn’t entirely sure I would ever run pain-free again. Disclaimer: I know I get dramatic, but I was seriously in a rough place!

PJ continued to challenge me until even the final minutes of the last session. I learned to focus on the mind/body connection of the muscle groups I’m working instead of nonchalantly going through the motions. My left knee tends to just do whatever it wants (falls inward, acts ridiculous, etc) so I really have to put thought into what I intend it to do for me. It’s more than strength training – it’s using the muscles for a purpose. Mind and body!

As I completed a few 5ks – distance, not races – throughout the course of physical therapy, the changes were noticeable. I really had been slacking off. Wayyyyyy off!

Now that I have a whole week of on-my-own training under my belt (minus a few days of insanity), I’m especially happy I wrote the exercises down as I went through them at Reneau. The exercise band is kept in my purse so it travels wherever I go. That’s not weird at all. My goal has been to dedicate 3x a week to strength training. I only got in 2x this past week but they were good because the soreness was real! Indeed I received some odd looks when, at the gym near my workplace, I was surrounded with “toys” aka a bosu ball, a weighted bar, a medicine ball, and a yoga ball, among others. Yes, you can get a great strength session without actual weights. Shocking, I get it.

Indeed I noticed several gentleman with a huge upper body and stick figure legs. Excuse me, Sir, can I interest you in a medicine ball? Allow me to show you a few things. Maybe next week.

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I ask you –

What did you last graduate from and when?

Did you know it’s possible to strength train without dumbbells?

In a scale of 1 to an uneasy staring contest, how well will a “let me help you train your legs” conversation go? Knowing my ability to be humorous, probably a 2.

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.

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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!

Reflections of a Training Cycle

This one has been tough – not on time, but on my body.

From start to finish (16 weeks), I only gained 6 lbs but the inflammation is very pronounced. I have failed to disclose previously I’m under orders to stop running for 6 weeks. Ooof. Due to a probable hamstring sprain/strain bordering on a tear, instructions were given to rest/ice/heat/medicate and a whole list of other things for no less than 4 weeks. Instead, I continued to run and train for several weeks to make it to race day. So what does that mean now? It means I’m very lucky to have made it through the race and now I will be following doctor’s orders for the remainder of the month and partially into January. Not exactly the plan I had, but here we are. Surely I realize the scope of my decision to train regardless of pain, etc; however, once I finally received a diagnosis, it was exactly 10 days until R-Day. Many people much smarter than I have decided not to compete in events incredibly significant, i.e. the Olympics, for injury prevention reasons. Alas, my measly race pales in comparison yet I continued to train despite the bruising, pain, and swelling. I don’t say this to brag; rather I say it to reemphasize what not to do and how little I use my brain cells. Please learn from my mistakes.

If anyone needs me, I’ll just be ambling around chained to an ice pack alternating with heating pad and taking copious amounts of muscle relaxers to release the muscle from its confines of tension with the ultimate goal of running sans pain in the very near future! Speaking this into existence! Also, it seems I’ll definitely need to make an update to my eating habits for the duration. Can’t be imbibing in everything my heart desires if movement is limited. Don’t misunderstand – I don’t run so I can eat. It’s taken a long time to get to a place where food is fuel. I eat so I may run. I eat to enjoy the little things in life, like fresh baked cookies. But the donuts and croutons and extra pie need to take a back burner to getting myself well again. They will be there when I’m ready.

16 weeks is a bit too lengthy for me. Garmin told me I “peaked” around 14 weeks and instructed me to race soon as my fitness would start to decrease. So I proceeded to continue running as prescribed because what were my other options?! Then the reported VO2 max kept increasing so was I really peaking? Was the peak an early symptom of the highest VO2 max I’ve ever accomplished? Who knows. Let’s be honest…I have never considered my VO2 max as any number worth being concerned over and I’m not starting now. But it was awesome to see the message ‘Superior’! haHA! Superior! Anyway, previously I said (wrote) I wanted to focus more on the 10k distance in 2022; I think my plan is solid even if it won’t start as early as I’d hoped for due to mandatory rest. Seems like every single time I have a great running base something comes up. Oh well.

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I ask you –

What is your typical training cycle length?

Have you ever continued to train for an event despite a recommendation to stop?

Tell me the stat you like to track!

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!

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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!

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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!

Race Ideas

Brainstorming future race ideas led me to this one: the inaugural Rock n Roll Atlantic City event!

I’ve only ever seen New Jersey as I raced through it on the way to Connecticut, though I do vaguely remember vast toll areas. Perhaps that was a different state, like Oklahoma. Nonetheless, I’d like to enjoy a proper visit and run a little race!

Credit: #myfavoriterun via Instagram

I’m also very interested in the Blue Bell runs in Brenham, TX. Held annually in April, the finish line party includes Blue Bell ice cream, which is my most favorite ice cream of all time. Pecan Pralines ‘n Cream anyone? I want to explore more 10k distances so why not start there?!

Credit: #bluebellfunrun via Instagram

I’m about over this training plan stuff. 15-16 week plans are just too long for me. Week 8 is about my cutoff. Maybe 10 if I’m feeling generous. Never before have I ever given a moment’s thought to running a virtual half marathon just so I can say I did the run and be done with it. A few weeks back – I hit that point. And I know that particular week was kind of a struggle, but I don’t feel like my fitness has increased much since. If I didn’t know that Morgan from Oregon was traversing the plains to attend, I probably would have called it quits awhile back. Alas, she has been training so I’m self-motivating to make it to the start line. My Garmin goal meter says it’s very confident I will reach it. My internal doubter has serious reservations. All I can do is run the race laid out before me knowing I’ve put in work to the best of my abilities.

break in an emergency

Now, with all that said, I just want it to be over. Thankfully start line emotions are a very real phenomenon and 10 mins after I’m done I’ll be kissing strangers and hugging babies. Jokes, lots of jokes. To keep myself on track I’ve been brainstorming things I want to do post-race. For example…

Short Term –

  • Take a long nap
  • Eat copious amounts of Mexican food, specifically tortilla chips
  • Lay on the ground contemplating my life choices
  • Call everyone I know with the great news I have a shiny new PR

Long Term –

  • January run streak?
  • Train for a March/April half marathon
  • Train for a March/April 10k unrelated to the above half marathon
  • Resume keto
  • Survive the winter months
  • Fantasize about vacation

Surely I’m missing many additions to my listing endeavors. I’ll keep thinking and update you all soon.

Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving – filled with turkey and ham and as many rolls as you can stuff in your mouth at one time. And pie!!!

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I ask you –

Anyone have an upcoming race or race potential near northern Texas?

How often do you make lists?

Please share some thing(s) on your short/long term list!