2017 Goals

Now that I’ve finally gotten settled in Alabama, I thought it’s a good time to write out my 2017 goals.  Thinking out loud, it’s better late then never to write down yearly goals

I recapped 2016 here and despite an injury, I PRed in almost every distance.  However, most of those PRs were in the first two months of the year so my PRs are almost a year old. 

So What are My Plans for 2017?

Right now, I don’t have any spring marathon plans.  After running a 20 miler last fall, I realized my body and mind were not ready for marathon training.  I have not completely ruled out a marathon again for the fall but I’ll revisit that topic in 6 months. To be realistic, my chances of running a marathon in 2017 are probably slim too.

My major goal race this year is: April Fools Half Marathon:

It’s not far from home and I enjoy the race.  (I ran it in 2014 and 2016…I would have run it in 2015 but I got married that weekend).  While it’s one of the smaller races I plan to run this year, I like the timing, the atmosphere and the race is well put together. I have nothing but positive things to say about the race which is why I chose it for my Spring Goal Race.

Last year at the April Fools Half in the 50 MPH wind
Last year at the April Fools Half in the 50 MPH wind

But If you follow this blog then you know I love racing.  One race per 6 months doesn’t cut it for me.  The rest of the races will be tuneups.  I will still run hard but I won’t taper for them.  Maybe by some miracle, I’ll PR but honestly probably not.  I like running races for the social aspect and because I enjoy racing versus doing workouts. I don’t run 10,000 races per year expecting to PR…I run 10,000 races a year (or about 40), for the sense of community, atmosphere and seeing friends. Plus, I can. It’s something both my husband and I enjoy doing.

Is running a bunch of races more expensive than doing a workout at home? 

Of course! For me, the experiences outweigh the cost and it’s something I’m willing to pay.  Running is a hobby and racing is something I enjoy.  I like the atmosphere, seeing other runners achieve their goals and being surrounded by people enjoying the same hobby.  We choose to spend money on things we enjoy.  My husband and I both enjoy running and that is one thing we spend money on.

Some races will be done on tired legs or with the intention to do a tempo. 

Some will be raced at “how I feel” on untapered legs. 

There will be more local races added to the schedule but for now this is what we’ve come up:

Tune Up Races:

2/4 Double Bridges 15k (Pensacola)

2/12 Mercedes Half Marathon (Birmingham)

The race falls two months after the Dallas half marathon and will be a good way to feel out how my legs are doing and responding to my coach and new work outs.  It will be a key race to determine the next phase of training for Atlantic City.

3/16 Shamrock Half Marathon (Virginia Beach): Most likely, I will not run as hard as possible but it’s one of my all time favorite races so every year I’m healthy…my runderwear toe the line.

4/1 Phillies 5k (Philadephia)

5/1 Broad Street 10 Miler (Philadelphia)

Of course I’ll hop into local 5ks to support schools and local causes.  I like running local 5ks and it’s about getting out there and being part of a community.  Many people I see at those races are people I’ve helped with shoes, athletes that have come into the store or causes that are important to me.

Those are the major races I have for the next few months.

Questions for you:

Which races are you doing this year?

What is one of your 2017 goals? 

Birmingham MLK Drum Run 5k (18:40)

Last weekend I had the itch to race.  My husband and I discovered a 5k in Birmingham.  Since I just moved to Montgomery, I had no idea about the race community, area, terrain or anything else.  But a race is a race, right?

As long as there is a time, the course is fairly accurate, and there is just more than my husband and I running, I can’t complain.

We arrived in downtown Birmingham around 7 am and did a quick warm up.  I was coming off a tough training week and knew it wouldn’t be a PR.  My legs were stiff, but the plan was to give it what I had for the day.  My coach and I wanted a solid effort for where I was in training.

My husband and I made it to the start line where several high school marching bands were playing.  (It would sense with the race title “Drum Run”.)  The bands all sounded great and it was such a unique start.  I lined up and by the time I knew it we were off.

Birmingham mlk 5k
Photo from Just4Running.com

During the 200 meters, a lead pack quickly formed ahead which included two clearly fast elites,  my husband, another female, and a few others.  I found myself in the no mans chase pack of one.  It was evident the two elites were going to jog there way to a 16 something 5k which is what ultimately happened.  They looked effortless as they pulled away.

The first mile went over a few small rolling hills in the downtown and I crossed the first mile in 6:07.  Since my legs were heavy, plus the course wasn’t entirely flat, I was happy.

I could see the lead female in front.  I felt as though I was catching her. By the second mile, the lead pack was also strung out.  There were the two elites who were now out of sight, my husband and then a larger pack of 3 people including the woman.  I passed the larger pack around the halfway point.  The second mile had less hill but more turns. I ran the tangents well.  I crossed the second mile in 5:54 and felt better.  My legs were stiff, but I felt like they were loosening up.I was pleasantly surprised with a sub 6-minute mile.

I ran the final mile alone.  I could see my husband about a minute ahead and LOLed at the idea of catching him.  There were a few small rolling hills throughout the downtown.  Even when he isn’t training for 5ks (like now), he can still gut out a faster 5k.   I counted down the last mile… by every quarter of a mile.  I wasn’t fading, but I was ready to be done.  I crossed the third mile in 5:58 and gutted down to the finish line.

Birmingham mlk 5k

The final portion of the race was downhill, and I just powered to the end.  With the downhill, my final kick was 5:16.  If only all races had a nice downhill finish. Even though I cut the tangents well, the course was a little long, and I finished in 18:40.  I was fourth overall and the first woman.

Birmingham mlk 5k

Thoughts:

I am pleased with how the race went.  When you race often, you can’t expect a PR and each race has a goal.  My goal for the MLK 5k was to get a quick workout on my legs and to explore a new city.  Both of which I did.

Questions for you:

What how was your weekend?

Have you ever raced on tired legs?

Tips for Running through the Winter

I originally began writing this post when I thought I would be living through a New Jersey winter.  Now I’m sitting here in Alabama, and it’s close to 70 degrees outside in January.  As long time readers know I’ve been through many different temperatures during winter.

I went to college and worked in Upstate NY where there is often 2 feet of snow, but nothing closes.  It ranged from -30 to 30. 

Digging my car out was fun
Digging my car out was fun

I’ve lived in Virginia and New Jersey where a few inches generally shuts down everything. 

And now I live in Alabama where today the high is 70 degrees (but last week it was 25).  So my 2017 winter will be a combination of a couple of states from New Jersey to Alabama. 

With anything, it’s important to run and train smartly.  If you ever feel unsafe, run inside or rest.  There is never shame in that.  (In college, I slipped and fell on ice.  It resulted in a fractured humorous, and I wasn’t even running outside…I was just walking!)

Another fun fact about winter training is that all of my PRs now are currently from winter races.

February 2015 Phoenix Marathon: 3:14,59

January 2016: Carlsbad Half Marathon 1:22.57

February 2016: Flower Show 5k (18:13) 

So thinking out loud, I’ve created a few tips to running through the winter.   

First and most importantly: Don’t be afraid to adjust your workout:

A few years ago, I was visiting friends in Rochester the weekend of my last long run. Rochester ended up getting a massive blizzard and running outside was unimaginable.  (You know it’s a problem when things in Rochester close!).

I ran my last 20 mile run on the treadmill (see why I don’t hate the treadmill).  It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t desirable either.  Running outside would have been unsafe and hazardous.  If I hadn’t felt good on the treadmill, I probably would have skipped the run altogether.  Luckily, I felt fine.

Prevent Sliding with Yak Trax:

You will be amazed at what a difference Yac Trax make while running outdoors.  You’ll be able to grip the ground and ice much easier and stay safe.  I cannot stress how awesome they are (no they aren’t paying me to tell you).

Don’t Forget: Main Roads are Plowed First: 

The main roads are going to be plowed before local roads and sidewalks.  Who knows, your sidewalk may never be plowed.  Being smart with how and where you run is important.  Always run on the opposite side of traffic and don’t run down the middle of the road.

snow storm after

Some local are often cleared quickly too: 

My high school was located in a neighborhood, and the roads to and from the school were cleared quickly.  During winter storms I could often run a 1-2 mile loop around my high school.  Boring?  Yes, but if you like outdoors then that was your best bet.

Wind Protection:

Even when the temperatures are brutal outside, the wind factor can play a bigger role. Layering appropriately is important.  It’s not just about “wearing as many layers as possible”. Runners World has a great “what to wear” calculator here.

I recently learned that Vaseline can be an excellent protection against the cold and wind. It’s waterproof and helps block the wind too.  I don’t know how I didn’t know that!

Rain Protection:

You can prepare for the snow but don’t forget about the rain. In my opinion, winter rain is one of the toughest elements to run through.  It’s important to appropriately layer.  My personal favorite jacket is from Gore-Tex.  I’ve run through 30-degree torrential downpours, and my long sleeve underneath has stayed completely dry.  While it is pricey, it’s worth the cost if you are running outdoors in the winter.

broad street 10 miler 1

With that, winter running can be an enjoyable experience.  Training through the winter can set you up for Spring PRs.

Relevant Posts: 

How to Race in Inclement Weather 

Why I don’t hate the Treadmill

Questions for you:

What are some tips you have to train through the winter?

How cold is it where you are? 

InsideTracker Blood Test Results Part 2

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind, and I feel as if there is so much to catch up on.

In late December, I decided to get Insidetracker done again.  While it is cheaper than getting several tests done through insurance, it’s not inexpensive by any means.

Since I’m a healthy adult and nothing is “life or death”, blood tests are not covered by Insurance. I chose to get InsideTracker again because I knew it would help.  I did receive a discount from Insidetracker which was helpful.  I got results done in July and ultimately found my iron was too high as well as a few other things.  (Detailed post here).

So What Happened in the Last Few Months?

After receiving my results in July, I did start taking a probiotic as recommended.  I gave the probiotic 3 months, but I didn’t notice a change in anything.  At an extra $90 ($30 per bottle at the recommended 3X per day), I couldn’t justify the cost and not noticing a difference.

Iron:

Since July, I’ve also worked to lower my iron, but it seems I worked too hard and it plummeted almost to the “too low” category.  This is the first time in my life I’ve ever had too such low iron. The fact that it dropped that quickly is alarming.

InsideTracker Iron

But it would explain why I’ve been more tired.

How did I lower it?

Since July, I went off my multivitamin which had 100% iron in it.  While I prefer dark chocolate, I ate a lot more milk chocolate with less iron.

I already consumed (and still do) red meat 2-3X per week as well as leafy greens.  That’s probably why it didn’t lower anymore.

Now that my iron is too low, I think I’ll go back on my multivitamin with iron in it and dark chocolate. 

Liver Enzymes:

Since getting my previous results, my liver enzymes have stayed “at risk.”  They need work and to be honest, I’m not surprised.  They took a backburner while I worked towards everything else, so I didn’t do much with them.

InsideTracker Liver Enzyme

This time, I am going to add both wheat germ and an extra serving of almond, sunflower or peanut butter to my diet each day.  I’m actually not a huge peanut butter fan.  I don’t hate it, I just don’t have it often.

So what’s the Plan?

I’m spending the next 6 weeks focusing on making these small changes because it’s perfect timing. While I do have responsibilities and things to do, I’m not working full-time.  I have access to cooking, preparing and eating foods that would work for me.  If I cannot make these changes now, there probably won’t be an easier time.

For the next six weeks, I plan to watch and monitor my diet.  I’m not going to make a lot of extreme changes, and I don’t plan to change the caloric intake, however, I do plan to eat more nutritionally dense food for me.

What I like about InsideTracker is they make recommendations for foods that can help optimize your personal results.  While I could spend hours researching, how to increase iron levels or decrease liver enzymes, it’s right on my dashboard.  For me, it means including a lot more wheat germ or nut products.  I can’t make any promises, but I’m sure I’ll be sharing my experiences along the way in the food and diet world too.  Although I like to read other people’s posts, nutritional posts haven’t been on the forefront of my blog for a while.

I would definitely recommend InsiderTracker as it’s a great tool to help you figure out what nutrition your body needs.  You cannot get more of an awakening than learning your blood results.

Questions for you:

What are some ways you consume wheat germ?

Have you ever taken a probiotic?

Runners You Might Encounter this Winter

Last summer I wrote a post about “summer runners” and many people identified with one or more of the runners.  Thinking out loud, now that the season has somewhat changed, it’s time for another edition with:

Runners You Might Encounter this Winter:

Weather Checking William

This person is never without their technology and they are tracking the weather 100% of the time.  Even during a run, they’ll know the exact precipitation.  You can always depend on them to know when the best time of day, sunrise, sunset, wind direction, humidity level and every other weather condition you might need.

Shirtless Sam (Winter Edition):

You’ll see this runner always wearing the least amount of clothing as possible. It could be -10 degrees and a blizzard, they are still trecking along in short shorts, a tank top or possibly shirtless.  What’s even more interesting is usually this person has minimal body fat…how they continue to keep warm is a mystery to us all.

The Running Sauna

I will admit this is me all the time.  I would rather be overdressed all of the time than be cold.  The running sauna is typically wearing 5 more layers than necessary.  Even though it’s a “warm” 20 degrees, they might be wearing 5-10 layers.  In fact, their running stride more resembles a waddle due to the layers.

Complaining Courtney

You ask this person to run during every single season and every single season they complain.
It’s too hot..
It’s too cold.
Oh no, rain. 
Oh no, I can’t run…it’s absolutely perfect conditions… 

If there is a will to complain they will find it.

Treadmilling Timothy (Winter Edition)

Living a life opposite of the summer treadmill runner, the winter treadmill runner doesn’t do cold. During the winter, they disappear and retire to the treadmill.  They are most comfortable there and you know you won’t do any group runs with them until April.  If you are looking for a new TV show to watch, they can probably give you a good recommendation.

Questions for you:
What type of winter runner are you?

A Look Back at 2016 Running

The year, 2016, brought several PRs but is also brought one serious injury.

As I close out 2016 with my running, I thought it would be fun to reflect upon the year.  Plus there are plenty of new readers as well.  Thinking out loud, I also never expect you to read remember what happened on LOLZ blog.  Reflecting allows me to look back on the year too.

January: 

In 2016, January was probably the best month running wise for me.  I PRed in both of my favorite distances, the 5k and half marathon.

Starting the year off, on January 1st, I ran the Resolution Run 5k (18:22) and PRed in a prom dress. Resolution Run

Then we went on vacation to Carlsbad and I PRed at the Carlsbad Half Marathon (1:22.57).

carlsbad half

The rest of January was relatively quiet.  It is definitely hard to top a PR in my two favorite distances.

February:

February brought a better PR in the 5k and I PRed in the Flower Show 5k (18:13).  They threw flower petals at the start and you can clearly tell I was amused.flower show cannon

After that, I raced a few races but nothing of note.

March:

The biggest race in March was not my best race.  In fact for all of 2016, Shamrock Half Marathon was my most miserable and unenjoyable race (The Philly half is so very close).

I love the Shamrock Race series, but 10 minutes before the start, it started to downpour.  It was 40 degrees,  downpouring and windy.  Long story short, I paid the price and went from 7th place overall to 14th in the final mile.

My favorite race of March was the Phillies Charity 5k (18:27)  I ran an 18:27 and surprisingly won the race for females.  I received an autographed bat which was one of my favorite awards to date.

via Phillies facebook

April:

My most memorable race was running the April Fools Half Marathon.  While it wasn’t a PR, I did run a great race and surprised myself.  The theme of my 2016 racing season became bad weather and we had wind gusts of 50 MPH.

April Fools half

Another race my husband and I did in April was the Totally Awesome 80s run.  We attempted to dress the part and win the “best dressed” but there were many other couples dressed far better.

80s Attire

totally awesome 80s run

In April, I also ran the Broad Street 10 miler.  This was one of a few very good 2016 races for me.  Even though the weather was awful (what a trend), I ran a 10 mile best of 61:58.  I learned a lot from racing in Shamrock the month before and I ran the race in my Gortex jacket.  Bulky but I wasn’t defeated by the weather.

broad street 10 miler 1

May-August

May began a series of runs that felt like garbage.  I knew something was off and even with rest I didn’t feel good.  Later I found out I had a small break in my ankle and had a very rare form of food poisoning.  Honestly, it gave me plenty of time off and I didn’t miss running.

I spent most of the summer resting and then slowly easing back.  The summer of 2016 was my down period.

September:

In September I jumped into RnR Virginia Beach and ran a 1:31.  It was my first official race in a few months and I had no idea how it would go.  A hurricane had just blown through and conditions weren’t ideal, but I finished as fifth women overall.

Roll Virginia Beach results

In September, I also won the Flying Fish 5k which gave me one of my all time favorite race photos.Flying Fish 5k

Finally in late September, I ran RnR Philadephia and ran a 1:27.37.  It was extremely hot day and I was pleased with my improvement.

As you can tell, September was a great month, running wise for me.  I began to feel motivated that I was coming back from my injury strong.

October:

As great as September was, October was better!

I had an incredible time at the Runners World 5k and half marathon.  I attended my first November Project, ran an 18:41 5k and then the next day a 1:24.17 half marathon.  It was one of my best weekend performances of 2016.

Runners World half marathon photos me runnning

The following weekend, I ran the Base Half Marathon.  Even though it was close after Runners World, the race itself was important to me.  My husband was deployed at the time.  It poured rain but I ended up running negative splits (1:25.30) and was second overall (including men and women).

Base half marathon me running

November:

Similar to March, my noteworthy race was not because of a positive experience.  I felt terrible at the Philadelphia half marathon and ran a 1:27.  I was in shape to run faster but like anything bad races happen.  I crossed the finish line and didn’t think too much about it.

Five days after the Philadelphia half marathon, I ran a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot 5k and ran an 18:30.  It restored the motivation I had lost in myself.  Plus I was race number 1, which was probably my greatest achievement of the year.medford-lakes-turkey-trot

December:

December is obviously the most fresh in my mind, and I only raced once.  The Dallas Half Marathon was my only race but also my favorite race.  I ended my half marathon racing with a 1:23.44 which was close to where I started in January (1:22.57 at Carlsbad).  bmw dallas half marathon me running

I also announced that I was being coached by James Mckirdy.

Favorite Races of 2016:

Phillies 5k (18:27)

Flower Show 5k (18:13) PR

Broad Street 10 miler (61:59) PR

Carlsbad Half Marathon (1:22.57) PR

April Fools Half Marathon (1:24.04)

Base Half Marathon (1:25.28)

Dallas Half Marathon (1:23.44)

You can see all of my races here.

So what’s next for 2017?

That is a can of worms post that deserves it’s own day.  I have a lot of goals but honestly running healthy and injury free is still the first priority.  Like any runner I would like to continue to PR. I have no plans on marathoning soon and I’m happy racing shorter.

Questions for you:

How was your year of running?

How to Stay Motivated

Last Friday, I was anything but motivated.  The amount I wanted to run wasn’t just 0%, it was probably -20%.

As a runner and a running blogger, I am supposed to be motivated all of the time right?  Otherwise, I have failed at my self-created duties!

What happened that particular day?

  • I had a meeting in the morning. I’m a morning runner and the later it gets, the less motivated I am to run. Some people like to run later, but I’m not one of those people.
  • I was already stressed out from outside life factors. For some people, running is their stress reliever.  For me, I feel when I run, but I enjoy other things to relieve stress.
  • Finally, the weather was the coldest it has been all year. It’s not an excuse, but cold weather can be so demotivating.  Sometimes, the last thing I want to do is freeze in the bitter wind while running.

Ultimately around 1 pm, I found myself with a choice.  Either I was going to run, or I was not going to run.  I had my running clothing in the car and instead of going straight home to think about running, I went straight to the gym.

I can’t tell you I’ve always decided to go for a run when I haven’t felt like it but on Friday I manged to get a solid treadmill run in.

Many people ask how to stay motivated to keep running.

The short answer is: you just do.  Motivation has to come from you wanting to run not from a blog post telling you how too.

But of course, there are a few tips I have that keep me motivated to just run:
  • Forget pace and time. Just take the simple and basic sport and go for a run.  Remember why you fell in love with the sport. It wasn’t run a specific time or pace, it was just moving one foot in front of the other.  It shouldn’t feel like a chore.
  • Think about what you would actually be doing in your running time frame. For me, I know I would just be sitting on the computer and honestly doing minimal work.
  • For some people looking at motivational quotes, pictures, and social media gets them out running. That’s awesome and if that is what gets you motivated go for it!
  • For me, I get motivated through seeing my local friends and runners getting through it. If they can get through a run in the same elements, then so can I!

Remember, at the end of the day, it’s just running.  If you take a day or two off, that’s fine.  Your overall fitness is built on consistently running, not just one day.

Questions for you:
How do you stay motivated when you don’t feel like it?
What is something you’ve accomplished recently?