Monday, December 29, 2014

Well, that's a wrap! 2014 in all its glory.

Like ANY good blogger it is the time to type a blow by blow post about all my thoughts and feelings regarding my year of amazing and epic accomplishments!!!!!

Or..... Let's just zip thru the months and see how I did in 2014. Some good stuff, some bad stuff, some things to try differently, some things to do again. Overall not too shabby!

2014 was supposed to bring about several milestones for me.
A Half Marathon PR at Hampton in February (sub 1:36:27)
A Course PR at Boston. (sub 3:31 and change)
A strong 50K. (as in: don't blow up)
A solid Fall Marathon PR (sub 3:25:45)

Going into 2014 I knew there were several distances that I most certainly wasn't going to focus on, or be even slightly concerned about racing. Like the damn 5K, woof.

Shall we begin?

January! Jan-Jan-uary!!!!
I started off the year with a 10K- after one of the worst weather Decembers in recent history here in Maine and after being absolutely wracked with flu-like symptoms for a week I certainly did not mind a fairly average run.
-10K 1st Run, Lowell MA 46:51 You can read about the windy day right here.
(so, my 2012 10K PR still stands at 44:01. But I was bat shit crazy in 2012)

Less Bat-Shit Crazy in 2014 obviously. 
February! Time to kick some 13.1 ASS!!!
Yeah. Or something.
I ran around the Mid Winter Classic 10 miler early February on a totally decent weather day- I believe this was one of the very, VERY few outdoor runs that I had managed in weeks. The weather had been truly appalling and the road conditions horrid. I was both pleased and surprised to run a 1:15:56- only 40 seconds above my 2012 PR when, as previously mentioned, I was bat shit. A good set up, I hoped, for Hampton.

Once again we lucked out on weather, conditions and basically everything and for about 5 minutes I thought I had kicked crazy 2012 in the teeth- and managed a 3 second PR with a 1:36:37. (It was, if nothing else a 12 minute course PR for me) Later that day I double checked old results and discovered that no, I had missed my goal by something silly like 12 seconds. For some reason, this really bothered me. The whole damn day in its glory.
The one thing I took away from this race was that there was nothing I could have done about that 12 seconds! I simply could not have run faster. The end. Once I realized that, I stopped being bothered about my perceived "failure" and stopped thinking about it.

While my race was not a complete fail this FACE IS!!!!

I didn't do Jack-diddly-squat apparently.
The weather was good for garbage.
I ran on the treadmill except basically once.
I did have some good long runs.

Mostly, March was like this. What the actual F**K????

April Boston TIME!!!!
I trained with the intention to run a course PR, and as we got closer my brain kept drifting to shooting for an overall PR. I decided that even if things went rather amiss I could certainly run a 3:27 or so. Unless it got warm for the first time in months of something silly.... Every outdoor run thus far had been pretty lovely in the 40 degree Spring temps and somewhat diminishing snowbanks.
Unless you're new you know it was my worst executed race in History. With temps rising, and rising, did I rethink my plan? Nope, I went charging all around running some shit crazy stupid fast miles and died a horrible death. The end. 3:54 something UGH. BOO.
Part one: when there was still hope
Part two: watch me blow up
A good learning moment! At least I learn...

I look unwell. I felt unwell. 
I ran a 5K in 21:36 which is fast enough. Seriously!
(not fast enough to beat damn 2012 though hahah!)

I ran the Pineland 30 miler that is called a 50K on Memorial Day weekend and was really pleased. I executed the race exactly the way I wanted to and was very pleased with the outcome! Yay, go me!! Honestly, we all know that I do not put in the correct training for races of this length so unless I do- this is as good as it gets for me! I truly enjoyed this race and it marked the beginning of my "Summer running Break"

"there's a creeper photog in the grasssssss"

A spontaneous Trail run at Robert's Farm was my final hurrah before taking the lazy route for the rest of June. Another really fun race!

NADA as in NOTHING. Most runners worst nightmare, but a much needed break for me!

OK so I did SOMETHING. Mostly standing though!

August & September
Three whole entire races!
I tried out 2 new distances.
I ran the Maine Mile in 6:13 which is an automatic PR since I had never tried such a crazy thing before! I have no intention of ever running a mile faster, thanks! It was a really fun thing to do, totally outside of my comfort zone, and over so quickly that I barely noticed how much it hurt.

I also ran a 5 miler in 35:51 for another auto-PR and in the process made myself more sick that I have ever been after a race. I don't have much motivation to run a faster 5 miler ever again but perhaps this one just scared me off.

Early September was the Freeport Half, a PR was not a goal but I was happy to run exactly the pace I hoped for on legs that felt pretty good on a tough course.

I promise it wasn't just me against myself.... 

Months ago I had completely altered my Fall marathon goals, knowing that putting in the time to meet them was simply impossible. However, I was quite determined to succeed in qualifying for Boston 2016 (my AG now needs a sub 3:40:00) and I felt this was quite reasonable.
We all know what happened at MDI. Definitely a day that reminded me that you can't plan for everything!
I am still so pleased that I marched back out and ran the LOCO Marathon two weeks later.
This was everything Boston was not in terms of a well executed race, a nice cool day, and an additional 6 months of learning what I can and can not do depending on my fitness level. a 3:32:59 felt pretty good to me and was a solid BQ, not to mention a race that I felt really positive about.
November marked the end of my 30-34 AG era and with that, I went forth and ran 35 miles for my 35th BD.
I think it was a perfectly normal decision!

The most flattering picture of the year or maybe my life. 

No racing, just normal running, a zero week and some thoughts about what next year might bring.

Hopefully the New Year brings LOTS of this!!!
So there you have it kids, my whole year squeezed into one tidy little post.
I'll be back soon to talk details of 2015.
Happy New Year!!!


Monday, December 15, 2014

The story of how I met my new true love... Hoka's!!

It is finally time for the *much* anticipated post about how I broke up with my Mizuno's.

When I met my first pair of Mizuno Wave 16's, it was love at first sight. I slapped those bad boys on my feet and never looked back. (and this was after 2 pairs of Precisions, 3 pairs of Enigma's (one of which I hated) a pair of Wave 15's, and a fleeting moment with some Sayonara's... So, Mizuno was my middle name.)

I loved you, Wave Rider 16's, I loved you very much. I literally put thousands of miles on you (well. a few of you. I get around.) I overlooked some model inconsistency that would periodically give me black toenails.... Because in the end, I loved you! You loved me! I got a solid 450-550 miler per pair not to mention that I never, ever paid full price for you!!
But then you changed.... You suddenly wanted to be called 17 and it was like you were an entirely different shoe. We no longer saw eye to eye on anything! I was able to keep my torrid affair with the 16's going thanks to my acceptance of retiring colors which were possibly no longer hip on fitfluential. Awwwwwww.
But in my heart I knew the end was near....
I laced up my final pair of Mizuno 16's for the last time in late October, weeping tears of sadness and loss.

A woman scorned....
OK. So that is not exactly how it played out. My final pair of 16's were notorious for giving me massive blisters so I basically threw them in the hopper.

But what to do then?

I cruised over to Maine Running to check out some other brands. While I did pick up a temporary pair of kicks to get me by, absolutely nothing was feeling that great to my picky feet and rapidly aging hips. CRISIS MODE!

I had been aware of Hoka's for a while, not necessarily in a positive way.
I thought they looked absurd, like Skechers Shape Up's, or maybe like something your Nana would wear to work out in at Curves. Not exactly the kind of shoe that had me frothing at the mouth to obtain it.

Over the summer I did notice that they were streamlining the shoes a bit- instead of looking like Ronald McDonald shoes they looked like gigantic mattresses that I would surely trip over repeatedly. Quite trim, obviously....
I made the assumption that they, like Newtons, must be a specialty shoe because they certainly had a specialty price tag. I had taken note that "on the internet" it was mostly trail runners in them. I did see them here and there at road races but I still categorized them with the Newtons- shoes for people with a very specific gait, a gait that I do not have. (I am a Forrest Gump style runner. Specialized shoes for "front foot gait" basically get a big failing grade from me!)

Then, suddenly my friend Danielle was running in Hoka's. I literally, was like "WHAT??"
And she was swearing by them.
Being that she is a real person, who clearly has the same exact gait as myself, and does the same kind of running that I do, I began to perk up and take notice.

SAME gait. We are awesome.
I found the Kailua's on sale for 50% off in late October. I also had a coupon code so about 2 days and $60 later I was in possession of my first pair of Skechers Shape up's!!
I kid, I kid.
To be honest, when I whipped them out of the box the first thing I said was "Well, these almost look normal!!"
I walked around in them a bit and they felt funny but not in the way I had expected.
They were firm but cushiony at the same time, I found that there was plenty of room for my toes to cohabitate, they did not feel ungainly at all. Still, I did not particularly enjoy walking about in them. (they are NOT walking shoes.)
Furthermore, I was very concerned about the "quick lace" system- I did not think I would find them adjustable enough and I was SURE that the little tabs would click and clack around and drive me bat shit crazy.
Neither of those things happened.

Once I started running, as much as it irked me to admit it I could see what the hype was all about.
I was like an amazing stealth-ninja, literally prancing at top fucking speed along a cloud of pavement.

Except that the right shoe pissed off my ankle bone to no end.What started as an occasional little ow rapidly transitioned into full blown "Oh HOLY HELL OUCH!!!"
If I had paid full price for them I simply would have sent them back! And forver have regretted that decision....
After putting a few miles on them (25 or so) I concluded that the ankle issue was simply unacceptable but that I would take matter into my own, capable hands.
Armed with a utility knife and a terrifying pair of ultra sharp scissors I basically hacked the crap out of my poor shoe until it was deemed comfortable.

Mess with me? I WILL CUT YOU!!!!!
And DUDES, what a good choice!!!
They are now PERFECT.

I love them. I have completely forsaken my previous involvement with Mizuno in favor of a stable, comfortable relationship with my new favorite Hoka's! (fickle woman that I am....)
Happy feet, happy hips, fast recovery, you guys- it almost feels like cheating, running in these things.

The current model that I have is pretty awesome for winter running, it is the warmest thing I have ever slapped on my foot and it chugs thru snow with magical 4WD skills.
Obviously, it would not be my favorite summer shoe so I'll have to make some changes prior to hot weather.

So. The moral of the story. can find love again.....!!!!!

Oh Jeez..
But really, don't judge a book by its cover. While they might look a little funny they run like a normal shoe, they are not too soft AT ALL even for picky me, you do NOT feel like you are running on high heels, and you don't even notice them after a few runs.

I believe that there is a good shoe out there for everyone, and while *my* favorite might not be yours I feel that I can recommend the Hoka's with no reservations.
I'm actually getting all giddy looking at the 2015 models, so clearly I have defected!  


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

2014 Year In Review

I was in the contemplation stage of my 2014 Year in Review post when I saw that Miss Zippy (one of my favorite bloggers) was having a Year In Running link up.
Perfect timing.

Thanks Miss Zippy, without you my year end review would have been in March.

Best Race Experience: I must confess that 2014 was not the year of races that felt fabulous and easy. I worked really hard for every fast finish, often with lingering unpleasantness of the GI sort once the race was over. Not my favorite.
I really enjoyed the Pineland "50K" 30 miler :-) I felt like I ran a well executed race and I finished feeling good and healthy. After the utter collapse that was Boston I really needed to finish feeling decent and I did.
Pineland Stupidity. I mean awesomeness.
Despite finishing with no gas left in the tank- I have to pat myself on the back a bit for managing a decent marathon at LOCO this past October.

At LOCO, where I managed to run the whole entire race. #miracle
I spent some time questioning my abilities this year and after a confidence building race there, I feel a renewed sense of  relative competence. I'm extremely excited for Boston 2016- if anything is going to be a giant motivator for the next year and a half it's knowing that this will be THE year at Boston! This has little to do with me and lots to do with my friends who have qualified or will qualify in the Spring. It will be the party of the Century!
(and I am already "in" for Boston 2015- the excitement that is '16 continues to overshadow that, whoops!)

Best Run: I had a lot of good runs this year, once I was able to get off the treadmill after the winter of death last season.
I was injury free in 2014 which is a big deal, and I'm very thankful for that and it certainly makes my running that much more enjoyable.
I had a really amazing final long run pre-Boston (which makes me verrrrrry suspicious of future good long runs: believe it!!!!) It was a damn good 21 miles of perfect chilly weather, no issues at all, it was FUN and the kind of run where you just want to have a little dance after.

I did.
And THEN once I was home and clean and in compression pants we totally had a taper party and ate all of my mom's olives and cheese and almonds. Sorry Mom.


 I'm adding one... WORST RACE (or run)
I had a terrible terrible Boston.
I was happy to be there, happy to see my wonderful family and enjoy time both before and after the race with them. And it's BOSTON!!! Totally the best!
Honestly though, I had a lousy day. Really terrible.

Shit show right here.
The badness that was Boston made me question all of my running life choices for a while. I seriously considered pulling back from the marathon distance. At mile 22 of Boston I most definitely said "never again, I do not need to do this to myself!" (I legit stopped and said this to a human, who kindly offered me a beer, gotta love those college kids.)
Usually within an hour of the race finishing I can get over those feelings but I was pretty wrung out...
I got right back to running but in the back of my mind was doubt. "I'm just not made to do this.. I'm not good enough to be better than I have been... I don't want to feel that awful again.... Why work so hard and give up so much and spend all the money for complete and total suffering???"
I realized, over the course of the summer that I DO NOT have to marathon.
But I want to. I want to be better, I want to feel stronger, I want to finish feeling confident.
So basically, in 2015 (despite a confidence building Fall race) I'm running away from 2014's confidence crushing issues and running towards a stronger, better and possibly slightly more pissed off me. Don't fuck with me marathon, I will crush you!! (or.. I'll actually drink that beer at mile 22)

Best new piece of gear: That's easy. I snagged a super discounted pair of Hoka Kailua's back in
October and haven't looked back. I had to modify them a bit but that is how I roll my friends.
This merits a post all of its own, which is coming soon!

Best piece of running advice received: 
"Please just run fast and BQ but don't vomit" -Eric
"Hard work never, ever, EVER pays off" -My mom, said with a straight face and a lot of sarcasm.

 Most inspirational runner: Without a shadow of a doubt the winner this year is Danielle.  She worked her butt off this year, PR'd at every distance and snagged a BQ for 2016 in the process! I'm so excited for her and happy that her incredibly hard work has paid off! She is a new Mom, has a busy life and job and still manages to run a ton of miles and be a complete badass. And if that's not inspirational than I don't know what is.  She also gets up at like 3AM to run which is completely insane and something that I can not imagine. (I also have a feeling that she is going to PR the marathon distance again soon... Like this winter. I'll put money on it!)

Danielle!!! The toughest lady ever!
 If I could sum up the year in a couple of words, what would they be?
This was a year of change, growth and learning.
What? That is such an adult answer, I'm vomiting in my mouth a little right now.
OK. So it was a year of change, growth, learning, marching to the beat of my own drum, wearing outrageous outfits because I can, changing my hair color 45 times, trying to run fast but sometimes vomiting, high fiving strangers,  singing "turn down for WHAT" out loud everywhere, not accepting "I can't" from myself, running a mile race for shits and giggles, trying new things, and having a hell of a time.

(those are all true)

Moving on to 2015 I see more of the same amazingness!!!
I'm trying to iron out my actual goals but I feel that I've built a pretty decent foundation so hopefully now I can build that infamous house that everyone is always talking about.
Maybe I'll start with a single wide or a small ranch something...