Tuesday, December 22, 2015

(4)0 Degree not so W, Trail Festival

A week and a half ago, I did something that I hadn't done in a while. I raced on trails! Running on trails is very infrequent for me, racing even more so. It's not that I don't like them, it just isn't my first choice right now. But, I had agreed to do this race and was even excited about it. It is the last Trails ROC race of the year, very low key, low priced ($1 for every mile you run- 5, 10, and 15 mile options), and all around a fun afternoon. I spectated last year, which was quite a bit different scenery. The race is called 0 Degree WTF, as in...Winter Trail Festival. This unseasonably warm weather we are having didn't bode well for the "winter" part of the race. The race director scolded the runners for our lack of properly functioning snow dances- sorry Eric, I didn't do one at all.
Spectating and making snowmen last year....
I felt a little out of place pre-race, but eventually decided to go out and run a short warm-up and shake off the cobwebs. I only did a little over a mile on the roads around the lodge, but was enough to get my legs ready and my mind prepared to handle 10 miles of trails. I finished my bottle of UCAN and ate a pack of honey stinger chews for good measure.

Something I love about trail races is the feeling of ease at a start line. It's so much less formal, everyone is just joking around, laughing and saying well wishes. It's not that they aren't serious, don't care, and aren't about to kick ass- it's just generally more laid back. I like that.
I don't know why I look so serious here, I mean...how serious could I be with my foxy $1 target gloves and "Beer me" singlet on!
The course is a 5 mile loop with roughly 1300 feet of elevation gain throughout. The 5 milers run the loop once, 10 mile race twice(2600ish ft/gain), and 15 miler rounds out 3 loops(3900 ft/gain). When I signed up for the race, I decided on the 10 as an active challenge but not over reaching with the 15 miler (after not running trails, not running a ton of hills, and also coming back from taking a week off of running). That elevation or distance might not be a lot for some people- but I knew it was going to be character building for myself.

The first loop, was great until it wasn't. I found my heart rate absolutely skyrocketing with each climb, even when walking. I hiked hills when I needed, and focused on preserving myself- I didn't want to walk the entire second loop. "Ski hill" was a bitch, and admittedly defeated me the first time through. I passed off my gloves at the top, and walked for a bit after trying to re-focus. A while later came "hell on roots", though there was a rope to help climb it unlike when I ascended it on a preview run. I did my best, and reached the top trying to smile. I definitely muttered something like "I'd rather do a marathon". That was the fear and insecurity talking. I'm comfortable on roads, I'm comfortable pushing pace and breathing heavy on asphalt, and I'm comfortable with 26 miles. 10 miles of trails isn't comfortable when you don't do them often, it isn't naturally easy for me and I let some negative thoughts get the best of me.

Then I remembered why I was doing this race in the first place. To be uncomfortable, to do something different in the "offseason", and also to appease Eric of Trails ROC who had been asking me to try trail race for a while now. I was there to run, have fun, experience some scenery change and to challenge myself--I spent a minute reminding myself of that and then embraced the rest of the first loop and got excited to go at it again.

Between loops, I stopped at the aid table and drank some of my Nuun that I had left there. It wasn't a long stop but it was good to hydrate, and catch my breath for a minute before heading back out. I had caught up to two men also in the 10 mile race, and figured it would be good to push myself and chase for a while. We bantered back and forth, and our pack of 3 went down to two. I had found a new set of wheels and was having a blast. The guy I was running behind at one point asked "you're not going to make this easy on me are you?"....I replied with a simple "nope". Friendly competition at it's finest.

I hiked up "Ski hill" again, but with a much better attitude. I went up "hell on roots" still huffing a bit but again....a better attitude made all the difference. Shortly after that I knew I could run the rest and at a decent enough pace. I could still have a strong finish. I tackled the rest and ran the last bit of the course (around a grass field to the finish) as if I were on the roads- that felt good. I got my big high five at the finish, crossing first female and third overall for the 10 mile distance.

Due to the favorable conditions- all of the course records fell, and fell hard. The male winner of the 15 miler (who totally lapped me even though we started at different times), broke the record by 16 minutes and the leading female broke the record by about 9 minutes. In the 10 mile race the male broke the record by about 18 minutes, and I broke the female record by about 12 minutes. The 5 mile records were both broken by 1-2 minutes. So when I say it was a solid running day, in comparison to previous years conditions- I wasn't kidding. No way in hell could I have run that time if there was a foot of snow! But, I'll take it. It was a successful day all around.

Post-race was, in my head- how it should be. Cheer for other runners, congratulate others on their race, share beers with friends and strangers, and take joy in the fact that we have a commonality in running. Being the "new girl" in the situation was a little odd at first, but the cries of "she doesn't even go here!" never came. Most everyone was welcoming, inviting (for more trail running, of course), and friendly. We chatted running (trails and roads), beer and life- I left the race with a big smile on my face and it had little to do with a time or a placement but for an experience.

If you want to see some AWESOME photos from the race, check out The Ascend Collective- WTF Gallery--> here.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Freezeroo #1 Don Curran Memorial 5k 2015

I mentioned last week that I was excited to be doing the Freezeroo series this winter, as a way to stay motivated and get outside. This weekend was the first race of the series, and oddly wasn't very Freezerooish with the weather- but no one was complaining. Temperatures were in the low 40's I think, with a slight breeze.

One of the things I love about the series, is that the races don't start until 10 AM. I was in bed until about 8:30 with my coffee, waffles and the newspaper....maybe even a little later. The series races take place all around Rochester, and this one happened to be 10 minutes from home.

My friend was working the packet pickup and said it was a fast course ( I didn't know this course) and I thought he was messing with me, I would proceed to spend most of the race waiting for a mountain to jump out of nowhere. It didn't.
Photo credit: GRTC
These races are so low key, everyone just hangs out chatting until the start. We took off and I instantly went out way too fast. I was running 5:35-45 pace for the first half mile- NOOOOO Laura. The first mile had lots of little turns through and around parking lots until we finally got out on a main road. I hit the first mile in 5:58, I was like okay just hold on to that.

The second mile featured a half mile out and back portion. This told me I was somewhere in top 10 overall, and only had one female in front of me. Goal, don't get passed. I enjoyed the out and back portion, cheering for friends and hearing their support on the other side as well. Mile 2 was 5:59.
Smile for the camera....in the last mile.
The last mile meant weaving back through the parking lots and turns, which didn't excite me but wasn't a big deal. I knew I could keep running for a few more minutes and just focused on hitting one turn to the next. I could hear heavy breathing not far behind me and knew someone was close, DON'T get passed damnit.

I found that kicker of a gear and went through the line without getting passed, 18:49 and good enough for second female and my second fastest 5k time.  I also took 5th overall, always fun to do that....nice to see 2 women in top 5 of a race(even for a small race).

I'm really happy with this, and it was a good start to the series. I know I won't be able to run "race speed" for all of the races....snow and sub-zero temps are inevitable. So it was nice to come out with a bang and can then try and hold on for the remainder of the races whatever the weather brings. The girl who won the race was not registered for the series, so she gets the race win but I get the points for the win in the series (if that makes sense).

As for my personal race, I'm happy with the time and also happy with stringing together those two sub-6 miles. I struggle with that and found this race to be good progress. I do wish though that I had more grit in that last mile. My kick was faster than it should have been, meaning I wasn't doing enough in the last mile. I could have been pushing more, there may not have been people around me but I should be able to push myself regardless. Not a complaint, just something that I know I can work on though going forward.

The next Freezeroo race is on New Years day, which I will not be doing. It's important for me to not have running/racing invade every part of my life. I'm looking forward to ringing in the New Year with Brian and not worrying about what needs to happen the following day. This will probably be the only series race that I miss, and that's ok. You need 4/6 of the races to be eligible for awards and I plan on doing all of the rest. Lucky for me, I should have some company from Britt and Heather for the 5 miler on January 9th!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Winter Training & Racing

After not running for all of last week, here we are and it's December. Seven full days off of running, and I tell you what- it was just the thing I needed.  It also made me even more excited for the upcoming months of training and racing.

I get that 7 days off isn't a lot. It's a week. We have FIFTY TWO of them in a year, and I took ONE totally off. But in that one week, I got what I needed. I got more sleep than I have in a while, I spent quality time with family and friends. I caught up around the house, and little odds and ends in life. So nope, not a big deal to take 7 days without running. It's better than not taking it and needing WEEKS down the road because I didn't take it now though.

I would much rather take time off on my own terms, which allows me to recover and recharge. That is much better than NEEDING the time off for other reasons. So, I embraced the hell out of my self-imposed break.

After Boston Marathon this year, I took 4 days off of running. After Erie Marathon I took 4 days off of running as well. Besides 1-2 day stretches within training (2 days in a row off was semi-rare), those 4 day stints were the longest I took off of running since last December. I took 11 days off of running after Memphis Marathon last year, and it was so good and oh-so-necessary. Had I raced another late fall marathon this year, I would have taken at least another 10 day running hiatus.

While I have been feeling good, and even after my PR at the Philly half marathon- I knew that I was due for a break. Tina and I did some chatting about this, and I know that the break was important. In my head I said at least a week of no running, but perhaps a little more depending how I felt come Monday.

I ran on Monday night after work, with fresh legs and a renewed sense of motivation.

What exactly is coming up? 
December plans are to get back into routine, enjoy the holidays and get ready for the new year to start with a bang for Boston training. No crazy miles or workouts, just getting myself into that aerobic monster zone that worked so well before specific training before Erie.

What is Boston training going to look like?
One of the things I accomplished on my time off last week was compiling a pretty good rough draft of my Boston training plan. After parting ways with my coach around the time of Erie, I decided that I would go through at least another marathon cycle on my own before potentially considering another coach. I'm excited to be in the drivers seat again, and I feel like I can be more successful now than when I was self-coached before. I've learned a lot, and have a much better idea of what works and doesn't work.

With that said, I would like to see some things with my training this time around. I want another gradual mileage bump, I've taken this pretty serious over the years about no drastic changes and it's kept me healthy. I also want to see consistency with "the little things" that I know can make a big difference (core work, dynamic stretching, hydration, post-run strides, hill sprints etc.). Workout wise I'm still playing around with them, but most won't be anything crazy different or new- just good solid race specific efforts. I will be updating my training logs each week over on Salty Running.

What is next for racing?
Two winters ago I did more racing than this past one. I used the local Freezeroo series as a way to motivate myself to get out regardless of conditions. Last year I didn't do it for a bunch of reasons, but kind of missed the commiseration of scheduled hard run in sub-zero temps with other locals. I never really stressed about those races, because the conditions were always different and never usually ideal- but it meant a good workout and a morning with other runners. Something to be said about low-frills races as supported workouts during training.

With that said I decided to register for the series this year. It's $65 for SIX races, which is a nice tag for supported runs. Some people pay well over $11/class for a workout so why not pay roughly ~$11 for a supported running workout? I know for a fact I won't do all 6 races (already nixed the New years day one), but I will plan on at least 4 so I can be eligible for series awards (2 years ago I took second place for women). 

Besides the series, I am also registered for two halves- both of which will most likely be workouts and not all out races. I'm glutton for punishment & going back to Lake Effect even after this years mess- but will be much better about adjusting goals and such if need be. I am also doing Syracuse Half Marathon again, but the new race date is only 2 weeks from Boston so it will likely be a marathon workout or just another long run.

So that is where I am at, and what is next. I'm really excited with life in general right now, which makes running the icing on the cake. I'm gonna have this cake and eat it too.

Friday, November 20, 2015

I'm Racing a Half Marathon this Weekend *Gulp*

It's scarier for me to say I am running a half marathon this weekend than it would a marathon. I've run 20+ halves and still don't feel like I know how to race them. I haven't trained specifically for a half in a few years, they have all been in the middle of marathon training. I don't regret that, and it probably won't change for a while. I like my marathons, sue me. 

I've run a few halves this year, none of them stellar. Lake Effect was a snowy bad attitude disaster. Syracuse was a strong effort and good course PR, but still not an all out race for me. Pacing Buffalo was fun half, but again not a race effort. With that, my last half was really Empire last year (still my current official PR). Right now my half marathon PR pace and marathon PR pace are only 2 seconds/mile apart. Needless to say I have some room to move with that half time. We will see.

The last 8 weeks have been a roller coaster of training, with a marathon thrown in the middle and a bunch of random 5k's surrounding that. Most importantly though, it's been FUN. I've not stressed about training for the most part, and haven't been following a strict plan. Mentally I have needed the break after go-go-going on a training plan for well...a really long time.

With that said, I am taking Philly semi-seriously because I KNOW I can PR. But, I'm also going into it knowing this won't be the best I can do (ever) but it will be the best I can give on that day. Reality is, I believe I have far faster times in me but that isn't the point of my running right now. This is my "I'm not following a training plan and if I don't wanna run I won't- Season".

A look at the weeks leading up to this weekends race....

Race week: "Head Cold + PMS= Rage week"
Workouts: Track session: (2 x 1 mile @ T, 2 x 800, 1 x 400, 4 x 100 strides) Cut-down workout
Long Run/Race: -Philly Half Marathon-

2 Weeks out: "Where'd my motivation go week"
Workouts: 60 Minute treadmill tempo (about 45 minutes of "work")
Long Run:  12 Miles with Heather

3 weeks out: "weeeeee training again feels awesome"
Workouts: 9 mile tempo (1 up, 2 Steady State [6:55], 5 Tempo [6:30 avg.], 1 down),
Track workout (4x200m, 2x400m, 4x200m) + Strides
Races: East Ave Grocery Run 5k
Long Run: 16 Miles

4 weeks out: "go with the flow and get it done week"
Workouts: 6ish mile fartlek, 7 mile tempo (1 up, 5 @ 6:28 avg., 1 down)
Long Run: 16 Miles
Races: Pumpkins in the Park 5k (costume race)

5 weeks out: "Getting back into a groove week"
Workouts: Track (1 mile @ T, 2x800m, 2x400m, 4x200m)
Long Run: 14.5 Miles
Races: Scare Away Brain Cancer 5k

6 weeks out: "Recovery week from Chicago Marathon"
Workouts: -none-
Long Run: -none-
Race: Courage Run 5k

7 weeks out: "Chicago Marathon week"
Workouts: -none-
Long Run/Race: Chicago Marathon with Brittany

8 weeks out: "First time doing anything fast since Erie week"
Workouts: Track (10x200)
Long Run: -none-
Race: Photo Finish 5k

9 &10 weeks out: Erie Marathon/Recovery Weeks

I admit looking over this made me feel better about Philly, I have done a few workouts and the races help too.  This race was not on my 'goal race radar' until maybe 5 weeks out. I wasn't sure how I'd feel with back to back marathons, but knew that a half PR would be good way to end the season. I was already planning on spectating the marathon so it worked out to run the half and then play cheerleader after. Win-win.

If I use my most recent 5k time/PR (18:46), that converts to 1:26:53
If I use my marathon PR time (2:58:13), that converts to 1:24:41

I have problems with both of these conversions. My 5k times have never matched my marathon times, I always fair faster on the distance end (which is so strange to me based on my short distance experience being stronger). On the other end of things, using my marathon time seems illogical since that was 10+ weeks ago and I don't have that same fitness right now.

So I guess that leaves me somewhere in the middle, which is conveniently where my goal lies. I think based on training, and where I am currently at (not in peak shape, but not a couch potato) a 1:26:XX is a reasonable goal.

Throwing that out there for a little public accountability.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

East Ave Grocery Run 2015

Oh look it's another race recap! Sixth weekend in a row of racing to be exact, so not the norm for me but it's been fun! I knew this would be my last race before Philly half in two weeks though, and also know it would be a good confidence booster if it went well. I didn't go in planning on a PR, but I also didn't rule it out. I have been consistently between 18:55-19:07 for a while now so I was hoping to be somewhere around there.

B got up in the morning with me and drove me to the race, which is an easy drive. I warmed up solo and zoned out to some music (I may not listen to it while racing anymore, but I still love it for pumping myself up during pre-race!). I couldn't gauge how I was feeling, but finished with some strides and checked out the field anyways. Based on who I saw, I told B I could have a tough time cracking the top 10 but that I would try. A quick shoe change and last minute hug and it was about go time. I high fived and said hi to a few friends and other Bergen teammates (was nice to have a few of us there!)

I was on the line off to the side, but near some people that I knew would be good to chase once we took off. I was near a girl who I bobbled back and forth with two weeks ago at the 5k so I decided to just hang with her for at least the first mile. It gave me something to focus on and we were holding a good pace. The first mile is 95% straight, the marker was shortly after the first course turn. This mile also slight elevation loss. 5:55

After we made turn two, I pulled ahead and started picking others off as I could. I wasn't paying attention to my watch, just focusing on form and pushing forward. The second mile had two turns, and finished on a slight grade. I did see B shortly before the end of the second mile which made me smile. 6:06

The third mile of this course (new course this year) definitely was the most challenging of the three. First off it's the third mile of a 5k, it's supposed to be a grind at the end. Secondly this mile has FIVE turns and a short steep incline right between two of those turns. It was just enough to take the wind out of my sails, and admittedly I didn't pace it well. I continued to pick people off without looking at my watch, I had no clue when I needed to kick. I unfortunately waited until the final turn onto East which left me with very little room to make up ground. Live and learn.

No, that is NOT a lot of elevation change but damn I let it get to me more than I should have!
I pushed as hard as I could and was running 5:02 pace for the last 30 seconds. In my head I was a little mad at myself for not tackling the last mile better and kicking too late, but then I saw the clock and knew I was about to PR. 18:46 was the official time, and gave me a 3rd place finish. Anger went away pretty darn quick, I can't help but be my own worst critic but I'll also celebrate my success just the same.

Basically opposite pacing of the 5k two weeks prior, but I was faster overall this time so I can't be TOO mad.
Overall I am happy with how my times have been with shorter distances this fall since Erie Marathon. I still need serious work on short distance pacing but I know that I can fix that in time. This was a good confidence booster for Philly half, and was very pleased to end up in top 3 ($50 was a nice unexpected thing to walk away with). A few of the women I thought were racing ended up not, but this was still a solid field- I definitely ran knowing that I had quite a few women right on my heels (good motivation to push though!).

This week will be a bigger training week for Philly and next week I plan to do a small taper for the half. If you want to know about the previous two weeks of training you can check that out ----> here.

2014 Grocery Run Recap (Old Course)

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Ten things Thursday: Catching up on Life

Admittedly, for a good chunk of time I was rolling with the punches but also expecting the punches regularly. I kind of felt like I was in the ring with Ronda Rousey a bit, but somehow managed to come out alive and relatively unscathed. 
Lets file the last few years under 'Chaos' and current state as 'great changes'
Life lately has been much less of a boxing match, and much more of a zip line ride down a mountain. All of a sudden I look around and things are just....amazing. Life has been changing at a rapid pace, complete with all of the emotions. It's exciting, fun, a little scary but as a whole just a damn good experience. Sure, it's not always easy and I find my grip slipping here and there but you adjust and hold on like hell. 

A few things to talk about, so in true Laura fashion we will go with the list....

1. I have a secret to share. My alter ego is published! You can now call me Barley, read more about that right here --->Introducing Barley!<--- on Salty Running. I am really excited to start writing over on SR, I will be posting my training logs as well as other running/training/racing posts. This little corner of the web isn't going anywhere though. I will be sharing the writing between sites, and created a tab up top for links to all my Salty posts as they are done! So I guess that really wasn't a secret but I just hadn't gotten around to talking about it because I was busy with....

2. Moving. This fall has been pretty darn busy (but in so many good ways!). The decision was made towards the end of September, even though we knew that October was going to be nuts. B was gone the first 2 weeks of the month, and I spent 5 days partying and running my way through Chicago. When we both got back it was time to just make things happen. A few evening trips with the truck (followed by food and beer at Tap & Mallet), and a few more day trips and a large trailer load and we were done. The house is full: 2 people, 2 dogs, 2 sets of adults belongings....and many jokes about needing a room for my books and my running shoes. Many adventures in cohabitation to come :)

3. Speaking of moving, I didn't realize how attached I was to my regular running routes until I didn't have them! I moved out of the city, but am in a pretty busy area with less convenient access to my go to running spots. Not a huge deal, in fact it's been fun finding new routes. Sometimes I get home and say I will NEVER run on THAT road again, and other times I come back all excited to return to a road for a certain type of workout. I do miss some of my old routes though, luckily it's not THAT far away.

4. Training has been, slowly becoming training again if that makes sense. Between Erie and Chicago I basically just ran if I wanted and didn't otherwise. After Chicago it's been a mish mash of runs, races, and whatever I could fit in. I finally feel like I have some structure back which is a good feeling. I also have a new gym membership which is 2 miles from my new home- convenient for getting workouts in, and for running (treadmill time is imminent, it's November). This is Upstate, NY. It may have been 78 yesterday, but I'm a realist and I know I'll be grumbling over white crap in no time. I'm sticking with a pretty loose training plan for the time being though- after a big year of training and racing, the stress free and fun is a great distraction.

5. Bibs Galore! I used to race a LOT, like a lot lot. Over the past few years it's dwindled a bit, although I still race a decent amount. Somehow, fall fun running turned into racing a ton! Since I'm not high volume training right now, and have gone into all but one (Erie) of these with no expectations/pressure/stress- I don't think it's a bad thing to spend my weekends poking myself with safety pins at ungodly hours.
9/20 Recovery Week
9/27 More Recovery running

6. Racing. While we are on the topic, there are two more to add for upcoming races. I am running a 5k this weekend (I'd like to be around where I have been, but also have been training more this week so who knows), and then racing Philly half in two and a half weeks! Admittedly, I do have some bigger goals for Philly but that we can talk about another day.

7. I know I already did a race recap- but um, yeah. You gotta see this again. because...jorts.

8. Can we talk about the weather? No, seriously...the weather has been awesome! We had a cold snap for a bit but then this week has been 70's! Yesterday Rochester reached 78 which broke a 70+ year temperature record. Usually we are breaking cold or snow records this time of year, so cheers to something new! Buffalo Bills also won a new title, drunkest fans. Admittedly this shocked me far less than a record breaking 78 degrees on November 4th.

9. We all know I love my Zensah compression. What you may not know is they have wool sleeves now! I know I was just talking about it being 70 degrees outside, but it's NY and that could change in 5 seconds. I love the wool sleeves and can see myself using them a LOT this winter. They are super warm/cozy but still offer great compression without being crazy itchy! Check those out here---->Wool Compression sleeves

10. Apparently my life isn't changing as much as I thought if I can't come up with 10 things without talking about the weather. Obviously there are other things in life going on. I still work (ONE job for the time being, WHATTTTTT?!). I still run. I still drink beer. Basically, I'm the same person but I smile a hell of a lot more and my zip code is different.

What's new?

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Pumpkins in the Park 2015: Lumberladies!

Every year, on the Saturday closest to Halloween (or this year, on Halloween!) I run the Pumpkins in the Park 5k here in Rochester. This race in 2009 was one of my first 5k's ever! My sister and I ran it together, and it became a tradition. She has run 3 of the last 6 years with me, and this year was year 7. I did the other 3 years solo, but this year had Heather with me! Basically I told her to come dress up like an idiot with me and spend a night in Rochester, she obliged :)

We tossed around a few ideas but settled on Lumberjacks, we actually had most of the things we needed without going to the store. When she got into town on Friday we hit up Party City for the remaining few things (beards and suspenders).

After that it was time to get out and unwind (both had hectic weeks), which involved good people at a friends Halloween party (and beer). After the party we headed to a bar where my boyfriends friends band was playing, which turned into a fun filled evening of drinks and dancing and putting stress behind us.

Saturday morning was standard, coffee and bumming around the house trimming our beards. Wait, okay not so standard. But it was amusing, and we got a huge kick out of it.

We got to the race at Cobb's hill a bit early and did about a mile and a half warm-up. Even though we weren't racing the actual race, we wanted a little more daily mileage. Running in jorts and suspenders was oddly not as uncomfortable as expected, although we did have compression shorts underneath. No time for chaffing.

Honestly I don't have a ton to say about the race. We laughed a ton. We made others laugh. We pretended to chop wood. We commented on everyone's costumes. Most importantly, I got to spend a night and  a fun morning with Heather (which hasn't happened since AUGUST). We naturally went for coffee and breakfast after the race....still in costume. 

I'll let the photos do the rest of the talking. 

Photo courtesy Fleet Feet Rochester
Photo courtesy Fleet Feet Rochester

Previous Pumpkins in the Park Costumes

Monday, October 26, 2015

Scare Brain Cancer Away 5k 2015

This past weekend, I ran yet another 5k. This would be my third this month (on top of Chicago Marathon), not my usual racing style, but it has been fun and stress-free which is what I am going for right now. I decided to run the Scare Brain Cancer Away 5k, located in East Rochester.

I had never done this race before, because it always fell on the same day as Pumpkins in the park which is a race I have done for 6 years now (2014, 2013 & earlier). This year however, PITP is on Halloween  which meant I could actually try out another race without missing the other.

Course has a lot of turns for a 3.1 mile race!
I figured this was a good opportunity for another fun race, no stress and just see what happens (as with the others I have done this fall since Erie). B came with me, and brought one of the dogs to walk around while I ran. It was nice having the support, and gave me something to look forward to at the finish.

After a shorter warm-up, and a mad dash back to the car to change into my flats- I lined up far left shortly before go time. Once I got through the initial mad dash of the crowd I just tried to settle into a comfortably hard pace and find some people to try and stick with. I went back and forth with a girl for the first mile, finally I was able to pull ahead and stay there. I also bobbled back and forth with one guy, and would continue to do so for the remainder of the race.

I felt like I was holding a good pace and not fading too hard but I wouldn't look at my watch because I didn't need to know. Once I hit the second mile though, I decided to see where I was at. 6:14 for mile 2, and I was feeling good- oh shit I should probably speed up. Basically a slap in the face to wake up, bad habit to fall asleep in the middle of 5k's pace wise.
Apparently all that box lifting from moving left me jacked up top. Also don't mind my little Elivs meets Snookie Poof on top of my head- I was lazy.
I cruised in the last mile, saw B and Pepper around 2.5 which was good a good pick me up and made the final turn to the finish. I was really happy to see the clock and that I was under 19 again, which is the second time that has happened since August (well, and ever). So close to a PR, and I do think I would have had it had I not gotten complacent in the middle mile. Oh well, I'm not mad about it in any sense. In fact, I'm happy with the times I have been able to run lately coming off my own big race, as well as another marathon thrown in the middle.

My data for the race
Official time for the race was 18:55, which put me at 4th female and an age group win. 

So another weekend down and another 5k under my belt. Happy with the progress and enjoying the way running is going right now while having the time to give other things in life some priority. Next weekend I will be doing Pumpkins in the park costume 5k, and I roped Heather into joining me (stay tuned for costumes, because we don't even know yet). 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Courage Run 5k 2015

Coming off of Chicago Marathon it certainly wasn't in my plan to race a 5k only 6 days later. Reality is I had never ran for 4+ hours before and wasn't sure how recovery would go. To my surprise, I bounced back pretty quickly. I was feeling good, and I knew that walking, easy running, and focusing on sleep and hydration really helped during the week. Because of this, Friday when it was brought up to me about a 5k on Saturday I didn't immediately rule it out (also didn't immediately say yes).

In the end I decided I would do it, it was a close to home race for a good cause and admittedly knew I could probably walk away with a little cash. I also was confident in my self control to back off if I felt like it was too much.

It was a cold morning, but nothing a few layers couldn't handle until I did my warm-up. The drive was short to Hamlin, maybe 15 minutes and that included weaving around cop cars on every corner. There were 2 races going on within a mile of each other. The other race was a 15k/5k, and shared part of the same course as the 5k I was doing, but the different start times made it easy. I think the cops were confused which race was which though.

I did my warm-up solo, and then went and found Kraig and his wife Chelsea. I did a few strides and stayed loose while the SMALL race field gathered at the start line (64 people). I had stripped down to shorts, compression sleeves, my Bergen Elite singlet and my racing flats. I absentmindedly forgot to put my arm warmers on (*forehead slap*). When we started I stayed with Kraig, but then realized he was going out far faster than I was willing to take on that day so I backed off. Bye!

I had been told before the race, that there would be an uphill after mile two, but then downhill last quarter mile or so. Mile one went smoothly, and I was chilly but not too bad. Mile two went by about the same, wasn't feeling amazing but held steady. Then I saw the mile 2 marker, and I saw the hill. It wasn't gigantic, not in any sense but I wasn't in the mood for it and the headwind kind of just made me hate it a tiny bit more. I dropped a few curse words and remember saying to myself "just pump your arms and get up the hill then you can take downhill finish". Problem was, I couldn't pump my arms because they were so cold due to my stupidity not putting arm warmers on and the wind going into them. I just said it is what it is, and knew this was going to be a big positive split mile- oh well.

When I got to the top of the hill there was a big crowd of people cheering, I laughed at the high school boys yelling "Next stop, BOSTON MARATHON!". Smiled, and stared at the steep downhill to the finish and cruised in. Like my 5k two weeks prior, I was pleasantly surprised to see 18:XX when I could see the clock for first time- 19:05 Finish time.
Official time was 19:05, apparently I stink at stopping my watch (which is odd considering how much practice I have doing that at finish lines;))
Kraig took third (but an unofficial win due to first 2 being in HS and can't accept prize money), and I was fifth overall (first female). So we both walked away with over $100 cash in hand. We did a short cool down, chatted with his wife and waited for our awards while drinking the race out of coffee.

This was a great race, one that is held in honor of a local woman who was taken too soon because of Breast Cancer. While yes it was small, it was well run race with nice shirts, reasonable entry fee, good prizes and a decent course. You could tell most everyone there knew and loved the woman (also named Laura) it was in memorial for- touching to see her friends and family come together in the community.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Chicago Marathon 2015

One of the biggest pieces I left out while talking about the incredible weekend in Chicago, was obviously the race. It feels very different to write up a recap for this marathon. Sure, I DID run a marathon- my thirteenth to be exact, but this wasn't "my" marathon to recap. It was quite a bit of "ours" but mainly "hers"(Britt).

While the marathon thing isn't new to me, this was the first time I would run Chicago and also the first time going into a race without my own personal goals. My goals all had to do with Britt- helping her achieve marathoner status, and hopefully enjoy it along the way. As the weekend came, I was really glad that I had decided to do my goal race before this, it allowed me to be totally present in Chicago and not worrying about what was next.

The morning started with a walk to the park with the rest of the ladies, some photos at the Bean and obviously a selfie or two along the way. All of the cadets were calm, collected and I could tell we were all just excited to be ready to go!

Things were pretty well organized around the start (gear check, bathrooms, corrals, etc.) so we maneuvered through with relative ease. Once we were in the start corral we ran into some of the other ladies and exchanged good lucks and also some "You are NOT a chicken" (had to be there...).
Pre- Race Selfie with Michele!
The first few miles were just, different. But in such a good way. I wasn't stressed, I wasn't even worried about Britt taking off like a bat out of hell and trying to slow her down. Did we go out a little faster than planned, yes but not much. We looked around, commented about all of the people, and just smiled our way through the city buildings.

We knew we would see Ashley, my Mom and hopefully a few others within the first 3 miles. Sure enough, I saw Ashley (with her husband and Jennie in tow) and yelled her name with a smile and wave. A little while later we crossed a bridge, and oh there's Mom! We both got excited, and then joked that in about 30 seconds there would probably be a video of us screaming on facebook. We were wrong, but she did get some good pictures:)

The miles ticked away pretty quickly, we focused on puppies (yes, I'm serious) and reading funny signs. We sang when we heard songs on course that we knew, and simultaneously did dances that weren't even planned.

We watched for people we knew, sometimes we saw them and sometimes we didn't. We saw Jenny a few times which was a great- so glad we finally got to meet in person! We saw Grayson, one of our amazing Saucony leaders and her ladybug balloon overhead. Before we knew it we were looping back through for the half, and got another fun Mom sighting to boot. Still smiling away.

Miles 13-16 were pretty much on point with the first 13, but admittedly it was warming up and we knew that anything can happen that second half. Britt took a bathroom stop, I used this as a good chance to stretch. My left Achilles was a little tight and it needed a little TLC, the paces were pretty unfamiliar to me so my body was adjusting and stretching did wonders.

After that bathroom stop mile, we got right back down to business. We continued with alternating water/Gatorade every other mile. We were both using Honey Stinger energy chews for fuel, which worked really well and paired that up with water stops. I also took two Hammer Endurolytes mid-race as I knew it would be helpful with the rising temperatures.

I could tell the later miles were wearing on Britt(It's expected as she was entering new territory!), but she was doing an awesome job keeping her head up. We still had mid-run dance parties when a good song played, she commented on how fast some of the miles were going by mentally, and we still got excited pointing out all the dogs on the course {can you tell we are dog mom's?}.

I have to say she was SO mentally prepared for those later miles (whether she realizes it or not). I didn't need to tell her to set small goals when things got hard, she just did it. I didn't need to tell her to be consistent with fueling, she just did it. I didn't need to tell her to increase fluids when it got hot, she knew. So maybe her training wasn't 100% what she wanted with some speed bumps along the way, but her mental game was on point and I was very proud!

We celebrated little victories along the way, which is always a good thing to help keep you positive. After this mile, only single digit miles left! Or, hey here comes mile 20- the furthest you've ever run! Quite a few "Can I get a hell yeah?!" every time we hit 21, 22, 23 and so on- new mileage PR's for her. I tried to remind her of the amazing things that she's got to look forward to (BEER, Buffalo Bills Football, Team celebration dinner, BEER) at the finish.

We would hit a mile, and I told her "hey 5 miles, how many times have you ran 5 miles- that's nothing!". I tried to give her the right amount of encouragement without being overbearing, hopefully something I accomplished. We took walk breaks for water, and stretch breaks as needed. Setting little goals to keep going, "okay when we get to that green sign, we go". She kept trucking on, and not once questioning that finish line.

When we were in the final mile I could see it on her face, that sense of "this is happening". It made me so happy, and I think we were both more emotional than we led on at the time. I heard my name yelled loud and cranked my whole body around to see my friend Mark whom I met in O'hare last year while we were both stuck for flight delays. It was a great boost at the end, and of course sped me up a bit. I think this happened a few times, we would see someone and I'd get excited then Britt would pull back on my reins. Sorry for that, I just love people cheering for us! :)

We made the right turn to go up the "hill" and chuckled as this would normally be a speed bump for us upstate NY girls. Then there was a 400m to go sign and we both noted the fact that in the distance of ONE lap around a track we would be done! With 300m to go, all of a sudden Britt took off. She found that final gear and left me in the dust, I chased her down weaving through everyone and we crossed the finish line side by side. In fact, our times are identical! I love our finish photo, it shows how happy I was for her and her emotional "this is real" face.

She did it, she became a marathoner on October 11, 2015 and I got to witness the entire thing. In all honesty I think I'll remember more about HER first marathon than I do my own. I know I get emotional just thinking about it!

All in all Chicago marathon was everything I was told it would be. The course is pretty dang flat (Erie is definitely flatter, if you are interested), the course was scenic and entertaining. There were lots of crowds, the bridges with carpets rolled out was cool (I love Bridges!), the neighborhoods were electric and finish views were fantastic. I admittedly still think Boston is a little louder and rowdier though, Chicago put up a good fight- but it's really hard to battle the sounds of the Wellesley women and Boston college partiers. It was great to knock another marathon major off the list and obviously experience it in an unforgettable way with a great friend.

So, Chicago was my 13th marathon. Lucky 13, and I truly feel like I was lucky. I had great chance to support Brittany, represent two power companies in the industry, and spend the weekend with many other amazing and inspiring women. Lucky 13, yup..lucky indeed.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Chicago & Saucony 26 Strong

When you get off a plane, have bags under your eyes, a froggy voice, a little wobble to your walk and a suitcase near it's breaking point all while wearing a big smile on your face- you know you did the trip right. By those standards, Chicago Marathon weekend was an utter success.

I spent 5 days in Chicago with Brittany, my Mom and the rest of the Saucony 26 Strong ladies. It was a wonderful coincidence we would be doing Chicago Marathon for the program this year, as it meant extra time with my Mom who I don't see often (she splits time living between NY and CHI). Britt and I flew in a day early to stay with her, relax, unwind and gear up for a fun filled weekend. Of course we kicked off that first night at the local pub, and tasted our way through local beers and fantastic food. 6 meals, 3 women: we don't mess around.

On Friday Britt and I took the train into the city so we could check into our hotel and do some things on our own before the group came in. Let me just say, our hotel (Renaissance Chicago) was amazing and we felt spoiled beyond belief. Saucony/Competitor gave us the royal treatment for sure.

Then it was time for the expo, packet pickup and meandering around. We visited our favorite booths (Saucony, Nuun, Goose Island, Zensah, Gen Ucan) but also didn't make a day of it (Pro tip: don't waste your energy, or something like that).

After an interesting ride on a school bus back to downtown (WTF my luck with school buses and marathons?! See Boston 2015 bus to start line), we decided it was time for a trip to Eataly. All I can say is, that place lived up to every bit of hype Britt made about it. We had amazing food, wine, and walked around for a while afterwards. I immediately texted B and told him we HAVE to come here together.

Before we knew it, it was time for the meet and greet back at the hotel. I was so excited to see some of the women that I already knew and also meet the others that I hadn't met before. Most of us had interacted enough on social media throughout the process that I felt like I actually knew them. Spoiler: Many are so much more awesome in person. The organizers of the program (from Saucony and Competitor) went above and beyond for all of us, they really love what they do. A few of us went to the hotel bar afterwards to continue chatting, and also greet the others that flew in later in the evening. We made a pretty good welcoming committee if you ask me :)
Britt, Me, Lindsey and her cadet Olivia
Saturday was when it all really got going though. I went out for a few solo miles first, to honestly just allow myself to appreciate how happy I am lately. More on those reasons another time, but in general life is just really freaking good right now- and a crisp run in an amazing city allowed me to appreciate it even more.
Good Morning Chicago!
I met up with the rest of the group and we had a great morning full of running, photos and of course smiling and laughing along the way. A few of us even got a smaller second photo shoot as we hadn't been to San Diego earlier in the year for the other ones. Monkeyed around for a bit, and we giggled our way through some more photos. I can't wait to see them all!
The 26 Strong Ladies!

We met back at the hotel with the rest of the teams for brunch. The food was amazing, the coffee was so-so, but the company and the 'entertainment' was second to none. We chatted, got to know each other more, and then listened to an exceptional speech by Sharon Barbano. Sharon is a highly decorated runner, and also the VP of Public Relations for Saucony. She made us laugh, smile and even got a few tears (Angela and I at least!) all while inspiring us to be 'eagles' and "Find our strong". I vote for her to write a book, or at least record her speeches.

Later we took Uber out to the expo again, our driver was wearing Saucony- talk about a good omen. I'm sure Jaleel (wasn't that his name ladies?) loved us, we laughed and selfied our way through the drive.
From Lindsey's IG
Upon returning to the hotel, a group of us were hogging seats at the hotel bar/lobby. We chatted, greeted people as they came in, and clinked our glasses to a great weekend. I almost fell off my bar stool running to see Michele when I saw her walking through the lobby, I then ordered her a glass of wine and told her unwind. I saw her only a weekend prior when I ran last few miles of her marathon with her- but couldn't contain my excitement to spend more time with her! An afternoon of running and life chat with some women that inspire the hell out of me, yes please.
Jenny, Michele, Lindsey, Me
Ashley, Ruth (Ashley's MIL), Lindsey, Theodora, Jenny, Me & Michele
I wish I saw these ladies more, it was so much fun to be able to sit and hang out in person. I could see some of us doing dinner and cocktails together (and running together!) on a regular basis.  My Mom's quote of the day "Don't you have any ugly friends?"

Saturday night brought Chicago style deep dish pizza, good luck phone calls, delivering Britt's pre-race gift/card and obviously bumming around in compression tights. Race weekends really are fun, I love the whole process.

I don't think I stopped smiling all weekend. I was constantly surrounded by inspiring, kick-ass women supporting one another. In a world that spends a lot of time trying to tear us down, it was refreshing to be in an environment that was completely opposite.

Sunday night was so bittersweet. We knew we wouldn't see anyone after that, and saying goodbye after a weekend like this was just plain old hard. It's funny how you can really get to know people in a short amount of time, and feel like it's been forever. We laughed and celebrated over a fantastic family style dinner at Beatrix, and I didn't want the night to end.

I am so grateful for this opportunity, and chance to experience it all with Brittany. We made the most out of an already amazing weekend. We embraced meeting new people, feeling silly in photo shoots, spending time with the other women, and representing the companies the best that we could. Most importantly we embraced the heck out of the program's main point: to run a marathon side by side and support one another. Britt and I got to spend a ton of time together and it only made our friendship and the experience that much better. I can't imagine having gone there and not been by her side, it's HER day not mine. I have my recap of the marathon coming, in the mean time go read Brittany's!
My cadet. My fellow runner. My fellow Buffalo Bills fanatic.
My friend, who now carries the title: MARATHONER!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Photo Finish 5k 2015

This past weekend I pinned a bib on my singlet for the first time since Erie, albeit with much less internal pressure about a time goal. I had originally thought I would run Syracuse Festival of Races on Sunday, but due to logistics and it generally being a really busy time for me- it didn't make sense (it also would have meant breaking plans which I don't like to do). So I knew if I wanted to run I'd need a Saturday race to leave Sunday free for going down to Wineglass Marathon to spectate, as luck would have it there was a perfect race.

The Eastman House Photo Finish 5k was logistically what I needed. I wanted to get my butt back out there after Erie, and build a little running pep for Chicago next weekend. Close to home smaller race, good course, and all for wonderful causes (MANY charities benefit from this race). 

Saturday morning I was a bit slow moving getting ready, and walked right out the door without my racing flats. That pretty much just says how little I cared about the actual race (normally I get EVERYTHING ready the night before). I realized I forgot them when I was almost there, and it was a pretty nonchalant "meh" while sitting at a stop light.

It was cold, but admittedly I love that kind of weather for races. I bundled up and did a few miles before the race then stripped down for some strides at the start line. I felt good but really had no idea how the race would go, and my only plan was to not stare at my watch the whole time.

We started and I instantly went out too fast (I can drill a marathon pace in my head but 5k's, not so much). Slowed down about half mile in and held that to cross the first mile in 6:06. I knew I was gonna back off a bit (not necessarily by choice, ha!) and just rolled with it. Second mile was uneventful and I was just keeping the lead guys in my line of sight, I was lead female and hoped holding on to the guys might help keep me there. Mile 2 was 6:18 (read: how not to pace a 5k), but I felt decent so my goal  was to try pick it up for the last mile.
I look super grumpy, don't mind me.
We ran on East ave past the front of the Eastman house so there were some more spectators which gave me a good boost and helped me pick it up. Made the final few turns and went back and forth with a few guys. I turned onto the Eastman property and saw the clock was at 18:5X which made me happy because I really wasn't sure what I was at. I finished in 19:07, which is technically my second fastest 5k behind Bergen in August. I don't regret not staring at my watch, but I do think I could have dipped under 19 again had I actually known where I was at a little sooner. But, again it wasn't a goal race.

Much like Erie told me about other distances (basically, I have a lot of room for improvement in half marathon and down), this just reinforced that. I love marathons but I do have a strong desire to work on some other distances as well. Although, I don't see myself drifting too far from the distance- mainly I'd like to see some big drops in my half and 10k times. 5k is great but I just don't enjoy them the way that I do some of the longer stuff(everyone has their preferences!). Once in a while it is good to get out there and do them though, and I plan on a few this fall after Chicago.

I cooled down with a friend, and then a little more solo before waiting for awards. As first female I won a book, museum tickets (to the Eastman house), and also $100 donation to the charity of choice in my name. I chose KMB for answers. I have talked about this non-profit a little bit before, but it has grown a ton since then. It was founded by friends/family members of a girl with whom I went to high school with. They are doing wonderful things gaining support and raising awareness about eating disorders. If you have a minute, please take the time to hop over to their website or Facebook page and see what they are all about.

Next race, CHICAGO MARATHON!!! I am really excited for this upcoming weekend with Brittany and the rest of the Saucony 26 strong ladies!

Friday, October 2, 2015

8 Reasons you might consider a coaching change

As many know, I was a self coached athlete for a long time. I succeeded with it (until I didn't) and gained invaluable experience, but I also learned a lot when I became a coached athlete again last year. I have talked about why I hired a running coach, all of which I still think are valid. I also wrote some notes down about working with a coach after a year, which the differences still hold true (coached vs. self coached). But I figure now is a good time for the third installment of coaching posts, knowing when to move on to another coach or to self-coaching.

Lets look at a few reasons, you might want to reconsider the coaching thing or at least have a good discussion about what changes could be made to have a better working partnership. Also good to note that many of these could be role reversed in situations coaches might choose not to work with athletes any longer (only fair to mention that).

1. Your training styles are TOO different. Changing the way you approach things in training can be a great way to add a spark, but there is also a limit. Changing the way you do everything, is a recipe for injury or burnout. Usually you can spot this kind of difference quickly though, during discussions with a coach (or potential) be sure to chat about what kind of training you have honestly been doing and what kinds of things he/she would implement into your training.

2. You are constantly injured/burned out. This is a clear sign that something is wrong, and that changes need to be made. Is the training too much? Do you need time off? Some of this could be a negative effect of # 1, training too drastically different than you were. This isn't placing blame, it's simply recognizing something needs to change.

3. There is no trust. Like any relationship, the trust needs to be there. You need to be able to trust the workouts and the plan you are given, and trust the person giving it to you. If you trust that person, and their plans you are more likely to stick to it (and not slack off, or deviate/do more than you should be) which will make you more successful. You also need to trust that your coach has your back, will support you, and has your best interest at heart. Yes, you are paying them to do a job- but would you continue to pay an employee to work for you if you knew you couldn't rely on them?

4. Communication is lacking. Much like number 3, this is crucial in any relationship. Being able to talk to your coach is very important. You need to be able to ask questions (and get answers), you need to be able to make training adjustments if something isn't feeling right, and you need to be able to adjust the schedule to life. Being able to talk about how training is going, or how to prepare for a BIG upcoming race are vital. You don't see NFL coaches taking vacations right before a playoff game do you? You also don't see pee-wee soccer coaches just sending the kiddos out on the field without some instructions. Whether you are a newbie or a pro, the communication lines should be open.

5. It's adding stress. This is one that is tough to quantify or judge. As runners we are constantly trying to learn how much to push when things get tough, and when is too much. If having a coach is stressing you out (undue pressure or frustration from lack of trust/communication) or the training load is too much for you on top of your general life, it might be time to back off a bit. Running is fun (most of the time), and if you aren't enjoying it or it is not adding to your life what is the point?

6. You're not improving/You're not getting what you need. This is kind of a combination of all of the above. But in general, if you are paying someone but aren't getting what you need- why keep paying them? We all need different things, there is nothing wrong with admitting that you need more or less from someone. This could be a great conversation to have, let them know what you are looking for and if that isn't an option you have your answer of what to do. You shouldn't compromise your personal beliefs, training, or happiness to suit someone else.

7. The reasons you started, are no longer valid. There are so many reasons to hire a coach, from complex reasons down to a simple desire to get faster. But just because someone helped you get where you wanted to(in life or running), it doesn't mean you are tied to that person forever (assuming you're paying the person, otherwise we can refer to that as using someone...don't do that). Whatever the reason being, if you aren't content where you are and feel it's time to move forward then there is nothing stopping you. Life changes, goals change, people change, your methods will change along with all of it.

8. It's no longer feasible. Add up the shoes, the fancy clothes, the race entries, and then a coach and that 'cheap sport' gets a lot more expensive. Organizing your finances in a way that allows you to have a coach is one thing (cable TV or a running coach? Personally I'd pick the coach), but jeopardizing your finances is another. Lets just leave it as, if you are unable to pay your bills like an adult and still continue training without the aid of an irresponsible/disrespectful GoFundMe page- it's time to re-prioritize. Be a responsible adult first, and runner second.
I will file the last year under a reason and a season, no regrets.
I guess it's probably pretty obvious why I would choose to write this post, I am no longer working with my coach. I've heard a lot of "I thought things were great" comments based on my previous posts about coaching, which I understand. But there are always two sides to every story, and as we all know- we rarely see the whole thing as posted online. He helped me in many ways the past year, pulling me out of a rut and helping me find more productive ways to train than I had in the past. Obviously I have seen great improvement in a lot of my times and that isn't something I am trying to discount. But that doesn't mean that there weren't ups and downs along the way, I simply didn't find those important to share. He guided me and I did the work, like a coach/athlete partnership should.

In the weeks leading up to Erie things were changing though, and it was more clear to me that moving forward on my end was imminent. Chalk it up to a combination of the above reasons. Most importantly though, I feel comfortable with myself and training that I'm excited(and ready) to be in control of it again. The details are not important and except for a few of my taper fueled frustrated tweets(the internet doesn't forget), the dirty laundry doesn't need to be aired. At the end of the day I respect our differences and know that I learned a lot that I can use going forward. Live, learn, and move the F on.

I'm looking forward to playing with my training a bit, but still using what I have learned to avoid past mistakes. I do also think being a little more 'relaxed' with my training the rest of the fall will be a good mental break for me before gearing back up for Boston. Maybe I will look at other coaches in the future, but in the mean time I will enjoy the perks of being self-coached again. Fall is my favorite time to run so the motivation won't be lacking, and on days that it is- who cares :)

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