My favorite time of year

Shadowing in BodyPump class I'll admit that I'm a bit weird.  While I enjoy Christmas and all of the holiday sights, sounds and experiences, I am secretly counting down the days until January.  I love the idea of the new year as a blank slate - a wide-open road of possibilities in both running and in life.  Those first days of January are spent packing away the Christmas decorations and cleaning the house in an attempt to start fresh and declutter as much as possible.  I love it.  The feeling of returning to simplicity in everything (house, food, life) vs. the excess that often accompanies the holidays is one of the best feelings.  I look forward to it each year.

This year did not disappoint.  After a busy (and very joyful) holiday season, I'm happy to be back to my routine.  I'm back to eating well (thanks to my family for a gift of Matt Fitzgerald's Racing Weight Cookbook), and happy to be back on a regular schedule with the running and the gym work.  I've gotten to shadow a few Body Pump classes (where I act as the instructor that demos all the moves while a fellow instructor calls the moves over the mic) and that's been a great experience to practice getting my feet wet at being up in front of a full class while I wait for the opportunity to teach a class of my own.

In running-related news, my official schedule has started!  I had my first week on the schedule with a long run that included some (gulp) marathon-paced miles.  It was pretty rough, but thankfully it's early in the season!  Here's how the week shook out. was COLD.

Monday:  12 miles, 7:55 avg pace.  Ran in Gettysburg on the hilliest route ever. If I wasn't going up, I was going down. It was very, very cold even with tights, mittens, a vest, and hand warmers. My phone died at mile 2 so it was a quiet, hilly, windy run. BUT I made it and was happy to get back to my inlaws house to get a nice warm shower and cup of coffee! Also surprised to see this one come in under 8-min pace given all the hills!

Tuesday:  8 miles, 8:43 avg.   Gettysburg again, but had my sister-in-law along for company on this cold, wet, rainy run.  Slower than we'd normally run, but due to the conditions we kept it on the easy side.  

Wednesday:  11.1 miles, 8:35 avg.  Ran with Dad on this run and was so happy to have company since it was POURING and cold. It wasn't so bad for the first 6 miles or so, but then it started really raining super hard and we were soaked within moments. My hands were so cold and wet at the end that I couldn't get the door open when we got back to the house. It was definitely one for the memory books though and I'm so happy that I was able to run with my Dad on Christmas Eve!

Thursday:  6 miles, 8:18 avg.  Legs a little tired from yesterday's run, but not too bad. Proud of myself for hauling my tired butt out of bed to get this done before everyone woke up. Had the streets all to myself - not a car in sight until I saw 1 car at the very tail end of the run. Silent streets made for a peaceful run. Merry Christmas!!!! So thankful to be out and running. :)

Friday:  7 miles, 8:40 avg.  Ran with Dad on this recovery run. Felt okay, but very nervous about how tomorrow's pace miles will go!

Saturday's long run with marathon paced miles!  Whew.  I was happy to have this done.

Saturday:  18 miles, 7 @ 6:50 or better,  7:25 avg.   This run called for 8 miles at marathon goal pace.  A very fast (sub-2:40 marathoner) friend offered to pace me on this run today. I was super nervous. I told him that we needed to do the first 10 miles at a slowish (8 min) pace so that I'd have enough energy for the pace miles. He agreed to do that. I fueled this morning with a bagel at 5:30 with butter and cream cheese and then about 3/4ths a serving of UCAN at 6:15. We started the run at 7. The first few miles were slow by his standards but by mile 10 we'd crept into the 7:30s range and I was feeling a bit fatigued. Got water and took a gel at mile 10, then started the pace miles. Felt okay but tired starting around mile 3. I was working really hard to maintain the pace and wondered if I'd bit off more than I could chew. I made it to mile 5 and then asked to take a quick pause. Downed another gel and got a sip of water, then made it two more miles (and up some hills!!) before I decided I'd had enough. Ran the last mile in at a slow pace to cool down. I felt badly that I'd had to take a break, but I needed a quick breather and really wanted to practice fueling with my gel and water. So it worked out okay. Wished I could have done all 8, but just wasn't feeling it today. From girls-only-problem standpoint (thanks, hormones), I was not at a great place and I think that was part of it too.  Big toe on my left leg is a bit sore from the dynamic planks in my core class - feels like it is jammed. Hope that resolves soon!

Splits: 8:12, 7:55, 7:51, 7:50, 7:47, 7:47, 7:47, 7:38, 7:53, 7:31, (start pace) 6:46, 6:48, 6:47, 6:49, 6:47, 6:42, 6:49, 7:39

Lessons learned from this run:  Right now I think that marathon pace is a bit aggressive for me, but I was happy I could hold it for as long as I did (though I did have to take a pause in the middle).  I think I'll need to see how the season goes and how my fitness improves before deciding if that's going to be my actual goal race pace or not.  Leaning towards making it closer to 6:55-7 right now, but I'm reserving judgement until after my next long run with MP miles.

Sunday:  6.17 miles, 8:44 avg.  Ran with my dog for the first mile (10 min mile) and then ran on my own for the last 5. Felt okay, legs feel surprisingly okay after yesterday. Did BodyPump at the gym later today. Toe is still sore though - little worried about that!

Total:  68 miles

And that's it for last week!  I was happy with this first week and just hope that I can continue to stay injury free through the next 11 weeks.   I'll have to evaluate the marathon pace as the season goes on before deciding on what to set my goal at for the actual race day.  I'm hoping that as my fitness improves the pace will feel a lot easier since this week it felt more like a tempo pace than marathon pace!

If I break my physical therapy band while doing my exercises does that mean I don't have to do them anymore? :)

I'm happy to be healthy and running at the start of 2015.   For my running goals this year I really just have one at the moment:  To do my best to get to the starting line healthy and as prepared as I can be!  For me that means prioritizing sleep, healthy eating and keeping up with my PT exercises and foam rolling.

Thanks for reading and I'd love to hear from you - What are your running goals for 2015?