I shall not be moved.

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Y’all it’s been so long since I wrote something, my blog host prompted me to reset my password.

Let’s talk 2020. Bizarre is the new normal.

Yesterday I went to the grocery store. I brought Emma with me and we both wore our masks. She was a good helper, but she also snuck quite a few “extras” into the cart: a single apple, for Natalie “because she likes them.” A Jo-Jo bow. And she convinced me to buy her a bunk bed for her second-hand American Girl dolls. But that’s not the most interesting thing that happened to us yesterday.

A man accused me of being racist. At our nicer-than-average local Wal-Mart, where we never see any actual “people of Wal-Mart” and people are always friendly. Quarantine is getting to folks.

Since we are still mid-pandemic, our store has instituted quite a few policies to help everyone stay safe and maintain “social distancing,” an imaginary 6 foot bubble to protect us from one another. Apparently they started making the aisles “one way”, so when I turned the wrong way down an aisle with Emma, a woman kindly pointed out that she had just noticed the arrows herself. I thanked her, and changed my route.

A few minutes later, I heard a scream from the aisle next to mine. Emma looked scared, and I told her to stay put while I quickly peeked into the next aisle. I spotted the woman who had just helped us, alongside a man. Everything looked okay, so I shrugged and resumed shopping. But then a minute later it happened again. The woman screamed:

“Someone help me! Get AWAY from me!” as she stood at the end of the aisle looking distraught. The man stood right next to her, gripping his cart, mumbling something quietly. He appeared unmoved by the raucous.

The other shoppers were staring, wondering what happened. Then the woman screamed at the top of her lungs, a primal scream.

I looked around and saw about a dozen shoppers frozen in fear. Was I the only rational person here? Maybe because I had met the woman earlier, I felt the need to take action.

I spotted an employee. “Call security,” I pleaded.

“That got someone’s attention, thank God,” she said.

I pulled Emma close to my side and turned to the woman.

“Are you okay? What happened?”

She explained that the man wasn’t wearing a mask and had stepped too close to her and refused to back off. She was an older woman, so she had every right to be protective of her personal space. Given that age is a risk factor for complications if someone were to contract the coronavirus, and with social distancing signs everywhere in the store, it seemed reasonable to expect that a normal person would back off.

“He said ‘kiss my ass’,” she explained. This ignited the man, who replied that he had done nothing wrong and he was the one who should be upset.

“Why are you afraid of me?” he asked the woman. “Is it because of this?” and he pointed to his arm.

Because I spend so much time around teenagers, my first reaction was a snappy comeback.

Well, you could use some lotion, I thought.

Don’t say that.

“You’re standing less than 6 feet from her,” I pointed out. And he looked me square in the eye and told me to mind my own business. Oooooh.

And this is where I really held my tongue: “Why did you call security?” he asked me. “Is it because of this?” He nodded and pointed to his arm again. He was implying that I was being racist.

“That’s a pretty racist statement.” I said to him, calmly.

I’m a teacher and I’ve been accused of anything and everything you can imagine: lazy, racist, homophobic, crazy, a bitch, bipolar, the list goes on. All from parents or students who are trying to defend themselves from some kind of punishment. None of it is true, but it always stings a little bit whenever someone assumes you’re a certain way just because you’re a straight, white woman.

I didn’t know what else to say. I wanted to ask him if he would have told a man to kiss his ass if a man had asked him to back off. That’s a hard NO.

I quickly assessed the situation and decided it wasn’t worth it to try to reason with someone who had already shown his cards. Don’t add any more fuel to the hate fire.

The manager arrived quickly.

Once I realized everything was under control, I turned my back and kept shopping. Emma said she was scared, so I told her it was okay to be scared, and then explained to her why I had stepped in.

As a mom of daughters and a victim of a fairly violent assault, I have a duty to stick up for other women when I know they are being victimized. It’s never okay to try to intimidate a woman just because you’re bigger and stronger.

I feel for that man in a way, because I’m sure he was triggered by the woman’s reaction, and he probably didn’t even realize his own implicit bias. No, I don’t know what it’s like to be black and be subjected to racism. I try hard to stay woke, but I can’t speak on that experience. I can, however, speak on being female.

I know that there plenty of guys that are aware of the misogyny in our society, that mansplaining isn’t okay, that women should not have to live their lives afraid to go for a run by themselves, or to go grocery shopping during a pandemic. But that man was not aware of the fact that he was acting way out of line. That’s why I stepped in.

We want respect. It’s that simple. If a man told you to back off, you would have done it. You would not have told him to kiss your ass.

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Embrace the Chaos

I think I’m one of the few people who actually enjoys homeschool, but we have our share of tough moments.

I’m not sure where I heard this phrase, so I apologize for not giving credit where credit is due. But this mantra came to me last week and it has served me well since.

Embrace. The. Chaos.

Like I said in the beginning of this post, bizarre is the new normal. I’m learning how to work full time, teach 1st grade to my spirited 6-year-old, keep my 4-year-old engaged, manage everyone’s constant snack demands, and stay sane as a person with a diagnosed generalized anxiety disorder in the midst of a global pandemic. This is crazy hard, y’all.

I’m re-reading Braving the Wilderness by Brene’ Brown. I’ve been reading more during quarantine, and it’s one of many things I’m grateful for right now. In one of the early chapters she quotes Maya Angelou’s poem Our Grandmothers. I think I’m going to make this another of my mantras.

I shall not be moved.

The full poem is here.

When you learn, teach.
When you get, give.
As for me,

I shall not be moved.

 

 

Thoughts on moving/ on

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These thoughts are a collection of things I have written in my own personal journal over the last month. In a little over a week we will be moving from upstate NY back to Virginia. It has been a challenging few years, for a variety of reasons. I’m grateful for my husband Pete, and my two girls, my friends, and running for being my anchor.

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If it’s not going to matter in five years, then don’t think about it for more than five minutes. Where did I hear that from? I don’t even remember but that’s some pretty damn good advice.

That saying “your vibe attracts your tribe” is so true. Friendships are so important. Humans have a need to connect with one another, to have real relationships, meaningful conversations.

In the book “How Bad Do You Want It” one of the later chapters (Passion Know No Age) talks about how the healthiest and happiest athletes were ones who treated life as a grand adventure, and who stressed very little about things. I loved reading that chapter. Puts many things into perspective.

I get a lot of joy from spreading my love for running to others, and in turn learning from other athletes. That’s why I coach, and why I do a lot of reading on exercise physiology and sport psychology. I’m always growing as an athlete and as a person, every day trying to get better.

I choose to be optimistic. I choose to focus on the positive. Even negative experiences can be blessings in disguise. Highs and lows are part of life, but it’s important not to dwell on any emotion and just carry on.

Be authentic and be you! Don’t try to be anyone else. You have your own God given talents and what makes you YOU. Remember to be yourself, be loving and kind, and contribute to the collective conscience in a positive way.

I’ve moved many times in my life, and I’m not afraid of change. I’m more afraid of the unchanging, being stuck in a job or circumstance that doesn’t let me become the best version of myself.

Binge watching TV does not lead to self-actualization, but I have learned some important life lessons from this season of The Bachelor. Plus it makes me laugh.

There’s a certain dichotomy that’s always been a part of my relationship with running. It’s a love/hate thing. I love to run, but sometimes it’s the last thing I want to do. When running becomes a chore, it’s less fun. I guess that’s why I have struggled with training for a marathon in the past, because the training is so far outside my comfort zone. The workouts are long. The training can be tedious.

The beauty of running is it’s simplicity. You only need a good pair of running shoes (and probably a sports bra for the ladies). You can wear whatever you like, no other gear needed. Sometimes we over complicate things with fancy devices. We place more focus on heart rate zones and splits instead of just putting one foot in front of the other, feeling our hearts beat faster, feeling the air go in and out of our lungs.

My college coach used to tell me, “don’t think, just run”. I think that’s the best advice.

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Hartford Marathon recap (2:53:32)… and what’s next?

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Hartford was everything I hoped it would be. I accomplished my goal, and left the race encouraged and hopeful for the future. And so happy to have finally put a good race together from start to finish.

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I was lucky enough to be invited to the New England’s Finest program, so we got to stay in Hartford on Friday evening, eat dinner at the hotel, and just relax. I had to attend a quick technical meeting, but besides that we were able to just talk with the other athletes, get a glass of wine from the bar, and just enjoy ourselves. It was a very nice change of pace (versus wrangling two toddlers the night before a big race). Must remember this for the future.

We walked to the elite tent with Erin and Allie on race morning, which was directly next to the finish line. So nice not to have to worry about finding friends and family after the race (looking at you, Boston Marathon). Race organizers were top notch, and they thought of everything, It really cut down on stress and allowed us to focus on our races.

My goal was to go out easy for the first 5k (suggestion from my friend Mary), and then settle into my goal pace (around 6:30/mile). Since it was humid, and the course has quite a few hills, I knew I was going to have to be flexible on my pace and just monitor how I was feeling and adjust accordingly. Luckily I was able to settle in with a group of ladies for a few miles, and then fell into a group with one other woman and her teammate for a good chunk of the middle of the race. I fell off the pace a little bit at the turnaround (around mile 17), or so I thought. I decided not to look at my watch and just run.

Hartford

 

Besides breaking 3 hours, my other goal was to run negative splits. So when I got dropped and saw the girl ahead of my pull farther and farther away, I was definitely worried that I was slowing down. But I remembered something from a podcast episode I had listened to awhile ago, that when you are feeling bad in a race and want to quit you’re really only at 30% of your capacity. I misremembered the number (thought it was 20%) so I kept telling myself to suck it up and that I still had 80% left to give. That worked pretty well. And then I started to do the math on the race clocks at each mile marker and realized that I hadn’t slowed down at all and was on pace to run well under 3 hours. That carried me through to the finish: first half 1:27, second half 1:26:32, final time 2:53:32. (My splits are on Strava if you want to see those).

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I’ve been taking it pretty easy the past two weeks or so. I took 6 days off completely and then since then I’ve just been running when I feel like it. After following structured training for several months it’s nice to get back to just running for the love of it. And recently I have realized that I need to do a better job of keeping my body in balance, so I’ve been seeing a massage therapist, keeping up with Pilates mat classes twice per week, and doing Jasyoga videos each day to address any areas that need extra attention. I joined the Jasyoga challenge, which started yesterday; anyone can join, and all you have to do is 5 minutes of yoga per day for the month of November. I’m such a big fan of those 5 minute videos.

Logically I think I have a good chance of eventually getting closer to the Olympic Trials standard of 2:45, but I don’t want to make that my main focus right now. I really just want to continue to enjoy races, work on getting stronger, and keep having fun. I will be running the Honolulu Marathon in a month, just for fun. I won a trip to Honolulu with Run Gum and I’ll be taking Pete along for a fun getaway. After that I’ll probably take some down time and pick a goal race for the spring. If you have any suggestions for a good spring half marathon or full marathon, I’d love to hear it! (preferably flat, fast!)

Hartford Marathon Training and Indy Women’s Half recap

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So, I tried. I really did. But, I don’t think I’m going to ever catch up on these weekly recaps before the actual race (since it’s NEXT WEEK, y’all). Here’s a run down of the last five weeks and then I’ll recap the Indy Women’s Half.

Week 10 (Week of 9/4 *recovery week*)

M 8 miles easy

T 8 miles easy

W 9 miles with strides

T 8 miles easy

F 8 miles easy

Sat 3 warm up, 5k race at 17:14 (5:30/mile), 3 at 6:45/mile, 2 cool down

Sun REST

(49.5 miles)

Week 11 (Week of 9/11)

M 8 miles easy

T 3 x 3 miles at MGP w/ 1 mile jog recovery (15 miles)

W 10.2 miles easy

T 10.2 miles easy

F 10 miles easy

Sat REST

Sun (Palio half) 13.1 miles at 6:15/mile! 2 miles warm up, 5 miles cool down (20)

(74.8 miles)

Week 12 (Week of 9/18)

M 10 miles easy

T 10.2 miles easy

W 8 miles easy

T 24 miles with no carbs, had eggs + coffee for breakfast and only water during the run

F REST

Sat 10.3 miles easy

Sun 8.2 miles easy with the girls in double stroller

(70.7 miles)

Week 13 (Week of 9/25)

M 10 miles easy

T 3 mile warm up, 6 mile easy fartlek, 3 miles cool down (12 miles)

W 10 miles easy

T 12 miles easy

F REST (travel to Indy)

Sat 2 miles warm up, Indy Women’s Half 1:18:59, 1 mile cool down (16 miles)

Sun REST (travel home)

(60.2 miles)

Week 14 (Week of 10/2)

M 8 miles easy

T 10 miles easy

W REST

T Fartlek 10 X 3 mins with 2 mins recovery, 2 warm up, 1 cool down (10)

F 8 miles easy

Sat 12 miles easy

Sun REST

(48 miles)

Training really has been going well. I went into my race last weekend hoping to just break 1:20, and surprised myself running 1:18:59 feeling in control and relaxed for most of the race. When I got to 10 miles I tried to drop down the pace and immediately felt  bad, so I just concentrated on getting to the finish and staying as relaxed as possible. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy to see the finish line, but I did feel pretty good. My recovery has been good as well, body-wise. And I have a massage scheduled for later today, a luxury I almost never afford myself, but I figured it would be a nice treat with my race coming up in just a week! Lindsey’s live show for her podcast was later that evening. Tons of fun. Too much wine. That flight home was ROUGH.

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If I’m being honest, I am starting to feel a little nervous about Hartford. In my mind I’ve had the idea of just running my goal pace of 6:30. At the beginning of this training cycle that felt like a lofty goal, but now that I’m feeling fit and race day is approaching, my anxiety is starting to creep in. And I’m feeling tired, and ready for that post-marathon break. But I always try to remind myself that it’s just running, and there’s nothing to be nervous about.

A few other quick notes: I recently won a high performance blood test with Inside Tracker. I just got the blood test results back this morning, and although I was initially skeptical, I think the results give me some concrete goals to work on to optimize my health. I may go into a little more detail on this in the future. We’ll see.

I’m currently reading this book, Present Over Perfect (not an affiliate link). So many people have recommended it to me, and after hearing the author on a few podcast interviews I decided it was time to start reading it. I can’t even begin to describe how much I love this book, and how much I feel like the author in some ways. She talks about the concept of “fake resting”, where you’re in your pajamas and appear to  be in chill mode, but in reality you’re running laps around your house checking off things on an endless to-do list. And I love this passage, “The very thing that makes you you, that makes you great, that makes you different from everyone else is also the thing that, unchecked, will ruin you.”

I don’t really want to end on a super serious note, so enough of that talk for now.

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Good vibes appreciated for next weekend! I’m out!

Hartford Marathon Training: Week Nine

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Week Nine: Week of 8/28 

I mentioned last week  that we traveled to visit family after the wedding. It ended up being a perfect little short trip, and despite some rainy days we still managed to get in three good beach days. I did a few treadmill workouts at the YMCA in Norfolk. I also got to meet up with my friend Kris for a short run and some strides at a park in Virginia Beach.

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Trashmore run with Kris! Can you tell which one of us lives in upstate NY now?

We traveled home on Friday, so I decided to make that my rest day. I felt terrible on Saturday, but just took it really easy and ended up having a really good workout on Sunday.

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Cold and rainy long run with Allie and Karen!

 

Week Nine: 

M REST

T 2 mile warm up, 15 X 1 k at HMGP on the treadmill, 2 mile cool down

W 8 miles easy

T 6 mile warm up, 10 x 200 strides, 2 mile cool down 

F REST

Sat AM 10 miles, PM 4 miles

Sun 6 miles easy, 12 miles at marathon race pace (6:30)

Total: 63.4 miles

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Family beach day!

Hartford Marathon Training: Week Eight

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Week Eight: Week of 8/21

I had a great week of training, even with travel and not getting as much sleep as I usually do. The Tuesday workout was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I did the 400’s in my neighborhood, and wasn’t thinking about the fast that my neighborhood isn’t flat. So half of the 400s were uphill and the other half were downhill.

We left for an out-of-town wedding on Thursday, and I had planned to get my long run done early on Thursday so I wouldn’t have to do it on the hotel treadmill. I was dreading that run, and didn’t think I’d be able to do the cutdown part of the workout. But the run ended up going well, and after the first 8 miles (and a gel) I suddenly felt good enough to tackle the cutdown.

After the wedding we took a short trip to the beach and to visit family in Norfolk. More about that next week!

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Week Eight:

M 10 miles easy

T 3 miles warm up, 20 X 400, 3 miles cool down (12 miles)

W am 6 miles easy, pm 4 miles easy

T 20 miles total (8 miles easy, 10 mile cut down starting at 7:00/mile and working down to 6:00/mile, 2 mile cool down

F 10 miles easy

Sat 4 mile warm up, 10 x 20 second strides, 4 mile cool down (9 miles)

Sun 10 miles easy

(81.6 miles)

Travel means being doing your best to plan ahead but also being flexible. I ended up running on Sunday instead of taking a rest day because I had something else planned for Monday morning. So my mileage is a little higher than usual, but it will balance out next week with an extra rest day.

Looking for more of my training for the Hartford Marathon?

Week 7

Week 6 

Week 5

Week 4

Week 3

Week 2

Week 1

The correlation between running and mind sports

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Running is one of the most popular ways to exercise in the U.S., while the two most popular mind sports in the world are chess and poker. While chess and poker may appear as far away from running as possible, the two types of sports can equally benefit the other.

You might be wondering, what could these two drastically different sports have in common? Well, both types of sports require players to have a strong focus, concentration, and psychological fortitude to be successful.

Distance runner and chess player Christian Fuller told the Mammoth Times that the sports complement each other. “Running, being athletic and active, trains the body, which helps the brain function better. Chess trains the mind, which in turn, helps develop strategies and tactics for running. It’s a big full circle.” Such is his passion for combining the two sports that he teaches them together.

One man who may agree with him is professional poker player Sorel Mizzi. Mizzi told an interviewer, “[exercising] before a tournament makes such as major difference to my mental clarity.” Studies have shown that exercise boosts the amount of blood that gets to the brain which in turn helps with memory retention. Like chess, remembering the opponent’s moves and habits is the key to winning.

Both chess and poker have seen a resurgence in popularity due to online gaming. More players are competing not at the card table or across the board but on their computers and mobile devices. A study focusing on gaming outlet Gaming Realms showed that the gaming industry is expected to keep growing with mobile gaming as the key driver. Gaming Realms principal gaming site Slingo features digital versions of popular card games that can be accessed on mobile devices. The same is true of chess with ABC revealing that chess players were swapping the physical checked board for the virtual one. As more players use their computers or mobile devices to play so too does the importance of exercise increase. Online players are much less likely to be active than someone who plays in physical tournaments.

Exercising has long been considered one of the most effective ways to train the mind and the body. Running a marathon is both a physical and mental challenge, as a runner must overcome the pain in their legs and the negativity in their mind. Michelle Hamilton believes that to improve your running ability you need to “train your brain like you train your body.” She recalls how she was diagnosed as a “negative thinking, results-oriented runner.” In order to train her brain, she uses focus tools (“a word, phrase, or action that mutes destructive chatter and keeps you in the moment”). Her focus point was concentrating on her footsteps. After many attempts she gradually managed to employ them and saw a marked improvement in her motivation and performance.

In chess and poker the negative feeling of doubt can also have a huge effect on performance. Exercising regularly will increase focus and boost concentration. Chess, poker, and running all require a person to rely on their mental strength to succeed. A runner who doesn’t focus on their mental game, and a mind sports player who ignores physical activity, are both stopping themselves from reaching their full potential.

What do you do when your mind starts wandering toward negative thinking late in a race? I usually resort to counting, because it keeps my mind focused on something besides the pain. Hey, even marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe used the tactic of counting to 100. “She had talked herself through near-exhaustion by counting to 100, by aiming at landmarks, and by thoughts like, ‘No matter how exhausted I might feel, a half-an-hour run is one I can manage.’ ”

This is a contributed post. 

Running and chess

Hartford Marathon Training: Week Seven

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Week Seven: Week of 8/14

I was fighting some negative thoughts this week about marathon training. I think anyone feels that way at the beginning of a training cycle, and particularly for longer races. It’s intimidating. You start to think and compare your current fitness to where you’ll need to be to reach your goal. How can I possibly run 26.2 miles at a faster pace if I can barely run 4 miles today?

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Week Seven:

M 10 miles easy

T 2 miles warm up, intervals at marathon race pace (6:30), 2 miles cool down (14 miles) 

W 10 miles easy

T 14 miles 

F 8 miles easy

Sat 18 mile long run with surges at half marathon race pace (6:00/mile) 

Sun REST

(74.1 miles)

How do you work through doubts and day-to-day negative thoughts? Sometimes I just have a bad day, so I try to remember that and not make it into a big catastrophe. Blogging, keeping a detailed training diary, writing in a journal, any of those things help me keep track of patterns. I know that it’s normal to have a bad week sometimes, but that I need a recovery week with less miles and lowered intensity. And if it becomes a few bad weeks in a row, then I know there’s a bigger problem. But a bad day here and there is nothing to freak out about.

Hartford Marathon Training: Week Six

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Week Six: Week of 8/7

(Previous weeks are here: Week 5, Week 4, Week 3, Week 2, Week 1)

I felt tired at the beginning of the week. Pete was out of town the previous weekend so I was solo with the girls and it caught up with me Monday. But I’m starting to understand this parenting thing and how it works, so I knew I just needed to spend the day giving my body some rest.

On another note, when did everyone start becoming so serious about this whole running thing? You guys, running is supposed to be fun. Some of my best times are when I’m just chatting with friends on a long run, laughing about stupid stuff. When I coached high school, my favorite memories are from the days when we had inclement weather and got creative playing games and coming up with workouts we would do indoors. We don’t have to be inspiring people all the time. Life is ridiculous. Look around you and laugh at things.

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Week Six:

M 8 miles easy on the treadmill (7:35/mile)

T Fartlek (7.5 miles at 7:02/mile) 2 miles warm up, 1.5 cool down (11 miles) + Pilates mat class

W 10 miles easy (8:08/mile)

Th 4 mile warm up, 10 x 20 second strides, 4 mile cool down (9 miles)

F 8 miles easy (7:41/mile)

Sat 16 miles with Allie (7:15/mile)

Sun REST

(62.7 miles)


What’s something ridiculous that’s happened to you recently? 
I left my kids downstairs while I was cooking dinner and discovered this masterpiece on my nearly brand new NordicTrack. Luckily it was just chalk, so it cleaned up fine. I didn’t have the energy to be mad, but even if I did I think I would have just laughed anyway. At least they were being creative, right?

Treadmill Fail

Hartford Marathon Training: Week Five

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Week Five: Week of 7/31

I got the most well-timed and amazing email this week. You may know that I’m a podcast junkie, and I was listening to an episode of one that I don’t usually listen to. At the end of the episode, there was a prompt to enter the contest so I did. I’ve probably entered at least 100 contests on social media and have never won a damn thing. But I figured, what the hell?

You guys, I won.

Unfortunately I can’t give all the specifics yet, but once it’s announced I think you’ll realize why this was such a big deal to me. At the beginning of the week, before I got email, I was seriously doubting my ability to train for a marathon. But I realized that this was absolutely a sign. It really helped me re-focus and cut out distractions.

And now… something that made me laugh way too much:

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Week Five:

M 4 easy treadmill miles, (~34 minutes)

T 4 miles easy (ran most of this outside, last 11 mins on treadmill (~32 mins) + Pilates 

W 10 miles treadmill (7:42/mile)

Th 2 warm up, 5 mile fartlek workout, 3 cool down 10 miles (7:13 avg)

F 6.1 miles easy (7:54/mile)

Sat 14 miles on the treadmill (7:19/mile)

Sun REST

(48.1 miles)