- ALL THE THINGS. I am not one to buy a lot of crap at the race expo because I believe it’s bad luck. Worse luck than wearing the race shirt during the race. What if you don’t finish? It’s a lot of pressure. But things got a little crazy on Friday and I found myself at the register with a t-shirt, pint glass, and bottle opener. I feel like that’s conservative, no?
Because I felt it was necessary to have a Grandma’s Marathon-related item to wear every single day of the week, Saturday night at the Rock the Big Top party I purchased another hoodie. Sure, maybe I can only wear it 4 days a year where I live on the surface of the sun in Texas, but whatever.
- That 5k. In addition to not buying crap, I also don’t believe in shakeout runs prior to a marathon. As in, I’ve never done one. Ever. Registering for the Great Grandma’s Challenge meant we were in for a 5k at 6:00pm at Friday night.
Our game plan was to take it suuuuuper slow and just have fun. While this was a great plan, I’m pretty sure everyone in our general vicinity HATED us as we casually threw down a few miles and chatted/laughed the entire way. Our finish line video was comical. Casually strolling through 3.1 miles is not something most people do twelve hours before a marathon. But when you’ve lost your mind as a runner, it’s completely normal.
- Our hotel. The only reason I’m telling you about this is because we’ve already secured our spot for 2018. Call me selfish, but that’s fine. The Hampton Inn Duluth was less than a ten minute walk from the shuttle to the start and even closer to the finish. Parking was free. The views were incredible. But my favorite part? Coffee all day, every day. And free breakfast served at 4am on race morning. Even though that morning I wasn’t super hungry, it was great to know I had options only a few steps from our room. I’ll never forget when the hotel we stayed at for Marine Corps said they’d have coffee out at 5am and there was none to be found. I will starve before a race, but no coffee? Deal breaker.
- Sunday was an excellent day. We slept in a bit and took our time before heading back to Minneapolis. Then we hit up Target Field for the Twins/Indians game at 1pm, followed by an afternoon of brewery hopping which may or may not have went late into the evening. Didn’t hate it.
- Post-Race Recovery. Monday the DOMS set in and my right leg was a little janky, causing me to drag it behind like a peg leg. Thankfully that subsided on Tuesday but Monday was pretty rough. We had a delightful patio lunch at Psycho Suzi’s where we had a couple beers and a lot of cheese curds + pizza. This meal may have been my favorite of the entire weekend. Immediately following this, we proceeded to sit real freaking hard on the couch and put a sizable dent into season 9 of Friends. Maybe I was on vacation and should have been exploring, but this was exactly what I needed after the busy weekend we had.
This race is not my favorite.
Honestly, it’s not even a medium-like. It’s crowded as hell, hilly, it’s downright miserable. I was 99.9% sure I’d be avoiding this year until a strange turn of events fell in my favor and on Sunday morning found myself pinning a bib to my shirt.
It was probably a poor choice to “race” a 10k only one week out from a half marathon I have been training to PR at, but if you’ve been reading here for even six months – you know there’s zero self control when it comes to PR attempts. I wanted to use this 10k as a way to practice my pacing strategy for next weekend and I’m here to tell you: that was a massive fail.
The Cap 10k includes a few hills in the first three miles which can pretty much destroy you if not prepared. I was ready; I had run this course countless times. My goal was to run the first three miles at 10:00/mi and then drop the pace in the back half.
Miles 1 – 3 (9:25, 9:40, 9:58)
My grand plan for 10s was ruined by fresh legs and fast competitors around me. I felt good and as if I wasn’t “pushing” so continued to coast through each mile. And every time my Garmin beeped I cursed myself. I knew this was too fast and today wasn’t about running a PR (it was about PACING) but couldn’t help myself.
Miles 4 – 6.2 (9:05, 8:41, 9:14)
Because I’m no stranger to this course from hell, I knew after we were done on Enfield the hard work was behind us. So I started to drop the pace a bit. Mile 4 included a walk break to catch my breath from hill climbing. Don’t judge. Mile 5? Well Mile 5 stemmed from a conversation with a close friend earlier in the week where she told me, in so many words, I was being too safe in my running. I had more speed in me than I gave myself credit for. So when my Garmin clicked over to 5, I let my legs fly – determined to see what I truly could throw down. Maybe this was too early for such an experiment but I went hard, and ran the fastest mile I’ve ever had in any race.
And then I paid for it in Mile 6. I struggled to hold onto 9:25 for most of the stretch on Cesar Chavez and the S 1st bridge. I. Was. DYING. But desperately held on because at this point I knew another PR was in reach and I wasn’t about to let that slip through my fingers.
Official Finish Time: 58:31
I said this in my Boneshaker recap and still without a doubt believe have a faster 10k time in me on a more favorable course. Eventually I’d like to test out this theory but it’s not going to be on a course in Austin anytime soon.
Back when switching the name of my blog from Melissa Runs to So These Are My Thirties, I fully intended on writing more about real life. And I did for awhile, but once running reappeared as a priority in my life the content started to shift back in that direction. Can’t necessarily say I’m mad about it but fully intend to get back to those real life posts soon.
But for now? Let’s talk training.
Oh, training. Something I haven’t done in many, many years. The last time I seriously followed a training plan was for my first marathon in 2011. Almost six freakin’ years ago. It’s honestly amazing I’ve completed as many races in that span of time with next to zero training. The last marathon I ran was in Houston in January 2015 and for some reason never wrote a recap. My longest training “run” was 18 miles and despite the fact I “PR’ed” – it’s still not what I’m capable of.
Training for Grandma’s Marathon officially kicks off next Monday and I’ve chosen a [tweaked version] Pfitzinger plan. This is somewhat aggressive given what I’m used to but if I want to hit my goals, things need to get aggressive.
I alter this spreadsheet weekly depending on when I can make it to spin and also how my legs are feeling overall. I’m not registered for either the Austin 10/20 (zero desire to run this race) or the Cap 10K (already nailed my 10k PR + this particular course is SO ridiculously crowded), so I may end up scratching one or both races. Not really worried about it.
I’ll extend this plan out at some point considering the Golden Ultra is less than 200 days away and also due to the fact I registered for a second marathon in a moment of insanity. What I’m currently really excited about is the Texas Independence Relay next weekend. This is the first relay I’ve gone into with any semblance of serious training and I’m pumped to run hard for my badass teammates.
Let the training begin!
We can add REI to the ever growing list of places I cannot go unchaperoned. Yesterday at lunch I headed there to pick up a replacement headlamp (haven’t seen my current one since Ragnar Austin + with a relay coming up in two weeks, necessary purchase) and well… it was a disaster. While wandering around looking for the headlamp section, I picked a up: a new HydroFlask, a pair of polarized sunglasses small enough to wear with a hat, and a TP Massage Ball. Goddamnit.
It happened again. While I’m still in my full-blown love affair with running, I decided it would likely be in my best interest to commit to second marathon to stay motivated throughout the rest of the year. So yesterday I registered for marathon number 5: Indy Monumental. The most terrifying part was absolutely entering 4:10 as my projected finish time. I’m still not 100% convinced this time is attainable but someone seems to think it may not even be aggressive enough. She is crazy, but I will still be her friend. And with that, I will be in training mode pretty much for the rest of year. YIKES.
I’m on a quest for the perfect pair of bluetooth headphones. I used to run with an iPod Shuffle and a carefully curated playlist full of purchased songs. Now that Spotify Premium is a staple in my life, I’ve become even more obsessed with music and building epic playlists. The downside to this is having to run with phone which is much larger than the tiny 1″ x 1″ iPod. This is a FWP to discuss another day. Anyway, there are way too many options out there for BT headphones and I’m not interested in spending $100 on a pair that may not survive a hot and humid summer in Texas. Yurbuds are my current go-to for wired headphones but the BT ones don’t have the best reviews. The first pair I bought are these -we’ll see how they do. Recommendations at welcome! Give ’em to me.
The running shoe saga continues! For the past several years I’ve been running happily in Saucony Guide (long runs) + Saucony Mirage (almost everything else). After Marine Corps Marathon, I picked up the Guide 9 and ran Rock n Roll Las Vegas in them. The updates they made since the 8 were incredibly underwhelming and felt completely different. I ended up sending them back to Running Warehouse (best return policy, behind Nordstrom of course). The 10 has since come out and they look very similar to the 9s, so obviously I’m not excited about them. Thankfully my 8s still have 100ish miles left on them but after that I’ll be SOL. Now I’m on a hunt for a long-distance shoe with an 8mm drop or less, which is proving to be harder than expected. As for the Mirage, Saucony decided to discontinue the shoe entirely. MAJOR SADNESS. It doesn’t look like they plan on replacing them with a comparable model, so again – SOL. I ordered a pair on Amazon at a deep discount and also picked up a pair of Kinvaras which will *hopefully* end up working out. But not holding my breath.
I’ve embraced hermit life. With the return of training, I’ve also made the return to becoming one with my couch and Netflix. Currently? Rewatching Grey’s Anatomy. I forgot about so many things in this show so a lot of seems new. I’m halfway through season 8 (please don’t ask how long this took) and up next will likely be Private Practice. By the time I wrap that up, House of Cards and Bloodlines should be available for streaming. Social life? Who needs that?
ONE. Two weeks ago I headed up to one of my favorite cities [Boston] for a reunion with my college roommate and a night at TD Garden for Eric Church’s “Holdin’ My Own” tour. I cannot put into words how epic this concert was. He performed for over three hours with zero openers and only a twenty minute intermission. He played the Mr. Misunderstood album in its entirety and a majority of tracks from his older albums – almost forty [!!] songs. This wasn’t the first time I’ve seen him in concert and won’t be the last, but this definitely ranks up in the top 3 concerts I’ve attended.
TWO. I’m 90% sure I’ve decided on my spring 13.1: the Long Branch Half Marathon. It’s flat and fast, with favorable weather most years. Now that I’ve jinxed myself… I was hoping to run a half in the fall but couldn’t figure out where to do it and to be honest, I don’t really want to wait that long to attempt another PR. Long Branch is the last weekend in April and I’ll already be a month into training for Grandma’s so this seems like the best way to go. AND! I’ll get to visit with friends + family that weekend as well. It’s a no brainer.
THREE. Sunday night I almost had a heart attack at the young age of 33. The Patriots trailed the Falcons for three quarters and I was MISERABLE. I was cursing all of my friends for adamantly declaring it was “going to be a blowout” and assuring me I had nothing to worry about. I changed shirts and hats several times in true superstitious fashion, but nothing changed the score for the better. So I headed home and promptly stopped watching. AND THEN SHIT GOT REAL. The Patriots pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in Super Bowl history. I’m still in shock but so, so happy.
FOUR. Speaking of happy, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Belichick smile this much. And if Julian doesn’t run with this “Edelman’s Catch” restaurant idea, he’s an idiot.
FIVE. This weekend I’m headed out of town to visit my Hood to Coast teammate, Rachel, and run the Mercedes Half Marathon in Birmingham! I haven’t seen her in over two year so this is long overdue. I may be slightly delusional in thinking I could pull out another PR on a hilly course with warm weather. This should truly be my final “fun run” of 2017 before putting in hard work for the remainder of the year. But we’ll see how Sunday goes.
After a lackluster 2015 where I only pinned a bib on twice, 2016 was a complete 180 with sixteen total races. After hiring a running coach in May, I unearthed some speed inside of me which never existed before. I attribute that to either  never really pushing hard enough to see it or  the sixty pounds I lost over the past year. In any case, it lit a fire beneath me to get fast and race more seriously.
2017 will be the year I PR in every distance. Aggressive? Sure is. But completely doable if I stay focused and committed to my training.
5K — 27:xx
**Vern’s No Frills 5k
10m — 1:40:xx
** Austin 10/20
13.1 — 2:09:xx
** Spring Half – TBD
26.2 — 4:xx:xx
** Grandma’s Marathon
** Fall Marathon – TBD
The goal which terrifies me the most is the marathon. My current “PR” [I use this term loosely considering the training cycle was a complete bust] is 6:05 and I’m confident a finish time between 5:05 and 5:20 is pretty reasonable for my next 26.2. However! 2017 is not about being reasonable. I want a sub-5 marathon. And I want it BAD. So that will be happening this year, 100%.
And then something else…
Lora and I have this thing where we talk each other into races. It usually doesn’t take much convincing but if one of us has an idea? The other is pretty much “in” almost immediately. At happy hour one night in Austin [before we headed to DC for Marine Corps together] I mentioned I was running Rock n Roll Las Vegas in November and she should come. And she did. In October she asked me to help talk her out of running Grandma’s Marathon in June. I’m still not sure how it happened, but now we’re registered for the Great Grandma’s Challenge: a 5k on Friday night and a marathon the following day.
More recently she was talking about running the Golden Ultra, a 3-day stage trail race in Golden, BC. As someone who doesn’t particularly love trails or hills, this didn’t seem incredibly appealing to me. Once I looked at photos of the course and her declaring “YOU SHOULD COME!” I felt my opinion begin to change.
So in September we will be taking on those beautiful trails. And most likely questioning our sanity [and friendship] along the way.
Comfort zone = being left behind in 2017.
I’ve never been one to care too much about my birthday. It went uncelebrated for many years and it didn’t bother me in the least. But this weekend was the complete opposite. There was a lot of a celebrating and it was pretty damn excellent.
My best friend since first grade from New Jersey flew in on Friday afternoon for a weekend filled with a lot of shenanigans and a little bit of running. We headed to Mia Italian Tapas for dinner with one of my old coworkers. We learned fried manchego > fried mozzarella, short ribs should not be tapas, and the bacon + fig + gorgonzola combination on a pizza is something which should be consumed regularly.
Afterwards we made our way to nearly every venue on Rock Rose: Dogwood, 77, Rose Room, and ended at Kung Fu where we spent the rest of the evening. I had grand plans of playing life-sized Jenga, Skeeball, or Connect Four, but unfortunately the bar was slammed. We struggled to make it until midnight (when it would actually be my birthday) ((so tired, so old)) but somehow lasted until 12:30 and headed home after a celebratory Green Tea shot.
Saturday morning we went to the 3M Half Marathon expo downtown as soon as it opened since the streets would likely be closing down due to all of the marches and protests. Even though the expo had finally moved to a larger convention center, it was pretty underwhelming. For once in my life I walked out of there without spending a dime.
We then went to Jo’s Coffee to be touristy and snap a photo in front of the I Love You So Much wall. Initially the plan was to do some shopping on South Congress afterwards but traffic was starting to get pretty bad so we headed back up north to avoid the crowds. Brunch + a bloody mary bar happened at Cover 2 and then we proceeded to sit real hard on my couch under blankets watching old Grey’s Anatomy episodes for several hours. Didn’t hate it.
Sunday morning was what we had been looking forward to / dreading all weekend: that whole running thing. By noon we were at brunch at St. Genevieve. We started with a mimosa flight (with blackberry lavender, coconut pineapple, peach thyme, and orange juices as mixers) and then proceeded to crush three entrees: crab cake benedict, french toast with brandied bananas + Nutella whipped cream, and a breakfast quesadilla. Everything was fantastic.
Now comfortably in a food coma, we retired to a rooftop bar to lounge on some couches in the sun for a few hours and watch the Packers/Falcons game. The crowd started to get pretty rowdy around 4:30 with Sunday Funday now in full swing, so we moved our party next door to Lavaca for the Patriots/Steelers game.
We ordered a ton of food from Turf & Surf, pissed off the Steelers fans next to us, celebrated the Patriots win and were back at my apartment by 9pm.
Monday certainly wasn’t my favorite day as I drove Ashley to the airport at the crack of dawn in rush hour traffic, despite the fact I politely asked her to stay and just move in with me. Apparently she had a job and a dog to return home to. Rude.
And so my 33rd year begins! God help me.
Last January I decided 2016 would be my YOLO year, a year where I’d say yes to anything and everything. A year of getting shit done, having fun, and doing whatever the hell I wanted. I think it’s safe to say 2016 was one of my best yet.
:: January ::
I rang in the new year with this girl in Florida, ran my fastest 10k in five years, Paula spontaneously came to visit Austin for my birthday weekend, I ran my fastest half marathon in four years, and now I’m the proud owner of this sparkly patriotic hat.
:: February ::
I ran the Austin Half Marathon, which has one of the most miserable courses but for some reason I find myself registered for it every year. I also attended my first RV show and learned I am the perfect size for said vehicle.
:: March ::
I traveled back to Florida to visit Paula and run Best Damn Race Orlando. We attempted learning how to line dance [major emphasis on ‘attempted’] and on Sunday enjoyed not one but two brunches. Because why have one when you can have two? I ran the NYC Half Marathon with my best friend since first grade and enjoyed a few nights out in my hometown. The last weekend of the month I FINALLY was able to run the Texas Independence Relay and it was everything I hoped it would be. So much that I’ll be back again in 2017!
Two weeks after TIR I thought it would be a good idea to run yet another 200-mile relay (YOLO) from Fredericksburg to Austin. The Hill Country [shockingly] turned out to be really freaking hilly, so it was tough but the company was great. I even convinced a co-worker to run this as her first race ever and surprisingly she still speaks to me.
:: May ::
Another trip to the northeast for my best friend’s bridal shower in New Jersey. I also ran two 5ks: one as a training run and one with the intention of PRing. The PR did not happen because hills make me die inside. I hired a running coach since training for Marine Corps Marathon would be kicking off shortly. I also booked a cruise for New Year’s Eve to Mexico! Good decisions all around.
:: June ::
My best friend’s bachelorette party in Austin happened and it was ah-mazing. Magical things happen when you are a psychotic Type-A planner with a love for spreadsheets. I ran many evening miles with a co-worker [the one from the relay – see, still running!] and nearly died as the Austin summer rolled in with 100+ degree temperatures. Also probably one of the most exciting and terrifying things of the year happened in June – I quit my job! After seven years, with the final two being absolutely soul-sucking, I finally said enough was enough and pulled the plug.
:: July ::
Back to New Jersey again for my best friend’s wedding! Pretty sure I hadn’t seen this group of girls in the last four years as much as I had in the last four months and it was fantastic.
:: August ::
Surprise surprise, back to Florida again to see Paula. We had a glorious weekend filled with cocktails, pool time, and brunching. I met my family at Disney World for a few days of Mickey Mouse taking advantage of my wallet but it was totally worth it. I even purchased an overpriced pair of Minnie Mouse ears because, why the hell not? Wrapped up August with pit tickets to see Brad Paisley and as usual he did not disappoint.
:: September ::
Marathon training was going incredibly well and in true Melissa-luck fashion, I sprained my foot. Landed myself in a super attractive boot and on the running sidelines for about five weeks. At the end of the month I had to come to terms with the fact that running a marathon was not in my best interest. HOWEVER! September is when I realized I had a full-blown love affair with spinning and it carried me through many weeks sans running. Hello, sanity saver.
:: October ::
While I couldn’t run the full marathon, I was determined to use it as a training run and still travel to DC with Lora for the weekend. The 18 miles I ran were the strongest ones I’ve ever had during a marathon and it was nearly impossible for me to walk off the course at that point knowing if I continued I could have had a 60+ minute PR. Being responsible is dumb sometimes.
:: November ::
Two weeks after DC, Lora and I reunited again with Ashley in Vegas to take on a weekend of gambling. Oh, and a half marathon. Two weeks later I ran the Thundercloud Subs Turkey Trot by myself for the first time since moving to Austin in 2009 [cue all the emotions] and nailed an 8-minute PR. Sweet, sweet redemption.
:: December ::
Went into this month on a mission to break a 5k PR from 2012. I would have settled for a 30-second one but ended up with a 2-minute one. Oh hey, you know what speedwork does? Makes you faster. Who knew. I still felt like I had a little more in me though, so I signed up for another 5k six days later and PRed again. Only by 3-seconds though, and that was with a stop to tie my shoe at mile 2. So! There will definitely be another attempt in 2017. I traveled to Maryland to spend Christmas with my family, which was wonderful 🙂 Then I blew out 2016 with an epic vacation to Mexico with some of most awesome people I know.
And that, my friends, is how you execute a Year of Yes.
So the past couple months have been ridiculously busy, but pretty goddamn awesome.
- April. Oh, April. This was the month I registered for a race every weekend and didn’t regret a single one of them. Two 200-mile relays [one Gonzales – Houston, one Fredericksburg – Austin], a 10k, a 5k, and the Austin Spartan Race.
Go big or go home, right? My bank account may be begging for mercy but wow, this was a GREAT month. I didn’t PR the 10k or 5k, but the relays were spectacular and I averaged miles 2+ minutes faster than previous relays. This was surprising, especially during the first on Blood, Sweat & Beers where we were sponsored by a local brewery [Independence] and had a seemingly endless supply of cold delicious beer + Fireball. I was the last runner in our van and they sent me off on my leg with a shot of Fireball and welcomed me back with a beer in a koozie. I couldn’t have asked for a better team. I’ll be back in 2017 for sure.
- Running. A spinoff from #1, I’m still on the running high I’ve been raving about all year. I recently took on a running coach and she is wonderful. Needing someone to keep me accountable with my busy schedule and work hours that just won’t quit, I’ve logged every workout assigned to me. Granted, we’re just running easy for right now and the end goal is a massive marathon PR, but I’m terrible at logging miles during the week and this forces me to get my shit together. It’s truly a #noexcuses situation now.
- College. I mentioned this vaguely in my last post. I’ve been kicking myself for almost seven years for not finishing my degree. I’m currently taking two classes this summer and will take another in the fall, graduating in December. This may seem boring or “really? just now?” to most, but I am EXCITED. It’s time to put this behind me and move forward with that expensive piece of paper in my possession.
- Social life. It’s no secret I became quite a recluse over the past year and a half. I don’t like to talk about my feelings and would rather watch hours of Netflix in solitude with a bottle of red wine and half the Chinese food menu. But over the past few months I’ve been going out, spending time with friends, and really enjoying life in general.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been this happy and I really like it. Don’t get me wrong; I’m counting down the hours until this weekend when I can become one with my couch and the newest season of Bloodlines. What? Old habits die hard.
- Moving on. Woof. If there’s one thing I don’t want to talk about, it’s this. I wish I could say”I’m so over everything, it’s been a long time and it’s all behind me” but I’d be lying to you. And to myself. And yeah it’s still fucking hard. But the happy times outweigh the sad, and maybe I’ve been contemplating dating. Maybe I’ve been severing ties with things which brought up too many bad memories. Unfortunately, that 10 year-old past doesn’t seem to want to GTFO out of my brain. But I’m trying. And it’s getting easier. Thank fucking god.
Everything is going to be just fine.
To be completely honest, I believed transitioning from being in a 10-year relationship to being single was going to be horrific. I mean, what was I going to do with all of this newfound free time? Who was I going to text all day long and share inside jokes with? Who was I going to have dinner with on Friday night and binge watch shows on Netflix with all weekend long? Who was I going to vacation and experience new adventures with?
My fucking self. And I don’t hate it one bit. I can make decisions solely based on my own schedule, my own time, my own aspirations. I could decide to go back to school and get my degree, something I’ve been kicking myself for since 2009 when I first moved to Texas. I can work overtime to move towards the promotion I want without having to worry my significant other will think it’s because I want to spend more time with a coworker rather than seeing it for what it truly is: furthering my career. I can sign up for a race every single weekend in a month’s span [April, I’m looking at you] and have no concerns about the money I spend or the time I’m away from my partner. I can go to dinner with friends on any given day of the week and have no need to check-in with someone to let them know when I think we’ll be paying our check and heading out. I can spend my entire weekend watching seasons upon seasons of favorite shows I’ve seen a billion times and order half of the Chinese food menu without being judged. I can book last minute flights to anywhere in the country to spend time with friends and family without worrying about breaking the budget. I can do whatever the hell I want and be 110% happy about it.
From day one I said I wouldn’t date again for at least a year. That deadline came and went in March – and guess what? I’m still not dating and everything isn’t falling apart. At 32, some may feel they should be married, have kids, and own a house. Those are not defining moments for everyone. I don’t feel like I’ve “failed” because I’m single, childless, and living in an apartment. I have absolutely zero desire to jump on Tinder and rush into a relationship just so I won’t be alone. When the time is right, things will fall into place and I will find someone worthy of sharing my time with. But at this junction in my life, I am perfectly content living for me and only me. And I don’t feel guilty about it one bit.