And so it begins…

Well the off season is officially over and marathon training has begun. I think I had a good off season and was able to build up a great base to start this marathon season in a much better place then I did last year. I wanted to instill some habits during the off season that I hope will continue into the marathon training season.

So what did I do differently…

I spent the first 4 weeks doing the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide but decided that was too much jumping for my sad hip (update on that in a little bit). So instead I decided to go back to my personal trainer once a week and to barre3 once a week. My personal trainer is focusing on upper body and core and barre3 is a great full body workout. I’m already seeing a difference in my arms and shoulders just after a couple weeks, now if my triceps could just make an appearance for the first time ever, that would be great 🙂

I’ve also added yoga to the mix. Infinity Yoga opened a studio not too far from my office and on my commute home. They offer a yoga for athletes class that focuses on areas that runners and cyclists need to stretch and/or strengthen. I LOVE IT! I’ve had 3 different instructors and every class has been different but great. I’ve also been going to the restorative yoga class once a week which I think it my new favorite thing. I even fell asleep during a pose last week. I’ve noticed a change in my flexibility already, especially in the hamstring area and I hope to keep working on that plus my balance with these yoga classes.

I ran, kind of a lot for me (but soon to be not a lot). I maintained 20 mile weeks with long runs from 6 to 10 miles. I raced 4 5ks and had even got a PR. The four 5ks I ran were the Atlanta Track Club Singleton 5k (I love their free races); Girls on the Run 5k; Brookhaven Bolt and the River Run for Hope 5k. I wanted to PR the 5k and 10k during the off season and try to use the speed work I had done in my half training to see where my shorter distance fitness was.

The ATC Singleton 5k was first, I had heard it was a lot flatter than their other races and a good place to attempt a PR. My PR going into it was 28:23 (I think, I’m too lazy to go back and check) and the goal I had in mind was to go under 27 minutes. I know that seems like a big jump, but I was running speed workouts in the 8:25 range so I knew it was possible. Mile 1 I stayed on target pace but quickly realized this course was not what I would consider flat (I live by a very flat trail), although it’s not as hilly as other races. Mile 2 I was just trying to move forward and I was cursing myself for not running enough hillier routes post half marathon. Mile 3 was like just get this over with… and finally it came to an end with a time of 27:53. It wasn’t what I hoped for but it was a PR so no complaints!

  
First 5k with my pace in the 8s!

The next weekend was the Girls on the Run 5k. Since I’m a coach, my goal wasn’t to PR it was just to have fun. Usually most of our girls have someone to run with them, so I can go on my own and help encourage the girls as I go along. This year it rained and the race got pushed back an hour. One of our girls mom’s couldn’t make it due to the weather and such so I ran with one of the girls. I just can’t say enough how great Girls on the Run is and how fun it is to watch the girls change and progress over time. I ran with one of the girls who mostly walked last year and this year we ran almost the entire race. She dropped 13 minutes off of her time from the previous semester and I saw a competitive side of her that I had never seen before. I ended up carrying her jacket and such so she could focus on running and she was super fast up hills (which made for one tired, red faced coach trying to keep up). She didn’t realize we were ahead of everyone else from our team, and she asked me towards the end if I thought we were ahead of most people. I looked at her and said we’re ahead of everyone, you’re doing AWESOME! And that lit a fire under her and she kept moving. I tried not to push too hard, because this is supposed to be fun and I wanted her to enjoy it but when she realized she was ahead of her best friend she kept running. We finished this race in 32 minutes (my garmin time, GOTR doesn’t time their races and everyone wears the same bib number) and I was so proud of her! After our end the year party her mother approached me and thanked me for running with her. That I brought out a good competitiveness in her that her mother had never seen. That she had pushed herself for the first time while running and she was so proud of herself. Honestly, I had been pretty detached from GOTR this past semester, my own training was kicking my butt and we had split the duties among the coaches so I wasn’t there as much, but the race and the kind words from that mother made me realize how important GOTR is and how much it helps the girls.

  
After the GOTR 5k, we went with a Wonder Woman theme 

I don’t even really want to talk about the Brookhaven Bolt, is was MISERABLE. And it has nothing to do with the quality of the race (the shirts were GREAT) but just the hills hills hills and humidity that I wasn’t acclimated to yet. I went out way too fast for as hilly as the course was and I paid for it, I can’t remember the last time I walked during a 5k, but I had to walk in this one. Let’s just say this course ate me for breakfast.

I had one last 5k on the calendar for the off season and if I was going to break 27 minutes, it would be at this one. The course was flat and it’s the area where I run all the time (also where my big break through half marathon was last November) with a small field. The race also had a 10k so I knew the 5k wouldn’t be as crowded. I got there with enough time to do a quick warm up, do some dynamic stretching and watch all the Track Club Elites warm up (they love the flat 5ks). I planned on trying to hang in the 8:20-30s as much as I could. I knew it was a slight incline on the way back and I didn’t want to totally burn out. The first mile went by quickly and I felt decent, mile 2 became more of a mental battle but I could see there were only a 10-15 women ahead of me and not many of them looked to be in my age group (3 days before this race I bumped up to the 30-34 age group). I kept pushing, hit the turnaround point and could see there were plenty of people right behind me so I tried to pick up the pace. I don’t think I was successful in that because the slight inclines started to come into play. I didn’t know exactly where the finish was, but knew it was towards the top of the incline, I turned the corner on the nice downhill to the finish and knew I was going to be under 27 minutes and ended up going 26:50, a big PR and beat my mom’s PR. I hung around for the awards just in case and ended up getting 2nd in my age group! That was the first time I’ve ever placed in my age group. Honestly I never thought I would place in my age group ever, and this was definitely a smaller race, so I was really happy to finally do that.

   
Not bad little prizes for my age group win!

 

So excited for my 2nd place age group finish!  

Now I’m into week 2 of marathon training and I hope to start doing weekly recaps, or at least bi-weekly recaps, so I will be able to look back at this training and know what worked for the next training cycle. I also have some other post ideas, including a recap of my Grand Cayman trip and a review of my apple watch, to work on so this blog actually talks about something outside of running again.

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Looking Back at 2014

A couple weeks ago I went to a fun running bloggers Christmas party and to introduce ourselves during the white elephant we had to say our biggest running accomplishment for 2014.

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Blogger Party Courtesy of Elizabeth’s Instagram

This really was an interesting question for me because I had a really good 2014 and didn’t really know which thing I was most proud of.

Obviously crossing the finish line of my first marathon was huge and something I’m really proud of but in all honesty I’m a much better runner now. I know I can do better at 26.2 and someday I’ll prove that. This was my answer but really I’m more proud of a few other things.

My PR in the half marathon was probably the most surprising accomplishment. Not the fact that I PRed but that I ran as fast as I did. Since I’ve already recapped that I won’t go into too much detail, but taking 25 min off my best time was so amazing! I was thinking maybe a 2:25 half but 2:20 just seemed so far away and then it just happened. I just loved everything about that experience (minus the migraine). I’m also so thankful that my parents were able to be there and cheer me on. I’m sure my mother didn’t love that I beat her PR but I know she’s proud of me and the effort I’ve put into my running this year.

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After my half marathon PR!

I rounded out November by running two more half marathons (Rock N Roll Las Vegas and ATL Thanksgiving Half). I don’t recommend doing that! But I was happy that both of those races were faster than any of my 2012/2013 halfs. I’ve gotten the half marathon tally up to 8! Definitely my favorite distance to race.

My most recent big accomplishment was a 5k PR in December. After the 3rd half I took 10 days off. I ran a couple times the week of the 5k, with a little bit of strides thrown into two 3 mile runs. I ran a small local 5k that started at a middle school and went to the ATL belt line (the beltline is this amazing trail system through Atlanta that will hopefully connect one day and be a 20 mile loop) down a little ways and then back to the school. I picked this race because it would be flat (or so I thought) and its a pretty area of town. My garmin hadn’t been working since thanksgiving (apparently I needed to download software updates) so I ended up running this race pace blind. I basically pushed myself as fast as I could and tried to keep moving. There weren’t mile markers but it was out and back (the finish was slightly different than the start) so I had a general idea where I was. We turned off the belt line and literally went up a steep hill and by this time I was dying! And when I reached the top I was rewarded with a downhill and then realized the finish was up another hill. I just kept trucking along and crossed the finish line in 28:23! My previous PR was from November 2012, 29:41, so this was a big jump for me. I had NO IDEA I was running that fast and I probably wouldn’t have run that fast if I was using my garmin.

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After my 5K PR!

On top of PRing the 5k, 13.1 and 26.2 (by default) I’ve also tried to get my eating habits under control. While I definitely wouldn’t say I eat clean, I am eating better and trying to maintain a balance. And I’m down around 28lbs and only have a few more to go to reach my goal weight. All under 6 months (1/7/15 is my 6 months with weight watchers) and I couldn’t be more proud of how 2014 has turned out for me!

I’m excited to see what 2015 has in store for me! More to come on that soon….

Thank you all for all the support this year, I’m so grateful for all the amazing people in my life!