On Sunday, I ran the TCMC Turkey Trot 10K in Scranton, PA. It was all pretty convenient: we were planning to visit my husband’s grandparents up in that area, and I needed to do a faster paced workout. Enter the Turkey Trot. Couldn’t have worked out more perfectly.
It ended up being much more eventful than I’d planned. I won it – like flat out, first runner to cross the finish line and about a minute before the first male. It was pretty funny because there was a bike escort for the whole race and a police escort (with sirens and everything) as I finished the race. I wasn’t running extraordinarily fast – it was fast for me, but not “win a race” fast. I’m just starting to ramp up my speed again since I took a break after Chicago and only PR’d by 9 seconds. I was shooting for something in the 39-42 minute range (ultimately, sub 7 minute miles). Ideally, I want to run a 39 minute 10K at some point. Realistically, I’d been running very low mileage and just started picking up the intensity again over the past week, so I didn’t even know if I’d come in anywhere near my former PR. I ended up running the race in 41:39. On the slower end of my goal, but still a PR and good enough for the win (and a free turkey!) so I was ecstatic.
The 5K and 10K began at the same time, and I started the race right up front. I went out too fast (typical), and was running with the two males leading the race. Imagine my surprise when they turned at the 5K turnaround to head back to the finish. Whoops. I was running their 5K pace for the first mile and a half. It felt okay, but I ended up running a positive split for the race to pay for the speedy start. My husband was waiting for me at the finish line and cheering as I came up the huge hill to the finish. The whole course was pretty hilly, but the uphill at the end was crazy steep.
I can’t remember the last time my fall marathon season ended before late November or early December. This year, it ended in early October with the Chicago Marathon. I lowered my mileage and my intensity tremendously after Chicago. I’ve really only been running around 25 miles per week, and mostly easy paced miles. Before last week, My fastest “workout” was the Oley Valley 10 Miler. It ended up being a PR and a decent race, but I wasn’t feeling super fast that day. I signed up for a whole host of short distance races to run over the next few weeks, but I don’t expect outstanding performances at any of them. Mostly, it’s to keep me from going crazy until my next marathon in February (the Lost Dutchman in Arizona!) and to get my legs moving. I’ve really enjoyed the recovery period.
In the past, the words “off season” and “recovery period” were never part of my vocabulary. I began working with a coach, Kenrick, back in August. I’d gotten fed up of making progress (with both my 50 state goal and my marathon time) and getting sidelined with an injury. It’s been a cycle for me since the beginning. And who knows – maybe I’m just injury prone and it doesn’t matter how I train or who I train with. Regardless, I’d get to a point and either plateau (like how my marathon time hovered around a 3:30 for about three years) or get injured. Or both. So when my whole calf injury ordeal continued to flare up through mid August, I gave in. I haven’t written too much about the coaching thing just yet because it’s all still pretty new. I went to him injured and he got me through my fall season while I recovered from my injury. I even managed a nice marathon time in Chicago (3:08) – coming in less than two minutes off of my PR. I pretty much ran the race without a watch and hadn’t been able to do speed work in months because of my calf, so that alone was a miracle and a considerable success.
Most importantly, the off season gave me the opportunity to incorporate a few things into my schedule that I haven’t had enough time or energy for in the past few months. Like
booze going out with friends to places that don’t involve running and spending quality time in my kitchen. I’ve pretty much converted my entire diet to Paleo. I still eat my pizza on Friday nights (I refuse to give that up!), but I’ve given the rest of my diet a complete makeover. I’m absolutely loving it. I’ve had less stomach issues in the past few months than I’ve had in the past ten years, so I might actually be on to something. Besides, foods included in a Paleo lifestyle are all foods that I truly enjoy. It’s the first dietary change I’ve made where I don’t have the desire to “cheat”, even when I go out to restaurants (well, except for the pizza! Because…pizza). My latest Paleo conquest is determining which foods I can eat prior to running and racing that will give me the same kind of energy I get from pasta and bagels.
I’ve also been very consistent about getting to the pool to swim. Instead of just going to the pool and swimming whatever distance I felt like doing on that day, I’ve been following specific workouts that are assigned to me. Instead of just swimming laps, I’m actually doing things like sprint workouts and paying attention to the time clock. Sometimes, I get my swim workouts and think, “ugh, I would NEVER do something like this on my own”. Then I do the workout and find out that I really enjoyed it.
I’ve been in the gym strength training, but (most importantly) I’ve been back to a yoga studio. Although I regularly get on my mat and do some form or stretching or yoga, I haven’t actually been to a yoga class in quite some time. I stopped teaching yoga classes when the school year started, so not being in a studio regularly really made me forget how much I miss even the most simple practice. The past two weeks, I’ve been taking a beginner level Ashtanga class with one of my original teachers.
I’ve lost a significant amount flexibility since I’ve given up my traditional Ashtanga practice schedule, but I haven’t lost any strength. When I began this blog, I practiced six days per week. You can read about that a little more here. Before I started to cut back on my Ashtanga practice, I was working my way through each syllabus in the Ashtanga yoga practice. I was about a third of the way through third series, also known as Advanced A. My practice was never shorter than 1 1/2 hours, and would regularly take over 2+ hours to complete. Once I started running a little faster, my practice became shorter and simplified. I’d like to continue getting to a studio at least once per week as the miles and intensity begin to build. In the class, simple postures that I haven’t done in a long time make me smile when I hear the teacher call out the name.The recovery period gave me a renewed appreciation for my yoga mat.
Last week, I began picking up the intensity again and I’m starting to come out of recovery mode. I did a track workout with Kenrick last week. Being at the track made me realize that my last successful track workout was back in June before the Charlevoix Marathon. He made me do mile repeats – four of them. He came to the track and timed me but didn’t give me a goal, he just wanted to see what I was capable of. The results were interesting. In my head, I had a time that I wanted to hit for each one. I only hit my time goal for the first one, but I did every single mile faster than my current 5K PR pace. I felt like it was a success and a great way to kick everything off.