2018 Year in Review

I had big plans in 2018, namely to finish a 70.3.

Well, we all know how those plans went. 2018 quickly went off the rails, but I did my best to regroup and reframe my goals. One of my goals was to get healthy and I can successfully say that I did that by rehabbing my hip. I’m back to running pain free, so I consider that a huge win.

January

January was definitely a month of discovery. I started the month with an awesome trip to Disney to cheer for the marathon, but ended the month with a diagnosed labral tear as well as MRI findings showing some sort of mass on my ovary. Unexpected, for sure.

Though I had been working with my PT prior to this (she’s the one who initially suspected the labral tear), at this point, we started doing focused work on my hip.

February

In February I saw an amazing doc who confirmed my super cool ovarian cyst and told me she was going to take it out at the beginning of March. I really appreciated her no-nonsense attitude.

This also began the month of cancelled plans. With the labral tear, racing the Donna half was out. Given that I wasn’t sure what surgery was going to cost me after insurance, I opted to cancel that trip to conserve expenses. Thanks to Southwest’s awesome policies, I transferred that flight to a trip to my parents’ house to see family. Always worth it (and much cheaper lodging too).

March

I started March with surgery. It was not as bad as I feared, save for the fact that we discovered that hydrocodone doesn’t have an effect on me. After surgery, my heart rate was elevated, and when the nurses asked if I was in pain, I said yes, but it wasn’t awful. They gave me more pain meds, which didn’t really help. I just figured the pain made sense. I had just been cut open. It was bearable after all. Turns out with the drugs I had been given, I shouldn’t have been feeling anything. Whoops. I discovered this later, when at home and alternating hydrocodone and ibuprofen, I realized that the ibuprofen helped and the hydrocodone did nothing. (Turns out this is a fun family trait. Thanks, Dad.)

Because of my surgery, I had to step back on some of my PT exercises. My surgeon was great and told me which of my exercises I could do, but it turns out that when your abdomen has been sliced open, you don’t want to do anything where you are leaning or laying such that the weight of your organs is pushing towards those incisions. So I lost a bit of recovery time here.

This was also the second cancelled trip, as I missed out on BDR New Orleans. This month, I also officially pulled out of 70.3 Chattanooga. I didn’t cancel my trip – I was way too excited to spend time with my Coeur teammates. I just knew I wouldn’t be racing.

April

This month, I started easing back into training. All self-guided, but it felt good to be back. I also started pushing my hip rehab now that my incisions were mostly healed.

This was the third missed race of the year – the local National Women’s Half. This one didn’t feel like as much of a loss, since it was a local race.

In April, I also got to see Hamilton with my family! It was even better than I thought it would be, seeing as I knew the soundtrack inside and out.

May

May was a big month. Though I wasn’t racing (fourth missed race of the year), I still traveled to 70.3 Chattanooga with some friends and it was worth every single minute. I don’t know that I could have had more fun. It was awesome to cheer for friends and strangers, help out where needed, and just enjoy the company of friends and my Coeur teammates. I’m so very glad I went and didn’t sit at home feeling sorry for myself.

I also went to see Harry Potter & the Cursed Child with my sister and my cousins – our first of two trips for the year. I wasn’t the biggest Harry Potter fan – I liked the books and movies, but wasn’t into it as much as some of them, but I really loved the play. We saw both parts in one day, and that’s a lot of time in a theater, but it never dragged. Definitely worth the trip.

Finally, in May, I started working with a new coach. Nothing against my old coach, but after a few years of working together, we just weren’t fitting as well as we had been, so I took the opportunity for a new start, knowing that I was spending the year rebuilding.

June

June was a bit of a quiet month, but it was also a month of a lot of training. This was my big push back to running, my big push towards racing. It was a month of a lot of hard work.

July

This was the month I had been working towards. Finally, my first race of the year. I’m so glad that it was Rev3 Williamsburg, a great way to start my season (and sadly, say goodbye to one of my favorite races). I was nervous, since I was still recovering, but it went so incredibly well and proved that all my training and PT was working.

August

Obviously, the Baltic Cruise was the highlight of August. I still can’t believe all of the things we got to see on that trip. I’m still trying to put together a photo book from the trip. Of course, I didn’t even get it close to finished by Christmas! It was worth every single penny spent, and I hope my sister and my cousins and I all get to travel together again in the next few years.

September

Choir started back up this month with our new conductor following two seasons of guest conductors. It was absolutely a change, but a welcome change. I appreciate someone who insists on hard work, but doesn’t ask more than you can give.

This month was also the end of my triathlon season with the Giant Acorn Oly. I had goals for this race, and was really happy with my finish. I managed to PR the course! All my work had paid off. It was a great race that felt incredibly good, and I was sad that my triathlon season was so short, but glad that it was a successful season.

October

October was a bit of a blur. I raced my 11th Army Ten Miler. It certainly wasn’t a fast race, but I raced without pain, which was the whole goal.

We also had a huge choir concert this month, premiering a work that was written in 1917 and had never been performed. It was absolutely exhausting. So many hours spent rehearsing. But when it was all said and done, it was a very cool thing to be a part of, and I’m looking forward to hearing the recordings once they’re complete.

November

I finally made it back to book club (then promptly missed the December meeting). I need to find a way to prioritize this in my schedule – I really like spending time with these ladies!

The month ended with a triumphant return to half marathon racing, nearly a full year since my last 13.1. It was like I wrapped up the past year in a nice bow when I finished that race. The previous year, I was struggling with my hip, and this year, I finished strong.

That was followed by an amazing whirlwind trip to Disney World to see the decorations. It was exhausting and so much fun. Anyone who thinks Disney isn’t for adults is wrong.

December

Finally, a relatively easy month. It’s a month of rest and recovery from an intense year of training. I sang three holiday concerts (still less work than October’s premiere) and am currently spending Christmas with my family, which is the best way to end a great year.

Whirlwind

This jerk stole my pizza.

It’s definitely starting to feel like the last half of the year has completely flown by.  I sat down to look at my list of blog posts for the past month and realized just how much this space has been ignored.  I’m going to try to make blogging more of a priority next year because 1) I enjoy it and 2) keeping a record of what I’m doing and how I’m feeling has been amazing for my training.  

In terms of training, following Space Coast, I’m taking a bit of an easy month.  This year has been a lot of rebuilding and it was definitely a push towards certain events – getting back to triathlon, getting back to running double digits, and finally getting back to the half marathon.  So for December, I’m taking it easy, getting in workouts, but also making sure to prioritize rest and recovery.

Of course, rest is easier said than done in December.  I’m sure that rings true for many of us.  For me, December means holiday choir concerts.  This past weekend, I sang three holiday concerts.  It was amazing and insanely exhausting.  I joined this choir in January of 2008, so it’s been a pretty constant presence in my life since I moved to DC.  Over the past couple of years though, I had sort of started to dread rehearsals.  For the most part, I enjoyed participating, and I liked singing, but sometimes, rehearsals felt like a drag.  This could be partly because they go from 7:30-10 on a Monday night, which is past my bedtime.  

This year, we have a new music director (only the third since the choir began in 1941), and he has brought with him a new energy that I didn’t know I needed.  It has made rehearsals a lot more fun, but it’s also an absolutely exhausting way to start the week.  Still, I’m enjoying it much more than I have in years, so I’m glad I didn’t give it up.

I’ve been trying to figure out what my goals for 2019 are going to be.  2018 went off the rails quite quickly, but turned out to be a pretty awesome year just the same.  I’m hoping we can skip the “off the rails” part and just go into the “pretty awesome” part for 2019.

Do you make New Year’s Resolutions?  Set goals for the year?  Got any suggestions for me?

Running with Zwift

Disclaimer: I received a Zwift RunPod to use on Zwift running as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”

I have talked here about how much I have enjoyed biking with Zwift over the past year.  Recently, Zwift has started Zwift running, where with a footpod, you can run on your treadmill and run on Zwift.  I first noticed this when I started seeing runners along the bike course.  It was always a little amusing when I was biking up a 15% grade and my avatar was barely moving and someone would come running past me. (But let’s be honest, that could happen in the real world as well.)

So when the opportunity came up to get a Run Pod from Zwift so I could try out the running option, I was in.

Zwift running is still in the early phases, so while you have to pay to bike on Zwift, running is completely free.  You just need a footpod that you can connect to your computer, tablet, or phone.  If you don’t have one, you can buy one from Zwift for $30, but a lot of runners already have footpods that will work.  Check out this list on Zwift.

I use Zwift on a 4-year-old iPad, with just the Zwift Run Pod, and I had no trouble connecting.  I know that some people with older tablets have had trouble connecting to Zwift, though the team at Zwift is incredibly helpful and will do their best to get you connected.  

I prop the iPad on my treadmill and use it that way.  As you can see, Zwift is also reading my heartrate.  I have a Scosche heart rate monitor that connects to Zwift, so I use it when I run on Zwift, as I like data.

I am a Galloway runner, so I run/walk, even when on the treadmill.  I wasn’t sure how well Zwift would read this.  I was pleasantly surprised.  While there’s a bit of a lag between the speed change of my feet and the speed change of the avatar, it pretty much keeps up.  Zwift didn’t always correctly read my speed (example – I had the treadmill set at 5.3 and it read as 4.9), but after a 45 minute run, the difference between the distance on my treadmill and the distance on Zwift was only about a tenth of a mile.  Given that treadmills aren’t 100% accurate either, I think that’s a pretty great result.

So why use Zwift when running?  Because it’s fun!  A lot of runners call the treadmill the “dreadmill.”  Zwift puts you into a virtual world where you can run.  There are also various running training programs available with Zwift that you can use.  You can also sign up for races or meet up with a friend to run.  And, of course, there’s the gamification as well.  The more you run, the more points you earn, and as you level up, you earn different gear – shirts, shorts, socks… It’s fun to earn a new running jersey and get to kit out your avatar and show it off.  

If your gym has wifi, Zwift might work for you there, and since most hotels now have wifi everywhere, if you spend a lot of time on the road, you may be able to Zwift from the hotel gym as well.  I’m planning to use it over the holidays while at my parents’ house.  

If, like me, you spend a lot of your winter running indoors, Zwift might be a great solution to alleviate boredom.  Get yourself a run pod and check it out.  

Race Report: 2018 Space Coast Half Marathon

So I’m a bit behind in my blog updates.  The weekend after Thanksgiving, I ran my first and only half marathon for the year.  This was my sixth year running the Space Coast Half, but this year felt a bit more important, since I hadn’t raced a 13.1 since the previous year’s Space Coast Half.

Obviously, if I’ve done a race six years in a row, I probably like it.  And the one thing I have to say is that these race organizers are always improving.

In terms of my performance in the race, I wasn’t too concerned about the distance.  I knew I would be slow, but my coach had me do a 13 mile training run, something I had never done in half marathon training.  I wondered why I was doing it, but didn’t question her expertise, and I’m glad I didn’t.  What that training run gave me was the confidence that I could cover the distance without pain from my labral tear, but it also gave me an idea of how fast I would race, so I didn’t have to put a lot of time into worrying about that.  It was really freeing to not be focusing on a finishing time.

This year was the first year in a new four year race series, and they made a few changes for this year.  The expo continues to grow, which is nice, though I so rarely buy anything at race expos anymore, especially when I travel to a race.  I need to make more room for stuff in my luggage so I can shop.  

Race morning, my sister Caitlin and I made plans to race together.  I think I’ve seen her more this year than I have since we lived in the same timezone.  That’s been pretty awesome.  Dad dropped us off at the race start, which was a huge perk. No worries about parking!  Another change this year was that they added a second half marathon.  The marathon course is sort of shaped like an infinity symbol, and previously, the half marathon was only the south side of the course.  The marathoners ran the north loop, then joined the half marathoners on the south loop.  This year, there was an option to run the north loop half marathon course.  The big difference between the two, aside from the scenery, is that the north half has a 3.5 hour time limit, while the south half has a 7 hour time limit (the full marathon time limit).  Even though I’ve run the south course 5 times, when it was time for race registration, I was completely unable to run thanks to my hip, so I registered for the south course, in case I had to walk the entire race.

The start line was as crowded as ever, though this year, marathoners and north runners were instructed to be on the right side of the street, and south runners on the left.  Until we got much closer to the start, there was no indication of divided corrals.  Additionally, as we made our way up to the start line after the race started, we realized that there were some very poorly placed pace signs.  That meant that the start was quite crowded and there was lots of darting around people in the first mile or so.  If that’s the worst thing I can say about the race, so be it.

We really lucked out with weather.  It was cool and slightly overcast all day.  Absolutely perfect.  And the spectators were out in full force.  Some of the people in the neighborhood set up bars in their front yards for the runners.  You know I love a run where I can have a mini margarita!

Aside from one mild calf cramp that I think was due to low sodium (at least I think so, since some salt helped it), this race went really well.  I ran exactly as planned.  My pace was where I thought I would be based on training, and most importantly, I felt amazing throughout the race.  I wasn’t sore at all and I felt like my form was pretty decent.

I was so, so excited to be racing again.  Sure, I have a ways to go to get back to my previous pace, but that will come with time, and it’s still not something I’m terribly worried about.  Since it’s not like I’m trying to qualify for anything, it makes sense to just let my pace evolve naturally as I continue to train.  

Look out 2019, here I come.

 

 

November Mileage Recap

ImageParty / Pixabay

Okay, so I can’t believe November is already ending.  Yes, I have probably said this every month, but seriously, where is the time going?

November was a great month!  I finally, finally got to race a half marathon and it went so well!  I’m still working on my recap, but in sum, it wasn’t my fastest, but it wasn’t my slowest, and it didn’t hurt.  I feel like I’m finally back.

However, in November, I also did my best to avoid going to the pool.  I don’t mind swimming.  It’s a good workout and I always feel great having done it.  But I just don’t like going to the pool.  Swimming is my only AM workout – all the rest happen after work, so I suspect it’s simply that I don’t want to drag myself out of bed and head out into the dark, cold morning.  Summer swimming is nowhere near as bad.

November Totals
Swim: 2.5 miles
Bike: 74 miles
Run: 77 miles

Yes.  I went to the pool twice.  Two times all month (and one time was today).

I’m actually blown away that my run miles topped my bike miles, but this was a very run focused month.  So many long runs.  But they were absolutely worth it.  I even did a 13.1 mile training run, which is the longest training run I’ve done since I was marathon training years ago – usually I top out at 12.  But I trusted my coach on this one and she was right.  I probably didn’t need that extra 1.1 miles (actually the plan only required 13, but I was getting that last .1), but it absolutely gave me the confidence I needed going into my race.  I knew that I could cover the distance without pain and not having that stress on race day was huge.  It also gave me an idea of what my finishing time might be, which removed that stress.  I know I’ve lost speed this year, and while I know it will come back, that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel a twinge of disappointment that I’m not immediately fast again (“fast” being a relative term – I am very much a party in the back kind of racer).

My next race isn’t until April, so I’m looking forward to a few months of rebuilding and getting into shape.  I have big plans for 2019!

2018 Totals
Swim: 54.6 miles
Bike: 1504 miles
Run: 286 miles