The beauty of a plan

When I first started running, I used the Couch to 5K plan faithfully. Something about having everything I needed to do laid out for me was so motivating. Knowing exactly what to do and then being able to check off a finished workout was a great feeling.  Turns out I thrive on being told what to do (don't tell my husband). Once I had run a couple 5Ks, I haphazardly trained for a 10K. 

When I registered for my first half marathon, I was once again committed to a plan, this time through Runner's World's Smart Coach app.  I missed few, if any, of the scheduled runs, and I had a fantastic race.  The power of the plan eluded me during my marathon training, though.  Despite having only three scheduled runs per week, I regularly missed at least one of them.  That, combined with missing a few weeks of training due to Achilles tendonitis, led to a less than stellar first marathon

This time around, I'm so far locked into The Plan.  Even though it requires me to run 5 days a week--something I have never done, I'm three weeks in without missing a single day.  This is new territory for me.  It hasn't been easy, though, thanks to a combination of life and my own self sabotage.  I started reading The Hunger Games during the Super Bowl and got hooked on the series.  I read the first one in a couple of days, and it didn't really cause me any problems. 

Tuesday: 2 miles @ 10:50 pace.  Because I didn't get home from N's volleyball practice until 11:30 Monday night, I didn't manage to get up before work to run.  That meant going out when I got home from class at about 9:15.  Thank goodness it was only 2 miles...and for the people who've mentioned such short runs in ultra training, the first three weeks are basically base-building, so from here on out I only have one 2-mile run a week. (whimper).  I took it easy since between the dark and the snow flurries whipping in my face I didn't have great visiblity.

Wednesday: 2 miles @ 9:09 pace.  I managed to run this right after getting home from work (night class was cancelled...yea!).  One thing that made me sad about marathon training was that I lost all of my "speed" because of my focus on just getting in the miles, so I'm trying to fit in at least one run a week where I push my pace more.  Definitely not an easy pace for me to maintain, but it felt good to see the numbers at the end.  Up late that night finishing a paper for class.

Thursday: 4 miles @ 10:05 pace. Another nighttime run.  These are such a pain because I have to get supper on the table early enough for J to get to cub scouts, and then wait long enough for my food to hopefully settle.  I tried to run this like a temp run; splits were 10:00, 9:27, 9:10, 11:43 (where the chili...and enchiladas...and fresh salsa...I'd been eating the past two days all ganged up on me). 

Fortunately (for the reader in me), D dropped off his copy of the second Hunger Games book.  Unfortunately (for the runner in me), it was really good.  I started reading it Thursday night, but I really got into it Friday night and ended up finishing it at 2 a.m. Saturday morning.  Which would be just fine...if I didn't have to get up at 6 to meet friends for a run.

I did not look quite this perky in the morning.
Saturday: 12.74 miles @ 13:43 pace. When the alarm went off, I seriously considered texting the guys and going back to sleep, but since I was the one who'd suggested the run that seemed pretty weak.  Plus, I had to get my 12 miles out of the way early since we had Pinewood Derby and then a family birthday party.  Those of you who've been with me for a year know how much I love Pinewood Derby, but I wanted to be there rooting against for J.

Seems like all winter long I've been bragging talking about how warm it is.  Well, winter finally got here.  It must have been operating on Kate time this year.  When we started our run it was 14 degrees with a wind chill of 4. 

Pre-run with Pat and Gary
Photo credit: Jim Donohue

The only saving grace was that the trails sheltered us from the worst of the wind, so once we got going it wasn't awful.  I had some bike friends out on a road ride, and I don't know how they did it. They're way tougher than me! 

Running through the (barely) snowy woods
Usually the first mile or so feels bad until I warm up, but this run never felt good.  At least I had fun company.  Patrick is currently all about the wild running (who needs trails?), and before long he was leading us down a non-trail we'd run last week.  This time we found a spot where we could jump across the creek.

Not a day you want wet feet!

At this point in the run I was still smiling
 I'm so used to being the slow one of the group, but this was ridiculous.  The guys were really nice about it, but it was stressing me out to drag them behind so much.  I tried to tell them they should just go on ahead, but they wouldn't do it.  And usually, even when I'm slow, I'm having fun.  I like running, I love running in these woods, and I had great guys to run with.  Instead of enjoying myself, though, I just felt crabby and negative.  I tried to keep my mouth shut and keep the whining to a minimum lest I lose my running partners.

More wild running
By this point, almost 7 miles into the run, I was over wild running.  Give me a nice, flat trail, and give it to me fast, dammit.  Gary had to get to his son's game, so we dropped him off at the cars, hit the bathroom, and then ran across campus to the more groomed, "official" trails.  I had a brief shining moment where I thought we only had 3 miles left, and then I remembered we were running 12, not 10.  Nothing much to say about the rest of the run.  I dragged further and further behind, just trying to hang on.  Oh, and then I didn't duck enough while running under a fallen tree and cracked my head on it.  Usually I save my cursing for mountain bike falls, but I'm pretty sure my potty mouth was in evidence on this run.

By the time we were back at the cars, we had over 12 miles.  I had a brief temptation to run a little longer and make it a half marathon distance, but then I remembered it hurt to move.  Instead, I apologized to the guys again for being such lousy company, grabbed a coffee, and headed home so I could shower before the Pinewood Derby.  (Where, incidentally, J took 2nd, 1st, and 1st in his heats but didn't qualify for districts, which in my opinion is the perfect result).

After Saturday's miserable run, I was not looking forward to the scheduled 8 for Sunday.  I did get to sleep in a little before going to church to hear Scott Rigsby speak. 

Photo credit:
Rigsby is the first person with double leg amputation to complete the Kona Ironman competition.  Very inspiring story, but not the best public speaker.  I'm sure it didn't help that I was trying hard not to fall asleep.  One thing that caught my attention was when he talked about telling his friends he was going to do an Ironman.  At the time, he couldn't swim, didn't own a bike, and had barely run on his prosthetic legs.  Make the decision, then figure out how to do it.  I like that.

Due to going to church, finishing the last Hunger Games book, and attending one of J's things at church, I didn't get to leave for my run until about 4:00.  I'd been dreading it all day long.  I just felt exhausted.  Not sleepy, but like gravity was working double on me, and eight miles seemed almost insurmountable.  Instead of heading out for 8 miles, I decided to mentally break it up into 4 miles, then 2 miles, then 2 miles.  On one hand, it was a mental trick, but I also gave myself the out of quitting the run at any of those points.

Though it was much warmer (a balmy 30) than Saturday, it felt awfully cold setting out.  Like always, the first mile or so was a drag, but then I settled in and the run felt ok.  I had a GU at 4 miles, and it wasn't so bad knowing that I only "had" to go two more miles.

I came across these fallen trees and had fun jumping from one trunk to the next.  My attitude was 100% different (and better!) than on Saturday.  Since normally I far prefer running with friends, I'm chalking it up to the lack of sleep.  By now dusk was settling in, and I wasn't crazy about being on the trails alone after dark. I finished mile 6 on my way out of the trails. There was enough light to get me back to where I'd parked, but I was still 1.5 miles short, so I ran the service road near the parking area until my Garmin beeped off that last mile.  A far, far better running experience than the day before.

Sunday: 8 miles @ 12:18 pace

I'm a little nervous looking ahead at this next week's plan.  I add on 6 miles to my weekly mileage, which seems a little high, but I'll just see how it goes and give myself a break if I need one.  Maybe this will be the week I don't hit all the miles.  It has to happen at some point.  The really exciting part (heavy on the sarcasm) is that I'll be in Chicago this coming weekend, and depending on my son's volleyball schedule, I may be stuck running Saturday's 14 and Sunday's 8 on the hotel treadmill.  I did 14 on a TM last year for the same reason, and I'm not looking forward to repeating the experience.  On the other hand, it wasn't as bad as 62 miles on a trainer!
Chicago folks, let me know if you'd be interested in meeting up! We're staying in Burr Ridge Friday and Saturday nights.  Of course, I'll be working around my son's volleyball, but I'd love to meet some of you in person if it works out. :)


  1. I LOVED the Hunger Games series. I may even go to the early early premiere of the movie with all the teenagers. It wasn't good for my running or my job either, but I'd do it all again.

    Isn't it funny how those runs you dread often are way better than expected?

  2. I JUST (as in 10 minutes ago) finished the last book (I told you I'd steal it today, hehe!) LOVED them all!

    My run yesterday was ugh. But I was still glad to finish it!

    Keep me posted on the volleyball schedule - my weekend is pretty open (so far) and I'd love to get together!

  3. Any time I delve into a great book everything else falls by the wayside. Mostly, sleep.

  4. make the decision, then figure out how.

    I. LOVE. THAT.

  5. Love the Hunger Games!!!
    You know, when I run 12 I do it in firmly on the ground, not on the side of a mountain!! Whew, way to go!!!

  6. Ha! I just picked up my sons copy of the Hunger Games and I cannot wait til work is over so I can finish it!

    Good job on the run. I'd like to do some trails now but not alone...I need to find someone crazy enough to go with me;)

  7. Hunger Games...never read it like Twilight...vampire stuff...

    I am with Terzah, true for me as well the runs I think will be crappy ends up pretty great. yesterday I waited until after 10 am to go for my LR. It was supposed to be 10. I was looking for all kinds of reasons to do 8. it is late..blah blah blah...well I did 10 and it was great

  8. Scott's book "Unthinkable" was really good - maybe not "Hunger Games" good, but an enjoyable read. It was a little painful to watch how messed up his life was for a while, but the spirit of faith and courage was nice to read about.

    I have a lot of days where I just don't "feel it" and other days when I feel like a rock star. Wish I knew how to have more of the latter. Glad you pulled a good run on Sunday with whatever mental tricks you had to go through.

    Oh, and as a mom who has been to more than her fair share of pinewood derbies, I was not particularly broken hearted when my soon to cross over cub scout decided to bag doing a car this year. :)

  9. Darn I wish I lived in Chicago!
    I love following a training plan. I am trying to currently do that but my foot is being strange with the pain on top. Rite Aid tomorrow to buy some bunion things or something. I only feel it with tied shoes on so I think it is just great but hurts.

    I have been begging for winter -still don't have it but man was it cold this weekend. So so so cold. But I ran. I am wondering how I will do 13. 1 next weekend. My speed is so off. I am hoping it is a little warmer than the previous two years.

    ENjoy Chicago and hope you get some fun meet ups.

  10. Way to stick to the plan! Which plan is it out of curiosity.

    14 on the dreadmill sounds rough. It will double as a mental toughness day :-).

  11. All this Hunger Games hype...damn...I think I'll have to read my kid's copy now.

    Good for you for doing such an incredible job with this plan. I am very impressed :)

  12. I always use my own plan which is never specific to one race. I plan every week with long term goals in mind. So even the big races are always part of the complete plan beyond that. But having some form of plan in place certainly helps.

  13. Hopefully we'll get to meet up - just let us know your schedule!

  14. There ya go again, showing us all up over the weekend!! ;)

    It's about time winter hit the ole Midwest...we've had it long enough here, it's your time now!

    I haven't read the Hunger Games, I just know I'd get sucked in and everything and everyone around me would get neglected for a couple week...that's what I do when I read a good book. Too much on the plate right now to do that, but eventually I'd love to read it!

    Yeah, welcome to ultra training...crazy how those miles just keep building each week, huh? :)

    Keep being awesome!!!

  15. One word - audiobooks. Kill two birds with one stone.

  16. Awesome training - despite the distraction of a good series:) Hope to see some VBall this wkend!

  17. I can SO relate to this entire post! I am the same way! I also stayed up way too late to read the hunger games. lol I can't wait for the movie!!

    You are really doing well sticking to your plan despite all the life that seems to be getting in the way. Way to go!!

  18. I feel like I've become a Hunger Games pusher :) But that's okay - just means more friends to see the movie with!


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