Run For The Berries 5K – Starlight, IN (May 25, 2019)

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Me crossing the finish line of the Run For The Berries 5K – Starlight, IN

Race: Run for the Berries 5K

Place: Starlight, Indiana

Date: May 25, 2019

Time: 23:37

It’s that time of year, friends.  Yep.  That time of year that the Starlight Strawberry Festival happens.  And that means one thing…the Run for the Berries 5K.  Because if you want to give me any incentive to run a 5K (not a big fan)…strawberries are a sure bet!

The one thing that has become pretty common with me, however, is that I’ve waited to register for this race (and numerous others) either on race day or close to race day.  Why?  I’m on a strict budget and signing up for races and having to not go to them for ANY reason is a waste of my money.  So it doesn’t happen.  So, for the second year in a row…I wasn’t registered until race morning for this race.

But the adventure doesn’t start there, friends.  Oh no!!  Because this seems to be the year where if anything bad can happen to me on race morning…it will.  And the morning of the Run for the Berries 5K didn’t let me down in that aspect.

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Registering on race morning

I woke up feeling slightly “off.”  My stomach was unsettled.  I thought, perhaps, some water with a Nuun tablet (electrolytes) would be a big help in this case, but it didn’t really seem to help.  At least I was hydrated, right?  It was also VERY warm out this particular morning.  Like humid and hot.  The kind of weather that you feel sort of suffocates you when you’re milling about it in.  UGH.  So, another good reasons for the electrolytes in the water.  When I mentioned running this one to my coach, Daniel, he asked if I wanted to use it for training or to actually race it.  I told him I wanted to race it.  Mind you…I am NOT in 5K shape…AT ALL!!  I was just a month off of a fast marathon and really hadn’t incorporated any sort of speed back into my training at that point.  But, hey…it’s 3.1 miles…I got this, right?

My speed work sessions during training have been fast.  So, I thought, as I had come close to breaking my 5K PR at this race before…maybe it could happen.  Maybe I could get a damn PR in one of the primary distances (5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon).  Why not start with the one I hate doing…the 5K.  Because these legs were not made for sprinting.  They were made for…DISTANCE.  But, hey…I could do this…in shape or not!

And maybe…if the weather was slightly cooler and my stomach didn’t feel like it was sludgy…it might have.  Spoiler alert: No PR.  But let me first start with what I did do.  I did get up and stretch and drink water and electrolytes, knowing it would be a steamfest (it usually is, btw).  I dressed in the Boston crop that my friend, Natalie, gifted me with again…but went with different shorts this time for the Run for the Berries.  I had my breakfast to go…something I could eat 30 minutes prior to the 8 am start.

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I am wondering why I’m up front!

My roommate and I left the apartment to give us time to get up to the Strawberry Festival, get me registered, use the bathroom, stretch, eat, and prepare to race.  All of these things were accomplished and did happen.  I even made myself eat the snack I brought, despite the stomach feeling wonky.  It would be better thank bonky!  (Rhyming is fun!)

I did some active stretching until it seemed about time to walk down the road to the start point.  I was amazed how few people were there at this point.  So, I got into what I figured would be the second row (where I usually start in this race) and stood there…waiting.  Some fast looking people did wander down this way…but they stood behind me and I was like…”Nope.  I try to be fast, but I’m not there kind of fast.”  It all did eventually fill in though, even if I was still up front this time.  Imposter syndrome!

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Me at the start, when I thought I might be able to hang and be fast…

The race organizer got on the bullhorn and started to give some information about the race. Like male runners at the finish will have white cards to fill out; female runners will have pink; walkers will have yellow. OH…and if you are registered as a walker…and you run down a hill…you are now a runner. This gets said every year, and it still makes me laugh. He gave the words…On your marks…get set…and we were sent off.  And I was doing my best not to blow up in the first mile.

The past couple years I have done this race, my first mile has managed to be in the 6:40-6:50 range.  Not this year.  I hit that first mile and decided to just glance at my watch (this is a bad habit I got into when I had to pace myself through Toledo), noting that it said 7:13.  It felt hard.  And I knew I was fading already.  The heat and humidity have really started to get to me this year, and my body was not responding well at all today.  Nope.  I decided I would attempt to pick it up…maybe I could for Mile 2.

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An icy cold strawberry drink was just what I needed

It was maybe halfway through this mile, that I could physically feel my legs slowing down.  So, my goals and hopes were just tossed aside, and I focused on simply finishing.  I attempted to, but mostly failed to attack the uphills and ride the downhills, but my legs were not wanting to go any faster.  They kept screaming to slow down.  And they did…without me even commanding them to do so.  Mile 2 was at 7:35.  After Mile 2, there is a water stop waiting.  Since goals were out…I stopped, snagged a cup, drank a splash, then poured the rest over my head hoping to wake up the body and cool off my core.  I managed to get up the hill, but I was toast after that.

There are a few rollers after that as you head back to the road that takes you to the finish line.  You actually sort of go uphill to the finish.  Brutal.  And I was fighting.  I was fighting with all I had to get there.  I could see the finish, see Cathy, see people cheering…so I pressed on.  I think someone passed me.  I don’t really remember.  But I pushed as much as I could (it felt like I was going in slow motion).  Mile 3 was 7:53.  I was going off the rails.  The last .1 miles to the finish felt like an eternity (Garmin tells me it was an 8:16 pace, LOL!), but I crossed the line and stopped my watch and was happy to have it done.  I was handed a pink card and Cathy walked me over to the building to fill out my card with my name and time and age division…and mine was the first in the stack at that point…which I reminded her didn’t mean that I came in first.  It just means I was the first one to fill out the card.IMG_1097

As the race was finishing up, we wandered back over to where we parked to grab my backpack so I could go duck into the bathroom and change out of my sweaty running clothes.  I was happy that I packed a light dress to wear because it was really starting to heat up outside.

We made a circuit of the actual festival booths, while waiting on the awards to start…and indulged in our big bowls of strawberries (well, Cathy gets an actual Strawberry Shortcake), and a nice, icy cold, refreshing frozen strawberry drink.  YES!!  It was perfection.

IMG_1102The men are always announced first after the overall winners…and the overall winner this year (for men) was an 11 year old kid who was lightning fast.  Seriously.  And…as I’m getting pretty up there…I have to sit awhile through the females too…but…worth it.  My card and time were in fact…right.  I was first in my age division.  How about that?  I didn’t feel good…I pretty much died on the course…but…bringing home another pint glass (with an additional bag for being first in the age group).

I wish I could give you overall stats, but official results for this race haven’t been posted anywhere.  Not on Facebook.  Not on Pacers & Racers.  Not on the Strawberry Festival page, nor the page advertising the Run For the Berries itself…it still has last year’s results.  BUT…here’s what I can tell you…

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Age group pint glass from the Run for the Berries 5K

Officially…I had positive splits.  But positive splits for positive people.  I finished the race in 23:37.  I was the thirteenth woman overall.  And I was first in my age group.  That’s it…that’s all I got.

And hopefully next year I can get a bit faster, take those hills a bit harder, and not fade so much so close to the start.  Fingers crossed.

And…should official results for this race every get posted, I will happily update this post to share them.  But, I am not currently holding my breath!

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High Hopes for the New Year

Happy New Year, friends!!

Life has been…chaotic and busy, to say the least, these last few weeks.  The holidays always throw my routine out of whack, but it just seems like it’s taking me a little longer to bounce back into my day-to-day life.

But…a few things have changed heading into the new year.

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First of all, I hired a new running coach.  Yep.  After my former coach and I decided it was best to go our separate ways in July last year, I pulled out old training plans and did my best to get myself into shape to hit a BQ at the Chicago Marathon.  The training was hard, but I did my best to get myself prepared within the weeks I had left to get myself to that start line. We all know, if you read my race review, that my Chicago Marathon went all kinds of hella wrong.  I was really down on myself and disappointed with my performance, because I was told, by so many people, that there was no way (even with the new qualifying times released JUST before the Chicago marathon) that there was no way I wouldn’t qualify.  Guess what…I didn’t.  I tried two out of my three marathons…and it didn’t happen.  I didn’t let on much, but it bothered me and I felt like I was just going backwards and not forwards, and doing it on my own wasn’t getting me the results I really wanted.  SO…I remembered that a former physical therapist of mine was a running coach…so I got in touch with him…and filled out some paperwork, had a one-on-one with him on the phone…and I started officially training with him on December 31st.  Even more frightening, January 6th marked 16 weeks out from my spring marathon.

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Just kidding.  I’m not panicking.

Yet.

Something else has changed in the workout realm. I hired a personal trainer.  Yep.  I sure did.  And you know what?  I really trust him to help me get my body back in shape and ready to race to get my Boston Qualifying time.  It’s a process, but I trust him. I met Corey in 2017, and he opened up his own personal training businesses a while back.  I never thought about getting a personal trainer until last summer, but with my fall marathon looming, I didn’t want to start anything too rigorous so close.  So, I started with him on…you guessed it…December 31st and meet with him twice a week.  He plans my workout around the training my running coach sets up and so far it’s all been jiving really well.  I love how Corey explains to me why we are working certain muscles and how it will benefit me when I am running.  I am trusting him and the process of getting me back in racing shape.

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And…I’m currently 39 days away from my first official race of 2019.  And I can’t wait. Except I do have to get a few things figured out when it comes to what I’ll be wearing.  Stay tuned.

I hope your 2019 is off to a good start.  What have you changed, started or hoping to do this year?  Tell me in the comments!

Starving To Be Enough

Hello, my dear friends and readers.  Let me introduce you to my friend, Natalie.  I met Natalie through a local running store, that ultimately, led to a small running group.  She and I became fast friends and, we have seen each other through a lot of ups and downs in life.  Last year, she took on one of the hardest and biggest challenges of her life.  She went to get treated for anorexia, an eating disorder that was, literally, wasting her away to just bones. Unfortunately, this isn’t the type of problem that just goes away after treatment.  It stays with you…it eats at you…it gets in your head and it makes it hard to stay on the right path.

With the holidays in full swing, she commented on the way her life is just saturated in diet culture.  It’s hard enough to deal with when you are in the population trying to lose weight.  But have you ever thought about how hard it is for someone who is obsessed with being smaller?  Someone who can easily be triggered by the word “diet” or “fat” or even “calorie?”

I have been wanting to welcome guest bloggers to my page for awhile now, so I’m going to let Natalie share her thoughts on the saturation of the market with “quick fixes” and how it can be a problem for people who have disordered ways of eating or looking at nutrition.

We all can agree, diets are bullshit. Your body doesn’t need to do a cleanse, you have a liver that does that for you. Your dietary choices should not be used as a way to restrict yourself from what you can and cannot eat.  And diets…don’t work.  As anyone who does any sport, you know how important FOOD is and PROPER NUTRITION is to performance and longevity.  It’s hard, though, even for people without an eating disorder, to feel normal when it feels like every ad, commercial, influencer, and the like out there is telling you that you need to be smaller and this gimmick or new workout is how to do just that.

So, let me turn it over to a great friend of mine, a fellow athlete, and someone who has been on the dark side of an eating disorder and is working hard to recover, despite being bombarded with messages that are the complete opposite of what she needs to be feeding herself.

Below are her words, as well as a before and after photo for reference.  Thank you, Natalie, for being brave enough to share your story and your thoughts on this matter.  Keep fighting.

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Natalie BEFORE and Natalie AFTER

It’s all the time; all year and everywhere! In the malls, magazines, on TV, the internet, radio, at work, with friends and now invading your emails!

DIETS: how to diet, which one is right for you, what melting pill takes the fat away, and on and on it goes.

Food has always been a part of life.  You can’t get away from it: from the moment you’re born, it’s literally shoved into your mouth, and then, we are told not to eat what we just learned to put into our mouths because it is bad for you. Yet, it’s what we have to have to stay alive!

The diet industry probably makes more money than the company’s for any other product. I think I read it’s a multi-billion dollar corporation!  Well, as hard is it is for someone wanting to get healthy (which one to pick, this one didn’t work, etc.), what its like for a person with an eating disorder is absolutely just torture!!

In my active portion of my ED, I was all about different fads and diets and everyone was willing to give it to me despite the fact that I was sick and losing too much weight. I had doctors that even encouraged my particular way of eating – healthy of course – but I left out how much I exercised to burn off the little healthy food I did eat! I’m sure if I had tried I probably could have found a surgeon to give me gastric bypass!! Trust me, I thought about it! But, now in process of being in recovery, which is the hardest thing I have ever done, it’s all around me and dangling in my face 24/7. I know this is a part of life and they didn’t actually cause my ED, but they feed it, literally and metaphorically!!

I get emails everyday for the newest product of diet pills. I see a runner on an ad and then go to read it and it talks about counting macros or the Keto diet. Even gluten-free diets are used to restrict, which is kinda funny considering they have some of the highest sugar counts in their stuff just so it tastes good. It’s supposed to be for allergies to gluten or, more specifically, what it was originally for was Celiac disease which has to be diagnosed with a biopsy and blood work! Period! I have many friends with this and they can actually die from it! So, to take specific diets for specific diseases is also the new fad. Like I said, it’s crazy and it can make a normal person crazy, but with the ED, I feel like I have no chance at ever getting better because it always draws that part of me back to the fact that I’m not good enough the way I am. I could be thinner if I just took this pill or if I rubbed my belly with this amazing fat burning gel or if I get my macros or micro nutrients right. I have to say, in my treatment (which was meant for an athlete), I have learned about macros and micro foods, but in the end, we are people that can get obsessed about anything and take it to extremes. It’s in our way of thinking and I say in our DNA too.

They say people with ED are a lot like alcoholics, if that gives you some idea of how bad it is. Except you don’t need alcohol to live, but you do have to eat food.  To constantly give all this media attention to something that will only work for a small time, and then the targeted person will go off their diet and then have to start all over again, because they are desperate at that point and go back to the diet programs or vitamin shops that sell “healthy ways to diet” is just as addictive.

But, for a person like me, someone who will go the distance to be thin enough and never stop. And every diet there is or that comes out, my mind immediately thinks…maybe if I try this and that, then the cycle of being afraid to eat, the fear of gaining weight and not being good enough if I don’t weigh less…all of it throws me back into what will ultimately be my death warrant!

So basically, from my point of view, as a recovering anorexic…this industry is helping us kill ourselves for money!!

Your Pace or Mine (And Why You Shouldn’t Care)

comparisonOne of the best pieces of advice I have ever received as a runner…was to stop posting my Garmin face post-run with distance and time.  Stop putting my splits up on social media for others to see.  While a lot of times, this garnishes so many LIKES and compliments…it also, honestly, is no one’s business what my run looked like that day.  And, sometimes, it can also bring about negativity…or pressure to perform.

How often do we do this to ourselves?  We go for a run.  We feel good during the run.  Or maybe we don’t.  Maybe the run feels hard, but we’re pushing.  And we’re just giving it all we have (I don’t recommend doing this for every run you do, btw).  And when we’re done, we click that stop button on our watch and check our time…

And how often does that time…or overall pace…determine for YOU…whether that run was a “good run” or a “bad run?”

Hey…I’ve been guilty of this myself.

When a run feels hard and it should be easy…guess what…you’re probably running too hard.

When you feel good through your entire run, but then stop your watch and are disappointed with your overall pace…guess what…you have forgotten the golden rule of…easy runs should be easyhard runs should be hard…and BOTH are important.  You probably did this run perfectly…you felt good…but your Garmin spouts off an average that makes you feel inadequate.

Why?

So many people play that social media comparison game.  Just because one person can easily crack off 7 minute (or less) minute miles, everyday, for most distances….doesn’t mean that you have to be able to do that too.  That’s the great thing about being a human being.

WE ARE ALL DIFFERENT.  And guess what?!  OUR ABILITIES ARE ALL DIFFERENT!!

Am I screaming at you?  Yes!!  Because I often get told that someone doesn’t think they need to recover as much as I do because I run so much faster than them.  Well, my 8 minute mile might be just as hard to me as their 10 minute mile is to them.  The effort is equal…the paces are different.  But someone’s slow will always be someone else’s fast.  And it’s a serious problem if you are judging your worth and your fitness or your place in the running community based off of how fast your legs move to propel you forward.

And social media has done nothing more than take all of this insecurity and elevated the comparison game to new heights.  It is great to motivate people…but your paces and your miles logged don’t really do that.  WORDS do that. Examples do that.  Just because you can run that 6:XX mile tempo, doesn’t mean that I can.  And expecting me to be able to isn’t right too.  Telling me that you’re an extreme runner, or getting it done right, doesn’t make me feel good about my 8:xx tempo of the same distance that day…probably less consistent than yours.  Your Garmin watch face…your split times…your average pace…that does have the power to motivate…and inspire…but it also can really get into people’s heads.

And let’s talk about burnout.  So many times…these “extreme” runners that consistently post these fast times in training often burnout or hit a wall…when it counts most.  On race day.

Sure, it might seem fun to post your 7:XX mile runs during training, every day, no rest days, no days off, but when you end up sidelined with an injury, or your marathon times don’t match up to your training runs, or you hit a wall…hard…at Mile 21, those social media brags and posts will have been in vain.

Let’s face it…an 8:20 pace is not easy if your marathon pace is an 8:30.

IT. IS. THAT. SIMPLE.

Whether you consider yourself a speed demon, a middle-of-the-packer, or a back-of-the-packer…ultimately…the comparison game will only bring you unnecessary stress.

And that’s why, my friends, my Instagram posts don’t show off my pace, my distance, my stats, my splits…because that is for me to know and for me to work on.  Not for anyone else to cast judgement on or to compare themselves to.  We’re all different.  We all run different.  We all train different.  But in the end…I’m not here to set a precedent for anyone but myself.

Comparison is the thief of joy…and I’m not looking for anything but happiness out on the roads right now.  Don’t get me wrong, I certainly have my goals and am actively pursuing them the best I know how to.  After all, happiness is definitely a goal worth pursuing.

Quality Over Quantity

44425106_10100467243748681_8763605971185434624_oTwo weeks ago…I ran a marathon.

I haven’t blogged on it yet…but it’s coming. I just need more time in my days to get my thoughts down.

Two weeks ago.  And I have been taking my time returning to my training.

I’m not forcing myself to go out there for double-digit runs at the moment.  I’m not forcing speed work on myself.  I’m running by feel, fewer days a week than normal, not worrying over how long I’m out there or how far I go.

I’m recovering.

So many of my friends are shining in races.  Some of them also had hard efforts in marathons.  But, to me, it’s not about how many races I do…it’s about being able to do the number of races I register for…comfortably, without pain, without injury, without burnout…

I don’t wear race volume around my neck as a bragging right.  I don’t care how many races I have run or of what distance each one was.  Every finish is a victory.  Every race is a victory lap for the training I put into it.  And part of training…is taking the necessary time off to get my body strong, rested, and prepped for the next training cycle.  I’ve done the whole rush into the next thing route before…and we all know how that turned out for me.  So many people overlook the downtime and recovery…and I used to be one of them.

NOT. ANYMORE.

It’s so hard, these days, to keep this in perspective.  Social media has a funny way of making you feel inadequate.  Someone is always running more, running faster, running further, hitting goals you’ve dreamed of but have fallen short of for months/years.  But, in the end, we can only do what is best for ourselves.  No one else.

This past weekend, I was in Columbus, Ohio, visiting my friend Jenn and seeing Phil Collins in concert on Friday night.  I had some late nights…I slept in each morning.  And…I put in some miles each morning.  One was mild and windy, the other was frigid and also windy (but less windy, I guess).  I never once looked at my Garmin to check my pace.  I just counted each mile beep until I hit the miles in my made-up plan.

Each run was solid and strong and amazing.  I mean, I was having fun, even when the headwind felt like it was pushing me back.  I got inspired when I hit up the Columbus Marathon expo, purchasing more things than I should of from the booth, and stopping by Noxgear to say HI to the people there…and get my hands on their new product, which hasn’t launched to the public yet.  Watch my social media for more on that.

I ate well.  I stretched.  I foam rolled.  All the self-care stuff that comes with recovering from a hard effort.

So while others are stocking up on medals and miles, I’m cheering them on, but not rushing to join them.  I never want to be out for as long as I was in the past.  And with these solid recovery runs coming so easy…I’m proud to say, I think this time, I’m doing it right.

The number of races I do is nothing compared to the number of races I will continue to do, simply by respecting this body.

Being a runner isn’t about the number of races I finish.  I know plenty of real runners who aren’t even interested in racing.  I love racing.  It’s fun.  But I don’t care if I’ve run 1 or 100 races…as long as I’m still enjoying it and listening to my body so I can continue to do it.

You do you!

Real Talk About Disappointment

I heard it so many times…

“You’ve got this in the bag.”

“There is no way you’re not going to Boston Qualify.”

“The only way you won’t BQ is if you get hit by a car.”

“Look at what you did at Dopey…this one will be easy!”

ALL. THE. WORDS.

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And while I appreciate that people have confidence and faith in me…there were a few things I was contending with…

I didn’t have a coach or…technically…a plan starting in August, when marathon training was really getting heavy.  I figured it out by turning back to an old training plan from 2013 and making adjustments.

I didn’t feel like I was in shape, personally, for my goal.  After all, my longest run in my training plan didn’t go well at all.  It ended with me walking my last 1.3 miles of it to hit the mileage and almost passing out thanks to the heat.  Let me tell you, that really did little to boost my confidence at all going into the taper and the race itself.

I still feel out of shape.

And…disappointed.

With myself.  With letting those who believed in me down.  For not doing what others did that day.  For feeling like an absolute failure every time I hear the success stories of those who ran the same race at me…but achieved their goals.  For letting myself down.

Maybe I didn’t want it enough.  Maybe running without my watch telling me pace and distance was a mistake.  Maybe I didn’t spend enough time off my feet the day before.  Maybe I didn’t fuel right that day or at dinner the night before.  Maybe I didn’t wear the right thing for the weather.  Maybe I didn’t fuel enough during.  Maybe…maybe…maybe.

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Excuses?  Reasons?  Justifications?

It doesn’t undo how much it hurt to know that I didn’t achieve a goal that I was told was going to be so easy for me to get this time.  It doesn’t undo the fact that I ran a marathon in January an entire minute faster after running a 5K, 10K, and half marathon in the 3 days leading up to it.  It stings.  It hurts.

I am very proud of my finish, please don’t get me wrong.  But it feels like such a let down because, while I wasn’t actively proclaiming my goals from the rooftops…I carried all these high hopes with me.  They drove me.  They pushed me.  And in the end…I still came up short.  By a bigger margin than it should have been.

And that’s a hard pill to swallow at times.

Still.

Even today.

I am okay with how my race turned out…but I’m not satisfied.  And I’m not happy.  I know, just like everyone who told me, that I have at least one more BQ in me.  It just wasn’t this race.  It wasn’t my time.  And it’s okay for me to not be okay with it.  But it’s not okay for me to dwell on it.  Or to let disappointment hold me back.

After all…I still have goals to meet.

I am proud of every finish line because, ultimately, my goal is always to finish.  Sometimes it feels easy…and sometimes it’s a struggle.  I still believe every struggle and every shortcoming is a learning experience and something to grow from and improve on.  So, while it didn’t happen this time…and perhaps might not happen next time, I’m driven and striving to get there and make it happen.  I know it will.  I’ll chip away until I reach that goal.

For everyone who believed in me then…believe in me now.  I’m not done yet.

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I’m not unproductive…I’m recovering!

My Garmin Forerunner 935 sometimes expects great things of me…and other times blocks out the fact that I’ve been recovering from a hard effort and calls me “UNPRODUCTIVE” or tells me I’m “DETRAINING.”

Considering that it thinks I can cut about 2 minutes off  my 5K PR, 2 minutes off my 10K PR, 5 minutes off my half marathon PR, and 13 minutes off my marathon PR (all of these cuts are on PRs that I set 4-5 years ago…which is sad, honestly), it should also understand the value of rest.  I mean…high expectations there on race predictions…the best way to do that is to give this body the time it needs to get strong and happy again.  You know what that requires?

REST.

And I’ve been doing so much of it.

Finally…just over a week later, my Garmin seems to understand me a little better…

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That’s way better than being told I’m unproductive.  I mean, I may not be piling on the miles, but I’ve been taking walks, returning to spin classes (that started this week!), stretching, foam rolling, strength training…all because I want to keep this body happy and healthy.  Too many times I’ve rushed back into training and ended up sidelined with either a major or minor injury.  I’m done with watching others achieve things I’ve dreamed of from the sidelines.  Done.

So yeah, I have put recovery as a priority, where I might have really overlooked it before.  I keep trying to work some extra sleep in, but that is harder for me to accomplish.  I get to bed as early as I can when I know I have an early morning ahead of me.  To the best of my ability, of course.

Remember…sleep, eat, rest, recover…and you’ll be set to give it your all when training kicks back in.

I can’t wait.