Spring 2020 Running Goals Revisited

We’re almost a month into June and I have hardly thought about running at all. I mean, I am still running, but without a lot of thought. I just go out and do it, since there’s nothing to train for.

There’s not much to discuss with my spring running goals (they weren’t that exciting to begin with), but I still feel the need to be consistent with my posts. Spring running goal evaluation:

  1. Run two races.
    I ran one race, a virtual 50K. That was the only option; all in-person races were canceled. I didn’t find any other virtual races that were reasonably priced.
  2. Run a mile in two new counties.
    I did my best to stay near home the last few months, so this was tough to do. I think I got in one new county, Anoka County, but I can’t verify that because my counties list is on my desk at work.
  3. Visit two new state parks.
    Again, tough to do without driving quite a bit. I did visit William O’Brien State Park back in March, which was okay. It was still pretty snowy there, so the run wasn’t very entertaining. I will have to go back again and try out the full park now that the snow is gone.

Not a great performance, only 50%, but when I wrote those goals I had no idea what this pandemic would look like. So many race I love have been canceled. So many conveniences I took for granted, like bathrooms at state parks, have changed the way I approach my runs.

As far as my overall 2020 running goals, I am doing okay. I’m right on track with my number of long runs and I am averaging 100 pushups a day (I’ve missed a few days, but made up for them with >100 pushups on other days). I didn’t get any cross-country skiing done – I never took the time to wax and prep my skis. I’ll have to wait til November or December to hit this goal. I’m planning to buy a bike and have a model picked out, thanks to my friend Waylon, but the bike shop in my neighborhood is closed due to the pandemic. They are accepting online orders, but I don’t know anything about what size bike I need, and would like to test ride a few, so I’ll have to call them and see if there’s a test ride option. FANS has been canceled, but if there’s a virtual option, I will go for a distance personal best and fundraise. I don’t think I’ll have the choice to run a new marathon, unless the Mankato Marathon goes through, or some other late fall marathon. (The Fargo Marathon is occurring in August, but I don’t think North Dakota is handling the pandemic very well, and I also don’t want to run a marathon in North Dakota in August.)

It’s kind of nice, saving money on races, spending less time traveling for races and long runs, and doing my own thing, but I do miss the structure of a training plan and the support and atmosphere of a race. Still, it’s a small price to pay to keep hundreds of thousands more people from getting seriously ill or dying.

2020 Running Goals

I wrote these goals down on New Year’s Eve, and after ignoring them for three weeks, I haven’t thought of any new ones or decided not to pursue any of them. I still have nothing on my race calendar as of now, and while it’s kind of nice to just plod along running the mileage I feel like running, maybe I’m going to need some structure soon.

  1. Run a distance personal best.
    I’ve been hoping to run 50 miles for the past few years, and I’m inching toward it, but I need to surpass that this year, hopefully by a lot! If I can get it together at FANS, that should be very possible.
  2. Complete more long runs than I did in 2019.
    I only ran 28 runs of 10 miles or more! It’s no wonder I didn’t have a lot of success last year; I wasn’t putting in the work. I’ve decided to set this as a goal instead of trying to beat 2019 mileage (although I’ll strive for that, I’ve found this particular goal has put a lot of stress on me at the end of the year). This will include split runs (say, 5 miles on the treadmill and 5 on the trails), even though those aren’t technically long runs; sometimes in the winter that’s all I can handle.
  3. Do 100 push-ups a day.
    Yes, I have that on here again. I did such a poor job of sticking to that goal last year that I need another crack at it. I need to prioritize strength training, and this is a measurable way to do it that doesn’t eat up a lot of my time.
  4. Start cross-country skiing again.
    I’ve decided in order to facilitate this, I will count x-c skiing mileage in my overall mileage. I set aside my skiing plans because I found I had to choose between running and skiing. Now I can do both and still work toward my goals.
  5. Run a new marathon.
    I’m setting a new multi-year goal for myself, to run every marathon (road and trail) in Minnesota. I’ve done three so far (Moose Mountain Marathon, Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon, and Twin Cities Marathon), but there are so many more! Maybe someday I’ll even enter the canoe division for the Ely Marathon!
  6. Buy a bike.
    This goal will have to wait awhile, as yesterday my vehicle was sideswiped by a truck that drove across the center line of the road, clobbered my poor car, and then drove off without even slowing down, so I will be paying my insurance deductible instead of buying a bike any time soon. I planned to buy one for myself and for my husband last year, but it didn’t make financial sense at the time. I think it will be great for both of us – we can take our bikes for small errands in the neighborhood (coffee runs, short grocery store trips) and we can go on some adventures together. I won’t count cycling miles in my running log or replace running workouts with cycling, though.

In addition to these goals, I’ll still pursue my other multi-year goals of running a mile in every county in Minnesota and visiting every state park in Minnesota. I’ll also continue to set more specific goals for each season, and to build on some of the good habits I set last year (I’m still taking that multi-vitamin, and I’ve only done a handful of treadmill runs so far this year).

2019 Goals Revisited

2019 was a tough year for me. There’s not really any other way to look at it. I barely raced, and the best race I had all year was completed in the first week of the year. I didn’t meet many of the seasonal goals that I set for myself, and I found running to be a chore at times, or anxiety-inducing. I had some external stressors in my life – nothing major, just career-related stuff – that seeped into my training and drained me of the energy and the drive to train and improve.

  1. 2019 mileage > 2018 mileage
    On December 30th, I surpassed my 2018 mileage. It was a weight off my shoulders and a gratifying way to finish a tough year. As late as September 8th, I was 92 miles behind my 2018 pace, and as late as November 12th, I was 78 miles down. I rallied, thanks to a strong push in the last two months of the year (as well some relatively low mileage in December 2018 thanks to illness), and managed to run 1695 miles last year, which was just over 5 miles farther than I ran in 2018. In 2018, thanks to my various illnesses in December, I missed out on my goal of beating 2017 mileage, so it was a relief to avoid a repeat of that disappointment.
    I will admit the stress of trying to run 6 miles a day, 6 days a week, without any extra rest days or short run days, wore on me at times (especially when it was extremely cold out). Once I knew the goal was not only in reach, but could be attained a day early, the stress started to melt away.
  2. Do 100 pushups/day
    I gave up on this goal for no reason. I started off okay the first week or so, and then I quit doing it for weeks. In April-July, I did a pretty decent job of trying to get back on track, but the last quarter of the year, I didn’t do any push-ups. It says a lot about my mental state that I couldn’t be bothered to do push-ups for three whole months.
  3. Run more new races/courses than old ones.
    I only raced five times! It’s surprising to see that. I had two races canceled (Zumbro, which I wasn’t going to run anyway, and the Cosmic 5K in July at the Bell Museum, which was canceled due to a thunderstorm), I DNF the Twin Cities Marathon, and I DNS 3 races (Hot Dash, 811 Run, and Mustache Run). Of the 6 races I ran, they were all new courses! My only repeat race, FANS, was run on a different course. I forgot I’d even set this goal for myself, but hooray for me!
  4. My highest category of training mileage will not be treadmill mileage.
    I track my workouts by category in two different ways: number of workouts, and number of miles. In 2018, 42% of the days I spent working out were spent on the treadmill. (Only 34% of my miles were spent on the treadmill.) I needed to spend more time running outside in 2019.
    This started out poorly, as cold weather, icy conditions, and a lack of motivation meant that I had a lot of treadmill runs in the first 3 months of the year. I dug myself a big hole that took me almost to the end of the year to get out of. The end of the year got a bit stressful because it was cold, and I faced the possibility of two goals conflicting. Should I run on the treadmill, and make it harder to reach one goal? Or should I take a rest day, and make it harder to reach another? It all worked out in the end, thanks to some perseverance on my part (running in 10F weather sometimes) and some warm weather in December. At year end, 31% of my workouts were on paved trails, with treadmill runs coming in second at 28%.
  5. Start taking a multivitamin.
    I totally rocked this! I have only forgotten to take my vitamins a couple days. I even take the bottle on vacation! I just take a regular old generic Target gummy vitamin, nothing special or woo-woo. I don’t know if it has helped much or not, but it hasn’t hurt any. I plan to continue.
  6. Volunteer at a race that isn’t put on by Rocksteady Running.
    I volunteered at The Willow and In Yan Teopa, both put on by St. Croix Running Company. The races are much more low-key than the Rocksteady Events (and I still volunteered at all the ESTRS runs, Afton, and Superior Fall), which makes volunteering a breeze. In Yan Teopa was cupless and that made post-race clean-up SO easy. I had a great time, met some new fun people, and found some new cool places to run.
  7. Go for a run in every county in MN.
    I ran a mile or more in 10 new counties! I found some really cool new parks and trails, and I even checked off Kittson County, one of the most remote counties in the state.

While 2019 was disappointing from a performance perspective, that’s the whole reason that I set goals that aren’t based on time or distance. I achieved 5 of my 6 year-long goals and made significant progress on my multi-year goal. That’s exciting and helps me reframe 2019 as something other than a complete disaster.

Apart from these goals, my race performances, and my seasonal goals, I had an amazing year from a social perspective. I made some new running friendships this year that are incredibly meaningful, I strengthened existing friendships, and my husband came along to volunteer with me for three days at Superior, which allowed him to spend quality time with my running friends and also to experience for the first time the seminal ultrarunning event in my life, the one that five years earlier lit that endurance running fire in my soul. I had the best running year of my life when looked at from a relationship-building experience, and that’s what is sustaining me as I look to 2020.

Fall 2019 Running Goals Revisited

I haven’t had much of a desire to revisit my fall running goals, because I totally sucked at running this fall. I also remember now that I did try to log in to write a post once and I had trouble accessing WordPress and forgot about it. Then I had trouble accessing it again today and freaked out because I thought my account had been corrupted or something.

  1. Marathon PR
    I DNF the Twin Cities Marathon. I’m pretty much over it but it was a big disappointment!
  2. Half marathon PR (official or unofficial)
    This is reaching so so so so so much, but I ran 14 miles at Icebox 480 in 3:46:13, which is faster than I ran the Harder ‘n’ Hell Half Marathon in 2015. So I guess that’s sort of a half marathon PR, even though I don’t know exactly what my half marathon time was. I DNS the Mustache Run due to bad weather – it turned out it rained, snowed, sleeted, and hailed during the race, and I felt pretty confident in my race-morning decision not to run.
  3. 50K PR
    I only ran 14 miles at Icebox 480, which was a serious disappointment in a season chock full of disappointments. I didn’t even write a race report (which was a serious disservice to the race – it’s great fun!) It wasn’t my day, and I gave up on myself, although I also went home and slept for several hours after I got home from the race, which was probably a sign that I wasn’t ready to run that day.
  4. Visit a state park with my friend Laura.
    I didn’t even do that! I am a terrible friend.
  5. Catch up to last year’s mileage.
    I didn’t, but stay tuned for the end of year recap.

I don’t want to dwell too much on how disappointing my fall “racing” season was, because I have moved on and moved forward since then. I’m looking forward to a quiet winter season, setting some new goals for 2020, and then starting fresh in the spring with some big and small successes.

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Weeks 14 and 15

It’s the final countdown…

Monday (9/16): 4.8 mi, trail (Battle Creek)
Tuesday: 5.8 mi, road (6 x Wabasha St. Bridge)
Wednesday: 5.2 mi, road
Thursday: rest
Friday: 5.3 mi, paved trail (MRT, 30 @ tempo)
Saturday: 5.2 mi, trail (Frontenac State Park)
Sunday: 11.1 mi, trail (Fort Snelling State Park)
Total: 37.4 mi

Monday (9/23): 6.7 mi, paved trail (MRT and Crosby Farms)
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 5.2 mi, paved trail (Hyland)
Thursday: 5.2 mi, paved trail (30 @ tempo, MRT)
Friday: rest
Saturday: 6 mi, road
Sunday: 6.1 mi, paved trail (Fort Snelling to Minnehaha Falls)
Total: 29.3 mi

I’m in the home stretch now of marathon training! I can’t even believe it. Of course now I’m also terrified.

I’ve slowed down my training somewhat, but Week 14 was my last “push” of sorts. I had some relatively unremarkable runs, although my tempo was pretty miserable as I felt oddly nauseated.

Saturday morning I volunteered at the In Yan Teopa 10 miler at Frontenac State Park. That place is gorgeous! It is right along the Mississippi River and there are some amazing views. Oh, and also some STEEP climbs. According to my friend John, this park hosts one of the steepest climbs in the whole state. I believe it since I thought my legs were going to fall off at one point. And also I thought I was going to slip on the stairs and fall to my death during the descent.

Sunday I did my final long run around Fort Snelling. I am so happy the park is open again! There’s still some sections of closed trail, and the impacts of the flooding are visible throughout the park, especially on Pike Island. I did the FANS loop and the Pike Island loop, plus just about every other trail out there, until I cobbled together enough mileage to call it a day.

Week 15, I didn’t do much in the way of quality workouts. I did do a tempo run on Wednesday which went remarkably well, but the rest of the week was easy miles for the sake of miles. And also to get steps in for the heated steps challenge I’m in at work. It’s rather aggressive. I took an unplanned rest day on Friday because I was exhausted and coming down with a bit of a cold/allergies situation. I probably could have run a few miles, but for what purpose? Oh yeah, steps. But I managed to resist the competitive spirit.

Saturday, even though I still wasn’t feeling great, I wasn’t feeling any worse, so I went out for a run on Summit. The next time I run Summit, I’ll be finishing the marathon! I was pretty excited about that. I felt better as the run progressed, although after I got home, I started to deteriorate a bit. Sunday, I wasn’t feeling any better but also not any worse, so I got back out there despite the misty weather. I started at Fort Snelling and ran to Minnehaha Falls and back, and again felt better as the run progressed. When I got home, after I showered, I felt really terrible (achy and chilled), but I rallied to go to a movie that evening.

I’m looking forward to taking it “easy” and getting over whatever this illness is during the upcoming week, and then crushing the marathon! I managed to match my September mileage from last year despite not running a marathon like I did in 2018, so I’m in a good spot to finish ahead of last year’s mileage with three months to go, despite a rather large deficit that’s built up.

And I’m really, really glad I won’t have any more bridge repeats for awhile! Although now it will be cool enough that they won’t be torture, so maybe…

Fall 2019 Running Goals

We’re already a couple weeks into the fall season! I can’t believe how time is flying by. I’m not quite ready for it to be cold yet, I’ve got a lot to do.

  1. Marathon PR
    This is the big one, the one I’ve been working for all year. I would like to get under 5 hours at the Twin Cities Marathon, but I don’t know if that’s going to be possible or not. I don’t want to count myself out just yet, but I also know that even a 5:15 or 5:10 would be a huge gain for me.
  2. Half marathon PR (official or unofficial)
    It would probably be bad for me to PR in the half marathon during the full marathon, but of course that’s a possibility. I also plan on running the Moustache Run again and could go for it there. Just typing this out makes me waffle on whether or not I want to focus on this but why the heck not put it out there?
  3. 50K PR
    I know, I know, slow down there with the PRs lady! But I added the Icebox 480 to my race calendar in early November, and I want to get to 50K in the 8 hours of allotted time. It seems possible. I hope. I guess I don’t know the trail so I don’t know how hard it might be.
  4. Visit a state park with my friend Laura.
    One of my long time friends also has a goal of working her way through the entire list of Minnesota State Parks. She has a much better record-keeping system: she has a parks passport from her childhood that has evidence of where she’s visited. We’ve been planning to visit one together for a few months now, and I’m going to make it happen!
  5. Catch up to last year’s mileage.
    I’m still behind where I was year to date last year, but I’m slowly catching up, and my mileage was WAY down in Q4 of last year, so I think I can get caught up by Nov 30th, provided I stay healthy and motivated.

These are some pretty ambitious goals for me, especially that 50K PR. The most important one is the marathon, since I’ve been training for it for months and have put off other fun racing opportunities to stay fresh for the marathon. I’m pretty excited, but also nervous since the marathon’s only a few weeks away!

Twin Cities Marathon Training: Week 13

Friday the 13th on week 13? Spooky!

Monday: 5 mi, treadmill
Tuesday: 6.3 mi, paved trail (7 x 0.5 mi, MRT)
Wednesday: 5.4 mi,
Thursday: rest
Friday: 6.1 mi, paved trail (40 @ tempo, Bruce Vento Regional Trail)
Saturday: 6.1 mi, paved trail (3 @ marathon pace, Battle Creek)
Sunday: 12.1 mi, trail (Afton State Park)
Total: 41 mi

I took Monday off after Superior, knowing I’d need a day to recover from the hectic pace. I thought I’d be able to run somewhere fun since I had all day, but it rained and was cold so I ended up on the treadmill again. That was disappointing, but I did manage to get in a nice groove and only had to pause twice in the beginning (once because getting on the treadmill always makes me have to pee, and once because something fell off the table behind me and I wanted to make sure nothing was broken or in danger of getting stuck behind the treadmill).

Tuesday I meant to do 8 x 0.5 mi repeats, but after 2 repeats I didn’t want to do them anymore, after the third repeat I realized I needed to do them in control rather than as fast as possible (especially since I’d eaten an excess of goldfish crackers prior to the workout), and after the fourth repeat realized I wouldn’t have time to get home by 8 PM if I didn’t skip the last repeat as well as the usual mile cooldown I do afterward. Whoops. So I did seven repeats and a wimpy cooldown and went home to play HQ trivia.

Wednesday’s workout was great! I had thought I was going to be stuck on the treadmill again due to rain, but the rain passed through earlier than anticipated and I was able to get out and run around Crosby Farm and the Mississippi River Trail. It was cool and the last few miles felt effortless in a way running hasn’t felt in a long time for me. I took Thursday off due to the weather, and then did a tempo run on the Bruce Vento trail along Swede Hollow and Phalen Blvd on Friday. There were several, um, events occurring in Swede Hollow Park (especially around Swedehenge); one of which appeared to be something staged by the Life and Death Brigade from Gilmore Girls. I felt like crap during the run and my legs felt like they weight a ton each (do I write this every week? I think I do), but I did manage a decent overall pace and was happy with the results of the run even if it was miserable to do.

Saturday I had a couple things to do in the afternoon (a housewarming party for friends and a visit to see my mom’s new tiny kitten), so I needed to get my run done quickly. I went to Battle Creek because it was easy and did a loop around the dog park area, then a loop around the water park/playground area, and then another dog park loop. I tried to run 3 of those miles at marathon pace, but dialing that in wasn’t easy. It was either too hard of an effort or too easy, I couldn’t ever really settle in to 11:29. So that’s going to be my battle the next few weeks; understanding what marathon pace feels like. I’m paying for the “marathon effort” workouts done in the heat this summer!

Sunday I wanted to do a longish run, but also needed to pick up a state park pass so I can be ready for my volunteering stint next weekend at In Yan Teopa. I decided to go to Afton and did 12 miles, which was fun but also slower than I wanted to be. Afton is hilly and it was hot! I need to go back there once the weather is slightly cooler and see what it’s like to run there when I’m not baking in the sun on the prairie loop. I do love running there, although I hate running along the river when there are so many power boats roaring up and down it. It’s not very peaceful.

I was glad to get over the 40 mile threshold this week, not just because I’m in a hyper-competitive steps challenge at work, but also because I’ve been slacking on my mileage lately. For good reason, of course – spending time with my family over Labor Day weekend and spending time with my friends at Superior was far more important than an extra 5-10 miles of training.