Thursday, October 20, 2016


Shorter runs, more sleep and all the food. 

After 15 weeks of training, I've hit the long-awaited and well-earned taper as the starting line of the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon inches closer.

It's that spot in training, too, like pregnancy when you feel like you have spent forever training but don't feel ready. The end is now far too close and there is so much work that could have been done.

I only hit 40 miles in a week maybe once. I ran a 5-mile tempo during half marathon training this spring; I wonder whether I should have done 6 or 7 miles for the marathon; I don't remember too many mid-week long runs that exceeded 8 miles.

And yet, as I fret, I know that I followed the plan. There are ridiculous smiley face stickers covering each of the runs – the negative split efforts that required patience and control, the intervals that required a disconnect from my brain and quick turnover; the tempos and race pace efforts; the long runs and then long runs with fast miles. I have retired shoes and stink-ridden tanks.

The spreadsheet in my Google Drive reports that I have ran 464.7 miles since I began training on July 4, my first run of this training cycle a 3-miler on an Atlanta hotel treadmill.

My posting about this training cycle has been sporadic at best. I had hopes to deliver recaps every week but barely manged bi-weekly, if that. Usually it would be an indication that my training was suffering somewhere but it hasn't. It's the other things – life, family, work – that have made it hard to share things but running, thankfully, has been a constant in these 15 weeks.

Rather than try to regurgitate the training runs I've missed and bore you with weeks of logs, I thought I'd share some of the recent workouts I've done. A reminder to myself that though part of me wants another four weeks of high mileage, I will hit the starting line strong.

 photo c094cf4c-46cf-4dc7-8553-2c8445be86dc_zpsurvlxxmn.jpg

Negative splits: The plan called for 7-9 miles, blocking the run in three sections – 3, 4 miles; 3, 4 miles; 1 mile. The run came at the tail end of a busy week, and I had to run both my long run and this one over the weekend. Thankfully, I was able to procure company for the Saturday outing. I slowly ran a mile to our meeting place, trying to come in around long run pace. I arrived a bit early and so I continued the slow jog to and from the baseball diamonds. My first two miles were 10:02 and 10:03. But when my friends joined me, the pace quickened. Excited to all see each other, we began talking – always translating to quicker turnover. 9:32, 9:27, 9:16 the splits beeped from my Garmin 230. When the 9:16 came in, I realized that this run would no longer get checked as a long, slow effort but the negative split workout of the week. We ran two 9:15s and then I split to head home. Ready to make that last mile count, to check the last block, I picked it up. 8:29. Not too bad for a week after my 26.2-mile long run at Fort4Fitness. 

Tempo: If there is a run that intimidates me most, it is the tempo. The long, hard sustained effort is, well, just hard. The last big one for Monumental included a warm-up, one mile at race pace (9:09), 4-5 miles at tempo and a cool down. I really wanted to do this run on the treadmill so I could let the machine set the pace and I just had to hold on but a gorgeous fall day couldn't be spent running indoors. My warm-up mile was a little fast (9:29) and as was my race pace (8:48). After that, most of the run was a mental shit storm of self doubt. I had to stop once to tie my shoe and another time just to get my crap together. Still, I was happy to see that the 8 miles were at an 8:42 pace.

The 20-miler: After running a successful 26.2 miles on Oct. 1, I was pretty confident going into my final 20-miler. However, I really had to work for it around mile 13 and miles 17-20, which were on my own, was a battle of my will to get it done and my lack of interest in running by myself. I'm pretty sure I just sat down at one point to tie my shoes. It was too much to bend over, I guess. Or, maybe I was hoping that I'd flop over and fall asleep.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Down on the Farm

Fields of wheat, corn and soy beans. Flat, open spaces for miles and miles. Country music.

There are few things more Indiana than that. Though we have a large metropolitan area (Indianapolis) and Fort Wayne (where I live) is far from a small town, Indiana is and likely always be the picture of America's heartland.

But in the 12 years I've lived here, I've never been to an actual farm. Sure, there's been trips to u-pick apple orchards and farmers markets but a farm where crops are grown on a large-scale basis? Nope.

On Saturday, though, that all changed. Thanks to Green Giant, I got to experience Indiana.

 photo 40AB5794-D9DF-4FAD-A863-3FAF5A11500A_zpstzyevoe9.jpg

Country music artist Luke Bryan brought his 2016 Farm Tour to nearby Monroeville and its Spangler Farms. For one night (but likely days) the operation was turned into a concert festival with cowboy hat vendors, food purveyors and a massive stage where four opening acts would warm up the large crowd before Luke Bryan took the stage.

While a country music concert isn't normally my scene and I almost said no to the tickets from Green Giant, Mark and I were so glad we went. Our date nights normally consist of one or some combination of the following: dinner at a restaurant, a night at the movies or a trip to Target. Yes, Target without kids constitutes a date night. Sad, eh?

 photo 3754B197-F034-4720-B770-8DC3FADB2123_zpsl2jb5whw.jpg

Not sad? The night at the farm.

We arrived about 4:30, an hour and a half before music began. We wanted to make sure we had enough time to park and enjoy the set-up in the daylight.

 photo 8299677F-1984-477E-9341-0923A6D3AC5D_zps0qxphfzd.jpg

Stop No. 1: Food. I had promised Mark that there would be food there and we'd be able to scrounge up enough for dinner. Of course, I didn't actually know this but thankfully I was right. There was the typical fair options – barbecue, fried delights and turkey legs. As I've never actually had a turkey leg, I went for it. The night was all about trying new things, right?

 photo F805E10C-D7E9-48A1-8988-06F3B94221D2_zpsiq16oq5e.jpg

Stop No. 2: The Green Giant pop-up. I was there because of that handsome green dude, so I wanted to make sure I popped by early.

They had a cute little set-up with tables an chairs, a kitchen of sorts and folks handing out samples of the latest and greatest from Green Giant. GG recently debuted a new line of products (in Kroger stores in September and coming soon to Walmart) that is helping folks incorporate more veggies into their daily diets.

 photo 5496B803-1838-4F31-8033-3245278F814C_zps5qvuswkt.jpg

First up, veggie tots.  I tried both the cauliflower and broccoli and cheese, and I was an instant fan. These are the type of things that I want to make at home (should make at home?) but I don't. On any given night, I have 15 minutes from the time I walk in the door to when dinner needs on the able. Not only do these taste good but Mark could easily throw a bag in the oven before I get home.

There were also samples of the riced veggies, which are made with cauliflower. My kids are carb hounds, and if I can give them a cauliflower version of their favorite side, I'm a happy mom.

 photo 2D9FF2E9-9907-4A45-8479-08BC65625F24_zpsovoi8vsh.jpg

The Green Giant line also includes mashed cauliflower and roasted veggies. While it's always best to make your own, it's not always feasible. It's nice to know that I can zip down my freezer aisle and grab something that not only tastes good but makes me feel like I'm doing something right as a mom. (Again, honesty: Those moments can be far and few between.)

 photo 14633684_10207339281265949_6323862161238017956_o_zpsfhluvs13.jpg

Stop No. 3: A nice spot on the grass to catch the show. There were four opening acts but once Luke Bryan took the stage ... it was a night to remember.