Race Recap: Anchorage Mayor’s Marathon

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve blogged (and more on the reason for that soon enough), but I thought I’d get back in the game here with my Anchorage Mayor’s Marathon recap, which I ran in June of 2016.  Luckily, I log all my runs on another site so I don’t have to just try to remember everything that was going on during the race.  And obviously I have my GPS data for splits.

Anchorage Mayor’s Marathon Expo:

The expo was held at University of Alaska Anchorage, in their fieldhouse/basketball arena.  Nothing too crazy, but a nice mix of vendors.  I asked if I could pick my own number just for fun and they almost let me, but now I can’t remember why they didn’t.  I think the number I wanted was a designated half-marathon number, but I thought 868 was good.  I like even numbers.

anchorage mayor's marathon expo

Pre-Race:

Considering I’ve only run very large marathons (Chicago, Boston, and Columbus…which isn’t a large marathon, but starts with the half marathon which does have a large field size), the start line area and hype for the Anchorage Mayor’s Marathon was quite different than I’ve ever experienced.

anchorage mayor's marathon start

The full and half marathoners do not start together because each is a point-to-point course and the half start an hour and 30 minutes after the full so runners are finishing around the same time.

Aunt Sonja, Uncle Dave, Hanna, and Jane all came with to the start area, which was the parking lot of a high school, and hung outwith me right up until I had to line up…which was about 3 minutes before gun went off.  I got to meet some of their friends who were also running, use the port-a-potties a few times, and stretch out for awhile.

Miles 1 – 3: 7:36, 7:39, 7:45

This was way too fast.  And I knew that, but I felt like I was moving slow and even though I tried to slow myself down further, it didn’t really work.  Legs were tight, I think from it being chillier and only wearing shorts at the start.

These first few miles led from the high school down a highway – but we weren’t on the road – this is a small enough race that we were on the bike path to the side of the road.  It was a long, straight stretch.

Miles 4 – 10: 7:46, 7:32, 8:09, 7:55, 7:51, 7:45, 7:51

I started making friends with the few people around me.  We chatted, talked about races we’ve done in the past, etc.  So many of the people I talked to were just doing the Anchorage Mayor’s Marathon as part of training for ultra-marathons or Ironman triathlons.  These Alaskans are tough!

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The bike trail continued until about miles 5 I believe and then we got onto a gravel trail – what they call the tank trail, which is on US Army land.  I had read a few race reviews/recaps in the few weeks before the race and was nervous for this because so many people said you’d be running over golf-ball and baseball-sized rocks.  Let me assure you that this was not the case at all.  There were a few patches that had more legit rocks than gravel, but I can’t say I felt like I had to be looking down and watching my feet the entire time.  I was trying as much as I could to just relax and enjoy the scenery!

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The support crew was at a turn on the trail at mile 9 (where Aunt Sonja took this picture from) and I actually even stopped for a few seconds to grab a sip of a water bottle they had.  I ended up doing this later in the race as well; They didn’t have many official race water stations that I remember, so it worked out nicely that I could take some water from them…and that I wasn’t trying to PR in this race so I could afford to stop for a few extra seconds.

Mile 11: 8:33

There was a steep hill in this mile that I ended up walking up some of.  Just couldn’t muster the strength to get up it.  Chicago is flat.

Mile 12: 7:30

Due to the walking break, I lost the group of people I was running with.  This resulted in my being alone, running through the wilderness on Army land where no spectators were allowed.  It was not particularly comforting and I was sure a bear would come and eat me.  Sooo I’m pretty sure that’s why I sped up.

Miles 13 – 17: 8:51, 9:01, 8:20, 7:34, 8:12

Miles 13-14 I believe were when we got off the Army land/tank trail and onto more of a technical dirt trail.  I came though the half at exactly 1:45 and at this time,  I had caught up with one lady who was in the group of 3-4 I had run with earlier in the race, but I couldn’t stick with her.  The majority of these miles were all running, with a few short walk breaks.

Miles 18 – 22: 8:51, 7:56, 8:12, 8:47, 9:58

There were a lot more walking breaks during miles 18 through the finish.  But I got to see my support crew I think 3 times during these few miles!

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The course was entirely on either a bike bath or a trail until the very very end, when you finished on a road and then on grass.

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I was so happy in this picture because I had just seen the crew 2 times in the last mile or 2 already and then they quickly made it to another spot before I got there so it was fun to see them so much!  And I think this was around mile 18-19 so I wasn’t COMPLETELY dead yet…but I was getting there.

Miles 23 – 26.2:  8:47, 8:39, 8:37, 9:52

Finally, the end!  I did manage to catch up to a guy  from the pack earlier in the race – we kept alternating between running and walking and catching up to each other or falling behind.  So that kept me going for the last few miles, but they were rough.  These miles were still on the bike path and in the last mile we were running right next to the ocean.  Then, we had to come up from sea level to the finish area and that was anything but pleasant.  The worst hills of the race, right there in the last quarter mile.  But finally made it to the top and was able to push it in.

anchorage mayors marathon medal

(Sweaty Band = Simply Satin)

Finish time: 3:38:26

Overall, I finished this race eager to do another marathon.  Not having the pressure on myself to meet a certain time goal helped and I chose not to run with music so I could just try to enjoy my surroundings while I ran.  During the race, I did have some thoughts of finishing under 3:35 to potentially be able to run Boston in 2017, but my desire to do so was not strong enough to prevent me from my late-mile walk breaks.

The weather was great for this race – a little on the hotter side, especially at times when we were in the sun, but nothing to complain about really.  The summer sun in Alaska is a tricky thing – even when it says one temperature, it feels soooo much warmer (probably by about 10-15 degrees) because you are so much closer the sun.

CIM 2016 Training Week 2

Week 2 of CIM training was a rough one.  The previous week‘s high mileage took its toll.  So it seems as if Week 2 was just a lot of mehh runs…nothing special.  But technically, that was the plan.  I didn’t have any speed workouts on the schedule anyways and it was just meant to be another week of building mileage.  But in the end, mileage was a bit less than hoped/than Week 1.

Monday – OFF

Tuesday – 6.1 miles

Just my “normal” route, without a watch.  Mainly because it was not charged and my charger was at work.

Wednesday – 9 miles @ 8:00 avg

I got this run in RIGHT before the rain started!

And the watch was charged, which means I get the pleasure of giving you my splits: 8:18, 8:00, 8:01, 8:01, 7:49, 8:16, 7:44, 7:46, 8:04

Thursday – 8.2 miles @ 8:10 avg

This was actually only supposed to be 7 miles today but I was feeling decent so I went a tad further.  It was a run-commute home from work.  I’ve been doing that a lot lately and will give you all the pros and cons at some point here soon.  I listened the majority of the time to a podcast on the power of brands.

Friday – 5.4 miles @ 8:14 avg

This one was a run-commute to work in the morning.  My legs are mucho fatigued…so many miles lately.  As a reference point, I only ran a total of 55 miles in all of July.  So the building of mileage has been hard, but I’ll be used to it and it will be worth it soon enough I’m sure.

Saturday – 3 miles @ 8:13 avg

I was supposed to do my first run with my new training group!! (More on that soon)  But it got rained out due to thunderstorms :(  So I ended up just doing a short run in the afternoon after the rain cleared, but it was hot at that point so the long run wasn’t going to happen and my legs were feeling SHOT.

Splits: 8:36, 8:00, 8:02

Sunday – 9.3 miles @ 8:13 avg

So hot and so tired.  Not like tired like I want to go to sleep, but tired like my legs just couldn’t do it.  Splits were all between 8:10 and 8:20 except for one right at 8:00.  I took a lot of water stops/walk & stretch breaks during this.  And my iPod was not cooperating.  So it was just a bad run all around.

Total – 41 miles

 The “failed” long run was obviously not how I wanted to close out the week, but still above 40 miles and 6 days of running, so those are wins.

Also, I’m still a week behind in my recap as this past week was Week 3 of training, but I do have most of that recap done as well so I should have it posted and be caught up this week.  And it was a good one :)

Best run on the week: The 9 mile run on Wednesday

Alcoholic beverages consumed during the week: Just 1…same as last week.  But now I can’t remember what it was.

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Catching up on my training?  Here are the past weeks of CIM 2016 Training:

Week 1 (8/15 – 8/21)

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What were your big wins for the week?

How long does it take for your legs to not feel fatigued all the time when increasing mileage?

CIM 2016 Training Week 1

Considering I haven’t blogged here in a few months, I haven’t told you all yet that I’m registered for the California International Marathon!  And with that, I obviously feel like I need to start this up again to document my training :)  So training “officially” started 2 weeks ago now, so week 1 was the week of 8/15 – 8/21.  In the next few days I’ll have Week 2 training and recaps of a few summer races, including the Anchorage Mayor’s Marathon.  But for now, let’s back track a bit to 2 weeks ago:

Monday – Off

Nailed it.  After running 22 of my 34 miles last week over Friday – Sunday, I decided Monday should be an off day.  So I very easily stuck to my first official day of my training plan.

Tuesday – 6.05 miles in 48:50 (8:04 avg pace)

Pretty typical run up and down the lakefront.  Nice and cool at first, but then got hotter/sunnier as it went on.

Wednesday – 8 miles in 1:04:30 (8:04 avg pace)

I was super nervous for this run since it’s a tad longer than my “normal” runs and it was hot and I have not been in the best mood lately and didn’t want to do this alone.  But I went and I got it done.  The first few miles were really hard and i was unsure I’d be able to finish, but the 2nd half felt way better.  Lately it seems like it takes me a long time to warm up.

And I need to call out my splits for this one because they were amazingly consistent: 8:22, 7:59, 8:03, 8:03, 8:03, 7:56, 8:00, 8:07

Hit exactly 8:03 for 3 miles in a row.  All 6 miles in the middle within 7 seconds of each other.

Thursday – 7 miles in 57:30 (8:12 avg pace)

I felt super efficient because of this run.  It was storming in the morning when I woke up, so I curled back up to sleep longer.  I had plans to meet Bethany for ice cream at Jeni’s up in Lakeview, so I brought my running backpack to work so I could run straight from work to Jeni’s.  I didn’t map this beforehand, but estimated it at about 6 miles…it ended up being 7 though so I was a little late.

Friday – 6 miles in 49:10 (8:11 avg pace)

Again, just another run up and down the lakefront but at least had some company for part of this one, so that made it go by more quickly than usual!

Saturday –  (AM) 12 miles in 1:39:00 (8:15 avg pace) & (PM) 3 miles without a watch

Ran with Catherine and the Elmhurst Running Club on the Prairie Path!  Cath and I did 10 miles with the group, then 2 on our own.  It was timed perfectly because we made it back to the car RIGHT as it started to downpour.  This run felt hard at the beginning, like I was racing to keep up with the group…but again, after I few miles I felt warmed up and much better.  But of course then the end was hard.  Still need to get used to the double digit runs again.

Later in the afternoon after the storms cleared up,  I was in a bad mood and needed to do something to make myself feel better and had to move my car anyways from where it was parked, so I ran around a bit to get my car.

Sunday – 6 miles without a watch

I really wasn’t sure if I’d run today or not because of how tired I felt after yesterday’s long run…and then figured the bonus 3 miles wouldn’t help that either.

But when you wake up and The Weather Channel app says it’s 60 degrees, you can’t not go for a run.  So I did just that right away when I woke up before I had the chance to talk myself out of it or for it to get any hotter.  I wanted to avoid the lakefront because of the Air & Water Show, so I ran my “normal” route north and then back south on the lakefront because I realized it actually was still early enough since the show wasn’t starting for another hour or so.

Later in the day, I ended up walking down the lakefront path on my way home from lunch with Erin and that was a huge mistake.  The Air and Water Show is a nightmare.

Total – 48 miles

So that was a lot of mileage (for me)…all within the same general pace.  This past week was another week of just “normal” mileage, then I’ll start getting into some speed workouts this week.  I also feel like I need to really slow down my easy runs.  I say that frequently though and then never end up going much slower.  Why is that so hard to do?

 Does it take you awhile to feel “warmed up” for runs?  It seems like it’s taking me a lot longer than usual lately…

How much does your pace vary both within a run and across runs each week?

Race Recap: Chase Corporate Challenge (24:44)

Last Thursday evening was the Chicago Chase Corporate Challenge.  This was my 3rd time running this particular event – the first 2 times in 2012 and 2013.

The Chase Corporate Challenge is a 3.5 mile race – I think think it may now just be called JP Morgan Corporate Challenge…those banks are always eating each other up and merging and changing names.  But Chase Corporate Challenge has a nicer ring to it, so that’s what I’m gonna go with.  Anyways, it’s a 3.5 mile race on the Thursday night before Memorial Day weekend.  Companies in the Chicagoland area can sponsor a team to compete and usually also offer hospitality tents and food & beverages for employees to just hang out at afterwards.

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I was lucky enough to be the team captain for my current company.  It was hard work and time consuming to get all the moving pieces together (registration, ordering shirts, ordering food, getting everyone pumped, etc.), but definitely fun and worth the hassle.

We left the office as a group around 5:15pm and headed over to Grant Park.  Our company had a few volunteers who went to the park before us, after stopping at Jimmy John’s and Walgreens, to stake out a spot for us near Buckingham Fountain.  We arrived with some time to social, stretch it, and take a few photos.

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I went for a quick warm-up jog with my friend Steve – about 1.5 miles easy + 4 quick, short strides to get some pick up in the legs.  After a few more team photos, I headed to the start line with Kristie and Jeremy.  We had special red bibs that got us into the first corral, based on the projected time we each entered at registration time.  Stu and Mitch joined us up there as well too.  We had a little while to wait and mainly just commented on the other companies’ shirts and hot and humid it was.  This was gonna hurt…

And finally, we were off!  My goal was to run 6:40 average pace.  I thought this was do-able given the speed of my first 5k during Shamrock Shuffle (about 6:43 pace.)

Well, I came through the 1st mile in 6:22.  And could tell there was no way I was holding that in this heat.  Why does the first mile always feel so easy??  Given that I ran a 6:18 mile race the prior weekend, which was an all-out effort, I should not be running the 1st mile of this race in 6:22.  And so I paid for it hard.

I came through the 2nd mile in 6:55.  Except I felt like I was still pushing just as hard.  I guess not…

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(Having cropping issues..but I’m there in lime green!)

Right after the 2nd mile mark, there was a water station.  This was right after coming out from lower Wacker Drive (which felt like the equivalent of a sauna underneath there surrounded by other sweaty, hard-breathing bodies.  I stopped and walked probably 10 seconds to get my water in and re-group my thoughts.  But I basically decided I was just going to kinda coast in at this point because I couldn’t make myself go any faster.  The weird thing was that everyone around me seemed to have slowed down just as much because I felt like I was still around all the same runners during the 3rd mile that I was during the 1st.

My friend Mitch (who ran a 6:08 mile in the Humboldt Mile the prior weekend) was slightly behind me and I was expecting him to catch up, but even he remained about equi-distant behind me the whole time.  And a girl I know who I was right near coming through the first mile ended up finishing a minute behind me.  So that’s me just rationalizing my extreme slow down.  The 3rd mile was 7:48.  Major yikes.  At least I had that good first mile that was close to my 1-mile race time…I can count that as a speed workout.

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I headed back to our base camp area and waited for the others while cracking open a beer.  I got about halfway through the beer when Stu came back (after finishing 5th overall!!) and asked if I wanted to do a cool-down.  So we ran about 15 minutes super easy around the park and back, where I finished that beer and scarfed down some JJ’s.

So kinda a disappointing finishing time, or rather a disappointing extreme slow-down…maybe wouldn’t have been as “disappointing” if I just accepted the heat before starting and adjusted my pacing/goals accordingly.  Oh well, I’m not too concerned over it – it was a fun time with my co-workers!  I did place 64th female overall, which I thought was still great given the size of the race (over 25k+, so I’d guess about 12k or so females.)

And then I walked home and got fro yo.  That’s how most of my stories end.

Chicago friends – Did you run the Chase Corporate Challenge?

Does your company sponsor athletic events?  I also play on a soccer team through work :)  I declined the kickball and softball teams.

Race Recap: Humboldt Mile (6:18)

Yesterday I ran a brand new race – The Humboldt Mile.  Some co-workers and I have been getting pumped for the Chase Corporate Challenge (which is this Thursday!) and one of them was planning to do the Humboldt Mile with some friends from her gym, so she extended the invitation.  A few of us decided it’d be fun and signed up as well.

And it was well worth the $20 entry fee for a variety of reasons!

Concept: First of all, the concept of a 1-mile race is something unique if not on a track…which you usually only get the chance to race during high school or college.  So that was enough to make me want to do it.  I haven’t raced anything shorter than a 5k since college.  I’ve done some 1-mile or 2-mile repeats as part of longer workouts, but not raced.  So I really just wanted to see how fast I could go if I was trying for an all-out effort.

Shirt: Nike Dri-Fit!  This type of race shirt is my favorite, and I think I’ve only gotten them from any of the Bank of America races. (Chicago Marathon and Shamrock Shuffle)  And actually from the Columbus Marathon way back in 2011 pre-blogging days.  I’ve done races that cost $80+ that come with a crappier, no-name brand race shirt.  So this was definitely a bonus for me.

Humboldt Mile Race Shirt

Cause: The Humboldt Mile was put on in conjunction with Hope For The Day, which supports starting a conversation around suicide prevention.  So that was a cause I could get behind.

Pre-Race Organization: I had never been to Humboldt Park before, but getting there was super easy!  Jenn, Danielle, and I just took the North Ave bus straight over, which dropped us off right at the park.  I checked a bag (no line), used the bathroom (no line), socialized, took some photos, and then made our way over to the starting area when they called us over.

Risers at Humboldt Mile

Race: Another co-worker, Mitch, was in the same heat as me, so I found him at the start line and just chatted while we waited.  There were a little over 500 finishers total of the Humboldt Mile and when we registered, you had to choose 1 of 3 heats – the first being competitive and the other 2 being more for fun or walking.  Mitch and I chose the competitive heat (Jenn and Danielle were in the 2nd one) and each were thinking we could come close to 6 minutes.

I ran the 1st mile of the Shamrock Shuffle a few months ago in 6:36, so I knew I should definitely be under 6:30.  But like I said, I haven’t raced an all-out mile, or even really done mile repeats in a long time.  I had done 2-mile repeats recently, but those were at 6:55 pace at their fastest.  And included 3 sets of 2 mile repeats, so not exactly a way to judge my 1 mile speed.

In Orange Theory, I do my “All Out” pace at a 6:00 pace, but we never hold the all-out pace for more than a minute at a time.  So I wasn’t sure if I could do it for a full 6 minutes.  But yeah, that was my goal, to just get as close to 6:00 as possible.  And I also wanted to race people!  I don’t really get the chance to “race” in the longer races because it’s more just a race against yourself.  But I did get a little bit of that feeling during some of the shorter races I did last fall, like the Hot Chocolate 5k.

So…back to the race.  Right upon starting, I could tell this was going to hurt.  The first 100m or so (there were no markers) felt rough, like I was sooo not used to that speed.  Oh wait, let’s back up a tad to my pre-race.

I did not do any type of warm-up or strides right before the race, that’s probably why it felt so hard to get moving at the beginning.  I did, however, do a 40-minute run in the morning before getting on the bus to head over to the Humboldt Mile.  Basically so I could get in a little warm-up and have more mileage for the day.  Ok, now back to the race…

The Humboldt Mile course was like a horseshoe shape or a “U”- out for about a third of a mile, across for about a third, and then back for a third.  There were no markers, so I wasn’t sure how far in we were because I didn’t run the course beforehand, which maybe I should have done.  I looked at my watch for the first time when I was at 2:30.  Then some guy’s watch beeped at one point and I figured he had set it for half-mile splits so I checked my own watch and was at 3:04.

I looked at my watch again when I was around 4:30 and just did what I could to push it to the end.  These last quarter-ish is where I really started to race people because there were a few girls ahead of me that I could tell were slowing down and I just really wanted to cruise past, so that’s what I did.  It felt fun to feel like I was racing!

Humboldt Mile Results

I crossed the line in 6:18 and was somewhat disappointed I wasn’t closer to 6:00, but given I haven’t exactly done training for this short of a distance, it was as good as I could’ve hoped!

Post-Race: My only complaint about this race was that they did not have water at the finish.  They did have a water station back where all the pre-race stuff was set-up, but that was probably a 200m walk from the finish line, so I would’ve liked to see the water station right by the finish.

Humboldt Mile Post-Race

Other than that though, there was a coffee station sponsored by Dark Matter Coffee giving free mini iced coffees which was super clutch and a few other sponsors like Kind Bars and Revolution Brewery.  Unfortunately I was not in the mood for beer just yet.  I could not stop coughing after this race.  I don’t think my lungs were prepared for that type of intensity over a longer period of time than I’m used to.  Gotta build up that VO2 max!!

And then we followed up the race with brunch at Feast in Wicker Park.

Have you done a race shorter than a 5k since high school or college?

What is your favorite type of race t-shirt to get?

I Don’t Like Odd Numbers – 19.25 Miles

Everyone has a favorite number.  Some have a stronger affinity towards one number over all others (cough Erin cough).  I have a few favorite numbers I think…but in general I can say that I don’t like odd numbers.  They’re…odd, if you will.  They make me feel awkward.  Probably because I’m always the number these days.  I just like even-numbered dates and even-numbered things.

I’m pretty sure I hit on this in a post recently…but it seems like whenever I see marathon training plans or in the training plans I make for myself, long runs are always even-numbered distances.  I would never put a 17-mile or 19-mile run on my schedule.  Even 7-mile or 9-mile runs are weird.  Why not stick to 6 or 8 or 10?

So, this brings us to my Mother’s Day run.  I planned to do 20 miles since I had done 18 miles (actually 18.25…I’ll give myself credit where credit is due) 2 weeks ago.  We were supposed to be at brunch at my aunt and uncle’s house at 9:30am, so I had the idea to run from my parents’ house and end at brunch.

The route I’ve taken to run to their house before would be exactly 10 miles.  I didn’t map out a route beforehand, but figured I’d wind around a little before setting on that route and then add on what I needed to at the end.

Unfortunately, within the first 30 minutes of the run, I was not feeling so great.  Not bad, but not feeling like I was going to make it 20 miles.  Right about 30 minutes in, I stopped at a light and needed to take off my long-sleeve shirt and took a minute to stretch out and gather my thoughts.  I decided to continue the direction I was headed, but then to loop back home, for a total of about 7 miles.

But then when I got to the corner where I originally planned to make the turn to head on the route to my cousins’ house, I made the turn.  I think I was in one of my “yeah I can totally do 20 miles!” phases that surprisingly did come.  Normally, I make the decision to quit and it’s done.  That phase ended soon after (don’t worry, it came back again…it really is come and go), but by this time, I was at the point of no return.  If I headed back home, I’d risk not making it back in time before Mom had to leave for brunch…at least that was what I was telling myself so that I wouldn’t turn back.

Like the 18.25 mile run a few weeks ago, I was going completely off of time and had no idea on distance.  I told myself I wanted to run for 2 hours and 40 minutes and see how far that got me.  I was soooo close to their house around 2:20 I believe, but I made myself add on a loop.  And I really struggled during that loop.  I was on side streets, but a few cars passed by me and I don’t even want to know what they were thinking I looked like because it probably wasn’t pretty.

I told myself I’d run to 2:35.  That would be 10 minutes longer than the previous long run.  I got to their house in 2:32.  And I talked myself into running around the block.  And I finished in 2:35:30 for 19.25 miles.  OK, it was actually 19.28 in 2:35:33 according to my Garmin…but you know, weird odd/non-rounded numbers don’t fly with me.

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This was right as Grandma & Grandpa were pulling up and getting out of their car.  I went to give them a hug (they wouldn’t accept one #sweaty) and I was pretty wiped out, but I knew I was supposed to say something to Grandma so I said “Happy Birthday!”  I soon realized that the correct greeting was actually “Happy Mother’s Day!” but they got over it after I told them I just finished running 19+ miles.

So that is my story on my most recent long run. I have another coming up this weekend that I’ll give you the deets on next week – hopefully will hit that 20 miles.

Also, my playlist ran out of songs on this run!  I need to remember to make a longer one!  The current one was intended for a half marathon.

Do you go in and out of strong and weak (mental) phases during your long runs? How do to talk yourself out of the “bad” phases?

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