Oct 19

Recap: Polar Vortex Winter

Ok, I’m already bored with recapping by week.

During January, I worked on building my long runs back up. I ran outside when I could, but did a lot of cross-training because it got really freaking cold and there was a lot of snow in Minnesota this year.

In February, I joked that I earned my Minnesota Runner badge by running a winter half marathon:
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I wasn’t too sure what I’d be able to pull off, since I’d only built up to 11 miles the week before and my running had been so slow due to the cold and poor footing. I surprised myself with an 8:16 first mile, but was not able to maintain that pace.

I wore my Yaktrax for the race, which was a good idea. The race started and ended at one of the high schools, and we had use of the cafeteria. After the race, I went into the cafeteria, and was going to sit down to take off my Yaktrax. But before that could happen, I wiped out hard. You gotta love that I managed to run 13.1 miles without falling, only to wipe out afterwards. I got a lovely pair of bruises for my effort (picture taken the next day, before they got really ugly):

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Also in February, I got stuck on my treadmill for a lot of my weekday runs. I did discover the hill program, which helped remove some of the boredom from running inside. I was able to suck it up and run outside for my long runs:

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For that 17, the pavement had been cleared when I ran at lunch on Thursday. Then it started snowing and it came down hard and fast. At least half of our night shift at work called in because the roads were closed, and about 15 people total made it to work the next day. They’d cleared some of the roads by Saturday so I thought I was okay to run outside. The first 9 miles weren’t bad, but then I ended up on pretty shitty roads to close out the run.

March kicked off with a 15 mile treadmill run, due to subzero temperatures. The next week, I was able to run outside for 18 and actually averaged 9:09.

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Getting in my first 20 of the year, in the cold, was something to be happy about. But the next week, I was back on my treadmill again for 13 – either snow or cold, I can’t remember which.

By this point, I was following the FIRST schedule for long runs but I wasn’t doing the tempos or the intervals (snow covered track makes that difficult). I had been planning on running Med City, but trying for my BQ seemed like a huge stretch. At the end of March, I decided that maybe this would be a good time to try to run farther instead of faster – and registered for the Chester Woods 50k that was 2 weeks after Med City. I decided I’d do Med City as a training run, and have a 2-week taper.

March (and winter) ended with me getting sick. I had an infected cuticle thanks to manicures my oldest daughter and I got for her 6th birthday, but I’m not sure if that’s what took me out or if it was that combined with an illness.

Oct 18

Recap: December 2013

December 2 – 8

  • Monday: inactive rest, sore from Saturday’s race
  • Tuesday: recumbent bike 45:00
  • Wednesday: inactive rest
  • Thursday: recumbent bike 60:00
  • Friday: treadmill @ 1% (really cold outside). I bought a footpod to wear with my Garmin, and was not impressed with the results.
    walk WU | 0.22 miles | 5:00
    3.22 miles | 30:00 | 9:19/mi.
    walk CD | 0.31 miles | 5:00
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  • Saturday: inactive rest. Went to the running store, and finally purchased a pair of Yaktrak. Hard to believe that it took 10 years of living in Minnesota to finally buy a pair.
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  • Sunday: Snowing, sub-zero windchill, single digit air temps. Not enough snow to test the Yaktrax.
    6.02 miles | 1:00:00 | 9:58/mi.

December 9 – 15

  • Monday: recumbent bike 60:00. Cold and shitty outside, didn’t feel up to it or treadmill.
  • Tuesday: recumbent bike 60:00
  • Wednesday: treadmill @ 1% | 4.10 miles | 38:00 | 9:16/mi.
  • Thursday: inactive rest
  • Friday: 4.04 miles | 38:00 | 9:24/mi. Outside.
  • Saturday: 12.02 miles | 2:01:13 | 10:05/mi. Snowing, so got to wear Yaktrax for the first time. About 12 degrees with a “feels like” temp of 5. I passed a group of Marines out doing a training run, and a lot of them lacked hats or gloves. Felt kind of bad for them.
  • Sunday: inactive rest

December 16 – 22
Came down with either food poisoning or a stomach flu on Tuesday, and was pretty much down for the week. Managed to run on Sunday outside (3.05 miles | 30:21 | 9:57/mi.)

December 23 – 29
Was busy with Christmas at the beginning of the week, and only got in 2 30-minute runs at the end of the week.

Oct 18

Recap: November 2013

My last real post on here was just after Mankato a full year ago, and a lot of things have happened since then. So I’m going to try to recap some of the events of the last year before they completely disappear from my memory. Some of these months might be a little boring ….

I followed up Mankato by not running until the next Sunday. The second week, my legs felt better and I was able to run 3, 6 and 10 miles.

The next week, I attempted a tempo (6.84 miles w/2 easy, 3 faster (8:21, 8:15, 7:51), easy to finish) and a quick-paced 7 mile (8:49/mi) lunch run. I finished out that week with a 2 hour run (13.32, 9:01/mi). Felt pleased to be back up in that range.

The following week, I continued with the 3 days of running – two 7s (8:48/mi and 9:07/mi) and 15 (9:08/mi). For the long run, I ran one of the hillier routes from my house. I was able to run in shorts, but it started raining around mile 6 and that wasn’t too fun.

I wish I could remember why I didn’t have a long run that next week, and only ran ~4.5 at lunch (9:10/mi) and 5 (1 easy, 8:16, 8:13, 8:14, 1 easy) after work. We probably had something going on Saturday, and I worked that Sunday in preparation to be gone for Thanksgiving.

Next up was the week of Thanksgiving, where we were out of town Wednesday-Sunday. I ran 4 (8:56/mi) on my treadmill the day before we left because there were 41 mph gusts outside – no thanks. On Thanksgiving, I ran 4 as an impromptu progression run (8:55, 8:50, 8:24, 8:03).

Like last year, my husband was not in favor of my running a race on actual Thanksgiving (understandable). However, I found that there was a HM on Saturday, and he didn’t see a problem with that. I waffled on whether or not I was going to do the race, and finally decided it was a go on Friday. I probably wouldn’t have run hard on Thursday had I been planning on the race, but oh well.

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From Daily Mile:

Had been thinking about this for awhile, but finally committed yesterday. Went into it hoping to be able to run 8:15s and beat my Med City time (1:48), but wasn’t sure what I would be able to do only 6 weeks out from Mankato and on reduced mileage.
Was surprised to come through the mile in 8:03, but it felt okay so I tried to hang on. I felt mostly okay through 7 miles and then started to fall apart a bit. Those 8:2x miles felt like I was running through quicksand. I did pull it back together some for the last mile, and ran in strong. The last 1/4 mile was on grass – I seriously said “OH MY GOD” when I saw that because who finishes a half on grass??

Feb 12

10 year blogiversary

On January 3, 2004, I signed up for a Blogger account and posted on a blog that eventually came to be named Ugly Toes.  Over the last 10 years, I’ve written 892 posts on a blog that has spanned 3 hosts (blogger, movable type, breaking the tape).  Between January 3, 2004 and January 3, 2014 I also:

Ran 8395.06 miles

Ran 45 races, including:

  • 4 marathons (3:36 PR)
  • 7 half marathons (1:36 PR)
  • 3 20ks (1:36 PR)
  • 2 15ks (1:11 PR)
  • 7 10ks (43:27 PR)
  • 5 4-mile races (27:37 PR)
  • 6 5ks (20:42 PR)

Suffered my first real running injury, an IT Band issue that popped up during marathon #3.

Got my first post-college job.

Got a border collie, my first pet ever.

Went to Hawaii.

Got pregnant for the first time after months of trying. Ran the entire pregnancy, including the day my daughter was born. Endured back labor without drugs and gave birth to a 7lb 6oz baby.

Changed jobs, while staying at the same company.

Ran with a BOB Ironman, including a 10 mile run where I chicked a guy on a hill.

Got pregnant a second time. Ran up to 28 weeks, including running a half marathon at 14 weeks. Had a very fast, unmedicated labor and gave birth to a 10lb 2oz baby.

Had a 15-month hiatus from running due to a baby that didn’t sleep.

Got back into running, only to sustain a hip injury.

Celebrated my 10th wedding anniversary.

Ran my first marathon in 7 years, first post-kids.

And many other things …. been a good 10 years.

Nov 02

Post-race thoughts

Something I think really helped keep me calm was that I told myself the race was just “a long training run.” That might sound counterintuitive, but it helped me keep focused. At the start, it kept me from taking off too fast. In training, I try to run negative but have thrown that out the window during races for whatever reason. There were spots in the race where I started fading, and the “training run” thought was able to keep me on track (miles 23-25 aside).
Two questions now: evaluating FIRST and deciding where to go next.

I have mixed feelings on FIRST. On the positive side, the 3 days schedule fit into my life nicely and I found that the aggressive long run paces helped (“just a long run”).  A common criticism I found of the program was lack of endurance. Maybe its because I did a 22 and added a 4th run, but I didn’t find this to be true. I made it to 22 before falling off my pace, and that’s the farthest I’ve gotten without that happening.

However, I don’t know that I like how track-dependent it is. Yes, I know you can do intervals anywhere but I had better workouts when I was able to be at the track. Looking at a possible spring race, needing to run intervals in late winter/early spring will be very difficult since both the track and the pavement will be covered in snow and ice.

Also, I feel my endurance was okay but I don’t think the program improved my speed as much as it could. It’s hard to truly evaluate this since I don’t have apple to apple race conditions. But when I think about trying to BQ, I don’t know that this can get me there.

I’m considering trying a spring marathon, depending on recovery and early winter training. I’d like to run St Louis or Illinois, but they are both April races and would require starting a program around New Year’s. The idea of having to run 20 miles in February makes me want to cry.

I am leaning towards Med City in May, the 10th anniversary of my worst marathon. The weather is such an unknown factor – could be 95, could be 45. But late May gives a bit more training time and I think they let you drop to the 1/2. I know the course and it’s flat after the first couple rolling miles. And having just ran Mankato, I would say the hills are much more gentle. I ran the first half last year and don’t remember it being bad.

I will have to see what winter holds but the current thought is going for my BQ. 3:40 is the standard, but if you actually want the option to run Boston, it’s more like 3:38. I don’t know if 6-8 minutes is reasonable, but I feel 3:46 Mankato is probably equal to 3:43-3:44 Med City, so it more might be more like 3-5 minutes.

How to get there … I really liked Pfitz but I just am not sure about how that fits into my life now. The thing with training for a spring race is that weekday runs have to be done at lunch and that seriously limits what I can do. But I’ve got a bit of time to figure that out.

Oct 20

Mankato Marathon Race Report

Mankato Marathon
October 20, 2013

Having not run a marathon in 7 years, I wanted to get my marathoning feet wet and have a positive experience.  My pre-race goals:
1) Don’t be stupid
2) Run < 3:45
3) Run all miles < 9:00 (a first)
4) Try to run without stopping (a first) or walking (a first)

This was my first time running a race that I had to take a shuttle. Because of the shuttles, I got to the start line about an hour early. I remember getting off the bus and seeing 6:51 on my watch because I thought that was a ridiculous amount of time to kill for an 8am start. It would’ve have been so bad but it felt really cold.

Shortly after getting there, they made an announcement for the 10k that they needed to start heading to the corral because their start was 20 minutes away. I thought maybe I had the start time wrong, but then I noticed that my watch still read 6:51 and the seconds weren’t moving. Luckily I remembered how to restart it, and it seemed fine after the reset. But it had been stuck for 20 minutes (this becomes important later).

I killed time by peeing multiple times and hanging out in a heated bus shelter. With about 20 minutes to go, I left the shelter and went to ditch my pair of warmup pants. (I’d worn a pair of fleece pants over my tights in an attempt to keep warm while waiting, something else I learned from ’06). I found the 3:45 pacer and talked to him about what his race pace strategy was (8:33-8:34 instead of 8:35 to have a bit of a cushion). I had turned my watch on about 9-10 minutes before the start, but apparently that was too far because the power save kicked on with 1 minute to go. So I had to hurry and unlock the bezel, resync with the satellites and relock the bezel.

I decided to run with the pacer and then evaluate after a couple of miles. We got off to a decent start, but my Garmin beeped at me after the first mile that it was almost full and laps needed to be deleted. I know that you’ve got some time before the memory actually fills, but that the watch completely stops recording once it becomes full. Not wanting to chance my watch stopping, I then started trying to delete the old history while running. Good times.

Mile three was uphill, but it was gradual enough that it didn’t feel too bad. We then turned onto a bike path, which was kind of narrow. It got a little crowded, especially one part around 4 miles where the “cheer zone” built a balloon bridge that was barely big enough to fit two people across.

The 5 mile point came in the middle of a nice downhill stretch, but we could see the big hill ahead. I moved ahead of the pace group somewhere around this section. Mile 7 was similar, where the mile mark was at the end of a downhill that preceded a big hill. I felt pretty good through here.

Things kept moving along. I think the pace group caught back up to me, and we were together for a bit before I moved on ahead. Around 10 miles, it started warming up enough that I was able to take my gloves off, although it did drizzle every now and then. The pavement had been wet the whole race, which got a little dicey in spots (especially the downhills).

I hit the half point in 1:51:33, and math told me I was on track to run 3:43 if I could hang on. I kept plugging away, although at some point I started feeling like my hips were getting sore and something was a little funky with my left hamstring. But knowing that my day tends to end as soon as doubt creeps in, I told myself that everything was ok, that I was strong and that I was doing fine.

There was a little bit of an incline in mile 16, but the 17 mile mark was at the start of a large decline. The pacer caught back up to me around this point, and I wasn’t too happy about that. But he’d been running ahead of pace, so I figured I just needed to hang on. The big downhill miles both clicked by in 8:27, and the last of the downhill was 8:31. I was doing math all along to calculate finish time, and then at
some point it turned into how much more I had to run. Then we headed into the woods and I don’t know what happened but I hit that mile in 8:56. That kind of jolted me a bit (see goal #3), and I was able to get back on track in the next mile.

Mile 22 went back uphill (again, really?), and by this point my hip flexors were aching. Somewhere in here, my Garmin beeped that I had a low battery. WTF, Garmin, seriously? I knew I could make it a couple of miles after the initial warning, and hoped it would be enough. Mile 23 was hit in 9:02, which kissed goal #3 goodbye along with the pacer. This section of the race was freaking terrible. There were supposed to be two “cheer zones” with radio stations, but it was mostly desolate with few spectators. There were a lot of turns, and several small hills. I totally shuffled up those hills but I didn’t walk. After holding onto my gloves all race, I managed to lose them shortly before mile 25 when I was trying to reattach my bib. (I was wearing a race belt, and I moved it as we approached a photographer. Doing so broke the bib and I had to rehang it).

I hit mile 25 in 9:11 and at 3:35:45. I needed to be done, as I just ached (hips and feet). We ran down a small hill — and then my Garmin fucking died. 1 mile from the finish, and I had to run blind. ARGH!!!!

So we had a few more turns, and then got to run straight. I had no idea how much farther, but at one point a woman said we were at 26. I tried to pick up, but I felt like I was in quicksand. Finally the finish arch came into site – but the clock hanging from it was off. The clock was approaching/ticking 3:47 when I crossed, and I said “yes!” to myself even though it was off my goal because that’s still a good time.

I then finally got to stop running. I have never run 26.2 non-stop, and holy crap did it hurt to stop. I got my medal and declined the space blanket because I felt warm. I got some water and found the 3:45 pacer. He came in with 30 seconds to spare, so it’s too bad I couldn’t hang with him. I don’t think anyone did stick with him, though. Anyway, I took my post-race picture, and then went to find the gear check. The gear check people were awesome! As you walked up, they pulled your bag so it was sitting there for you by the time you got there. I pulled my phone out to text and call my husband. I let myself cry a little, just feeling emotional. Then I updated my social media. I had changed into a dry shirt and added pants, but I was so cold. I added my jacket, and then went to ask for a space blanket.

On my way to find my car, I found where they had results posted and found that I’d run 3:46:20. I wonder if I would’ve been able to dig deeper had I known I was that close to running 3:45. I’m surprised that my final 1.2 averages out to a 8:49 but I really had no idea how fast I was running for that stretch.

1 | 8:35
2 | 8:30 | 17:06
3 | 8:29 | 25:35
4 | 8:32 | 34:07
5 | 8:23 | 42:30
6 | 8:35 | 51:06
7 | 8:18 | 59:24
8 | 8:26 | 1:07:51
9 | 8:34 | 1:16:25
10 | 8:26 | 1:24:51
11 | 8:39 | 1:33:31
12 | 8:32 | 1:42:03
13 | 8:37 | 1:50:41 (1:51:33 13.1)
14 | 8:31 | 1:59:13
15 | 8:37 | 2:07:50
16 | 8:45 | 2:16:35
17 | 8:27 | 2:25:02
18 | 8:27 | 2:33:29
19 | 8:31 | 2:42:01
20 | 8:56 | 2:50:58
21 | 8:38 | 2:59:36
22 | 8:45 | 3:08:22
23 | 9:02 | 3:17:25
24 | 9:08 | 3:26:34
25 | 9:11 | 3:35:45
26.2 | 10:35 (8:49/mi)

1st half – 1:51:33
2nd half – 1:54:48
3:15 positive split

Interesting note: I ran a 1:54:41 second half split at Chicago ’06. The 10 minute difference in times is due to a 1:41:29 first half there. With only a 3:15 positive split here, I think that shows I ran much better here overall.

I’m overall very pleased with today’s effort. Other than a couple outliers, the paces for the first 22 were relatively close together. This might be me being cocky, or making excuses, but I think this would have been a 3:42-3:43 on a flat course. While the miles in the last 6 were small, the earlier hills kind of did me in. I ran really well on those early miles, I could tell I was running uphill but didn’t feel like I was pushing too hard.

So I achieved goal #4, and I like to think that I achieved #1. I think I ran relatively well, and was able to stay mentally strong until mile 22. Since attempting to run sub-4, I’ve never made it that far without breaking down. (Usually I fall apart by 17 miles).

Notes: took 4 gels. Blackberry Gu at 5 and 10 and Chocolate Raspberry Roctane Gu at 15 and 20.  I carried my 20-oz handheld with water so that I could take my gels on my schedule.  That was a good call, since the water stops were spread out and small.  I did take water from the stops, too, to conserve my water, and there were stops where it was confusing who had water and who had gatorade.  They really needed more water in the last 6.

I don’t think I’ll run this one again – too hilly, and the last 3 miles are too lonely.  The spectators were great, but there were a lot of miles with no spectators.

Oct 20

Mankato marathon

That was a bit brutal. I didn’t meet my goal of all miles under 9 (which would’ve been a first, but I did accomplish 2 big firsts: no walking or stopping. Fucking Garmin died after 25, but the posted results put me at 3:46:20 – 2nd fastest marathon. I hurt, but I’m happy.


Oct 19


Wanted to throw down some quick thoughts before tomorrow’s race.

The weather forecast is terrible. Weather channel shows 38-43 degrees (windchill about 8 degrees less) but rain possibly starting an hour in. Accuweather shows no rain but a 30 degree start ( windchill 25). This has completely thrown my race outfit out the window. Showing that I have learned something, I will be wearing tights instead of shorts. (See Chicago 02 and 06 reports for why). I’m most likely going to wear long sleeves. I am debating wearing gloves vs throwaway gloves.

I’ve felt really anxious and nervous today. This weather is such an unknown factor. I feel confident I can run the distance the question is just what I can do for time. It’s become so important to me to be able to run a marathon again after this 7 year break. My body has felt (and looked ) so foreign to me for so long that it’s nice to occasionally get glimpses of the “old normal.” I’ve fallen short so many times in the marathon that I can’t help be nervous about attempting it again.

I’ll decide for sure in the morning, but I may end up carrying my water. The water stops don’t line up with when I want to take gels, and in nervous about being able to get enough water in with the gel. Also, without my bottle I am totally winging it on carrying my gels. I found my race belts from seven years ago but they aren’t long run tested.

But this is happening:


Oct 10

Race Day Strategy

I announced it on Daily Mile and Twitter, but I’m running the Mankato Marathon on October 20. Since my last post, I’ve had some good runs that have me feeling better about things. Highlights of the last month and a half include:

  • 22 miles averaging of 8:52/mi.
  • 3 x 1 mile: 7:13, 7:02, 6:59
  • 15 miles averaging 8:37, last mile 8:10
  • 10 x 0.25 mile: 1:38, 1:40, 1:41, 1:39, 1:41, 1:41, 1:44, 1:43, 1:40, 1:39
  • 20 miles averaging 8:37
  • 13.11 miles in 1:51:04 (8:28/mi average)
  • 5 x 1000m: 4:16, 4:16, 4:16, 4:17, 4:16
  • I feel good about going for 3:45, but feel like 3:40 is still a bit of a reach. If everything lined up perfectly, it could be possible — but it’s important to me that I run smart. I’d like for this to be a positive experience and I don’t think it makes sense to go for a stretch goal and risk falling apart. Then there’s the fact that running 3:40 doesn’t really do anything for me. To be a BQ, I’d have to run 3:40:00 or faster but to actually get to Boston I’d probably need a 3:38 or faster. I feel I’d rather get this one under my belt and look at a BQ in the spring or next fall.

    What I’ve come up so far for a strategy can be summed up as “Don’t Be Stupid.” Long time readers may have identified a trend I have to forget how I train and to expect bigger things on race day. I train to run negative splits, but it’s like I get in a race and become convinced that if I don’t go out hard I’ll never be able to run my projected pace. A criticism I got after Austin ’05 is that I didn’t do any training at my target race pace. That criticism is a big reason why I’m not going for 3:40. I’ve done a bunch of MRP and tempos, but I tend to settle in about 8:30 pace and haven’t done much at 8:23 pace.

    Last weekend, the FIRST program called for 13 miles at marathon race pace. I decided to treat it as a bit of a “dress rehearsal” and see what I could do. I ran the first two miles in the 8:40s and then dropped to 8:20s and 8:30s. I stretched out the run to a half-marathon, and averaged 8:28. That’s pretty much what I’d like to do next weekend. I want to go out a little conservative for the first few miles, especially since the first half is hilly. I’d like to drop to 8:30 and then evaluate around 18-20 miles if I can pick it up. I feel/know that if I can just run smart, 3:42-3:45 is easily attainable.

    Aug 25


    Took today off from exercise and thought some about where to go from here. I think I’ve settled on a two things, if I still want to attempt a marathon:
    1) Need to get a mid-week longer run in. I see that the FIRST program does jump up to 10 mile tempos soon. That’s a start, but I think I need to more consistently add in a 4th day that’s at least an hour long.
    2) Maybe I need to rethink my time goal. Today, I had the thought that maybe I should try for 3:50. A 3:50 marathon is 8:47 pace which seems much less intimidating than 8:23 or 8:35, and within reason. 3:50 would still be my 2nd fastest marathon, and would still feel like an accomplishment while allowing me to dip my toes back into marathoning. Then if I can avoid injuring myself, I could try for 3:45 or 3:40 in the spring.

    Briefly thought about going back to My Fitness Pal and making a more serious attempt to drop these last 10 pounds to get back to my old marathon race weight … but I think the Pretzel M&Ms and 6 pints of Graeters ice cream I bought at Costco tell you all you need to know about how I really feel about that thought.