Today's Mighty Oak


I called my long run after 12 miles, but still had a chance to try some new fuel. After my first loop, had half a Bobo’s Bar, and after my second loop (when I thought I’d be able to go for more), I had half of a ‘Complete Cookie.’

I really liked the Complete Cookie, I’m a sucker for chocolate and mint, and it was super soft and easy to eat. The downsides are one, they’re expensive, and two, each cookie (which is huge by the way), is 400 calories. So maybe that’s something I’ll keep in my back pocket for the later hours of a race, a quick and delicious way to get more fuel than I otherwise would, plus a fun treat!



  • Monday: Rest day.
  • Tuesday: 7 miles plus speedwork: hill repeats. Went down to the Frontrunners early to grab some extra miles and get my speedwork before seeing them all at the end. Ended up seeing two harps as well as a race friend from the 20 miler!
  • Wednesday: 10 miles.
  • Thursday: 5 miles. Had a meeting right after work, skipped the meeting after the meeting to get in my miles.
  • Friday: Rest day.
  • Saturday: 5 miles. Saturday morning was the Harvey Milk Day of Service, so Gay4Good was out with Downtown Pittsburgh Partnership, this time, cleaning up the Mon Wharf. Hit the gym after before seeing a show that night.
  • Sunday: 12 miles. Oh god, all hail broke loose. It was supposed to drizzle a bit, then clear up, then pour all afternoon. I hit the trail just as it was drizzling a bit. Then it hailed. The temperature fell and it stayed nasty for the entire jail trail loop. The rain got worse on the second loop, and I ended up not being able to move my fingers. I stopped for the traffic crossing, and my knee screamed out when I started up again. I stretched and got back to the car, going slow for a while, but still running. Stopped again to assess, and my knee yelled at me as I took off down the trail. The rain got worse, and I decided to call it. Had 24 planned, but that didn’t happen.
  • Core/strength: None this week, back at it next week.

It was a great week of training until my long run. I’m really, really trying to not let that get me too down. I was prepared for what the weather was supposed to be, but the combination of cold and my knee made the decision the smart one, it took me longer than I care to admit to actually warm up, even after I got home.

I did spent more time with the TENS unit, and am planning to continue that, as well as to keep on stretching my legs and rolling my muscles. I’ll keep moving forward I suppose and see what happens. If I feel up to it, I’d like to take this long run and do it next weekend, that would still give me a two week taper to my marathon and help me get the mileage in for Eagle Up.

Race reports owed: Jackpot.



My long run was only 14 miles this week, but on the jail trail loop, gave me a chance to go past my car twice. Tried out nutter butters, which a friend uses as fuel for marathons, as well as ultras.

I grabbed two each time, and they were okay. But nothing spectacular I suppose, and maybe a little dry. However, I love peanut butter, so for a good mental boost, they’ll be something I’ll remember in the future!



  • Monday: 3 miles. Just going slow and feeling things out. IT Band is feeling better, still have a weird knot/dead spot in my calf, but had a session with a TENS unit, which seemed to help.
  • Tuesday: 6 miles, ‘increaser.’ For my speedwork this week, I did what Higdon refers to as a tempo run (but no other coach does), and my team lovingly calls an increaser: increasing the speed consistently throughout the run. Felt good to open up a bit, and my leg held up.
  • Wednesday: 4 miles. Just getting some more miles in at the gym.
  • Thursday: Rest day.
  • Friday: Rest day.
  • Saturday: 14 miles. My first big test of my leg after these two weeks. A few aches and pains, but nothing out of the ordinary (especially when I realize I did five miles in two weeks, and then came back into a 40+ mile week). No real IT band pain, so I just need to keep up on everything.
  • Sunday: 10 miles. Got some treadmill miles in, partially so I could catch up on some TV, but also, I’ve found I have to slowly acclimate myself to heat, and as it seems we might be skipping spring again this year, I didn’t want to push my luck with the weather and allergens.
  • Core/strength: BWF Recommended Routine once, would like to keep it up at at least twice a week, so I’ll keep working on that.

I’m so glad I’m back at it, and as much as I know I didn’t lose that much fitness in two weeks, combined with the quickly warming weather, it certainly feels like I have.

I’ll be confident in my return after this upcoming week’s long run (24 miles), but I’m really happy with how far I’ve come. The marathon is less than a month away, and yes, I’m treating it as a supported long run, but in the back of my mind I did also have a goal time in mind. I’m not confident I’ll make it, but I just need to work on making myself okay with that.

The Pittsburgh Marathon is tough, both in terms of weather and course. It’s also a great experience with amazing crowd support, so maybe with just a little bit of believing in myself, I’ll be able to make it happen, but I won’t be too bent out of shape if I don’t; the real goal is completing some ultra distance at EU the month after.

Race reports owed: Jackpot.



  • Monday: Rest day.
  • Tuesday: Rest day.
  • Wednesday: Rest day.
  • Thursday: Rest day.
  • Friday: Rest day.
  • Saturday: Rest day.
  • Sunday: 5K – Around the Pond virtual 5K. Legs sore from not running, and still some slight knee pain, but nothing like before. Took it easy and when I wasn’t thinking about things, seemed to run fine. Calf is still tight, so working on that.
  • Core/strength: BWF Recommended Routine twice, so glad to be getting back to that. Left my upper body sore, but in a good way!

I spent this week stretching and strengthening, and it helped a lot. I’m still not back to 100%, but I’ve at least made some good progress. This is a down week for me, so I’m easing back into some mileage as I continue all the work on my legs to rehab them.

This has been really frustrating because I was making such good progress and was really hoping to not only go into my first ultra with a solid training block, but to also knock 20 minutes off my marathon time. A bit ambitious, but depending on the day, based on how my running was going, totally doable.

I’ve let that goal go a little bit, and I’m focused more on Eagle Up, but I’m still really hoping that I can get healthy and back to a better spot.

It’s also been tough for both my weight loss and mental health. I’ve found a good balance of running and eating to let me slowly lose, and without the running, having to reconfigure has been tough, I’m still used to eating like I’m training. And of course, I’m going a bit bonkers without the extra time for my mind to work on things, but at least I’m more cognizant of that lately, which has helped I think.

Race reports owed: Jackpot.



  • Monday: Rest day.
  • Tuesday: Rest day.
  • Wednesday: Rest day.
  • Thursday: Rest day.
  • Friday: Rest day.
  • Saturday: 5 miles. First two miles felt great, and I went out deliberately slow. After that, wheels fell off and I did some walk/run. Got to five miles, but still a lot of pain.
  • Sunday: Rest day.
  • Core/strength: Nothing beyond lots of rolling and stretching

So guess who got injured? This guy.

There’s a lot of self-pity going on right now, and I realize that. I’m also trying to give myself some time to wallow in it, acknowledge it, and then move on, but damn does it suck.

I seem to have ITBS problems every other training cycle or so, so I should be used to it by now, but holy hell is this bad. I took just about all of this week off to rest and to roll and stretch, usually twice a day. My run on Saturday was good, but I need more time off, so I’ll be back at it this week, and taking the entire week off, no running until Tuesday, April 2.

I’ll be adding in some additional strength exercises and stretches, augmenting what I’ve done in the past, and really, really hoping I don’t need to go to a doctor.

I know that part of it is that I wasn’t doing enough stretching and strengthening, and I know another part of it is just luck of the draw. I’m prone to ITBS and sometimes, even when training is going so great, it just pops up in runners (or some other malady will).

I can look back and realize my first 12 weeks (literally the first half of my plan) were awesome. I got faster, I did two 20’s and one 22 mile run, all feeling stronger than anything I ran last year. Two weeks off isn’t going to erase all my improvement, and I’m lucky that if I had to miss two weeks, these are the two to do, they basically repeat themselves, so I can jump back into a down week and then ramp back up.

I’ll miss out on hitting my 200-mile month, which was something I really wanted to hit, but I have to keep my eyes on my goal race (and the Pittsburgh Marathon, I’d love to, and I was on track to, knock significant time off of that).

I think part of why this is so hard is that running is therapy for me. I need that time to let my brain let go and process. That, combined with not being able to see my therapist for a longer interval than normal, has been messing with my head, even if I’m actually okay right now.

So I’ll wallow today for a bit longer, but realize that this is also part of mental training. Shit goes wrong, and we accept it and then deal with it. Writing has always been another refuge, so writing all this out has helped. It’s still tough, but at least acknowledging it all, seeing it down on paper (well, screen), helped me realize that yes, my plan is halfway over, but that is still halfway to my race. I’m a strong runner and people have run further with much less training, so maybe I got this!

Race reports owed: Jackpot.



PRANK this weekend gave me a great chance to try out some food!

I had jelly beans, which worked really well, much better than I expected, actually. So I’ll be keeping them in the standard rotation.

Before our last loop (we were running until about 1 or 1:30 a.m., after a day of work), I had about half of a dark chocolate bar with espresso beans. As long as it’s higher quality dark chocolate (so no Hershey’s), I can eat it, and I usually go for the mint ones. However, having the espresso beans, and whether it was enough caffeine to make a difference or a placebo, was amazing! Will be keeping this in rotation as well!

Remember last week when I wrote this:

After my first and before my last loop, I had half a Bobo’s bar. This was really good! Easier to chew with a Clif bar, filling, but also sat really well. Each half was about 85 calories, so I’ll need to supplement with something else, but it was a really good find. Easy to eat while walking, didn’t make my jaw sore from chewing, tasted good and sat in my stomach well!

Well, turns out I read the label wrong, and half the bar is 170 calories.

Still great to eat, and if the ‘goal’ for most people (at least before you start to fiddle and figure out what your actual goal is), is to eat 200 calories/hour in an ultra, maybe that’s why this works so well for me!

Either way, good to know for my own calorie counting (both for weight loss and ultra fueling)!



  • Monday: 5 miles. My schedule was borked this week so I ended up not taking a rest day until the middle of the week.
  • Tuesday: Speedwork. 8 x 400, then an additional 2 miles for a total of 6 miles.
  • Wednesday: Rest day, Camp Staff Alumni Association board meeting, and then the meeting after the meeting, right after work.
  • Thursday: 4 miles, then Lenten book study with the young adults at church.
  • Friday: 20 miles, PRANK. Pittsburgh Runs At Night Klub returns! We got one of our members to her longest run ever and did three awesome loops starting from near the P3R Garage. First we went up to Herr’s Island then up to Polish Hill, Hill District and downtown. Second loop was the edge of the Strip then downtown and Point State Park. Third loop was to Alcosan/Western Penn and back. A great time was had by all, even with a bit of rain and wind mixed in at times.
  • Saturday: 4 miles. After a successful PRANK run, I had the intention of rounding out a stupid weekend. However, my knee was giving me a lot of pain, so I called what was supposed to be 9 miles after 4 and decided to rest the next two days.
  • Sunday: Rest day.
  • Core/strength: Same as last week, only got one workout in, but still working on that!

Race reports owed: Jackpot.



Race information

Goals

GoalDescriptionCompleted?
A20 milesYes
BThank the volunteersYes
CHave funYes
DHigh fives3 out of 4

Pictures

Splits

MileTime
552:06 (10:25 pace)
101:43:46 (10:23 pace)
152:35:02 (10:20 pace)
203:26:07 (10:18 pace)

Training

This race wasn’t on my radar at all, but it happened to fall perfectly into my training schedule, so I figured I’d use it as a supported long run. There is an asterisk next to the distance since when you sign up for the race, you indicate what you what to run, but you can change on the fly as you run. It’s a five mile loop around a lake, so you can drop or add loops to get 10, 15 or 20 miles.

Pre-race

The website predicted doom for parking, and I hadn’t been to North Park in a long time, so I ended up getting there about 45 minutes before registration opened. So I ended up helping them get set up. Setting up coolers of hot chocolate, roaster pans full of soups, that kind of thing. One of the guys was nice enough to give me one of last year’s hats as a thank you!

This race is also awesome in that you don’t get a shirt, instead you get a knit hat! If you complete 15 miles you get a pair of gloves (I opted for baby blue, the other option being black), and if you complete 20 you get a jacket! We were able to try on jackets, and they’ll be embroidered and ready to pick up in a few weeks, but they’re nice lightweight wind breakers.

Race

I didn’t intend to race this, just a long supported run, but hey, that changed! There was no 10:30 pacer, so a bunch of us put ourselves between 10 and 11 and made the best of it. Parts of the course were more windy than others, so overall, I was a bit cold, but nothing I couldn’t deal with. Running in shorts was wonderful though. There was also one weird spot where it was always drizzling. Apparently mother nature did not want the people playing tennis to enjoy their games.

I’ve been listening to audio books lately on long runs, and I got a good chunk of “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” completed. There were some really good and really hard-hitting moments (also filled with high school drama). I have a bit to go, but there’s a lot of great stuff in there. Also, pro tip: check with your local library to see what they offer. I use an app called Hoopla and with my library card, I can borrow audio books for free!

As I am wont to do, I was just chatting with everyone around me (one earbud out, popping into the book when it was quiet), and ended up chatting with an older (than me, maybe late 50s), gentlemen about ultra running. We ran together for about two miles as we chit chatted, but as soon as I mentioned that I run with the Frontrunners (the gay running club), he immediately stopped talking and took off. I won’t say I didn’t smile when I passed him later (and never saw him again).

At the beginning of the second lap, three of us ended up falling in together, and we kept each other going the rest of the race! Our little pack was awesome! Amber was on her last run before the Shamrock Full in Virginia Beach and Rita kept seeing coaches and friends from her running club so we got lots of cheers! We chit chatted, and all commented at various times about how the group was keeping us going. Also, big shout out to them for holding my water bottle as I retied my shorts, I figured the people behind us didn’t want to be mooned!

As we were finishing the second loop, two guys joined us for a bit, both of them struggling, but enjoying the temporary company. I told them some bad jokes, and cheered them on, and I like to think that I brought some joy to their 15 miler.

The third loop was of course, the most arduous mentally, but we powered through. At one turn, I had gotten high fives, but the woman there said she was waiting on her husband, so I knew I probably wouldn’t see her again. On loop three I commandeered a random guy out on his morning run to give me a high five.

As we started the last loop, Amber put on music and told us she’d probably speed up, but to stop her if she did. We did the first time, then she was just in her zone, so we let her go. We could still see her, but she was looking great! No high five on the last lap, but I powered through the emotional defeat. I stopped at a water stop and Rita went on, so our little group became a line of three of us. I got to cheer on Rita as she finished, and Amber was waiting for us both!

Post-race

Walked across the street to grab some hot soup and bananas. Super excited I ran as far and as fast as I did. This training cycle has really increased my speed and confidence a little bit too! It’s a fun race, and I’d certainly recommend it to anyone. I had originally been looking at the race they put on the next month, but that gets about three times as many runners (but also gives out shorts instead of a shirt), so I have to decide if I want to do that.



Another weekend of loops which means another chance to try out some different fuel! First up, I had some candy orange slices. These were a lot better than the Swedish Fish from last week, but I feel like they didn’t stay with me for long and I was hungry quickly after eating them. Plus, I then had a bunch of extra slices after I was done running so I just kept eating them. Will do in a pinch, but I don’t have the restraint to stop.

After my first and before my last loop, I had half a Bobo’s bar. This was really good! Easier to chew with a Clif bar, filling, but also sat really well. Each half was about 85 calories, so I’ll need to supplement with something else, but it was a really good find. Easy to eat while walking, didn’t make my jaw sore from chewing, tasted good and sat in my stomach well!

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