Today's Mighty Oak

Some more shuffling around of days this week, and it was a down week, which was a nice bit of . Went to Cleveland to make pierogies with friends, which was a ton of fun, and even though we were all vaccinated, we moved it outside which gave us a lot more room and was a really good setup!

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: 5 miles. Tiny loops.
  • Wednesday: 8 miles. More tiny loops
  • Thursday: 7 miles. Tempo workout: 14 minutes/4 minutes recovery/12 minutes 5K pace.
  • Friday: 5 miles before an early night and wake up call to drive to Cleveland the next morning.
  • Saturday: Rest, pierogie day!
  • Sunday: 14 miles. Was a nice run, and then a day filled with errands, but I kind of knew that going in. There was drama on the trail’s Facebook page as someone was complaining that the trail doesn’t allow horses (even after we’re all now pretty sure she was the one riding her horses on the trail). She also, decided that the trial was ‘elitist’ for not allowing horses. Never in my life would I have had ‘horse owner calls runners and dog walkers elitist’ on my bingo card, but here we are. Pictures below, because, come on, this is just too wild!
  • Long run fuel: Tailwind, Bobo’s Bar.
  • BWF/Core work: Another Zombies, Run: The Home Front workout, this one was mission 10, the last of their first batch, it’s interesting hear this little bit of a time capsule.
  • Yoga: Did a really great class of Friendly Yin Yoga, this one was focused on hips, so I’ll for sure be coming back to do this one again!
  • Stretching: I did my stretching routine after every run!

The triumphant return of PRANK! As the event was called, “PRANK got all our shots and we’re shaking off the winter SADs,” and it was so wonderful to run with people again! And just like any good PRANK it included snacks, questionable routes, teenagers running with us for about a block and even a wave from another runner across the street in the middle of the night! Otherwise, had to do a lot of shuffling days around this week due to schedules, but I got it all in, and had a really good speed workout!

  • Monday: 8 miles. Tiny loops in the neighborhood.
  • Tuesday: 5 miles. More tiny loops.
  • Wednesday: Rest.
  • Thursday: 7 miles. Tempo workout: 14 minutes/4 minutes recovery/12 minutes 5K pace. Nailed it!
  • Friday: PRANK! Two loops (or two and a half, since we merged two together on the last one), 13 miles.
  • Saturday: Rest.
  • Sunday: 18 miles. The clouds opened up after five miles and I got soaked in a cold, cold rain. Never let up the rest of the day. Wanted to do two more to get my first 20-miler under my belt this cycle, but I did extra at PRANK and my hands were frozen so I called it at 18.
  • Long run fuel: Tailwind, Bobo’s Bar, Gu.
  • BWF/Core work: Got Zombies, Run: The Home Front to work on my other phone so did a bodyweight workout. It’s becoming a nice little habit as I put clean laundry away on Sunday evenings.
  • Yoga: Got halfway through my practice and was just not in a mental state to continue so I called it early. Still some good stretching and some good progress, just not my day. But that’s okay!
  • Stretching: I did my stretching routine after every run!

The weather was a bit goofy, and Sunday was brutal under the sun (but I wore sunscreen), but I remind myself it’s good training. Otherwise, good week, although my schedule is a bit goofy this upcoming week, so I know things will be shuffled around quite a bit. It’s also hard to believe this is one quarter of my plan done and under my belt already!

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: 6 miles. Tiny loops in the neighborhood.
  • Wednesday: 8 miles. Speedwork at the track, VO2 Max: 2×1200, 2×1000, 2×800. My last VO2 Max workout this cycle!
  • Thursday: 4 miles. Tiny loops.
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: 18 miles. Early run, then volunteered with Gay4Good (more on that below) and then a campfire for a friend’s birthday, busy day!
  • Sunday: 12 miles. Back to the trail for these after a very busy day. Temperature wasn’t bad, but no clouds meant the sun was just brutal.
  • Long run fuel: Tailwind, Bobo’s Bar.
  • BWF/Core work: Zombies Run keeps crashing (I’m working with tech support), but spent most of my volunteer time with Gay4Good filling sandbags for Grow Pittsburgh, so a good workout! We also all walked down the street to grab food from food trucks after, and it was so nice to spend time with those friends!
  • Yoga: Adding it’s own bullet point here, the goal is to do a yoga class each week. Two weeks in a row now! I’ve found a wonderful instructor online and really like how she teaches, and I think I’m really enjoying Yin Yoga, now that it’s been explained to me!
  • Stretching: I did my stretching routine after every run!

I’m finally registered for my fall race, Miakonda! It’s a very limited field, and (fingers-crossed) vaccinations should be really good by then, so I felt comfortable signing up for it. It’s the first year for it, but it’s run by a great organizing group and members of PRorER will be there, so I’m really looking forward to it.

I’m still not quite sure what my goal is going to be. The course video looks like standard camp roads and trails, which I run in road shoes, but the website says to bring trail shoes (I’ll bring both), so I may play it a little by ear to see what I end up doing that day. This is the plan I made to get myself to 81 miles, but I feel like I’ve lost some significant fitness from the colitis; or I can use this as a test for a full 24 hours, as training for next year’s O24. So many choices!

It’s also Labor Day Weekend, so fingers crossed it isn’t too toasty, but after last year training in the heat, and doing it again for this race, we’ll see how I do. It is ‘third time’s the charm’ for this training plan, but of course, depending on how things go, I’ll probably use it again for what I have planned in 2022.

Either way, I’m excited to be registered and committed, and I’m so excited to see some of my running family again soon!

Anyway, this week of training included my second vaccine shot. Like the first, I had a bit of a fever overnight and felt a little crummy, but bounced back fairly well. I think I’m still feeling a bit under the weather, but nothing too terrible.

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: 8 miles. Tiny loops in the neighborhood.
  • Wednesday: 8 miles. Speedwork at the track, VO2 Max: 2 sets of 2×1200, 1×800
  • Thursday: 5 miles. Tiny loops.
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: 6 miles. Stopped at a trail on the way back from my second shot. Was a nice day and good time on a newish trail to me!
  • Sunday: 18 miles. Woke up feeling crappy after not having slept much, and knew I could take the day off due to my shot. Was feeling better, so went out at noon. Getting a late start was weird, and my legs were trashed by the end, I think the vaccine took more out of me than I realized.
  • Long run fuel: Tailwind, Gu, Bobo’s Bar.
  • BWF/Core work: Another mission of Zombies, Run: The Home Front. I also added in a class of Friendly Yin Yoga, hoping to keep that up, I really enjoyed her teaching style!
  • Stretching: I did my stretching routine after every run!

Weird week weather wise, and this week will be a lot more of the same (looking at you, snow predicted for Wednesday). I’m also already planning on a missed run if I need to, I have my second vaccine shot this weekend and if it puts me down for a few days, I’d much rather deal with a missed long run than COVID.

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: 6 miles. Tiny loops in the neighborhood.
  • Wednesday: 7 miles. Speedwork at the track, VO2 Max: 2 sets of 2×1200, 1×800
  • Thursday: 4 miles. Tiny loops.
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: 5 miles. More tiny loops.
  • Sunday: 13 miles. Just a weird run, weather wise (and this week will be strange too). Started off freezing in the 30s, but still a lot of sun, so outside of the shade I warmed up quick. Bit of fog to burn off and then not a cloud in the sky, making it feel a lot warmer than it actually was.
  • Long run fuel: Tailwind, Gu
  • BWF/Core work: Finished up the next mission of Zombies, Run!: Home Front, great to hear Peter again. I’d also like to incorporate a yoga class each week, so I need to try a few online courses I’ve had my eyes on for a while.
  • Stretching: I did my stretching routine after every run!

This week was unseasonably hot, and (I think we can all agree), just a dumb week, from work to personal lives, but hey, we survived!

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: 7 miles. Tiny loops in the neighborhood.
  • Wednesday: 5 miles. Tiny loops in the neighborhood.
  • Thursday: Rest. This was supposed to be speedwork, but after 90 minutes and driving to three different tracks, I finally gave up (they were all either closed or so crowded I couldn’t park, nor would have I felt comfortable with that many people). I added the mileage to my Sunday run, and I’ll put the speedwork in Week 4 (which is a down week, but speedwork really is important).
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: 16 miles. Got to the trail early to beat the fishers, but and it was a good run!
  • Sunday: 14 miles. Ended up with an extra mile by mistake, but a good way to cap off the week. Was so incredibly foggy and humid that it felt and looked like I had run through a rainstorm, but it was just what was hanging in the air. Then the sun came out and baked me a bit. Was good to do a back to back, but I’m certainly sore from it.
  • BWF/Core work: Finished up the next mission of Zombies, Run!: Home Front. It feels like they’ve really gotten into the story at this point, so I’m enjoying it a lot!
  • Stretching: I did my stretching routine after every run!

First week with speedwork in this cycle, time to see how much speed I lost!

  • Monday: Rest.
  • Tuesday: 8 miles. A beautiful day and I was in Oakland, so I went to the park to do a combination of one of the Frontrunner loops and lots of fun and some winding through CMU and Pitt.
  • Wednesday: 5 miles. Tiny loops in the neighborhood.
  • Thursday: 6 miles. Remember how beautiful Tuesday was? This was speedwork at the track in the snow. Proud of myself for doing it, but man, what an April Fool’s day. VO2 max: 6x1000m, 5K pace. I’m actually a lot faster than I expected to be, and not nearly as slow as I was expecting. Still took a lot out of me, but I’m hopeful with the rest of this plan I can get back to where I was!
  • Friday: Rest.
  • Saturday: 15 miles. Ended up with an extra mile by mistake, but that’s okay. Was also the first day of trout season, so the stream (and parking areas) were full. I’m always happy people are getting outside and enjoying nature, so nice to see.
  • Sunday: 5 miles. Back to the track on Easter morning to do some loops as well as the first event in the 2021 Corndog League season: Thatch Hut Rabbit Habit: A 100m one-legged hop. So much harder than I expected, but I did wear a costume (bunny tail)!
  • BWF/Core work: I was in the middle of a Zombies, Run! Home Front mission when the app crashed, so I’ll have to pick that one back up.
  • Stretching: I did my stretching routine after every run!

One of my recurring posts.  Happy Easter!

The year that was. Well, you know. 2020. What I had been training for (Eagle Up) and all my tune up races (Get Lucky and O24) got cancelled, so what was supposed to be a 24 week training cycle, got extended to 36 weeks and I ended with the Pink Lightning 50K as the end goal of my training.

Pink Lightning is the running camp at Burning Man, and I hope to someday run this with them, but it was nice to do it as a fundraiser for their camp, even if we can’t all be in the dust together. It looks like it will once again be offered virtually this year, so I’ll be able to participate again, which is nice.


The aforementioned training plan was a combination of the 50 miles per week and 70 miles per week plans from Relentless Forward Progress, with the speedwork from a Pfitzinger half marathon plan built in as the workouts.

After O24 got delayed I took a week off, restarted in the middle, and eventually, when O24 was finally cancelled, decided to do a virtual 50 miler to cap off this year of training. I put together a plan to use my car as an aid station on the Westmoreland Heritage Trail. Going east was a ten mile out and back, going west was a five mile out and back. I put together a plan of four of the longer legs and two of the shorter ones and had a great spreadsheet (of course) of fueling, nutrition and gear to keep me on track.

I feel like I had finally, maybe not gotten used to, but at least better acclimated, to running in the summer heat. Of course the week of my virtual race, the weather turned extra hot, and the night before, a huge thunderstorm rolled through (more on that in a bit)

Miles 0-15

I got to the trailhead as it was still dark to get some miles in before the sun came up. As I was getting everything ready out of the trunk of my car, a runner came in from the western side and let me know that a tree had fallen across the trail on the eastern side, about a mile up, due to the storm the night before.

Well, that threw everything I had out the window and I had to adjust on the fly. It was a big defeat, and I decided to cut down to a 50K instead, still a good run (and the actual distance of Pink Lightning), but also because at this point in the year, I just did not have the mentals to deal with that kind of big wrench.

I ran out east to at least turn that side into a two mile out and back, and sure enough, a huge tree had fallen across the trail. I took a moment just to make sure that I really couldn’t go around it, and confirming that, began redoing all the math in my head. This now meant that this was a two mile out and back, and I knew if I ran past the original turn around on the western side, I could increase that to a six mile out and back (instead of five). This let me cobble together a new race, although it ended up just over 32 miles.

The day was hot, but I was (over) stocked on Tailwind, Gatorade, water and food. By this point, I had dialed in my fuel, and swapping between gels and Bobo’s bars for the first half the race, and I just ticked off miles. The day was humid as well, and there were a few other people on the trail, but generally it was pretty quiet, except when I ran past BY Park.

Miles 16-32

The second half of the run, as expected, brought some more walking breaks, and truthfully, more than I had hoped for, even if I had been running 50 miles. The mental break was a bit of a letdown, but honestly, it all felt okay for 2020.

The second half of a run like this, especially after mile 20 in the heat, is always a bit of a grab bag for what I’m going to want to eat or able to stomach. Thankfully, some Pringles and a Moonpie just hit the spot, were easy enough to get down and kept me going. I was actually very consistent through mile 25, but after that, the temperature, humidity and direct sunlight just zapped me.

As I was coming in from my last eastern out and back, I saw the crew of volunteers assembling with their chainsaws to take care of the fallen tree. By the time I finished my final western out and back, they were packing up and heading out, having opened up the trail. For a moment I thought about continuing on and changing it back to a 50 miler, but having already changed once, I was dialed in for that distance and decided to call it at 50K.

Final time, 6:18:04, 32.13 miles. Still missed by goal of a 6 hour 50K.

Why yes, I did come in fist place, in my corner of the Multiverse

Mental Health

This race seemed to be the embodiment of 2020, so I just had to roll with it. I’m certainly proud what I ran, but even more so for training and running over the summer, normally a season where I don’t, so that’s a huge win in my book.

I still have yet to hit my goal of a 6 hour 50K, which is disappointing, especially since this was after two (or maybe one and a half) training cycles. I surprised myself when I broke two hours in the half marathon, so I know this goal is possible, I’ll just keep working on it.

Looking forward

I’m finishing this as I start up my next training cycle, so it has been seven months since I ran this. Knowing everything that has happened, I wonder what was going through my mind about future goals and races. Plans, as we first lay them out, as well as hindsight, are always 20/20.

And, I’m back at it, and what a journey it has been. Even putting the global pandemic aside, after my running season last year, I took some time off after my last virtual race (Pink Lightning) and enjoyed some downtime. I was getting back into it, and ramping back up, when I got super, super sick (not COVID, at least but getting healthcare during a pandemic was an extra challenge).

That sidelined me completely for two months. After the new year, ice settled in, and that also held off my running (as I’m still not comfortable going back to a gym and ice and lightning are the two things I won’t run in/on), but I did what I could. As the weather broke, I increased my mileage and did what I could to get back up to a a decent (for me) number of miles per week.

Currently, there’s a lot against me: being sick for so long, the sudden temperature swing (except it might snow again on Thursday), sudden humidity, extremely high pollen count, and a busy work schedule. I’m also in the last week of a Phase 1 Clinical Trial, which is great science, but as such, is rough of me in terms of the amount of blood draws and tissue biopsies, so it leaves me a bit drained. But nothing is ever easy I suppose.

I have a race in mind over Labor Day Weekend. It’s really small, vaccinations should be widespread by then, so I should feel comfortable. I’m giving myself three weeks of this plan to see how I handle it after being out of practice so to speak, for so long, as well as to give me time to get past the last phase of this clinical trial. As well as these three weeks go well, I’ll sign up; and the idea of having something to train for, something to look forward to, is really appealing.

And truth be told, last week, my first week, went really well. I hit all my mileage (speedwork starts this week), did all my stretching, even got in a bodyweight workout. I did a really good job dialing in my food too, so now I just need to keep that up for the next 23 weeks.

I’m once again, because third time is the charm, doing my hybrid plan based off of RFP’s plans. I took the 50 and 70 miles per week plans, split the difference to make a 60 miles per week plan and added in the speedwork from a Pete Pfitzinger plan. I’ve certainly lost a lot of speed with my time off, but after the second day, I at least felt good about the volume, so I can work with that.

Aside from the goal race over Labor Day, I’m also looking at two tune up races, one would be a virtual race, the other would be an in-person point to point that looks like it lines up pretty well and is one I’ve wanted to do anyway, so as it gets closer, I’ll reevaluate safety levels and protocols.

That’s it for now, I’ll keep this updated as I figure things out and hopefully everything goes well!

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