We came. We saw. We got muddy.

And just like that…another XC season is over. We traveled from KS to Ohio this past weekend for Coaches Youth XC Nationals. This year it was held at Voice of America MetroPark. Out of the four venues we’ve experienced, I must say it was my least favorite. Zero access to the course. And the mud…oh the mud. I know the mud wasn’t their fault. I don’t know how much it rained before we got there, but thankfully it didn’t rain in the two days we were there. That would have made it an even bigger nightmare than it already was.

Tiny Boy ran an 8:32 2K. 6:51 pace! He made it official…8yo Tiny Boy is faster than 8yo Runner Boy. He has learned so much from his brother’s running, and I hope that trend will continue. He was the 47th 8yo across the line.

The aftermath. The 2K course wasn’t too bad.

Runner Boy ran a 13:12 3K (7:04 pace). He came in 69th 10yo. This is well off his usual pace. He just plain had a crummy race. He said he couldn’t get footing and slid all over the place, tweaking his hip halfway through the race. He couldn’t get up to speed after that. He crumbled into me at the finish line. He tossed his finisher medal in our pull cart and hasn’t asked for it since. It’s hard as a parent to watch him want something so badly and have a bad run during his biggest race of the season. We walked to the car to get the battery pack for our phones, and he held my hand the whole way there and the whole way back. That’s how I knew he was upset.

Hopefully they can both turn it around and ease back into training. Mr. Neon is encouraging both boys to pick up another sport to work on other muscle groups. And Runner Boy has already asked for more biking and swimming. Runner Boy –> Tri Boy.

It’s not very often kids are encouraged by their parents to play in the mud.

Stay neon!

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Excuse Me

Note: I started writing this post on Monday with the intention of posting it on Monday. So let’s pretend you are all reading this on Monday.

Excuse me for a second as I relive yesterday over and over again.

Daylight Savings Times was a bust for us. We had to get up early to head to Regionals XC for Runner Boy and Tiny Boy. We could have gone to bed at our normal time and got that extra hour of sleep. Instead, we stayed up late catching up on the DVR and playing games on our phones.

On the way up to Garnett, KS, I was able to get bits and pieces of the NYC Marathon streaming on the ESPN app. I was tracking the leaders and then would hop on when it looked like something exciting was happening.

SHALANE!

Oh man…all the feels. Beth from Shut Up and Run said it best with “Did anyone else turn into one giant crying goose bump as she ran into the finish?” YES!

And then we watched the dudes finish. I really thought Kipsang was going to catch the young gun, Kamworor, but he didn’t. And then Meb came through. Oh Meb. Thank you for all you’ve done for the rest of us average human runners. For every ounce of inspiration you’ve given us. Enjoy your retirement.

And just when I thought I had filled my running inspiration tank for the day, my two little bubs toed the line of their own races.

They had talked through the race with Mr. Neon, aka Dad Coach, and had set their goals. They have put in the time this year and have both made steady progress. The weather was good, and they knew the course. They were ready!

Tiny Boy ran an impressive 8:54 2K (7:09 pace). A full 20 seconds faster than his race two weeks ago. It was his first time breaking 9 minutes. I told him later that he only needs to run 14 seconds faster to beat his brother’s 2K PR and break 7:00 pace. He told me, “Done.”

Runner Boy took off like a bolt of lightning. We’ve really been working on him getting out front in races. He struggles to push himself in the beginning and then can’t get up to speed fast enough to break into the lead pack. I saw him at the half way point and he was running 4th. I was shocked. I just yelled, “John, do you realize what you are doing? You are running fourth! Keep it up!”

And then I caught him at the finish line. Literally. I love to catch him at the finish line. He’s spent. He wants me and needs me to hold him up. He held on to 4th and ran an incredible 11:58 3K (6:25 pace). It was his first time breaking 12 minutes and was nearly a full minute faster than his time last year. He hugged me and said, “You are the best parents in the world.” He gives all his success right back to us and thanks us for pushing him and bringing him to races. What a kid.

Tiny Boy was 13th (9th 8yo) and Runner Boy was 4th (2nd 10yo).

Needless to say, Mr. Neon and I are proud as punch, busting buttons, and all those other cliched things you say when you are REALLY REALLY REALLY proud of your kids.

And now we head to Nationals next week. I can’t wait.

Also…is anyone else obsessed with comparing side-by-side of your kids as they grow?


Look how long his legs have gotten!


Check out the muscle development on Tiny Boy! I have a theory that magical things happen for little runners between 7 and 8 and again between 9 and 10.

Stay neon!

Let’s Catch Up

I wrote that title into a draft over a week ago. What happened?

Life. Is. Busy. I’m so tired of making that excuse, but there it is. Wife. Mom. Librarian. Grad student. Runner. All those titles pile up on top of me. Don’t get me wrong…I like to be busy, but lately it feels like I’m just a walking to do list with little room left for anything else.

It’s also starting to get cold, and I definitely tend to get winter depression syndrome. It just seems to be happening really early this year.

So what’s been going on…

I PR’d everything in a 6 day period.

The asterick is because I unofficially PR’d my 10K during my sub-2 half marathon attempt at Prairie Fire. I won’t count it in my PR list, but it exists in my head.

Mr. Neon and I were again selected to be on the BASE Performance team. New kits…pink and turquoise! I’m super excited. We’ve started tentatively planning out our 2018 season. I’m still planning on sticking to a lower number of races and working on building my speed for another sub-2 half marathon attempt next fall.

I survived back-to-back class weekends, and now we have XC regionals and nationals to look forward to. Never a dull moment around the Neon Runner house.

I’ve decided to set a few goals for November:

  1. 10,000 steps every day. I sit more and more at work. I started a maintenance 10K finish it plan, and I only run 4-5 days a week. I think I’ll be spending some time walking on my treadmill in the evenings after dinner.
  2. No more excuses. I like to make excuses for everything. And I need to stop. No more negative Nancy.
  3. Get the snacking under control and eliminate dinner #2. I have a goal weight in mind and it’s going to take some more.

That’s all from me today! Stay neon!

Progress

I’m still in recovery mode. My quads were still sore and weak yesterday, but they feel almost normal today. All I’ve done this week is two short 2-mile runs on Tuesday. I’m definitely enjoying the extra sleep, but I’m looking forward to getting back to my morning runs.

I signed up for a 1 mile and 5K on Saturday. Run for the Roses is just 5 minutes from our house, and you can’t beat that! I’m going to jump in with Runner Boy and Tiny Boy’s 4×400 workout at run practice tonight. Get a little speedy turnover under the legs. I PR’ed my 10K and my half on Sunday, so I might as well try and PR everything in a six day period!

Sunday was my 3rd fall Prairie Fire half marathon. 2014, 2016, and 2017. I’m always so hard on myself, but I shouldn’t be. Because this…

2014

Actual clock time: 2:13:25 (10:11 Pace)

2015

Actual clock time: 2:08:20 (9:48 Pace)

2017

Actual clock time: 2:00:59 (9:15 Pace)

I have managed to shave nearly 30 seconds off my pace each year! I cannot be disappointed in that one single bit. And I’m looking forward to another year of training, another year of getting faster and stronger.

I just noticed that those are three different Garmins. I’m definitely a gadget nerd. Although I can say with almost 99% certainty 2018 will be run with my trusty 735 again.

Stay neon!

2:00:59

I have no photos to share with you. Only words.

I didn’t break 2. 1:59 or Bust? I busted. 2:00:59. 60 tiny little seconds.

This was the calmest I have ever been before a race. Confidence was high. I was ready. We went through the motions of coffee and breakfast. We headed downtown and said hi to all our running family. Porta potty…done. Pre-race warm-up…done. 1/2 honey stinger waffle…done.

My friend, Jim, was in town running his 50th marathon. He’s an accomplished vocalist and is not only working on running a marathon in every state but singing the national anthem before a marathon in every state. His voice gave me chills and further confidence that I was going to break 2 with him here in town with us.

Mr. Neon and I lined up close to the front with the 2-hour pace group. They told us that they would be running even splits. Sounded good to me. The gun went off and we took off. I tried not to look at my watch, but our pace felt really fast. And when I finally looked down, it was. We ticked the first mile off at an 8:56. Woah pony. It didn’t feel too fast, so I just relaxed into it. Mr. Neon and I carried small 8oz water bottles, so we could take our BASE salt with a sip of water and not worry about the first couple of aid stations. They were disposable, so we could toss them when they were done.

Mile 2 was an 8:53. Umm…ok. My breathing was good, my cadence was good, but I was still a little worried about this being too fast. Could I hold this for 11 more miles? We had to zigzag through some road construction. I made a conscious effort to stay to the inside of the course. I knew running the tangents would be important.

We hit the out and back on Grove and I looked across the median from friends. I waved, whooped, but not as loud as normal. I needed to conserve all the energy I had for the coming miles. We passed the 2:00 pacers when they stopped to walk the aid station. I felt better with them at my back. Mile 3 was another 8:56.

Mile 4 and 5 include the only real hill on the course. I could feel my pace slowing slightly, but I didn’t worry because I already had some seconds in the bag. Mile 4 ticked off at 9:03 and mile 5 at 9:12. I had switched my eat alarm from every 3.5 miles to every 30 minutes. I sucked down a Huma raspberry gel.

We entered the College Hill neighborhood. I was mentally ticking off the miles in my head. I was hardly looking at my Garmin at all, especially with the pacers behind me. I didn’t need to worry about chasing anyone. Just maintaining forward progress. My legs felt like they were in treadmill mode. It felt a bit out of body. I was moving faster than I ever had before. Was I going to blow up at some point? I felt fine, but the “what if?” doubts started to enter my brain. I pushed them away.

Mile 6 was a 9:02. We passed the Edgemoor Fire Station and crossed the 10K timing mat. I had officially PR’ed my 10K and surpassed the longest race pace run of my training. From here on out, I was in new territory. I was coming to the downhill part of the course and looking forward to the run back on 2nd street. The marathoners left us. Good luck, friends. Better you, than me.

I struggled to get half of a Honey Stinger waffle in me. I used the last of my water bottle to swallow it. My mouth felt dry, but the rest of me felt good. Mile 7 was a 9:12. I dropped my salt tube and had to run back to get it. Mr. Neon kept an even pace and I was able to catch back up to him without trouble. Mile 8 was a 9:18. I grabbed two cups at the water station. I took two big sips and then dumped the rest of it on my back and front.

Somewhere between mile 8 and 9, my brain lost the ability to do math. I thought for sure I was coming up on the mile 10 flag and would only have a 5K to go. I have still not looked at my Garmin much. I knew the pace group was still at my back. But it wasn’t the mile 10 flag. It was the mile 9 flag and I still had 4 more to go. Mile 9 was a 9:01.

The struggle started. The wind shifted and the sun came out. It wasn’t hot, but it wasn’t cool anymore. At the mile 10 aid station, I deviated from the plan. I walked. I took a whole cup of water and dumped it down my front, another whole cup and dumped it down my back, and drank as much of a third one as I could. I took two licks of salt and started moving. The 2:00 pacers were still behind me but not for long. Mile 10 was a 9:29. Mile 11 was a 9:14. Mr. Neon waved me ahead and told me to keep going. He was struggling.

The 2:00 pacers (Karlee and Jerry) came up behind me. I heard them yell “Go!” Karlee fell in beside me and asked how I was. I was ok, but I was slowing. She told me to relax my shoulders. I tried to keep up with her, but she had to go on. But I had a savior. Lacy Lacy Lacy was there. She stayed in front of me. I had my Aftershokz turned up too loud to hear everything she was telling me. She kept me moving. I had nothing left. I had run out of juice. I grunted at her, mumbled yep. I kept moving forward, but I knew the 1:59 was slipping away.

Mile 12 was a 9:25. I thought about my mom waiting for me at the finish line. This wasn’t chemo. Work harder. Her tumor was under my shoe. I had to finish this for her. I had to push through the lactic acid that was pulling me back. I turned onto the Seneca St bridge and knew the road of pain was ahead of it. The wind blew into my face. I welcomed it. It was cooling and the sun was hot.

Mile 13. 9:42. I didn’t even look at the beep. I could hear the finish line. Friends lined the way. They yelled my name, and I burst into tears. The Lewis St bridge always sucks. Up and over. I turned on what tiny little kick I had left. The announcer said Mr. Neon’s name and I was thankful he was still behind me. I hit my Garmin and looked down. 2:01:01. No.

Lacy gave me a hug. She encouraged me to check my time. Maybe I had started far enough back, but I knew I hadn’t. I grabbed a bottle of water and a medal. I looked for my mom and the boys. They had run the 5K and were waiting somewhere. I saw my Daddy first. I walked over to them and cried, “I didn’t do it.” My mom hugged me and told me to stop it. She was proud of me. Tiny Boy offered me the sweetest little kiss.

I couldn’t find Mr. Neon. I finally found him, sitting in the shade. He was having vasovagal trouble. I switched into wife nurse mode and got him water and gatorade. Once he was feeling better, we got him some food and checked our times.

2:00:59. 60 seconds. 4.5 seconds per mile off. It’s hard to be disappointed when it’s still a 7 minute and 21 second PR, which is huge when you consider this was my 6th half marathon. My little boys surrounded me when I pushed saved on my Garmin. I PR’ed my 10K and my half marathon.

Next time, Prairie Fire. I’ll get you next time. And it won’t be a question of if I can break 2 hours, but instead, by how much.

 

Shin pain and supplements

Easy 3 miles this morning. My left shin didn’t hurt at all despite plaguing me on and off for most of the last two days. My right shin, however, was uncomfortable (not painful, thank goodness) the entire run. What in the world? Stretch. Foam roll. PT. That’s the name of the game.

Supplements. I used to be anti-supplement, which I think I’ve mentioned before. Mr. Neon is silently chuckling somewhere as he reads this. I used to complain about his supplement purchases when he was weight lifting. We buy WAY more now that we are triathlon-ing.

So what’s in my hand?

  • Glucosamine┬áchondroitin. We get the vanilla flavored one from Costco.
  • BASE multivitamin and BASE omega 3. These are MAGIC. I have struggled my whole life to find a multivitamin that doesn’t upset my sensitive system. BASE works…just like all of their other products.
  • Hylands Calms Forte. I often take these at night during training. It helps with restless leg syndrome and helps me sleep. I also take the Hylands gas pills.
  • BASE probiotic. Another fantastic BASE product. I used to use a generic 4x probiotic, but BASE works so much better. The only downside is it has to be refrigerated. The upside…after a crummy food day, two of these can banish bubble gut.
  • Generic Zyrtec. Costco brand. I take allergy pills year round. It seems to work for me. It’s been a long time since I’ve had an allergy/cold.
  • Generic celexa. Anti-depression. Anti-anxiety. Because life. I developed late onset postpartum depression after Tiny Boy. 10mg for the rest of my life keeps me sane. I’ve tried going off of it who knows how many times, and I can’t. I keep taking it. No shame.

5 days. I promise I’m not freaking out.

Stay neon!

Did you hear it?

The sound of the barn door slamming shut during last night’s final round of speedwork. I shoved every bit of hay in that I could and now the door is shut.

After my run last night, I was greeted with a new VO2 max on my Garmin. I know it’s just a rough estimate, but it’s nice seeing a number that’s in the 5th percentile. It really lends to the “best shape of my life” feeling I’ve got going on right now.

Speaking of the run, I did step down intervals with 2 minute recoveries. So a 5,4,3,2,1. The 2 and 1 minute intervals were done at a sub-8 pace. I can tell I need to do some dynamics and some serious strength training after this attempt. My shuffle is a true shuffle. I don’t have much butt kick going on. My glutes need some engagement. Big time.

The missing 4 pounds (almost 5) is also making a difference. After topping the scale at my heaviest weight in several YEARS, I started counting calories this week. I hope I can keep it up because I’d really like to get down to my recommended racing weight based on Matt Fitzgerald’s book. I miss post dinner bowls of cereal.

All that stands between me and race day is a short long run tomorrow and three 3-mile runs next week.

Now if only the weather would cooperate…

Stay neon!