“Mellow as the Month of May.” (Half Marathon Training, week 4)

Carole King.

The first week of May coincided nicely with the very center of this training cycle. I find this month to be a particularly optimistic one with summer on the horizon and such. And optimistic would also be the perfect word for how I’m feeling about running lately. Although my Saturday long run was a bit draggy, all in all I came away very encouraged with the total mileage (first to creep near 30) and my Thursday interval session.

Monday 5/1: 3.4 miles easy (9’19” avg pace)

Tuesday 5/2: rest  Normally this is my strength training day. But I had a late night and poor sleep so my trainer was kind enough to move my appointment to Friday. This was both a blessing and a curse, as you’ll read below.

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rest day inspo courtesy of Darwin le Dog.

Wednesday 5/3: 4 miles easy (9’26” avg pace)

Thursday 5/4: 6 miles w/ 3x 1 mile at half marathon pace + 10-20 sec (8:30-8:40) w/ 1-2 min rest between sets (9’02” avg pace)  I ran my splits at 8’22”, 8’14”, and 8’22” all the while feeling extremely cruisey and controlled. So I was absolutely thrilled with this workout, especially coming off of a ho-hum weekend 5k.

Friday 5/5: Strength training

Saturday 5/6: 10 miles LSD (10’05” avg pace)  The first 7 miles were pretty rough, and I’m chalking this up to the previous Friday’s strength session. While I wasn’t particularly sore, still, David’s current plan includes this lower body triple punch: abductor, leg curl, followed by leg press. Then, just to completely knock out the hamstrings and glutes, we finish the workout on the lower back machine. Anyway, it was a good reminder why I should continue to schedule easy runs after strength days.

Sunday 5/7: 5 miles easy (9’33” avg pace)  If it hadn’t been for my boyfriend, I probably would have only done about 3 miles. John has been running a lot lately (he completed a 70 mile month in April!) but this was our first one together! It’s super motivating to have another runner in the house. And one of the best parts of this run was that he picked the route, so I could just follow along and not think too much. 🙂  

Total Weekly Mileage: 28.4

I’m pleased to have hit my target of 28 miles, and to find that on Monday I felt only a little tired and still fairly strong and uninjured. On the horizon: a 12 miler, more mile repeats, and a 5k part deux!

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“If your dreams do not scare you, they are not big enough.” (Half Marathon Training, week 3)

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Last week in brief: I pulled my mileage back little bit and ran a 5k on Sunday. While the training runs were decent, the race and my performance were really very meh so I’m planning a second attempt on May 14. Recapping these two 5ks in tandem could spark some revelations (?), so I’ll post-mortem my experience at the Marin County Half Marathon, 5k & 10k in a couple of weeks.

 

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Marin County Half, 5k, & 10k. The location sure was a beaut!

Before I break down last week’s schedule I want to mull over a running epiphany that I had 20 minutes into my 6 miler last Thursday. First of all, is a running epiphany a thing? Like runner’s high?

In the last several weeks, I’ve become very interested in improving my pace at shorter distances, a contrast from 2016’s marathon-centered training (a sub-4 goal in LA and what might be called a “finish with dignity” goal for NY). Even earlier this year I was still very tempted to set my sights on a late fall marathon, however my attention has slowly but increasingly moved towards halves and even 10ks and 5ks. So as I was running along Mission Bay last week just about to do my first repeat, a simple but declarative sentence rang loud, out of the blue and clear as a bell: I should see if I can get 10 minutes off my half marathon PR this year.

The clarity and decisiveness of this inner voice has stuck me, even if I’m not sure what to make of the idea. But to be honest, it feels more exciting and motivating than anything I’ve come up with in a while. To be precise, this means a 1:42:35 finish / 7:50 average pace, which at my current fitness and running schedule, is just bonkers. 

But back to the present moment, in which we revisit week 3 of 8 of this current training phase. 

Monday 4/17: 3.7 miles easy (9’34 avg pace)

Tuesday 4/18: superslow strength training I completely crushed this workout, btw, with improvements on every machine.

Wednesday 4/19: 4.5 miles easy (9’52 avg pace)

Thursday 4/20: 6 miles w/ fartlek – 3x 2 min fast w/ full recovery + 4 strides (9’03” avg pace)

Friday 4/21: Rest

Saturday 4/22: 3 miles recovery/shakeout (10’39” avg pace)

Sunday 4/23: 5k race – watch stats: 23:42 finish, 3 miles (7’57” avg pace) Short course. My “official” race results indicate a time of 23:30 at a 7’27” pace, which doesn’t make a lot of sense (3.1 at 23:30 miles is a 7’34” pace and 7’27 at 23:30 would be 3.15 miles, which would make the course ever so slightly long which it was not). This confusion certainly does account for part of the reason why I want to run another 5k ASAP, but it’s not the entire motivation. My experience at the Marin 5k was valuable in that did indicate that I need more practice for when the tough gets going and doing a few more races between now and June 4 should help hone in on more constructive mental attitudes and pain management techniques.

Total Weekly Mileage: 20.2

And capped the week by reaching my monthly goal of 90 miles in April! Happy May errybody.

training diary – half marathon prep week 2!

Here’s a recap of last week’s progress on the road to my first half marathon in 18 months OMG.

Monday 4/17: 3.3 miles easy (9’31 avg pace)

Tuesday 4/18: superslow strength training

Wednesday 4/19: 5.2 miles easy (9’20 avg pace)

Thursday 4/20: 3 miles easy  (9’07” avg pace)

Friday 4/21: 4 miles w/ fartlek – 2x 5 minutes fast w/ 3-4 min rest (9’17” avg pace) Getting back into speedwork is fun and although I’m off starting pretty conservative with these loose fartlek workouts, overall it feels challenging but doable. I’m so disorganized with these though. This current week my plan is just to do a few strides, uhhh, maybe. And after that I have no clue. Tempos?

Saturday 4/22: 8.6 LSD (9’34” avg pace)  Some lovely morning miles before heading out for a quick overnight at Van Damme State Park in Little River!

Sunday 4/23: Rest in Mendocino 🙂

Mendocino

rest day inspo

Total Weekly Mileage: 24.1
Another 24 mile week. Since my body seems to be cooperating, and because my mental state remains upbeat, I will increase this weekly volume by a few miles in a couple of weeks. But first, a small cutback in preparation for my first race of the year on Sunday, a 5k in Marin County. I’m a little nervous given that I have not done any short & fast distance stuff since last freaking June, and that pain train is no joke (my 5k strategy is usually start fast and try to hold on… uh… ouch?). However, I look forward to having a better read on my fitness level. At first I thought my strategy could be to keep splits at about 7:30/mile, which is not quite my PR but pretty darn close, but I’m beginning to suspect that this plan may well fall apart. First, there’s the matter of an ominous “little elevation change,” according to the website course description and second, it looks like it could be a warm, sunny day. So plan B might be to try and come in under 24:00, which would still be a really solid way to start out a racing season and a positive step towards a half marathon PR. Either way it will be interesting and helpful to set a better baseline for current training and goal paces.

training diary: half marathon prep – week 1

As I mentioned in my last post, if all goes to plan then I will be busy training for a half marathon PR this spring/summer. First up is See Jane Run on June 4 in Alameda, followed by Santa Rosa in late August. I ran the Santa Rosa half back in 2014 and have done the 5k distance at See Jane Run twice.

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Bubbles @ SJR last year.

For this impending race, I have developed an 8-week training plan that’s fairly conservative and loose, targeting consistency while building up a comfortable base with 5 runs per week: 3 easy, a Thursday speed workout (low key-ish like fartleks or pace runs), and a weekend long run. As for tune up races, I’ve got a 5k race to close out April and then Bay to Breakers as usual on May 21.

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Breakers! 2017 will be my 5th consecutive year running. BTB is infamous for their back of the pack shenanigans, but I think that the actual race course is awesome and it’s definitely a contender for my favorite local race. It’s also hell of historic – the event began in 1912 as a way to lift the city’s spirits after the devastating 1906 earthquake.

So here’s how last week, April 10-16, played out:

Monday 4/10: Rest My intention had been a 4 mile run commute after work, but I was so exhausted from a fun-filled weekend that I decided that I might be better served by an early bedtime.

Tuesday 4/11: Superslow strength training Also – a brisk walk with Darwin to/from the studio.

Wednesday 4/12: 5 miles easy (9’20 avg pace)

Thursday 4/13: 3.6 miles fartleks @ 8x 1 min on 1 min off.  (9’14” avg pace) I was supposed to do 10 repeats but I didn’t have time! This was my first speed workout in a while so it’s just as well to get back into it probably.

Friday 4/14: 5.3 miles easy (9’10” avg pace) A very invigorating run. I really enjoy this loop that takes me through Potrero Hill, Dogpatch, and Mission Bay, passing AT&T Park right in the middle. Highlight of the week!

Saturday 4/15: 9.8 LSD (9’54” avg pace) My plan called for 9 miles, but I found one of those magical hidden trails in Golden Gate park, and so my halfway point went a little long. I was mildly annoyed because somehow my apple watch cut the run short while I was paused at a stoplight 6.5 miles in. Ugh.

Sunday 4/16: Rest After a lousy sleep, this recovery day was a bit rough. I felt draggy all day, but I did manage to take it really easy and spend a lot of time off my feet I capped off the week by cooking a lovely almost-vegan Easter dinner and eating a piece of cake. 🙂

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Spring vegetable cous cous with spicy pesto. Yemm.

Total Weekly Mileage: 23.7

All in all it was a great kick off to half marathon training. After a good night’s sleep on Monday, my energy levels were solid and I had a lot of fun on these runs. I’d say 75% of my meals and snacks were healthy, and except for Saturday night, I got at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night. These peripheral things become so important as mileage increases, and I often don’t pay enough attention in favor of just trying adhere to my daily run calendar. But I really feel it when I eat junk or don’t get enough rest, and I keep reminding myself to prioritize this aspect of training. 

So this week, in addition to just putting down the mileage of course, I have a few goals for making sure I’m in good form to get it done:

  • Get 7-9 hours of sleep
  • Eat intuitively and limit alcohol
  • Put in a little time for stretching and foam rolling (even if it’s just 5 minutes)

 

“Don’t Call it a Comeback”

LL Cool J.

Good evening, blog. Why bother with this re-entrance? Well it’s not really even that I left so much as there’s just been this kink in the chain from brain to Google Doc to WordPress… Ah, all of the blog posts that I wrote in my head interrupted by this and that. Because I did in fact do some interesting running things after March of last year. Problem was that the actual getting-out-and-doing-the-running part was enough for me to manage nevermind the droll musings about it.

So here’s something interesting that I did last year:

I ran the NYC Marathon and oh my goodness.

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GOOD pre-race advice: hydrate!

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BAD pre-race advice: fuel up with a dozen oysters and a dry martini! (this was on the Thursday before the race but still…) 🙂

I’m tempted to race report the life out of this thing, but I’d rather allow the day to carry on as a magical, beautiful dream. I do not want to sentence the memory to death by prose. Long story short, it lives up to the hype. It just does. All of the logistical headaches, expensive everythings (race fees, hotels, meals, EVERYTHING), and Central Park pain train… WORTH IT!

 

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That’s me in the middle there with orange cap.

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That said, I was soooo not into doing any of the actual training. But run the race I did because, how do you say no to New York? I would have denied it at the time, but my overall attitude was pretty cocky. “It’s my fourth marathon… it might not be pretty, but I’ll finish.” No surprise, that kind of mentality caught up to me big time at about mile 21. Look, it could have been a lot worse. I could have ended up with a proper stress fracture. The fact that I got out of there without my ITBS flaring up is an honest miracle. And I finished in 4:14, which, while not close to the sub-4 I put down earlier that year, is still my second fastest marathon. But, in short, afterwards my body was just not right and I felt it for a good three months (at least). 

Yes it’s the same old song – do not fuck around with marathon training! Respect the distance! And so on…

My mantra, however, is even more acute. Because CIM is starting to whisper my name, I must keep on repeating – I WILL NOT RUN A MARATHON in 2017. (for now at least)

No seriously. DON’T RUN A MARATHON THIS YEAR, IDIOT!

Here’s something that, interestingly, I did not do last year:

Run a half marathon.

I find this to be amazing. I ran 6 races in 2016 and the distances were so random: a 10 miler, a marathon, a 10k, a 12k, a 5k, another marathon. That’s a pretty oogly set right there.

So here we are, April 2017, and I’m focused on finishing a solid half marathon. At the beginning of this year my idea was to try for a sub-1:50 at Oakland Running Festival in March (one of my faves), but LOL that went up in smoke fast. That “training” began in late January but I was just a hobbling, inconsistent, panting mess. So I haven’t raced at all this year and while I feel a bit of FOMO in the long run I know it will be good to have this downtime.

But after some slow, wonky months, my body seems to be righting itself. I’m watching the pace of my easy runs creep back down. I crave speedier segments. I’m excited for my long runs, and I feel fresh while I’m doing them.  Overall, running is a cathartic, energizing experience again. Not something that makes me want to dart into traffic while I’m doing it.

So welcome back, runner me, steadily back to the world of the living.

“These are a few of my favorite things.”

Maria von Trapp aka Julie Andrews.

Happy Holidays! Are you running? Resting? Gearing up for big things in the new year?

My days and weeks have been consumed by preparation for the LA Marathon. With race day on February 14, my schedule is starting to reach the apex. These are the big important runs, folks. I’ve completed my 18 and 19 milers, and continue to grind out the mid-week pace runs best I can. This week is a step back in mileage (which will hopefully include a 10k race on New Years Day) before digging into the two 20 milers scheduled, the first one with a MGP finish. I can’t believe it’s only one more month until taper time.

 

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nailed goal pace in golden gate park last week!

In other news I am pleased to announce some new ambassadorships!

Earlier this year I was selected as a “Branch” for the Oakland Running Festival! I am thrilled to help spread the word about this fabulous race that I’m sure will only continue to grow due to its fabulousness.

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Here are a couple of things that I think make the event special:

Courses

I’ve run the half course twice now. In 2014, I smashed my sub-2 hour goal with a 1:55, and this year landed a one-minute PR, besting my Santa Rosa time after a three month running sabbatical due to a bout of ITBS. So in my experience, this is a PR-friendly half girls and boys. With a hilly start, the full course boasts an elevation profile worth major badass points. Feeling social? Run the relay. Feeling greedy? Run two races in the “We Run the Town” challenge, taking on a 5k before lining up for the half marathon.

Oakland Pride!

Oakland spirit is fierce! Highlights include Raider Nation, the impressive art installations by Crucible and American Steel, Brown Sugar Kitchen cheer station and the massive crowd support around the final stretch of Lake Merritt. I love finishing at Snow Park and chilling out with a beer post-race.

And what’s better is that you no longer have to pay full price because I have a discount code for you! Enter “bodle” at checkout for 15% off any distance.

This year, I’m also an ambassador for NuunLook, we all know that hydration is complicated and personal. I don’t like sports drinks, and for whatever reason sometimes water – whether filtered, bottled or tap –tastes sort of plastic-like or metallic to me. Enter Nuun: a variety of flavors for every palette, no added sugar and under 10 calories per tab, and electrolyte enhanced. This combo works well for me, and I’m happy to support the brand as an ambassador because I believe it offers a unique option where sports hydration, nutrition, and recovery is concerned.

2016nuunbassador

Happy New Year!

“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.” (Detroit Half Marathon Race Recap)

William S. Burroughs

Let me start at the end, because this is the part I’m excited about:

Surprise PR in Detroit!

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It was only at about Mile 12 or so that I realized it might be possible. So in those last precious minutes I moved my little feetsies as fast as they could carry me, and was rewarded with some heinous ugly-face finish photos and more than a minute shaved from my previous personal best. But I wouldn’t be sure for another few hours. Upon crossing the finish line I grabbed my phone and with hands petrified by a burning cold wind texted my brother, who was waiting with my family beyond the chute.  

texting billy

I still had to wait an eternity for the results to appear online. Oh the torture! Modern technology… you’re the god-damndest woman I ever saw…

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Them’s some good negative splits, huh? Suck It, San Francisco 2nd Half!!!**

**Speaking of SFM, I feel like kind of an asshole for not recapping my shitty race, but it’s my blog and I can do whatever I want. Anyway, I’m not really sure about how things went down that day because I decided to be all minimalist and cool and didn’t wear a watch. I know some people find this liberating but I will NEVER go naked again. But in fact, the race results indicate that I was running a 9:23 pace at mile 4 so in order to achieve a 2:00 finish I must have sped up at some point after that – only to crumble into a walking, cursing and give up machine between miles 10-13.**

Ok back to Detroit.

Going into this, I really tried to keep my expectations mild in terms of performance. I hoped that I could do and feel better than I did in San Francisco last July, and time-wise I decided I’d be very satisfied to come in under 1:55. I’d completed all my training runs and encountered no stinkers. I didn’t feel the general fatigue that I had over the summer. Still, I was trying to be realistic since it was only 5 stupid weeks of consistent training. I wasn’t sure of my baseline fitness. I hadn’t done any speedwork. My weekly mileage was fairly low.

So here’s the recap. Bottom line: If you have the opportunity to run Detroit I highly recommend it. In truth, the race was my sad-sack back-up plan after not making it into Chicago via the lottery. But it turned out to be absolutely the special sauce I needed (i.e. – a half marathon in brisk weather). The course was diverse and flat and fun. The international thing adds some interest. Good crowd support. An overlooked city that is interesting to tour on foot.

Mile 1–2: Downtown 8:57 / 8:36

Dressing for this run was a real head scratcher up to race morning. What does one wear for a 32 degree start? I’ve become accustomed to our new post-apocolypse San Francisco weather: 70 and sunny with 80% humidity. So I knew I’d be cold at the start but I couldn’t predict how I’d feel when I warmed up a couple miles later.

I arrived dark and early and was pleased to discover that the lobbies of the surrounding office buildings were open and runners were naturally congregating inside. AND using the public restrooms. Major bonus! I started the race feeling more human than popsicle.

The plan called on Pacer Mike to lead me through with the 3:55 full / 1:57 Half group (The race offers pacers for every BQ standard. Pretty cool). Mike was a super nice guy and seemed to really know the race. However, I fell back almost immediately upon starting and had trouble catching up. The sun hadn’t risen and the field was pretty crowded. Were they going out fast? Am I too slow? Is this cold getting to me? Eventually I pushed these worries aside and ran a steady pace and kept an eye on Mike’s bobbing signage.

Mile 3: The Bridge 9:11

Crossing the Ambassador bridge into Canada was indeed lovely, but as dawn approached it was still pretty dark out there, so I didn’t much luxuriate in the view as I was still concentrating hard to prevent face planting. Then, once we hit the crest of the bridge, there was some confusion as a wheelchair careened down the hill. Move to the left. No, on the right. Sharp whistles from the bike marshals and shouting from runners behind. Some of this back and forth occurred later in the race too. I wonder if organizers hadn’t given the handicapped division enough of a head start?

Mile 4–6: Canada 8:38 / 8:36 / 8:21

Now in Canada, we were treated to a view of the city skyline along the Detroit river. It was a very pleasant stretch. But inside my head, my “go-with-the-flow” attitude splintered just a bit. Pacer Mike still ahead, I wondered if I’d lag forever, crashing and burning as I had in SF. There was still a lot of time to go…

Mile 7: The Tunnel 8:25

Race recaps describe the underwater tunnel back into the US as something of a hot, sweaty, overrated claustrophobia-inducing hell. Well, maybe not so dramatic, but it seemed that plenty of racers find it uncomfortable at best. This tunnel, however, was my personal super power-up happy time place. The novelty distracted me from my negativity, and the one mile was just enough as not to be tedious. Being down there with a bunch of runners felt kind of intimate and special. I started feeling speedier and more confident, finally catching up to the pacer. Hallelujah.

Mile 8–Finish: Back in the USA 8:25 / 8:52 / 8:23 / 8:11 / 8:27 / 8:09 / 6:48 (last .22 miles)

Out of the tunnel, I passed the Mike’s pace team. Thanks Mike! At mile 9 I saw my family and got a little boost. Mile 10 I started picking it up and felt the ol’ IT band protest. So I consciously eased back a little during mile 12, falling in with the 3:55 (1:55 half) pacer. The IT Band remained grumpy but didn’t worsen and I was able to push through. Realizing I might be in PR range, I picked it back up for the 13th mile and went out hard for finish!

Official Finish Time: 1:52:35

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Yay!

So I led this post with a little fib. PRs are rad but here’s the thing that really makes me happy: after a year of the blahs I’m starting to feel ready to go again. Even though I did only 5 real weeks of preparation for this race, the plan was smart and helped build my confidence and overall mojo. I think that taking the easy runs easy and practicing strong finishes really helped.

I’ve got one more race on tap in December and hoping to be in shape for a big year in 2016… To be Continued…

“There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.”

Mahatma Gandhi.

Well here is the post in which I introduce my prospective strategy for training for the Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers International Half Marathon in 5 stinkin’ weeks!

Between determining details of the mileage and rest and cross training in the weeks ahead, through my research I’ve come across some global notes which may prove to be just as important for making it to and through the BIG DAY:

**Let go of expectations**

At least with respect to time. 2015 was supposed to be the year of the big PRs — but this ship has long since sailed. No matter. New goals include:

In Training

  • barring injury or illness, complete the planned training runs (i mean for god’s sake it’s just 5 weeks…).
  • that said, don’t take things so seriously.
  • that also said, every run has a purpose.

During the Race

  • enjoy the tour of the city and crossing the Canadian border.
  • overall: just have fun.

After the Race

  • after the race: eat pizza and beer (preferably a local one)
  • be grateful to spend time with my mom and dad, brother and sister-in-law, and others.

**Long runs are the foundation**

A repeated mantra in many half-marathon and marathon plans regardless of the length: laser focus on diligently hammering out that Saturday LSD. Of course, every run should mean something, but they’re the gravy.

**Practice finishing EVERY SINGLE RUN strong**

Failure to do this was, in my assessment, the single biggest contributor to my mini-meltdown at the San Francisco half marathon in July. It’s not that a positive mental attitude would have led to a better performance necessarily, but perhaps the last 3 miles would have been less grueling and mentally exhausting. Too often I allowed myself to wallow in tiredness and waning enthusiasm — during workouts but especially in last miles. But — I thought, at least I’m completing the prescribed mileage. At least I’m getting it DONE. It’s no mystery why on race day my brain just hit a moment where it was like — STOP. NOW. The ensuing internal bargaining and self-pity made the experience mildly excruciating and I am not interested in a repeat. Which brings me to…

**Stay positive — or at least, recognize negative patterns in thinking**

One thing that they stress in mindfulness meditation is that when thoughts arise, to make a soft mental note like: thinking. Or even more specific like: judging. These labels are simply a recognition of the occurrence, without trying to change or analyze anything. I think that my recent indifference to running and training has centered on, quite simply, a negative attitude towards it. Trying to think positive thoughts is one way to do this, but in other ways trying to force it can almost feed the negativity in a perverse way.  So if I can’t be positive, I can at least recognize negative thinking, laziness, excuses… without judging them … and then go out and complete the exercise anyway.

Onto the goods, now. Completed on scratch paper in highlighter and ballpoint pen over lunch at the office — here is my custom, handy-dandy, 5-weeks-out, shit-kickin’ half marathon training plan:

5 week half marathon training planWell for now that’s the best I got. Let’s just hope it doesn’t rain. Or snow. Or Tornado.
Question time! Have you ever run a race with minimal preparation? What was your experience? Any advice?