Athens Marathon Training: Greece is the Word

16 Oct

Apologies for the blank email/fake link yesterday and thanks to the many of you who told me about it– I really should not be allowed near technology.  Good news for everyone who could not care less about running is that I actually did some cooking over the weekend, so one of these days we will talk about something other than whether all ten of my toenails are going to survive this race.

Turns out, my first marathon is JUST ABOUT ONE MONTH AWAY.  When I was in school and would tell people I had XX months left, I wished a slow and painful death on anyone who responded “Oh, that’ll fly by.” But these couple months really did — guess I like running better than busy work and B.S. tests. Who knew?

I am starting to get cautiously excited about the race itself, but I am unabashedly enthusiastic about my upcoming time in The Hellenic Republic. So today we’re gonna focus on the nation and people who have given the world everything: Greece!

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Athens Marathon Training Week 12: Greece is the Word

Monday: Arms & Abs @ Solidcore. Since revisionary history seems to be the creative trend these days, I am going to pitch a show wherein the Spartans had the megaformer Pilates machines that Solidcore uses– think “Man in the High Castle” meets “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Insane Spartan discipline + side plank crunches = total world domination. The opening sequence would be this group of Greek women pushing each other up the Acropolis in a display of their brute strength:

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Tuesday: 60 min run I had to run after work, which is generally not my preference. Despite that, I was smoking the damn sidewalk Tuesday afternoon — not quite sure what got into me, but it was one of my speediest runs in awhile. If I had been in Greece, I would have known that this was a run fueled by the most beautiful part of the day: the afternoon light.

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But, instead, I was in DC and was perhaps fueled by my hatred for the new development at the Wharf, which will certainly ensure that the low-income housing left in that part of SW will disappear within the next 5 years.

Wednesday:Hills for breakfast. I lugged myself up and down Capitol Hill  several times. Whenever I thought about stopping, I remembered that this damn marathon is going to be hilly — but if I finish the damn thing and live to tell the tale, my post-run feast will look like this:

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I am thinking Pheidippides didn’t really care about telling the Athenians about the outcome of the battle — he was probably running all those miles just to get to his Aunt Lena’s eggplant pie, too.

Thursday: yoga + ST. I don’t have a lot to say about tree poses and lunges, but no post about Greece would ever be complete without what remains my favorite picture of all time:

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Friday: rest day, mostly because I was at work until 8:45. That’s bad enough on a Friday, but it also meant I had to push back my weekend runs, which I don’t love.

Saturday: 30 min run. Nothing to say about that.

Sunday: 90 min run. I’m gonna let this training cycle finish, but this was one of my best runs OF ALL TIME. The miles just flew by, they were all paced within a few seconds of each other, and I was feeling so good at the end that I actually opted for the route home with more hills. Praise the sweet Lord baby Jesus.  Speaking of babies, here’s my favorite little moraki, edited for his mother’s privacy concerns:

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Weeks to Race Day: 5
Total Miles This Week: 25
Gains: a new goal: eat all the Spanakopita I can post-marathon 
Losses: 
you know, this week was a lot of wins– let’s just leave t there.

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Athens Marathon Training: Other People’s Runs

9 Oct

I’m plum out of even-remotely creative ways to say “I ran a lot and I’m tired.” So this week we’ll intersperse the recap with stories of other people who run a lot and may or may not be tired.

Athens Marathon Training Week 11: Other People’s Runs

Monday: Rest Day after last week’s epic 20-mile trek to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and back. Snuck in some restorative yoga, which is really just napping that ends with “namaste.”

Tuesday: Easy 40 min run. You know who never runs easy because she’s too busy killing it? This woman:

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We realized we are basically the same person after about 6 minutes of running together, and I’ve been a huge fan of LifeTwinKef ever since. From 5 am meet ups to Half Priced Wine Nights (and a lot of her waiting on me to get to the damn track in between), she’s the best addition to Georgia Ave since the original Fish in the ‘Hood. She’s speedy and determined, and I’m a better runner for training with her. Plus, we’re snarky about all the same things–and that, folks, is what it’s all about.

Wednesday:  60 min run One of the loveliest runs I’ve had in awhile, even though it was at 8pm or so and I generally hate running at night. You know what I don’t hate? Everything about The Mirnavator.

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Teacher, body positive advocate, and amazing ultra runner, Mirna Valerio is pretty much everything I want to be. If this blog goes dark for weeks on end, you’ll know that I am off running all the trails in Western New York hoping to “bump into” Mirna and her XC team.

Thursday: ST and Yoga. Blah Blah Blah.

Friday: 45 minute run, also at night, also lovely. Who knew?

Saturday: Rest day, pre Army 10 Miler. Let me use this opportunity to say that MY BROTHER IS THE MOST BAD ASS RUNNER EVER TO RUN THE CHICAGO MARATHON, AND I INCLUDE GALEN RUPP AND JORDAN HASSEY IN THE LIST OF PEOPLE WHOSE ASS HE IS BADDER THAN.

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Do not adjust the settings on your screen– JETSETKEF RAN 26 MILES THAT WERE EACH UNDER 7 MINUTES AND FINISHED THE WHOLE DAMN CHICAGO MARATHON IN LESS THAN 3 HOURS. Is that overkill on the caps? Okay. But I was never a more proud Terror Twin than when this alert came on to my phone (okay, maybe also the time we finished off an entire watermelon before MamaKef even knew we had started it… that was an athletic feat nearly as impressive). You go, JetSet!

Sunday: Army 10 Miler. While JetSet was off torching the pavement, I was busy trying not to get torched by the insane humidity that came back to stink up DC. After that disastrous half marathon last month, I had no interest in making it a goal to PR this race. I had two goals: A) to negative split and/or B) to not lose my shit. My race plan was to try to run miles 1-3 at 8:45, miles 4-5 at 8:30, miles 6-8 at 8:45, and then miles 9-10 with whatever I had left. It became pretty clear pretty quickly that that was not going to be the case:

Miles 1-3: 9:08, 8:46, 9:12
Miles 4-5: 8:45, 8:57
Miles 6-8: 9:04, 9:29, 9:27
Miles 9-10: 9:26, 8:40

Here’s what I’ll say about this: by the time I made it to the finish line, the officials had decided it was so hot/humid that they had to convert the race into a “fun run” (meaning they weren’t keeping track of what place you came in) and that they eventually had to re-route people to shorten the course and get them off the road. Although my paces didn’t go as planned, I stuck to perceived effort, and you better trust and believe when I say it felt like I was negative splitting. The best thing was that I really kept my wits about me and didn’t get into any mental ditches, and I’ll take that over a PR on the day, for sure.

Weeks to Race Day: 5
Total Miles This Week: 25
Gains: ran most of the race in just my sports bra, which felt a lot like this
Losses: 
pretty sure I was an unwilling participant in a cooling-station-turned-wet-tshirt contest at the last water stop. Grown ass men who behave like frat boys give me the damn heebie jeebies.

Athens Marathon Training: 20 All Over Again

2 Oct

For those of you crying over the lack of recap last week, fear not: you missed almost nothing. I was on a dial-back week and only ran ~15 miles total and mostly just did a lot of yoga. But it was also FERRAGOSTO week, which must be recapped. Hopefully I will get to it this week but y’all already know not to have any expectations.

This was a great running week, with lots of fall temps and mornings with low humidity. I had another TWENTY MILE run again over the weekend, and so in honor of the big 2-0, our theme this week will be: things that were cool when I was 20 years old but are definitely not cool now.

Athens Marathon Training Week 10: 20 All Over Again

Monday: Arms & Core @ SweatDC. Fresh off the Ferragosto high, I rolled out of bed and walked a few blocks over to SweatDC. It was a nice way to get the blood pumping. I’ll have to take a few more classes before saying whether I like it or not, but I am pretty sure the instructor was the poster woman for the ultimate fashion trend when I was 20: the Juicy Jumpsuit.

~So trendy~

Tuesday: run 45. I discovered that my new job is RIGHT on an awesome running trail in DC, so I had a wonderful run during lunch. Were I still a 20 year-old sophomore, I probably would have been borrowing my roommate’s iPod Nano and listening to “Don’t Cha” while I ran. In other news, that song was my mother’s ringtone for about 3 years. Seriously.

And in still other news, did everyone else know YouTube was founded in 2005? It’s funny to think of all the cool things I used to use YouTube for in comparison to its main function for me now: watching someone else screw Nut A onto Washer B because any “some assembly required” instructions might as well be written in Japanese. #thisis32

Wednesday: Run 60 Another wonderful trail run in perfect weather, this time before work. I work in a high school where staff can use the locker room showers before class… rather than describe my experience, I will just let you each meander back in time to that particular peculiarity of your teenage years. Woof.

Thursday: Solidcore Arms and Abs. Not. I couldn’t get out of work on time and missed class, which really pissed me off. Here’s something that, somehow, became a thing when I was 20 and will piss me off forever:

Even one is too many.

Friday: Run 30. Fall is the best because EVEN AT 430 PM IT WAS AMAZING RUNNING WEATHER. When I was 20, we easily threw away 30 minutes trying to figure out what.the.hell a Facebook “poke” meant.

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Saturday: Rest day is the best day! Went to see my aunts in PA. I thought for sure I would be able to find a picture of us from one of the many family events in 2005 somewhere on Facebook, but it would appear there was not yet the album function, which makes me feel like I was 20 a really, really long time ago.

Sunday: 3:00-3:15 run. I had hoped to get in 21 miles just so I could keep exploring those unknown miles, but when my watch ticked off the 20th mile at 3:08, I surely did not have another 7 minutes of running left in me. This run was both wonderful and a struggle– the weather was PERFECT and I went off on a new route to the Woodrow Wilson bridge and back, and really had a generally lovely time. The way back was pretty tough– my mind was refusing to stay occupied and I had to make a few stops  just to settle back in and refocus. And I hate to stop on long runs almost as much as I hate starched, layered polos. I am still not 100% certain where these other 6.2 miles are going to come from, but I suppose that’s a question for another day. For today, I am just loving that I ran another 20-miler and lived to tell the tale.

For our final throw back, here’s a trend I was TOTALLY INTO– the dress-and-jeans thing. Somewhere is a picture of me dancing on my brother’s Village A coffee table with almost this exact outfit, which is mercifully absent from Facebook:

so let’s just all be glad that I write a food/running blog not a fashion blog.

Weeks to Race Day: 6 (WAIT CAN THAT REALLY BE RIGHT???)
Total Miles This Week: 35
Gains: several new running routes
Losses: any pretense that what I did/wore/listened to in college were stand the test of time.

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Athens Marathon Training: Birthdays

18 Sep

Per usual, I’m running late for life, so this post is gonna be a rush job. This week brought the birth of my ανιψιός (nephew) AND punched my ticket for another trip around the sun– so while I’m short on time, I’m long on love.

Athens Marathon Training Week 8: Birthdays

Sunday: STOOD ALL DAY AFTER RUNNING 20 MILES ON SATURDAY TO WITNESS THE BIRTH OF THE WORLD’S MOST WONDERFUL BABY, WHOM ONE DAY I WILL STOP WRITING ABOUT IN CAPS BUT AM STILL JUST TOO EXCITED ABOUT HIM TO TAKE MY PINKY OFF THE SHIFT KEY.

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Monday: the usual, yoga, tennis.

Tuesday: 75 minute run. My legs were still feeling it from Saturday’s 20 miles + Sunday’s epic birth, but it felt great to shake it all out.

Wednesday: legs were killing me, I was exhausted, fell asleep at 830 and loved every second of it. If this were an SAT question on How Chrissy Spends Her Birthday Week, it would go something like this:
Q– Bed before 9 : ChefKef as…
A– Attention: Kardashians

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Thursday: 6x800s, with a return to slower goal paces (woooo!). 339/336/338/336/337/337. not too much to say about this one.

Friday: Yin Yoga, which is basically the same as laying around on pillows for an hour.

Sat: International Peace Half Marathon

Lordylou,this race did not go as I thought it would. I had a big-but-very reasonable goal of 1:48:40ish, which is about 8:15/mile. I was pretty sure I could get this done without having to kill myself– and wouldn’t a shiny new PR be such a great birthday gift?  Several things went wrong with this estimation:

1) Two weeks of fall running somehow fooled me into thinking that 75F at the start of the race wouldn’t be that hot. Wrong. I made the fool hardy choice of bringing my small water bottle, which was not enough to get me to even the 10k mark without feeling really thirsty. It was a hot and dehydrated decline from that point on.

2) As I have mentioned for the last 3 weeks or so, my watch GPS has been acting up and I couldn’t make sense of the mile splits I was getting in relationship to the bizarre differences between the course mile markers and the distance my watch was showing. If you’ve ever kind of blanked out while driving on the highway and then spent a mile or two desperately searching for a sign to see whether you missed your exit, then you know the bewildering panic I felt trying to figure out where I was located in the time-space continuum.

3) As an answer to the watch issues, I opted to try for an evenly-paced race (13 x 8:15) rather than start slow and negative split the damn thing — do not ask me what I was thinking. I ran the first 6 miles happily at pace, and mainted pace (but not happiness) for miles 7 and 8. Somewhere around mile 9, the remaining 4 miles started to seem insurmountable. In the span of about 0.1 miles I went from, “Oh terrif, I am right on pace,” to “OH EFFING MOTHER EFFER, I AM RUNNING RIGHT AT THE GOAL TIME SO I HAVE NO WIGGLE ROOM THIS IS A DISASTER.” It got so bad that I finally had to make a choice: let the goal go and finish the race or cling to the arbitrary objective and never finish the race because I drowned myself in the C&O Canal out of sheer agony. I chose the former and just stopped running right there in mile 9 and walked somewhere around 0.4 of a mile. I have never walked in a race before. This was both liberating (“go ‘head, Kef–look at you being all zen and throwing away pace expectations”) and friggin infuriating (“if one more of these effing mother effers says, ‘you’ve got this!’ as they run by, I will drown them in the canal.”) But, after a few minutes of deep breaths and a mental reset, I felt ready to run again.

I finally finished, feeling depleted and defeated, in 1:59:28. The whole thing left me in a less-than-festive mood along the lines of:

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I was all ready to blast “It’s My Party and I’ll Cry if I Want To” on rapid repeat for the rest of the day, but then I got up to BabyKef’s house and got to cuddle with MYFAVORITENEPHEWEVERKef, and things were looking up:

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Weeks to race day: 8
Total Miles This Week: 25? No clue, my watch is playing with my sense of self.
Gains: My new favorite reason to try and get good at selfies: THEO.
Losses: the ability to say truthfully that I am 31 years old

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Athens Marathon Training: If I Ran 20 Miles but my Garmin Didn’t Record It, Does it Still Count? And Other Quandaries

11 Sep

Ed Note: It’s not just another Monday, but I don’t generally use this space for anything particularly poignant, so you can take the run chat for whatever it’s worth today.

Last week, we answered frequently-asked questions. This week, we’re pondering life’s tough questions as they apply to running.

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Athens Marathon Training Week 7: Quandaries

Monday: I bumped my long run back to Sunday last week, so Monday was a rest day. There are no tough questions on a rest day, because the sun is always shining and the birds are always singing when there are no workouts scheduled. Am I right?

Tuesday: 90 minute run I’m having a little trouble adjusting to my new commute schedule, so of course missed the absolutely gorgeous running weather Tuesday morning only to realize it would probably rain Tuesday evening. I stayed ahead of the rain until the last ~20 minutes, which is when I was about 5 steps ahead of the rain and then eventually swallowed in a torrential downpour. It’s been awhile since I’ve run in the rain–  but the next time someone wonders, “Do you need the rain to appreciate the sun?” I will be able to reply with a well-informed and resounding, “NO.”

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Wednesday: Yoga @ Past Tense. My hip flexors were barking.

Thursday: 5x1000s @ 4:21. Repeat of last week. The first 3 felt easier than last week, the last 2 felt a little harder. I came in  at 413/420/421/422/420. It takes a certain mental fortitude to run around the same oval a few dozen times and still care about the time required. Until about three weeks ago, I mostly spent my time on the track pondering the great philosophical questions: how many angels can dance on the head a pin? Why do we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway? What if the Hokey Pokey IS what its all about?

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… I should probably stick to just focusing on the workout.

Friday: I think I did something Friday morning, but I really can’t recall, which probably means I went to yoga… but I guess we’ll never know.

Saturday: 20 mile run. Actually…

  I RAN TWENTY MILES

As discussed last week, I usually run for time, but this week the group I was running with had 18 miles on the books, and I was feeling like a new personal distance record, so I ran their 18 and tacked on what I know was at least two miles at the end to make 20. In an example of the cruelty of Garmin and the futility of running for distance (vs time), the GPS function of my watch was a hot mess and couldn’t really sort out where those last two miles began and ended… unless I was actually the one who lost all function and it really did take me me 10:36 to run 0.33 miles. So, maybe I even ran more than 20 miles– which brings us to the original tough question: if a runner runs 20 miles and her Garmin didn’t record it, does it still count? Let’s go to the expert on this one:

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Anyway, it was an amazing day for a run, and I had great company– thanks as always to the great group at ARRC for holding it down. I came home and couldn’t decide if I wanted to eat for the rest of the day or just put my legs up the wall and never bring them down, so I just figured I’d try to multitask and see what would happen. For the record, it is very hard to eat pizza upside down, but I got the job done.

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Weeks to Race Day: 9
Total Miles This Week: 35?
Gains: new distance record, another well-fueled long run to help me figure out race-day nutrition plan
Losses: some distance lost to the ether of a funked up satellite somewhere in Garmin land.

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I Ate Only These Healthy Cookies For A Week and You’ll Be Blown Away By What Happened Next

8 Sep

No, your favorite Gluten-free Greek blog has not gone all Buzzfeed, despite the clickbait headline. But I did eat these chock-full-of-goodness cookies pretty much for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a week… and what happened was that I still wanted some damn more.

Super filling, brimming with fiber/protein/healthy fat, and right up my taste-profile alley (hello ginger and sweet potato!), these rank right up there with my other RFES love, Superhero Muffins, but are even quicker to throw together. Extra points if you’re a parent trying to convince a picky kid (or a wife trying to convince a husband with a bland palate like someone who may happen to be my sister…), there are real, live SWEET POTATOES baked into these puppies. Oh, and they just-so-happen to be vegan. I have died and gone to baking heaven.

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Finally, these guys were amazing pre-long-run fuel, and I am pretty sure I am going to eat them pre-marathon… assuming I can put them down long enough to run 26 damn miles. Only time will tell.

Sweet Potato Breakfast Cookies from Run Fast Eat Slow

Ingredients

  • 3 c old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 c almond flour
  • 1 tsp ground ginger (or 1 TBS fresh)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 c sweet potato puree
    (I tried both the canned syrup-free puree and pureeing my own by roasting the potato for ~40 minutes, removing it from skin, and mashing it … canned was still very good, but I did prefer the earthier taste of the one I did  myself. I also think pureed pumpkin would work, but I’d remove some maple syrup to decrease liquid and sweetness)
  • ½ c maple syrup
  • ½ c coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup raisins (optional, but you want them)

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. In bowl of food processor, pulse oats for 5-6 times, until roughly chopped (note: I skipped this step entirely and cookies were still amazing). Place oatmeal in large mixing bowl and combine with almond flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In separate bowl, whisk together sweet potato puree, syrup, oil, vanilla, and raisins until well combined. Fold into oat mix and stir until blended. The dough should be thick.
  3. Use ¼ cup measuring cup to drop batter onto baking sheet. Space cookies 1 inch apart and slightly flatten.
  4. Bake until bottoms are deep golden brown, 25-30 minutes.

Athens Marathon Training: FAQ

5 Sep

First things first: make sure to swing by Thursday for the recipe for the cookies that accounted for 85% of my calories last week… they were just that good.

But for today, we have another thrilling recap of miles. I’m running out of preambles, so here are answers to some questions several people have asked:

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Do you run every day? No. Weeks usually break down like this:
— running 3-4x/week (long run, middle run, speed work, short run)
— yoga 2x/week
— spinning 1x/week
— strength training 2-3x/week (Solidcore and then these annoying PT exercises I have to do).
— swimming whenever I get around to it.

Why do you run for time, not distance?A bunch of reasons, not the least of which being that it makes me less nuts– I find it way easier to know that I can be done in XX minutes’ time no matter how far I’ve run, rather than slog through a set number of miles that seem to never end.

Where do you get your training plans? I’ve been working with DC Running Coach for twoish years now. He was kind enough to hook a nurse up back when I was really focused on breaking two hours in the half marathon, and I saw such an improvement in my running that I couldn’t imagine doing my first full without him.

Who do you do your long runs with? I run with the Arlington Road Runners Club, mostly because the people are awesome, but also because all runs over 12 miles have water stops. Also, how the hell else am I supposed to get out the door by 6:00 am (…okay, 6:07) to avoid dying of heat stroke in the summer?

Isn’t all that running boring?

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 Athens Marathon Training Week 6: FAQ

Monday: Yoga + Tennis. I’ve been loving “Happy Hour Yoga” with Andrew at Yoga District, which is a hilarious blend of his musings and stretching all the damn muscles I’m usually too lazy to.

Tuesday: 30 min run + Solidcore Arms and Abs. As always, the question here is: why do I put myself through 50 minutes on this medieval torture device every week?

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Wednesday: spinning @ Off Road.

Thursday: KILLED IT AT THE TRACK. After last week’s shenanigans, my goal was just to get back in a good headspace.  I was shooting for 5x1000m @ 4:21 with 600m jogging rest in between, and I managed to eek it in: 416/420/420/423/421. Which left only one question:

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Friday: the cough that won’t quit came back with avengence and I was tired enough to see that it was perfect running weather, put on a sports bra, and still pass out on the couch for the next 14 hours anyway. Unplanned-but-so-necessary rest days are the best days.

Saturday: 60-minute run. I watched the 15-minute forecast on Weather.com fanatically and found an hour-long rainless window. It was lovely and I was moving and grooving.

Sunday: 2-hour run. Slept way later than usual (again!) and had to scidaddle out for 13 miles of fun. The really lovely thing was that I managed to pace them all pretty perfectly. While that’s a great running feat, it was even better that I had enough juice left in me to head out on the town with my husband and have a real, live Sunday Funday. Brunch plus two other bars– MrKef was sure his wife had been abducted and replaced with a younger, way more fun model.

Weeks to Race Day: 10
Total Miles This Week: 30ish– my Garmin is acting up and I don’t have the patience for addition right now.
Gains: two glorious nights of sleep uninterrupted by cough, the most fun day with my husband and our friends
Losses: Lord Jesus hear me when I say I really, really hope I lost my cough this week.
 

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