Saturday, December 31, 2016

Running The Numbers - 2016

Commodore Run - 10.22.16
Before I run down the 2016 numbers and events, I would like to list my 2017 goals, mostly because I'm particularly excited about #4 and #6.

Jo's 2017 Fitness Goals
1. Remain injury-free.
This goal is the most important. Everything else comes from staying injury-free.
2. Run lots of miles with lots of friends.
...because I want running to be fun.
3. Run 1,200 annual miles.
That's the A Goal. It means an average of 100 mi./month. I walk (run, ha) that fine line between volume and injury, so I realize this goal is ambitious. The B Goal is to PR, over 1,170 mi. The C Goal is to reach 1,000 mi.
4. Run on dates I haven't run at least a mile outdoors (2018 extension allowed).
You guys. I have 37 calendar dates on which I have not run more than a mile outdoors. I'm going to hit as much of them as I can this year, but I'm allowing myself a 2018 extension. If I'm sick or need rest, I don't want to force myself to run a mile just because of what date it is. By the way, August, September, and December are already at 100%.
5. Work on the committee to stage the BMS 5K.
It's the tenth running!
6. Encourage another person or people to become more focused on fitness.
I made a little training schedule for my friend and colleague, Mitch. We're going to run the Hoosier Half Marathon together in April. It'll be his first half. I can't wait!
7. Build more muscle.
I want to be more consistent with my Novus sessions in 2017.

The Year That Was 2016
The year of our Lord 2016 may have been a crazy year in general, but it was a nice year for my running. Here are some of the highlight moments for me, in no particular order, from 2016.

 Chillin' The Mini. I chose to run, walk, stop, take pics, and talk to friends during this year's Indy Mini. It was my favorite Mini ever. I even got Frank Shorter to sign my top. I was also able to finish with my cousin, Terry.

Adventure Run Photoshop - 1.30.16
Photoshops. Wendy and I take pics of each other on runs, and then photoshop them together. We've made some dandies this year.

Running With MaeBe. She loves it.

Listening To My Body. On September 10, I decided not to run a marathon this year. I felt weak for about 0.5 sec., and then I had some of the best running days of my life because all the pressure was off. Dad has been telling me to "listen to my body" for years.

Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay. It was a Top 10 moment in my life. It was less of a running moment and more of a historical event; but it involved running, so I'm including it here.

The Marriage Spot - 6.28.16
Myrtle Beach Anniversary. Ed and I celebrated 10 years of marriage by visiting the exact spot where we were wed. I was able to do two beach runs, as well (12).

Dat Sign! Seriously, when my parents and in-laws put my face and name on the Electric Avenue sign, I received one of the neatest Christmas gifts ever. It was pretty cool to see it over and over as I ran during the last week of the year.

Picture Maps. I made pi on Pi Day, some crosses on Easter, 2016 to honor the graduates, and a weak star with Wendy. Those are fun.
Before Monumental - 11.5.16

Adventure Runs. Wendy and I ran to some new places that had surprise endings for Wendy (Palestine, Pyramids, etc.). Those were fun. I have more planned.

Mom. She came with me to almost every race, and we had SUCH. FUN.

Running The 2016 Numbers
Data collection and analysis is a hobby of mine. Therefore, I looooooove the end of the calendar year, because it provides a great opportunity for me to analyze what I've collected.

Miles Run: 1,170.00
Increase Over Previous Annual Mileage High: 1,154.00 mi., 1.4% increase
Runs: 165 (exactly the same as 2015)
Hours Run: 187.30
Average Run Distance: 7.09 mi.
Average Run Pace: 9:36.31
Average Run Duration: 1:08:06.6
Average Temperature During Runs: 49.43°F
Temperature Range: 81°F (High 84°F, June 16; low 3°F, January 18)
Feet Climbed: 53,589 (10.15mi)
Torch Relay - 9.14.16
Average Feet Climbed Per Mile: 45.80, 0.87% grade
Miles Walked: 152.6
Walks: 85
Average Walk Distance: 1.80 mi.
Strength Training Sessions at Novus: 30
Cross Training Miles: 84.24 (8.26 kayak, 75.98 bike)
Races Run: 11
PRs Set: 0
Falls: 2
Injuries: 2... ish (See below.)
Toenails Lost: 7
Surgeries: 0
Pairs of Shoes Retired: 3
Pairs of Shoes Purchased: 3
States Where I Ran: 2, Indiana & South Carolina
Longest Run: 16.01 mi., September 4
Shortest Run: 0.52 mi., September 14
Week With Most Running: September 4-10, 42.08 mi., also the week I decided to drop to the half
Month With Most Running: August, 126.94 mi.
Month With Least Running: May, 50.93 mi.
Favorite Run (Tie)September 14, 0.52 mi., obviously.
Least Favorite Run: April 30, 1.02 mi., when I realized I was too hurt to run.
Percentage of Goals Reached: 66.67% (4/6, see below)
Weight Range in Pounds: 6.2
Total Lifetime Mileage: 6,388.00
Percent of Lifetime Mileage Run in 2016: 18.32%

Mileage By The Month
January: 113.31
Electric Avenue Sign - 12.31.16
February: 120.45
March: 77.62
April: 69.86
May: 50.93
June: 66.79
July: 119.66
August: 126.94
September: 109.99
October: 124.44
November: 84.99
December: 105.02

Jo's 2016 Fitness Goals: 
1. Remain injury-free.
Failed. I had a mystery quad/hamstring injury in April and May, and some sort of illness that may or may not have been a running injury in May and June.
2. Run lots of miles with lots of friends.
3. Run 1,200 annual miles.
Failed, by only 30 miles. I'm not disappointed, though. I ran the most miles I've ever run in a year, and that was with an injury.
4. Work on the committee to stage the BMS 5K.
Succeeded, and beat the boss. Fourth year in a row.
5. Encourage another person or people to become more focused on fitness.
Succeeded. I helped a few folks run their first races, too.
6. Build more muscle.
Succeeded. Thanks, Novus!

Thanks to everyone for the support! On to 2017!

Mini Finish - 5.2.16

Sunday, September 18, 2016

A Top 10 Day: I Was A Torchbearer

Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay
(photo: IN Bicentennial Commission)
One year ago, I heard about the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay, "designed to inspire and unify Hoosiers as one of the major commemorative events of the 2016 Bicentennial celebration." I registered to volunteer at the Lawrence County celebration, taught the suggested lesson to my students about the math and science behind a high-tech torch designed by Purdue engineering students, and researched the historic 92-county, 3,200-mile route the torch would take.

On a rather sad, rainy July 4 where every fun event had been rained-out, I learned I had been nominated to be a torchbearer. I remember staring at the message on my phone. It started to blur as I began to cry. I was a torchbearer!

The Anticipation
Fast forward to 4:30 P.M. on Wednesday, September 14. I was standing in my torchbearer's gear on Hwy 37 outside Arby's, the designated starting point for my 0.5-mi leg of the relay. I was scheduled to start at 5:30, but Lawrence County torchbearers had received an email informing us that the torch had reached the county line 15 minutes early.
Fun while waiting

Because Mom, Dad, Ed, and MaeBe were waiting at my "finish line" at 23rd Street, Noelle and Elizabeth, fellow BMS teachers and very good friends, had told me they would come hang out with me while I waited. Noelle was the first to arrive, but much to my surprise, even more friends came. Family, running friends, more BMS teachers, and even some of my students were gathering on the highway. More people had set up lawn chairs in the Arby's parking lot.

The appointed starting time came and went. I became nervous that all these people were going to be frustrated about standing outside on a warm day when they could be inside with Netflix and air conditioning. However, there was NO complaining. The atmosphere was electric. Hilary, another BMS teacher, kept saying, "This is HISTORY!" Arby's employees saw us all outside and brought us free drinks.

Getting the torch from Lauren
One of my students told me the next day that she had never seen me look so jittery or talk so fast. I could not calm down. I was nervous about successfully carrying the "heavy" (3.5-lb), flaming torch, excited that the event was imminent, and full of enthusiasm that a big bunch of wonderful people were there to celebrate Lawrence County and Indiana with me.

Around 6:30, an hour later than planned, we saw Lauren Winnefeld approaching with the Torch Relay Motorcade. A bunch of geese squawked as they flew overhead in groups. Someone said, "I feel like we should sing the National Anthem." It was time.

Carrying The Torch
You might think it's a ridiculous claim, but it's true: the next four minutes and 31 seconds were some of the best of my life. I realize I was running, something I do all the time, but the circumstances were special. I was overcome with thoughts and feelings. Here are the ones I can put into words.

  • I love Lawrence County, Indiana. I am so full of pride for our little community. In that moment, I was representing the county for our state. Because I am a student of local history, I also thought about our ancestors moving from Palestine at the river into Bedford, the same direction I was moving. That notion got me thinking about Indiana's and Lawrence County's 200-year history in general. Much has been done, much to do.
  • This is once-in-a-lifetime. I will not be alive for a tricentennial. It's unlikely that an Olympic torch will run Hwy 37 in Bedford. This event will never happen again. I was doing something I would never do again.
  • People GET this. At the start, all those folks waited patiently and eagerly. My family did the same at my finish. While I was running, people passed me in their cars cheering, phones out the window taking pics. The celebration was charged with elation.
  • I am part of something. This was the biggest feeling for me. Sure, anyone could move that torch from point A to point B, but in that moment, that person was me. I was the torchbearer. It was my job to keep this statewide relay going. The event depended on me. I was needed. I was part of something important, historical, and exciting. I was a torchbearer!

Torch selfie with Jimmy
Naturally, I started crying almost immediately.

You can see WBIW's live video of the first two minutes of my leg on facebook. I've watched it several times, but my mind's eye still remembers the perspective of doing it better than viewing it. It was unforgettable and moving, and I consider it a Top 10 moment in my life, easily.

When I finished, I passed the torch to my good friend, Jimmy Sowders. He took a "torch selfie" with me, and then began his part of the relay.

The Aftermath
A bunch of us headed downtown afterward in order to watch Becky Skillman light the cauldron by the courthouse. Ed and I played some music on the Harp Commons stage. I was singing the Lawrence County verse I wrote for "I've Been Everywhere" when she lit it. MaeBe got her picture taken by the Indiana Bicentennial Commission. Torchbearers, families, and other community members shared torch stories on a beautiful evening.

Some of the torchbearers
Another interesting detail is that my phone pinged all. night. long. People posted comments, pictures, and videos for a full day. I would put down my phone and pick it up two minutes later to find 45 notifications. It was even bigger than a facebook birthday, and that's saying something! :-) To me, all that attention on the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay proved that people recognized how special the event was for our community. It made me swell with even more pride for Lawrence County, and it capped off a day that I will always remember as one of my best.

I was a torchbearer!

More Pics
Thanks to Mom, Ed, Hope, Hilary, Noelle, Jerry, Christi, the Bicentennial Commision, WBIW, and tons of others for the pics and vids!

Running the torch relay
Media car taping
More running
Even more running
With Jimmy
Mom with a sign
Mom and Dad in a photo by the IN Bicentennial Commission
MaeBe in a photo by the IN Bicentennial Commission
“To me, Indiana’s Bicentennial Torch Relay is the perfect symbol of community fondness and involvement across generations. It highlights the connections between our history of characters who made Bedford better, the folks who are doing more good works today, and the young people who will be Bedford’s hard workers of the future. My love of and pride in Bedford, Indiana, and Lawrence County runs deeply. To be named a torchbearer touches me deeply, as well.” —my quote in the Times-Mail on September 8, 2016, six days before the relay came through Lawrence County.

THANK YOU to Mom, Dad, Jeremy, Angie, and Mr. S. for the nominations, and to Marla Jones for the awesome organization of the Lawrence County portion of the relay.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Less Is More

I'm going to bookend this blog post with the happy news, and sandwich the unpleasant news in the middle.

Yay for 6K
I hit 6,000 lifetime miles on my long run this morning. The achievement came at Light #52 on Electric Avenue.  Most of my runner friends I know are well beyond 6,000—I mean, Larry Moffat has more than 10 times that amount—but I'm still kind of excited. Round numbers are fun.

Abort! Abort!
Training Wheel... get it? I tore
two-thirds of the 18-mile tab. :-)
This morning, I was supposed to run 18 miles.  I planned to do "laps" of sorts up and down Electric Avenue. I've had the sniffles, and I figured if I felt yucky, I could abort the run at almost anytime. I took it super easy, but I just felt so. so. so. tired. Just before I hit 9 miles, I thought, "This is crazy. You are doing laps so you can abort at anytime. Abort." So abort I did. I ended up with a nice little 12 mile run.

Those of you who know me know I rarely cut a run short, so when I do, it means I probably needed to do so. Sure, I'm a little bummed, but I'm not mad about it. In June, I honestly couldn't run three miles without stopping to lie down and cry a little, so a non-stop 12-miler is cause for celebration, even if it was a slow, aborted 18.

Big Running Decision
I promise I'm not writing a blog post solely to inform the Interwebs about the termination of a long run. I've (almost) made a big running decision, and I feel like I need to write it down to make it real, and to organize it better in my mind.

I am 90% sure I'm going to drop to the Half at Monumental this year.

Writing that statement makes me feel sad, even though it shouldn't. I know a half marathon is an important event that takes focused training; but when you'd planned for twice that, it seems like a cop out.

This has nothing to do with me hurting anywhere. With the exception of some gnarly toe blisters, my legs are good to go. Here is why I've 90% come to this conclusion:

Every run is an effort. This time last year, I was running marathon pace 18s and progression 20s like no big deal. I'm running about a minute-per-mile slower this year, but even then everything feels more laborious. I had a rough spring and summer. Maybe that's why, but it doesn't really matter why. I just constantly feel like I'm overdoing it.

Pretty sunrise on an August long run
I'm not having much fun. I always end up picking the full over the half because, "I LOVE marathon training!" Yeah, well, I don't this time. I mean, I love to run, but I'm not looking forward to the runs—especially the long runs—like I usually do.

The thought of running 26 miles is soul crushing.  I promise I'm not being histrionic. Soul. Crushing. Last year, I was tenacious for those miles on that course. I couldn't wait. This year, I'm dreading it.

The thought of dropping to the half relaxes me and makes me happy. I'd still get the whole Monumental-weekend experience without taxing myself to the limit, in the race or in training. Running could be all fun again. I would look forward to the race.

It would make my family happy. They worry about the distance. This way, they wouldn't have to.

I won't have to cancel all November running. My doctors get all bent out of shape about marathons and make me do zero running for two to three weeks after a marathon. I would take time off after the half, of course, but I wouldn't have to drag my sore body around for days, wondering how close I was to some devastating injury and when I would be able to run a little again.

I am honestly so thankful to be able to run AT ALL—really—that I can't be mad about dropping to the half. I know "injured and devastated." This is not that feeling. I can run. I am happy!

However, I have worries, mostly about what people will think. What will they think when I've dropped to the half? What will they think when I run it slowly? What will they think when I run my slowest Bedford Half Marathon Limestone Capital Half Marathon ever? What will they think when I don't reach my annual mileage goal? What will they think when I haven't run all the mileage on the tabs on my cute little training wheel?

Turns out they don't care, Jo.

I want to have fun running again. That means less distance, slower paces, and shorter races. Fine. Let's do it.

The 10%
The only thing keeping me from making this decision is the weather. If this godforsaken heat and humidity end, and I am suddenly feeling like rainbows and lollipops, I can reassess then. At this point, writing this blog has convinced me that I'm dropping to the half.

It's also convinced me that maybe this news isn't so unpleasant after all.  Maybe it's the best goshdarn news I've had in awhile.

The Torch
...except for the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay, because that awesomeness is happening on Wednesday. I was featured in a cool article by Bob Bridge of the Times-Mail on Thursday, and my family, friends, and I are FIRED RIGHT UP to be part of this historical event next week. I even get to sing downtown with Ed at the celebration.

Life is good, and it's better when you're having fun. :-)

Having fun at the Claude on 9.3.2016

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Of Training, Tough Times, and a Torch

The Training
'Tis the season... Monumental Training! I'm going to start my official training this Saturday which will give me 15 weeks to train for the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. Typical programs are 16 weeks, and last year I trained for 19 weeks. However, in an effort to hit my training sweet spot, Wendy and I are going to try the shorter program this year. Because I peaked 3-4 weeks before the marathon last year, a 15-week design seems like a good plan.
2016 IMM "Training Wheel"

Here is my 2016 IMM Training Wheel. I dressed up the center this year with IMM's new logo and a pic Wendy took during the 2015 marathon. Long runs are blue, maintenance runs are red, and the big day is yellow. Can't wait to start tearin' tabs!

At the present, I don't have a time goal. My PR, set at IMM 2015, is 4:09:50. Those familiar with my running know that it's my heart's desire to break 4:00, but this may not be the year to attack that particular goal, and that's OK. I honestly will be happy just to be a part of it.

The Tough Times
"Suck it up and go for that goal!" says you. Believe me, I am right there with you, and time will tell if a tough time goal is smart for Fall JoAnna Cobb. It isn't for Summer Jo Cobb, nor was it optimal for Spring Jo Cobb, because "tough time" has meant something completely different in the last few months.

Acupuncture. Yeah.
The running woes began in March when Wendy learned she had a stress fracture in her foot. That very same day, I felt a twinge in my hamstring. The twinge turned into a full hamstring/quad atrocity (not using the word "injury"), that plagued me for two months. Only diagnosed as "really bad tendinitis with a muscle strain," I sought chiropractic alignment, acupuncture, myofascial release, Graston, dry needling, and general physical therapy. Eventually, it got better, but boy, was it frustrating.

During this same time, I had a devastating problem with my hair, was misdiagnosed with another femoral fracture and on crutches for 15 hours, fought with my health insurance company over tens of thousands of dollars they refused to pay for Remicade treatments in spite of having a pre-cert, and had two upper respiratory infections and a skin infection due to said Remicade. Are those trials little things relative to true big problems? Yes, but they made for a pretty tough time.

In mid-May, while most of those life hiccups were beginning to resolve, I suddenly couldn't run anymore. I know that sounds histrionic, but it's true. Ask Wendy. Typically down for a 10-mile run any day of the week, I couldn't get 0.5 miles at a pace one to two minutes slower than usual without taking a break. A sit down break, preferably. 

Obviously, I sought medical advice. The difficulties may have ensued as a result of my spring stress, or maybe they didn't. No matter. Some changes in medicines seem to have helped for now, and I'm slowly building back to my usual mileage and paces while still in communication with my doctors. If there is a silver lining here, it's that I've learned to appreciate the trouble-free times on a new level.

The Torch
I'm clearly feeling pretty confident about the direction my health is taking or I wouldn't have decided to train for a marathon. I'm very thankful to be able to be in a position where I would even consider running 26.2 miles a prospect, because—believe me—it did not seem possible even two shorts weeks ago.

However, marathon training is not my only exciting news. The year 2016 is Indiana's Bicentennial year. One of the many exciting projects associated with the 200-year milestone is the Indiana Bicentennial Torch Relay. I have been named a Torch Bearer for Lawrence County. The right terms for my feelings elude me. Honored? Grateful? Thrilled? All that, for sure, but there's something more. 

You all know how much I dig Bedford and its history and how proud I am to be a part of this great little city. Representing Lawrence County on September 14 in the Torch Relay combines my love of my home and the people who live here with my love of running, and it makes me absolutely light up with happiness to know I get to be a part of it in this way.

Here's to a great late summer and early fall!