It’s Almost Half Time

I took a little break after Danman.

I needed a little time away from the long distances, and the back to back weekend long runs. I had plenty of time for a break, and to still build up for my next half marathon (RNR San Diego). I also needed time to uncover the speed in my legs again. I couldn’t keep it sharp with all the fatigue from the buildup for Danman. Planned breaks are good. Forced breaks are not.

I did different things. I tried a new class at the gym, and it involved burpees and lots of other stuff out of my comfort zone. I also got back to the pool some. I worked with my kettle bell more.

Then I signed up for a local 5k on a whim with our local running group, so there wasn’t much time left to sharpen my speed. You know, there’s only one way to find out your current 5k fitness – and that’s by racing a 5k.

With literally no recent speed work to judge goal pace from, I thought I maybe could run under 25. I ran a few miles before the race, to get my slower miles out of the way. (It takes me a while to warm up.) My goal was to keep my eyes on the back of one of my fast friends, not look at my watch, and just hang on.

My lack of speed work was evident. Fast friend was gone when the gun went off, and I didn’t see her again until I finished! I mostly only looked at my Garmin when the mile splits beeped.

Splits and thoughts:

Mile 1: not too bad, just hang on to this pace (8:13)

Mile 2: Oh goodness, I can’t breathe (8:25)

Mile 3: Just keep it faster than mile 2 (8:22)

My official time was 25:59 which was slower than I wanted, but it gave me a baseline to work from for this summer. It was also enough for an age group win, and that’s not something I take for granted.

Beat the Heat 5k

The next race I had scheduled (to gauge my goal half marathon pace), was the Disco Run 15k. 2 weeks before the half, it would be a good chance to see how my planned pace would hold up over 9 miles. So I talked my friend into it, and we headed down to Dallas last Sunday morning. After I drank my Ucan, we went to the start area to wait. The humidity wasn’t too bad, but it looked like it might get warm. There was a breeze so that helped. Then they announced that the 15k course was flooded, so everyone in the 15k would get to run the 10k. My friend and I looked at each other with disappointment. My first thought was, “Dang, now I have to run faster!” Most people would probably be excited to run less than they signed up for. Not us, we’re weird. We ran about a mile to warm up, and then I was ready to go.

Before the sweat-fest

I made a mental note to try to come in under 55 minutes. I’m really not even sure where I came up with that number. It sounded like a good plan to be under 9:00 pace.

Then we were off!

The first thing I noted was that the course was gravel, and not smooth. There were some larger rocks on the path, and they were worse in the middle. It took a little while for the crowd to thin enough for me to realize this, and I moved over to the side. This slowed me down some, although probably not as much as I’d like to think it did. I was careful though, because I could feel my foot roll across some of the larger rocks and I didn’t want to risk rolling an ankle. My first mile was 8:40. Ok, hang on to that, I thought.

The sun was out and it was warming up. The course was an out and back, so when we made the turnaround just after mile 3, I knew what was coming. By mile 4, I was completely okay with running 10k and not 15. The rocks were doing my legs in, and they were aching. I walked up the steep hill in mile 5, took a deep breath, and then sucked it up to pick up speed again. That mile was my slowest. I made my way around the 5k walkers just past their turnaround, so I did more weaving from the middle of the path to the side again. But it wasn’t too crowded. When I could see the finish area, I picked it up as much as I could to finish strong. When I finished, I remembered how hard it is to run in the heat. This was my first hot race of the year.

We hung around for awards, because the results for age groups weren’t posted. I didn’t think I placed, because there were lots of ladies ahead of me. It’s a good thing we waited, because I ended up 2nd in my age group, and my friend won hers!

I’ve never actually stood on a podium, so that was fun. My official time was 54:52, meaning I met my last minute sub 55 plan.

Watermelon and pancakes at the finish were amazing, because it was a hot morning! They also had a costume contest and a great band. It was a fun themed race!

I’m pleased with both race efforts. I believe I got the best out of myself on both days – no matter what the time was on the clock. This is my current fitness, and that’s where I’m working from. I’m going to try to fit in another 5k in July or August before I move age groups, and see how my speed has improved.

 

This coming weekend, I’ll be racing my first half marathon since Dallas. I’m excited for this trip! I’ve never been to San Diego, and I’ve never gone to run a race without driving there. I’ll be there with Team Chocolate Milk, and you can follow my race updates on Instagram all weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

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Craig Ranch Sprint Tri

Sunday, I completed my first triathlon in about two years. Mostly to let my plantar fascia completely heal, but also because I needed a mental break. My coach was on board, and actually encouraged this switch.

The training has been good for me. I’ve seen progress in the pool, and on the bike when I took it out to the roads. I’ve run some shorter distances: track workouts, brick workouts, and haven’t run for more than hour. I was a little nervous earlier in the week, and it was about stuff that’s pretty much out of my control (flat tire, etc…). By the time Saturday rolled around though, I was excited.

I laid out all my gear after my Saturday morning easy workout, and I practiced transition a few times. I had a pretty good handle of going from bike to run (from weekly brick workouts), but I needed to refresh going from swim to bike. Once I was comfortable, I packed everything up and didn’t think about it the rest of the day.

Sunday morning was a little windy and overcast, but still warm. I met my friend Leda there. I’m so glad she lets me talk her into these adventures. We were only able to bike together once – the day before. I also had other friends at the race, including my friend who talked me into doing my first triathlon three years ago (when I was dealing with PF in my other foot).

 

The swim, which used to scare me, was 350 meters in an outdoor pool. I had some trouble in the first lane trying to get around a lady doing the breaststroke. I almost got kicked in the face a few times, and couldn’t get around because of the guys coming up behind/next to me. It was hand to foot combat! 😉 After the second length of trying to get by, I was able to make a big push from the wall to get ahead of her. It took me about 200 meters into the swim to get into a rhythm and slow my breathing down. It wasn’t ideal, but I survived.

Out of the pool, I made my way to my bike. Transition went well. The hardest part was running on concrete to get to my bike. My bare feet don’t like hard surfaces!

It takes me a few minutes to get settled in on the bike and feel comfortable. Then I start hydrating with Nuun. My plan was to finish my bottle about 10 minutes before starting the run. The bike was 12 miles. There was a little bit of climbing, but I consider this one of my [few] strengths on the bike. I liked the fact that it was two loops, so I knew what to expect on the second one. I settled into a decent for me speed, and didn’t wear my legs out. The wind was a little tough in places, but nothing like Buffalo Springs!

Back in transition, I swapped out my shoes, grabbed my visor and race number, then headed out to the run. This was my sport! Since my first triathlon, I’ve always looked forward to the run. It was the first time throughout the race that I felt it was hot outside. I settled into my pace, and my plan was to increase speed a little each mile. In the third mile, I picked it up and focused on finishing strong. My first and second miles were around 9:00 pace, and I averaged 8:54 overall for the 5k run. Negative splits. Yay!

I loved the finish area! I got my water and medal, then found my husband. I was able to see my friends after the race too. We had watermelon, pancakes, and Nuun. I was a happy finisher!

 

I had a lot of fun, which was the ultimate goal! I forgot how much I enjoy triathlon (when I’m not worried about swim cutoff times). 🙂 I was mostly pleased with my results. I was hoping to have a better swim time, but I don’t typically time myself jumping in and climbing out either. I was also happy with my overall placings. Usually I’ve been at or near the bottom of my age group. Progress.

 

Now, it’s time to shift back to running. I’ve got a whole 4 days of running this week, and I’m ready! I have some big goals to crush.

 

 

 

Wrapping up 2016

Once the dust from last Sunday’s race settled, I went through a bit of a period of disappointment. Trying to examine what I could’ve changed, yet trying to still be proud that I did something big. Dallas was my 14th marathon, and even though I didn’t reach my time goal, that’s still kind of a big deal. So I decided to do some reflecting on my year as a whole to help myself move on past the post-race funk.

2016 was a big year for tri-ing new things and facing fears. (See what I did there.)

I conquered my first open water swim. In a group. Of strangers. Very fit triathletes. I didn’t die from embarrassment.

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I did my first Olympic triathlon – which coincidentally was the first time I swam a mile.

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I rode in my first bike rally. It wasn’t what I thought it would be, but I survived. I also learned not to grip the handlebars too tightly.

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I completed my first half Ironman. Now that was a hard day, and I didn’t even know I could do it.

Until I did.

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I set a new PR at the Hot Chocolate 15k back in February. And I took a “shot” of M&Ms in that race too. That was a first, and not recommended. At least not at a fast pace.

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I also drank a whole lot of chocolate milk this year! 🙂

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The triathlon adventures brought renewed passion to my running. I have decided to continue to pursue my running goals while keeping up my fitness in the pool and on the bike. I learned that I can continue to improve in many ways and continue to find new goals to challenge myself.

It’s been a pretty busy year, and I’m looking forward to 2017!

Texasman Olympic Tri

This past weekend, I did two things that I was afraid of. I was nervous and anxious about both, but you know what? I did them anyway.

On Sunday I completed my first triathlon of the season (my first Olympic distance) and I was scared of the swim. But first, let me talk a little about the bike ride I took on Saturday with the local cycling club.

Since I’m training for the half Ironman (where the bike is the biggest portion), a friend encouraged me to go on one of the group rides on Saturday. They have a distance builder where they add miles each week, and this one would be about 40. I’ve never rode in a group, and I consider myself a beginner cyclist. Falling over when stopping (while clipped in) is a highly probable event. I’m a chicken on the downhills, and I’m not real fast. Those were my excuses to not go. But I tried to rationalize my fear (what’s the worst that could happen) and think of the benefits – different route, company on a ride, learning from others. So I showed up Saturday morning and rode 41 miles with some company. I only fell once, near the end of the ride when a car came to an intersection at the last minute. Other than the car, there was only one cycling witness, and he helped me by putting my chain back on. We talked about how it happens to everyone, and even after people have been riding for years, it happens. So I didn’t die from embarrassment, and the ride was enjoyable. There were a few hills, but nothing I couldn’t handle.

Sunday was the Texasman triathlon. This was my first race with an open water swim, and I didn’t really know what to expect. I didn’t think much about the bike and run portion, because those distances were manageable in comparison to the swim. My first triathlon last August was a pool swim of 300 meters. The second tri was a pool swim of 250 yards. I have had two open water swim practices in the past two months, which went okay, but my confidence on the distance wasn’t in the best place. Swimming is my weakest link of triathlon, and my fear had everything to do with being able to complete the distance. I’ve done it in the pool, with rest breaks, and pushing off of the wall, but there is so much to consider in the open water.

My first obstacle: the wind. There was a slight breeze, which created some waves in the water. I looked out at the buoys, and all I could think was “Wow, that’s a long way out there!” I got in the water for a warm up swim. Two strokes out, two strokes back. That wasn’t helping me at all. I thought it was a negative aspect that I was in the last wave of swimmers (all female Olympic distance), but as I got to watch the other waves start, I began to calm down. I went out in the water again, and then I started to relax. By the time my wave started I was in an okay place in my head.

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Hands on the hips. Always.

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When I started swimming, I was good. I was settling into my rhythm and then whoops, I had someone swim into me on each side. Even though it didn’t hurt, it shook me and I had trouble getting back into my swim. I flipped over on my back, caught my breath, and then tried again. This was a repeat process. For the mile swim, there were two marker buoys before you got to the third buoy for the turn. By the time I hit the first marker, I heard someone say “I didn’t expect to be having this much trouble so soon.” The water was so choppy I couldn’t get a good breath without a mouthful of water from a wave. At the second marker buoy, I saw a guy from a previous wave hanging on. I asked if he was okay, and he said he was. I realized my fear of being last out of the water was no longer valid. I kept on as best as I could, but I think I spent more time on my back for the first stretch, and I was well hydrated before I made the first turn from all the water I swallowed. It took me 30 minutes to get to that point. The second stretch was better, there was a bit of cross wind, but I had an easier time. It took me 10 minutes to make the turn back. This was supposed to be the easy part, where the wind pushes you back. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel the effect of it because it was pushing me out to the left and I needed to head toward the right. I felt like I was swimming in circles, and didn’t think I’d ever get there. I could see the finish area, with the beach ball on top of the arch, and I wanted to be out of the water like you wouldn’t believe. My arms were tired, but I was finally swimming smoothly, just like in the pool. I had my rhythm on the home stretch. Then I touched saw my husband near the exit. I touched sand, and stood up – a little woozy. It took me 1:04:07 according to my Garmin to complete the swim.

This is my “I really did it, and oh my gosh I’m so tired” expression for my husband who is my best supporter ever!

IMG_0094After some wonderful volunteers got me out of my wetsuit, it was off to transition for the bike portion, where I heard other athletes talking about how awful the swim. That made me feel so much better.

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Once on the bike, it took a few miles before I could settle my breathing. It was still overcast, and I felt some sprinkles at the beginning of my ride. My quads were feeling the bike ride from Saturday, but it was manageable. I was just so happy that I did the swim, I didn’t care how the rest of the race went. I took in some nutrition and just enjoyed the road. There were some good hills, which I need so that was okay. There was one lady who I passed going up a hill who called out, “Look at you climbing like a beast.” Apparently that’s my strength on the bike, and I’ll blame my hill running. There was one kicker near the end of the course that I thought might have blown my run. There was a spectator at the top giving positive feedback. “Nice cadence, keep it up.” The bike distance was almost 25 miles, then it was back in transition to head out for a 10k.

The sun started to come out during my run and heat things up a bit. There was Nuun on the course (yay!) so there was one less bottle I had to pack. It felt strange running empty-handed, but so nice. The run portion of triathlon is so different from running a road race. You have loops and people going opposite directions on both sides of the sidewalk, from all three race distances. There were a couple of times, I wasn’t sure if I was in the right place, then I would see a sign or mile marker and breathe a sigh of relief. At a turn around between miles 4 and 5 I lost my footing and stepped off the sidewalk. I almost fell, but caught myself. The volunteers asked if I was okay, and I responded, “I just can’t feel my legs anymore.” I was heating up, and ready to be done, but I was pleased with my running pace. I took a total of 3 short walk breaks, mostly going up a hill to catch my breath, but then I would pick up my pace after the break. There were some overhead sprinklers in a couple of places that helped me cool off too. Coming in near the finish, a young girl called out “The end is near! 400 meters if you’re on your last loop.” Hallelujah!

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As I crossed the finish, I was ready to cry. Not in pain, not in regret, but in the fact that I really did it. I did more than I thought I could, and pulled in for a strong finish on the run (with a 9:24 average pace). My official finish time was 3:51:54 (swim 1:04:07, bike 1:41:09, run 58:03).

A year ago, I didn’t have a bike and couldn’t swim with my face in the water. I was nervous starting this journey, but I have done more than I imagined I could, and that is a feeling that can’t be replaced. I have five short weeks until my half Ironman, and a lot of work still to do, but I will keep training hard and pushing myself because I want to keep reaching for those goals.

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Have a great week!

Monster Tri Recap

Oh, hey there! Yes, I’m still around. I’ve had a devil of a time trying to get to this race recap. The whole marathon training, being mom, senior year, marching band season kind of takes over sometimes. Sometimes, it’s all I can do to make sure the utilities are paid up and there is food in the house to eat. The latter part of that statement is getting harder to do. One day last week, my oldest daughter told me we were out of “lunch stuff.” My reply was, “That’s because we have enough food for dinner. Apparently I can’t keep up with both.” True story.

So here I am, ready to write my race recap and the time change has me ready to fall asleep by 7:30 pm.

I digress.

The Monster Tri was on the Sunday before Halloween. This was my second triathlon, and I was feeling better about my swim this time around.

The day before the race it was rainy. The forecast called for more rain. The good thing about the rain was that it moved the Area marching contest to Monday instead of the day before the race. The bad thing about the rain was that I’m inexperienced riding in the rain. We bought new tires for my bike (which still had the original ones) so that my tread would be better on the wet roads. I also bought elastic laces to put through my running shoes to save time in transition.

Just so you know, it’s not the most relaxing thing to change tires and shoelaces the day before a race and practice transition. But, you do what you have to! My main goal for the race was to gain more experience – not speed.

Also, if you thought runners got up super early for races, triathlon is a whole other ballgame. Transition area opened at 6:15, and the race was supposed to start at 7:15. Body marking, laying out gear, getting organized, checking tire pressure, etc. I also have a tendency to stress over being late. Fortunately, my #1 fan gets me there on time (early).  That’s his military background, but I’m not complaining.

I wasn’t as nervous for this race. My running friend was doing it too. We did a warm up in the pool, which was smaller than the first race, and I felt okay about it. They delayed the start by about 10 minutes because of cloud cover.

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The swim went okay. I started off fine for the first few lanes, but swimming under the rope into the next lane threw me off. I finally found my groove in the last two lanes. It wasn’t great, but it was better than my first race when I couldn’t keep my head in the water.

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Better, but still lots of room for improvement!

Out of the water and outside to the transition was a shock to my system. Wet and then cold. Temps were in the 50s and a slight north wind. But I decided not to throw on a jacket.

I survived the bike mount. Read: I didn’t fall trying to clip in.

The bike was an out and back 16 mile ride of rolling hills. The toughest part for me was the wind. On the way out I saw several people changing tires along the way, so I figured a flat was in my future. Thankfully, I made it to the turnaround with no issues. I have noticed that one of my strengths is climbing, because that’s when I pass people. It must be my running legs. But I’m still a chicken on the downhills. Coming in to dismount, I was ecstatic that I made it on and off the bike with no falls.

My legs were wobbly to start the run. I wore my Garmin, planning to turn it on for the run, but it couldn’t locate GPS. I ran by feel and felt strong on the run, just like in the last race. I only remember being passed by one person, and she was 29, so I’m ok with that. I kind of like being able to see everyone’s age. It gives me a competitive push.

By the time I finished the 5k run, I was ready to eat! Thanks to marathon training, a later start, and forgetting my prerace fuel, I grabbed some pancakes and ate like I ran a marathon. I also managed to eat pretty much all day long. I couldn’t believe how hungry I was! Later, it hit me that I didn’t get my chocolate milk recovery. I bet that’s a big part of why I was hungry all day.

I was surprised (ok, maybe giddy is a better term) when I found out I placed 3rd in my age group. It was a smaller field, but when I looked at all the times I feel pretty good about my race. My swim had improved from 10:27 (300meters) to 7:25 (250 yards). I survived my first time clipped in on the bike, and the run was strong. All this in the middle of marathon training made it that much sweeter.

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I’m looking forward to planning out a triathlon race schedule for next spring/summer. I’m enjoying the challenge.

Here’s a quick recap from the last week in pictures, because it was just a blur of band/mom stuff/training:

Cheering on the band at Area:IMG_6683IMG_6687IMG_6696

A two part Saturday long run, because life:IMG_6704 IMG_6705Halloween:IMG_6708
Next up – 2nd 20 miler of the training cycle on Saturday after the last football game Friday.

Enjoy your weekend!

 

 

Wounded Warrior Military Miles (Recap)

I had no idea what to expect when I was thinking about my upcoming race last week. On Saturday, when we went to the expo I noticed that I was a little nervous. Nervous about my foot flaring up (and starting the healing process all over again). Nervous about the distance (because of my limited double digit long runs). Nervous about going out too fast and falling apart (like I did last time).

I shared some of my fears about race day with my husband, and he reminded me of why I was running.

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I ran into two other members of Team Chocolate Milk on race morning. It was nice to chat and take my mind off of my nerves. We talked about how the course had been changed due to flooding to an out and back loop – one loop for the 10k, and two for the half. Some people don’t like that type of course, but I think it can be fun – especially if you know others in the race. So many races in the metroplex have been rescheduled or cancelled due to the heavy rain, so I’m thankful there was an alternate plan.

The Reason:

One of my favorite things about this race is the military presence. From the beginning with the flags and National Anthem, all thoughts of myself were pushed aside. Every time I hear the Star Spangled Banner at the start of a race, I think of how wonderful it is to be able to do this. This freedom that we take for granted. So many have sacrificed.

I’m grateful to have the opportunity to give back in this way.

The Race:

I started the race, and held back from the beginning. I was sweating through the first few miles, and I wondered how the heat would affect me. I was ready and armed with my handheld of Nuun and two Nuun Plus tablets. As the course wound around mile 3.5 I noticed a good-sized uphill. That would be coming up on mile 10 in the second loop. “That might hurt,” I thought.

The Tragedy:

When I stopped at the aid station near the halfway point to refill my bottle, it was the first time I stopped. After refilling my bottle, I dropped one of the Nuun plus tablets on the ground. Shoot! I briefly looked for it, for the thought of road gunk wasn’t appealing so I kept running. On my way back after the turnaround I saw my lonely tablet laying on the ground. Looking back, this was the only hiccup I had through the race.

Somewhere between mile 8-9, a runner came up beside me and asked me about the name on the back of my shirt. This gave me a chance to explain about Medals of Honor, my background as a Navy wife. She is married to a Marine. We continued to chat about bases, stations, and other military stuff as we ran. At the mile 10 hill, I decided to power up and keep my pace as steady as possible. Until my plantar fasciitis, hills have always been my strength and I could feel it returning.

The Finish:

Through the last 5k of the race, I became the chatty runner. I was thanking police officers, volunteers, veterans, and cheering on 10k walkers as I passed. I saw another runner from our local group and yelled out across the course at him and waved. I was truly grateful to be out there. I found my joy again. My official time was 2:04:25 and it was a good day.

When I finished, I felt tired – but strong. My foot was throbbing, but it didn’t affect my pace at all. Overall, I’m pleased with my effort. After a bit of icing throughout the day, my foot was good to go.

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A Sweaty Success

A Sweaty Success

 

But most importantly, because of Medals of Honor, this service member’s family will be receiving the medal I earned from the race. My hope is that this race, completed  in remembrance of SGT Timothy D. Statler, will offer some comfort to the family. That is why I ran.

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Half Marathon Ready

After dealing with setbacks on my speed and mileage due to my plantar fasciitis injury, I finally feel ready for my half marathon this Sunday. My foot was a little inflamed after 12 miles in the rain, dodging puddles, but is better this week.

I kept most of my weekly runs short last week, with one 6 miler and the rest under 4. On Wednesday, for National Running Day, we had a group social run. That was fun because I got to run with some new faces.

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On Saturday it was warm and humid. Even starting at 7 am is starting to feel too late. Our group starts and finishes at a park with a pool, and it’s too bad it’s not open that early because it is certainly inviting after a sweaty long run.

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My 10 miler gave me enough feedback to know I’m probably not in sub-2:00 range yet, with the heat.

This morning I ran a 6 mile progression run. My fastest mile is just over what I was running half marathons at last fall.

Patience.

But I am continually reminding myself of what’s important.

I can run.

I am running for more than a medal. I am running the Wounded Warrior Half Marathon in Irving which benefits Wounded Warrior Project.

I am also running for Medals of Honor and will be donating my medal to the family of a fallen military serviceman.

As the wife of a Navy veteran, I want to do whatever I can to help our military, families, and others who have served.

That’s what is keeping me from getting frustrated with my progress.

So on Sunday, I will do my best, but ultimately I am not running for myself.