Holiday season can throw people off their fitness and running routines — but for me, it usually means more flexibility in working out which is awesome. This week I had Wednesday through Friday off, so YES five-day weekend! And one of my best friends was in town for the holiday … and then I found out another friend was visiting, too.

I started off the week with a non-running day, hitting the early-morning spin class. Unfortunately, I had an orthodontist appointment right after and a meeting that evening so I didn’t get to cross-train.

My friend Chelsea and I kept up our routine (two weeks in a row with the third planned) of running on the treadmill together on Tuesday morning. Easy run there and then yoga in the afternoon, for which I remembered pants, so it was a good day.

With no work Wednesday and beautiful weather, I planned the most logical thing I could think of: a longer trail run. First I went to Pilates Strength and got my butt kicked. I ran right after, and it was my first time back in double-digits since the marathon. I felt good but tired, which could also be from the Pilates class right before and yoga Tuesday. I tried to keep my heart rate down and take it super easy since I was racing Thursday.

Note: Even an easy 10 is maybe not the best idea the day before a race.

T & D, 2007

On Thanksgiving, I picked up my friend Diane — she’s going to graduate school in Lincoln, Neb., right now and had flown in for the holiday. She’s my very longest running friend — she was working at Ken Combs Running Store when I was hired to start and manage the training group, and we’ve been running races together since 2007. Many, many races. I can’t even count how many.

IMG_0574We headed to a really small 5k in Anchorage — there are at least four in the Louisville area on Thanksgiving morning, plus one Friday afternoon and a few on the weekend before. I like this one because it is simple, cheap and conveniently located. Walk-up registration, no chips, $20 and you get a decent shirt. Plus it starts by where we had our wedding reception and the chapel at which we were married is at the mile marker.

I also like this race because it’s yet to be discovered by the ladies in town faster than I am. There aren’t really prizes — I got a gift card to a nearby restaurant that’s probably enough to buy me one drink. Just first male and female in the 5k and 10k, no age groups and no awards ceremony. They just hand you the gift card at the end of the chute!

Shoe indecision — 1600s (left) and Zantes.

Diane and I jogged a 2 mile warm up. The weather was amazing — nearly 50. I wore a long sleeve to warm up but took it off halfway through. I also wore my Boracays for the warm up, then switched. I actually brought both my Zantes and 1600s as options. After running around the parking lot wearing both, I decided on the Zantes for a little more cushion. I had run 10 the day before and a marathon not-quite three weeks before, and I wasn’t going to break any records by wearing the flats.

The race started late because people were still trying to register … Last year you could download the registration form and mail it in, or bring it ready to go that day, but this year the Civic Club’s website wasn’t working. Whoops. Told you it was small. Plus the weather was fantastic, so plenty of fair-weather runners.

Looking around the start, there didn’t seem to be much competition on the ladies’ side, but sometimes they sneak up on you. There were a ton of kids lined up right in the front … and a person with a dog. The first 400m was bonkers. Not tripping was goal number 1. The road was wide, though, and the kids faded pretty quick.

My plan for this race was 6:20 pace, or around a 19:40. That is in line, as always, with McMillan projections (which I typically update after each race and save in Evernote). My first mile was 6:22, but is actually the most “uphill” of the course. Plus without the starting line traffic, no biggie.

Mile marker 1 is at the top of a hill and where we got married, so a little wave from me as we zipped past. “Only 2 more miles!” I thought, remembering the very definite perk of running short.

The first mile goes through a neighborhood and it was nice to see a few families out cheering. Just past the first mile marker, we crossed the street and picked up the Anchorage Trail, so no way for spectators to get there easily.

Like last year, the organizers didn’t provide any direction on which way to go at the path’s Y juncture. It’s a keyhole race loop … and so people went both directions.

I was feeling great in mile 2, passing quite a few guys (no girls ahead) and splitting 6:08. This mile is the downhill mile after a short, steep climb at the beginning. I start running into people coming the other way around 2.5, which is also about the time I’m remembering the definite negatives to running short. But within a quarter mile I was clear of the heaviest stream of runners … but I also knew the course was long by almost a tenth last year.

There’s another short climb (same hill in mile 2), then a little downhill and a kick into the finish. Just a longer kick.

Mile 3 was a 6:21, and I went ahead and split my watch at the 3.1 marker even though I wasn’t going all-out yet. Garmin says 19:37 for what that’s worth. I crossed the finish in 20:08 but also 3.18 … right on 6:20 pace.

And as I crossed the line … BAM! Gift card.

Diane and I jogged another mile then came back to cheer for a New Balance Louisville teammate, Brandon, who was third in the 10k.

Thus concludes the race report. I literally raced home, showered, roasted brussels sprouts, baked a sweet potato casserole topped with pecans, and ran out the door an hour later. I spent most of the day on my family’s farm. And then we had dinner at an Indian restaurant, which was a great plan.

Friday I had intended to not run — just Pilates Strength and spin instead. But, my friend Miranda was visiting family nearby and it was the last dry day in the forecast for a few days, so we opted outside (thanks, REI) for a short trail run after I went to Pilates Strength. It was a nice little run. The weather was still warm — not many Thanksgivings that I’ve been running in shorts and a tee-shirt.

Saturday I took as complete off day and I even slept in until 9 a.m. Remarkable. It was nice to have some quiet time around the house, although I don’t think I did anything productive at all.

Sunday was a bit of a fail, really. I planned to do 14 but it was gray and gloomy and damp and chilly and I just didn’t like it. My Reynaud’s flared up really bad and I spent the last 2 miles feeling like my hands were on fire — that pins-and-needles feeling you get when a limb falls asleep and you’re trying to wake it up. I actually went into the gym planning to run some more on the treadmill, but I realized my phone (and therefore music) was still in the car so I just put on warm clothes and went Christmas shopping instead.

IMG_0651I also picked up some New Balance Hierro trail shoes, based on the Boracay I’ve been using.

So, 34 miles for the week including one double-digit run and four cross-training sessions.

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