*The self I like best*

Looking back over the past two months, I can clearly see where I began to struggle to keep my mileage up. It’s been no secret that the first quarter of the year (and now moving into the second quarter) has been quite a whirlwind for me and my family. To be honest, the dust hasn’t settled yet and things are still in a state of flux. In hindsight, I thought I’d get back into my groove once our feet were grounded. I sure as heck didn’t think it would take so long.

In the midst of all that, and I’m still battling it, I pulled back from some of the things I love and find comfort in (not all by choice). What I’ve discovered is that I feel completely disconnected from myself. Routines, dietary choices, sleep patterns, self-care… all the familiar rhythms that I’ve been accustomed to for the past X amount of years have been stripped away. On top of that, I’m in a new (and VERY large) city, 1000+ miles away from my daughter, family, and friends, haven’t yet been able to connect with any sort of new running friends or tribe, trying to organically build a business that generates sustainable income which is slow going, and generally feeling a little lost in space at the moment.

Deep shit, I know.

A few days ago I realized that my life is so much richer with running in it and when I’m taking care of my whole self. Mind, body, and spirit. So I went for a short run. The following day I went for another one. I’ve now run four days in a row, although I will admit, I have not run more than three miles at a time. Accepting where I’m at, and fully understanding that it will take some time to build myself, distance, and pace, back up to where I prefer to be will not happen overnight. Mentally, I’m starting to feel it again. Physically, and no thanks to the heat, it’s a work in progress.

Timely enough, I saw this quote posted on Facebook earlier and I couldn’t agree more!

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“or at least I feel like the self I like best”… well said, Bart!

I never posted my weekly mileage for the week of March 21-27. Because I was in the middle of packing, I didn’t record all of the few runs I did and lost the info on my Garmin for one of them so I am not including that in the total. For that week, I ran 7.5 miles bringing my March total to 62.25 (I’m certain it’s my lowest monthly mileage in three years. That is until this month which will likely be less than that!) and my YTD total to 304 miles.

I’m a big believer in accountability. Sharing this here is more for my benefit than anyone else’s but it does provide me with the space to hold myself accountable and acknowledge my own truth. And that truth is, I do feel that the self I like best is the one that runs!

*Time to buck up*

It is a fair assumption that the constant stream of Boston Marathon-related images circulating on every social media channel I follow is the reason that I woke up this morning thinking enough is enough. Time to buck up and get my ass in gear.

After only one run over the course of the past 24 days, totaling a whopping 2.75 miles, my mind and body are starting to feel like they are on the same page again. However, I would be remiss to not give credit to the athletes, many of which are running Boston tomorrow, for the boost of inspiration I’ve needed.

So today I strapped on my Garmin and hauled myself out the door. My plan would have gone a lot better had I went earlier in the day and carried some Nuun. While I LOVE the So Cal weather, I’ve never loved running in the heat and when the temp is 80 degrees at 10 AM… it’s going to take some getting used to. Not to mention better planning in the future. (Like going earlier when the forecast is calling for high temps. Duh!)

That said, I ran 1.75 miles before the heat did me in. (And that was after hiking 1.5 miles to the top of a hill that has a pretty steep incline.)

It all starts with a single step, right? Even though I feel like I’m starting over in a sense, I’m confident that I’ll bounce back fairly quickly if I keep at it.

Then there is THE marathon tomorrow. I can’t believe it has been a year since I was there preparing to run my first Boston Marathon. I really hope that I have the opportunity to do it again someday. A piece of me wishes I was there this year but as I wrote about here, I know it wasn’t the right time with everything I’ve had going on the past few months.

Good luck!

Good luck!

I hope everyone racing tomorrow has a fantastic experience and that the weather is perfect! Good luck, runners!!!!

 

*Training when you’re NOT training*

The content of this post came to mind last week while I was out on a run. It was Wednesday afternoon and I was aiming for what I hoped would be at least 7 miles but ultimately, I ran 8.

Mid-run I was questioning myself as to why on earth I was pushing myself to run 7, or more, miles when I have NOTHING on my race calendar. With an imminent move out-of-state on the horizon, I’ve been reluctant to commit myself to an event for fear that I’ll not be able to fulfill the entry.

As I thought a bit deeper on the subject, I rationalized my mileage for two reasons:

  1. I want to be a stronger runner. The only way I will get stronger is by RUNNING. It may seem more like maintenance than training, per se, but as long as I feel like I’m working (and not slacking off), I know I’m contributing to my overall fitness.
  2. Should I have the opportunity to race in the  near future, it is going to be on very short notice. The better the shape I’m in will make a huge difference if I decide to jump in on an event that is a mere two weeks away.

With that in mind, I came up with a few tips for surviving a period in which you find yourself in the training mentality but you’re NOT actively training.

  • Get S T R O N G! Even if your mileage is high, it likely won’t be as high as if you had an actual race coming up. So use the extra time to build strength. It will make you a better runner and help prevent injury when you do ramp up your mileage again.It has become a higher priority for me in the past few weeks and I’m already seeing some improvement.
  • Switch gears. With my attention turning toward trail running and perhaps an ultra race at some later date, I’ve set a goal to run on a single-track, and somewhat technical, trail at least once a week. Additionally, instead of being concerned about my mileage or pace on those runs, I’m focusing on time spent on the trail. This could be applied in so many different ways but switch it up! Find some new routes, run with a friend or group you normally don’t, ditch the Garmin (I CAN’T BELIEVE I SAID THAT!), add a track workout, hit the trail… whatever offers some variety to your regular routine.
  • Focus on short-term goals. I just (finally!) received a copy of the Believe Training Journal and I’m so jazzed! One of the features I’m already in love with is that each week there is a space to write down your focus for the week. While long-term goals are so important, I think short-term goals have a bigger impact because they aren’t necessarily as lofty. They are more like the steps you are going to take to achieve the ultimate goal. I’m aiming to pick one or two things each week that will get me closer to the dream. For example, this week I set a goal to revise my standard strength training routine and incorporate some new exercises and combinations.
  • Embrace the space. I have a feeling that taking some time away from racing will reignite the competitive fire inside me. And when I do put something on my calendar, I’ll be ready to dive in and work.Take time to consider what it is that you love about training and racing. I think it’s a fairly safe assumption that it will become a priority again when the time is right. In the meantime, embrace the little bubble in which you don’t have to worry about getting a long run done every. single. weekend. Or, how you’re going to fund multiple race entry fees. Or how you are going to balance work, family, training, etc. Embrace the space!
  • Plan for the future (as best you can). My immediate future is so up-in-the-air that I don’t know what state I’ll be living in two months from now. But what I do know is that I’m going to run some great events at some point. In the meantime, I’m educating myself, staying focused on my goals, researching possible events, connecting with other runners in various circles, and holding onto the idea that the training I’m doing now, while I’m not actually training for something, will only better the outcome down the road.
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Using this time to plan for the future!

Everyone will have their own different approach to the “off-season” or a break from training or racing but it doesn’t mean that you can’t gain fitness and keep working toward whatever dreams you hope to achieve in the future.

Good luck!

*Third place, Baby!*

I’m actually serious! Having decided, on a whim over the weekend to enter a small fun run 4k, I wasn’t sure what to expect today. Layered on top of that is the fact that I’ve not really “raced” since the Boston Marathon, nor have I done any significant speed work since… and I’m guessing here… sometime in mid-March.

Despite my feelings about hope being a “hail Mary”, I was hopeful that I could manage at least a 7:30, or so, pace today for the fun run that I decided to enter for the sheer fact that it was a unique event. A 4k on a Wednesday afternoon at 3 PM… and on a rare day off from coaching cross-country? Sure! I’m game!

The 4k 4Charity was primarily attended by technology industry professionals (and honestly, I sort of felt like an outcast) because the concept of the charitable race was created by the technology industry. But nevermind that. I’ve been searching for events that move me from my comfort zone to that sweet space just beyond… where the magic happens!

While at one point, I was in the second place spot, I dropped to third the last half-mile. No matter. Considering I was waaaay under-trained and all, I’ll happily embrace third. The event was not officially timed so these results are my own, based on my Garmin.

18:22 minutes

2.53 miles (slightly over the 4k distance of 2.49)

7:16 pace

My shortest “race” ever proved to also be my fastest. And I’m stoked!

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Yeah, baby! Rockin’ 2.49 miles like a boss!

 

*April adventures*

April Review:

Total miles: 165.75

Longest run: 26.2 (26.41 according to my Garmin. Oops.)

Total days running: 23

YTD mileage: 855.75

Some of my favorite April moments included:

  • A visit from my sis-in-law and nephew. Always so nice to have them close for a few days!
  • Finishing up training for the Boston Marathon. Tapering felt like such a sweet reward for those long months of training!
  • Watching my speedy daughter kick ass on the track. I had never been to a track meet until just last year when she decided to join her high school team. So fun to watch her compete!
  • Creating a new partnership with an outstanding company that makes delicious, raw, whole food fruit and vegetable shakes. I’m excited to have Left Coast Raw on my team!
  • A wonderful pre-Boston dinner out courtesy of my parents to celebrate my accomplishment.
  • BOSTON. Words cannot do my experience justice. It was an AMAZING trip and an AMAZING race. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to fulfill my dream!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Saying goodbye to our beloved Airstream. Not necessarily a favorite moment but a big one nonetheless. So many great memories in the few short years we had her.
  • Volunteering with one of my favorite running programs, Run Girl Run. Coaching and mentoring young runners is such a huge passion and it’s an honor to be involved with this program.
  • My new tattoo! Which I LOVE!
  • New,  *real* running shoes for Mr. Wasn’t Just the Wine Talking. He’s been putting in some serious miles and will be running his first half marathon, the Youngberg Hills Half Marathon, in just a couple of weeks. It was high time he get fitted for a pair by a specialist.

A few random photos from my April adventures…

And now May is officially here. A super busy one at that. We are preparing for my daughters graduation from high school early next month and all of the activities that come with it, a few fun mini-adventures, and lots of running!

Happy May!!

*Weekly mileage*

Mileage for the week of February 23rd – March 1st

Total weekly mileage: 63.25

Total February mileage (to-date): 240.25

Total March mileage (to-date): 19

Total year-to-date (2015) mileage: 472

Run review:

2/23          No run/rest day

2/24         41:52 min./5.25 mi./8:13 pace

42:42 min./5.18 mi./8:15 pace (*track/speed workout)

5:00 min/.57 mi./8:48 pace

2/25         1:09:52 min./8 mi./8:43 pace

2/26         40:41 min./4.75 mi./8:34 pace

2/27         1:48:22 min./13.25 mi./8:11 pace

2/28         27:52 min./3 mi./9:17 pace

39:38 min./4.25 mi./9:20 pace

3/1           2:37:40 min./19 mi./8:18 pace

*My pace average from my track/speed workout on the 24th doesn’t really reflect that I actually did some *speed work* but I let my Garmin run during the recovery portions of the workout, hence the slower pace.

Most of my runs last week were run at a slower pace than is typical for me but I know I needed to bring the intensity down a little bit. I already mentioned that it was a bit of a rough week but I’m grateful to have successfully completed another solid week of training at the mileage I set out to reach.

Today I rest. And stretch. And make the most of this recovery day (in fact, I just awoke from a decadent nap!) which includes finalizing my March (MARCH!) training schedule. Because the bitch that reality is, punched me in the face this morning: 49 days until the Boston Marathon!!!!!!!

*Flirting with fast*

When you were a kid, did you ever strap on a pair of tennis shoes (because back then they had Velcro tabs and all athletic shoes were called “tennis” shoes) and just take off running at a sprint for the pure joy of it? Did you feel invincible? Did you feel like you could just take flight and be free? Did you feel fast?

Apparently I haven’t grown up yet because I got a new pair of running shoes this past weekend and I have high expectations that they are going to make me a faster runner!

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The magic of new shoes! (Brooks PureFlow 3)

Actually, I began to break them in last night with my second track workout with Portland Running Company. I’m trying to commit to attending weekly, at least through February, though I’m hopeful I can continue throughout my Boston Marathon training cycle. I’m more committed than ever because something magical really did happen.

I felt fast.

The previous week my pace flirted with a 7:00 minute-mile but never dropped into a (high) 6:00 minute pace. The workout last night was different from the week before: a mile cut-down. We started at 1600, then dropped to 1200, 800, 400, and 200. Each separated by one minute of rest between each set.

Even as a fairly seasoned runner (though without being a high school or collegiate runner), I’m learning new things all the time. For instance, I didn’t know what a mile cut-down was until last night. (I found some good information on the mile cut-down on the McMillian Running website.)  I also had never take a true rest break during interval training before, meaning that instead of reducing my speed but continuing to run at an easy pace, I actually stopped and walked for about a minute before moving onto the next round. I found it was beneficial and glad I gave it a shot because I would not have stopped had I been training on my own.

I also learned that one session can provide measurable progress. While the outcome for speed sessions are going to vary based on the desired goal(s),  it seemed that my Garmin was stuck at a 7:00 pace, no matter how hard I tried. Imagine how pleased I was to see my time finally dip down to a 6:30 pace last night! Even better, on my last round, which was 200 meters, I gave it one more punch and was shocked when I caught a glimpse of my watch. It read 5:30.

So apparently I can run fast when I want to. Maybe not at a sustained pace of 5:30, but boy! Just seeing my time drop after a week gives me confidence in my ability for continued improvement.

Of course, I haven’t ruled out the magic of the new shoes but either way, WOO FRICKIN’ HOO!