*Ridiculous insane obsessiveness*

I’ve always considered myself to be just average talent and what I have is a ridiculous insane obsessiveness for practice and preparation.  ~ Will Smith

This quote found its way into my Instagram feed earlier today and something about it made me say YES! It summarizes my own obsessiveness when it comes to running because what I lack in talent or ability, I make up for it with my passion for working hard to achieve my goals.

I spend a ridiculous amount of time “running.” It’s true. While I only spend maybe 30-60 minutes a day, on average, actually doing the act that is running, I spend many more minutes, er, hours each day thinking about running, reading about running, planning my next run, fueling for a run, recovering from a run, hydrating before a run, talking about running, daydreaming about running, writing about running, researching races to run…  you get the idea, right?

While I was (you guessed it!) out running this morning, I was thinking about how I organize my life and it occurred to me that I plan my days, weeks, and months around running.

That all said, don’t dare think that I neglect my family or other responsibilities (unless you consider the laundry basket of clean clothes that I should fold but am ignoring instead). I was reflecting back over the past week and found myself satisfied with my mileage and my ability to structure my days around the things that matter most to me.  Especially since it was a busy week with the real job, the writing job, and another endeavor I’ve taken on (which I’m not quite yet ready to talk about publicly).

My priority this past week was spending as much time with Mr. Wasn’t Just the Wine Talking as possible before he headed out on his next adventure, a separation spanning several weeks. I still managed 41 miles in spite of moving my long run to tomorrow to maximize the little time we had this morning before he headed to the airport.

So back to my point, which is this: preparation is the key. Planning, organizing, and tweaking (as needed), I believe, is what makes us successful in achieving whatever it is that we want. (The practice part is right up there too but in order to get to the practice part, we need to prepare for it, no?)

Today marks five weeks out until the Portland Marathon. And because sometimes, no matter how much you prepare, organize, and tweak, you still may find yourself off track… ahem… as is my current situation. I’m two weeks behind on my long run mileage because of the knee debacle. But instead of allowing it to completely derail me, I’m back at the obsessive preparation stage and planning out the next few weeks leading up to race day. I’m ready to work hard.

The first task at hand is preparing for my long run tomorrow which will be an attempt at 18 miles and I really, really, REALLY need it to go well. (And I say “attempt” because I am basically skipping past 16 and 17. Eek! ) Preparation today includes TONS of water (because when your Mister is leaving for 6 weeks you live up your last day together!), clean eats and slightly increased carbs, no wine/alcohol, a midday siesta and an early bedtime this evening, stretching, planning and making a quick, easy breakfast of overnight oats, checking out route options, charging my watch and getting my gear in order. Wish me luck!

And just because I saw this the other day at lunch and it made me smile…

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See? It’s all running, all the time!!

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*Weekly mileage ~ April 25-May 1*

Mileage for the week of April 25th – May 1st

Total weekly mileage: 13.25

Total April mileage: 31.75

Total May mileage (to-date): 0

Total year-to-date (2016) mileage: 334

Run review:

4/25           26:05 min./3 mi./8:42 pace

4/26           No run

4/27           No run

4/28          26:30 min./3.25 mi./8:09 pace

4/29          28:39 min./3.5 mi./8:11 pace

4/30          31:39 min./3.5 mi./9:03 pace

5/1            No run

After another week of building up my base, I’m happy to report that I’m feeling ready to kick it up again. The dust is starting to settle and the desire to run more is bubbling up inside of me. My biggest challenge is finding running routes. I’m located in a pretty busy area with multiple large intersections, freeway on/off ramps, crazy-ass California drivers (No offense to my California readers but holy speeding BMW, Batman!), and lots of traffic in general. And truth be told, I HATE waiting at traffic lights.

I have discovered a nice park nearby with a path and there are some quiet residential streets that I enjoy running through within about a half mile. I look forward to venturing out a bit further as I tack on more mileage but it has also been nice to familiarize myself with my ‘hood a bit. It has allowed me to gain confidence in knowing that I could find my way back home. Ha!

In the future, I’m hoping to connect with one or two of the small local running groups that meet up weekly. There are at least three options that I’ve found and I cannot wait to start connecting with other runners in the area. I’m sure, in due time, I’ll have a lot of new running friends.

And in case you missed it on Instagram…

Have a great week and happy May!

*Keepin’ it real*

Comparison is the thief of joy.

On any given day, I can open up any of my numerous social media feeds and find images and text from runners, ranging from beginner to elite, that have posted about some great run in which they felt fantastic, flawlessly executed a tempo run, or hit a major mileage milestone.

I am inspired by their stories and their images. On some days, when I am struggling to find my own motivation to lace up and hit the road, I rely on these Instagram feeds to fuel my desire to get out there and make it happen.

But what I’ve been noticing lately is more of a comparison that I cannot live up to. In turn, I feel defeated and frustrated when I cannot match what others are doing. And while I know that each of us are on our own individual journeys, my competitive drive and ambition to push myself makes me think that if so-and-so is out there running 10 miles, then I should be too.

Case in point, earlier this week I came up with a new mantra: get your shit together! (GYST for short.) I’ve been frustrated by my inability to get really focused. I’ve got a fall marathon on the calendar and here it is 10 weeks out, and I don’t really even have a training plan organized. I’ve been beating myself up over the fact that I’m not pushing myself on runs and haven’t hit a sub-8:13 minute mile average run in over a month. (I ran the entire Boston Marathon at an 8:08 pace for crying out loud!) Every run lately has been slow, sluggish, and often somewhat painful. (The usual suspects… grumpy glutes, hamstrings, low back… blah, blah, blah.) The GYST mantra was a feeble attempt to force myself out of the funk I’ve been in for the past few months.

And then yesterday morning, while out for what was originally going to be a 13 mile run but was shortened to 10… then 9 miles, I had an epiphany. I don’t need to push myself harder to break through this barrier. I need a break. Like an entire week off of running kind of break.

The though scares me to death. I haven’t taken more than five consecutive days off in more than two-and-a-half years and that was immediately following the Seattle Marathon in December 2013. But what I fear is, if I don’t take a break, either an injury will force me to take major time off or I hit total burnout. I sense I’m on the verge of one or the other so it seems smart to nip it in the bud while I’m calling the shots!

That is not to say that I’m going to be sitting around on my ass for an entire week eating pad Thai and drowning my sorrows with a Netflix marathon. When I began really considering this break yesterday, I realized that this coming week would actually be good timing… I have family coming to stay with us for a few days, my daughter departs for basic training, I will be traveling towards the end of the week and was already planning on doing some serious hiking… it just seems like a natural time to do it. My intention is at least 7 days but if I’m going absolutely crazy after three days off, then I can decide at that point how I wish to proceed.

My plan is to stay active and cross-train throughout the week by walking, hiking, biking, hitting up my yoga mat, etc. There will be mandatory physical activity each day. (Except for today because I totally blew off my run this morning! So rare for me but my body was screaming for a rest day.) Ideally, I’d like to walk at least 60 minutes most days and then add another activity on top of that unless it’s on those hiking days. Also, I thought it would be a good idea to have something to look forward to after my break is over so I’m going to scrounge up a few bucks and buy myself a much-needed new pair of running shoes and perhaps even a new piece or two of running apparel.

I’ve never wanted to give the impression in this space, or anywhere really, that I’m perfect and I always love running and it always loves me. I have my insecurities about my abilities as a runner and about myself as an athlete in general. I’m sharing this here because this blog has always held a space for me to be accountable. Not to you, but to ME. And I know I’m not alone in these struggles so I find solace in knowing that when I do share things with my readers, we connect even deeper. Even the messy, I-can’t-get-my-shit-together sort of stuff.

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Determined to find my joy again.

Rest assured that I’ll still be posting throughout the week. In fact, I think it will be healthy for me to do so. This may challenge me more than the hard runs and self-doubt I’ve been experiencing lately but I’m ready to find my joy again and run for the love of running, not because I’m trying to keep up with anyone else. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Have a great weekend!

*Portland Marathon Ambassador*

A few days ago I received some super exciting news from the Portland Marathon! They invited me to be an ambassador for the 2015 race, which will be held on October 4th!! (Welp – – guess that means I need to start training! HA!)

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I knew immediately after running it in 2013 that it would be a race that I would run over and over again. The mostly flat course winds through several Portland neighborhoods and provides some of the best views Portland has to offer. Every detail of the race, from the entertainment along the route to the tree seedling that they give participants at the finish, makes the event one to remember!

It is such an honor to be able to share this great event with my readers and I’ll be doing more of that in the days to come! I will note that registration usually fills about August so if you’ve been considering running the Portland Marathon, you might want to sign up soon! (It is a great destination race too! The areas surrounding Portland include fantastic sightseeing and hiking opportunities in the Columbia River Gorge, easy day trips to our beautiful beaches, and of course world-class wines in the Willamette Valley!)

I want to extend a huge THANKS to the great folks at the Portland Marathon for welcoming me into their family!

Speaking of family, I’m heading out for a little family adventure for a few days. I won’t be posting while I’m gone but if you care to follow my shenanigans, you can find me on Instagram. Have a great weekend!!

*Good, better, best*

The Boston Marathon edition.

Holy moly!

My alarm is set for 3 AM tomorrow morning as the final stage of this Boston journey begins. The culmination of more than two years of dreaming, training, running, hoping, stressing, aching, and ever other *ing* you can imagine. In five short days, I will be running one of the most prestigious marathons in the entire world.

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A little vino to calm my pre-travel jitters. ; )

As has become tradition, I am going to share my race goals in the form of good, better, and best. This is above-and-beyond the experience of the trip itself. I’m a runner. I’m competitive. I want to go to Boston and prove that I earned my spot there. But no matter what, the trip in its entirety, will be what I can only imagine as one of the highlights of my life, regardless of how I “race”.

GOOD :: Earn another BQ. While not necessarily a PR, I’d be pleased to finish with a time that proves I deserve to be running among such incredible athletes. Anything under 3:40:00 would be a *good* finish for me.

BETTER :: But who doesn’t want to PR? I do! I would really love to beat my BQ time of 3:35:01. That’s an 8:13 average pace. I’ve run long training runs at a faster pace than that so I know it’s in me… everything just needs to come together on race day.

BEST :: Ultimately, I’d love to run a sub-3:30 marathon. Shave five minutes of my PR? Run an 8:00 average? It’s lofty, yes? But not unattainable. I’m close and hoping that Marathon Monday is the day that all of my efforts to make this race my best yet, manifest into what would be my *best* race outcome.

With that, I’m off to finish packing and then hitting the hay! Please forgive my sporadic posts over the next week… but if you’re interested in keeping up with my Boston adventures, be sure to connect with me on my social media sites, listed below. Goodnight!

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram 

*Weekly mileage*

Mileage for the week of March 16th – March 22nd

Total weekly mileage: 63.5

Total March mileage (to-date): 179.75

Total year-to-date (2015) mileage: 632.75

Run review:

3/16          No run/rest day

3/17         55:38 min./7 mi./7:57 pace

3/18         1:46:34 min./13 mi./8:12 pace

3/19         42:38 min./5.25 mi./8:07 pace

3/20         1:35:59 min./12 mi./8:00 pace

3/21         47:07 min./5.25 mi./8:59 pace

3/22          2:55:51 min./21 mi./8:22 pace

The delay in posting last weeks mileage is due to the fact that it is spring break here in Oregon (so sorry to my friends still covered in snow!) and we’ve been off having adventures! (Pics can be found on my Instagram page.)

Last week turned out to be a pretty great training week, culminating in a 21-mile run on Sunday. My longest training run ever! This week, things are off to a shaky start but I’m remaining optimistic. For the first time this training cycle, I opted to take a unprescribed rest day. My SI joint-related issues flared up a bit and I’m trying to play it smart and safe. Reactive, yes. But I’d rather react now than to push through the pain and find myself in a much worse state closer to race day.

Speaking of race day… the Boston Marathon is in 26 days!!!!!!!!!!!

*Zaniness at Zion*

The laughs generated by the awesome comments I received after yesterday’s post were much-needed. I wasn’t soliciting an outpouring of support but you guys sure know how to make a girl feel loved!! Thank you!!

Onward!

I’ve been eager to share what went down at Ragnar Trail Zion! I was really blessed to be able to travel down early, get acclimated to the higher elevation, enjoy some sunshine and dry weather, and spend time with my dear friend and her sister. St. George, Utah, is really beautiful and I was so grateful to have a fantastic place to stay so close to the relay site. I was very well cared for!!

On Friday morning I drove from St. George to the Zion Ponderosa Ranch. The drive forces you to literally drive 11 miles through Zion. I was really bummed about that. NOT! It is unbelievably gorgeous!! I took my time and made sure to stop for a few pics en route.

Driving through Zion to Ragnar.

The drive through Zion.

The drive through Zion to Ragnar.

Such a gorgeous trip!

Just after you exit the park, you turn off the highway and travel about 6 or so miles up into the hills basically overlooking Zion. My original plan was to pull into the off-site parking and just take my bags with me on the shuttle to the site but I missed the turn and drove right to the ranch. They were asking people to unload and then drive 4 miles back down to park for the weekend.

When I parked to unload, I realized I had no idea where to look for my team… how would I find a group of 7 people I’d never met before among approximately 3000 people and what seemed like about 3000 campsites too? To compound that, I had no cell service where I was at.  I had no choice but to get out, leave the car, and wander around until I *hopefully* found my team.

As far as the eye can see...

Camp at Ragnar Trail Zion!

I started down the road and got maybe 20 feet when I noticed a group of people unloading a car. One of the guys caught my eye. Now I’ve spent weeks interacting with my fellow Nuun Ambassador, George, but I’d never met him in person. From the pictures I’d seen on-line, the guy unloading camping gear seemed to fit George’s likeness. I asked “you’re not George, are you”? To which he replied yes!! What are the odds that we’d arrive at the same time and park within just a few short feet of each other?!?

After introductions, we carried the gear to where another team member had already set up camp complete with two tents, a canopy, a heater to stay warm when temps dropped overnight, chairs, coolers, you name it! But it gets better! Shortly after we arrived, a couple drove up on a golf cart. Another team member and her husband. As it turns out, they had rented a cabin on-site so that her husband could stay there with their 6-year-old grandson, whose dad was also on the team.

Immediately, they offered to allow us to park our cars at the cabin so that we wouldn’t have to bother with the shuttle. Sweet! They also then offered to allow us to use the cabin to shower, sleep, cook/eat or do laundry. What??? Here I was thinking I’d be “roughing it” all weekend. When we got there, which was maybe a quarter of a mile from our campsite, I realized the “cabin” is actually a log house with 3.5 baths, 3 bedrooms and sleeps 11. We were hooked up!!!!

Our first runner started at 2 PM. The camp “village” was buzzing with people and energy. Teams gathered there to send off their runners or hang out while waiting until a runner returned and it was time to switch. That is one of the unique things I really loved about the event. All team members start and finish at the same spot and run loops. It is very different from a traditional relay where you are in a van and drive point-to-point to exchange runners. It was fun to be able to hang out with all members of the team as opposed to just the teammates in your van.

The trail map.

The trail map.

This pattern would continue through the night and wrap up sometime early afternoon on Saturday. At least a week before the event, I started hearing reports that the weather forecast was not looking favorable for the weekend. On Friday afternoon, while it was overcast with some sun breaks, there was a nasty wind and a threat of thunder and lightning. The wind gusts were wicked! Since it is essentially a desert-like climate, it is very dry. Every time the wind would pick up you’d have to turn your back and bury your head in your shirt to avoid getting a mouthful of dirt. Had that been the worst of it, the event would have carried on flawlessly.

I ran my first leg in the early evening and it was a lot of fun! Very treacherous terrain though. The trails are mainly used by equestrians although some were wider to accommodate ATV’s. Either way, a little tricky to navigate. I was sucking air and felt parched but was overall pleased with my time on the 3.1 mile loop which was rated easy. Our estimated pace, as a team, was 11 minute miles. I ran the “green” loop in 30:22, averaging a 9:48 pace.

The calm before the storm.

The calm before the storm.

Running aside, what was most concerning was the 100% chance of rain forecasted to reach us around 2 AM. Right around the time I’d be on the trail again. Good times. I believe I started running around 1:45 AM on the “red” loop. This loop, rated the hardest of all three, is 8.6 miles with steep hilly sections and what I heard where fantastic views… none of which I got to enjoy because it was pitch black!

As I was waiting for the runner ahead of me to return, the sprinkles started. Over the course of the hour and 43 minutes I was on the course, the rain steadily increased until it was pretty much dumping buckets. Just before mile four I rolled my ankle. Another mile or two later I fell. A mile after that I fell again. It was brutal out there!!! Despite using the headlamp and a small flashlight, my depth perception was way off. I felt like I was drunk. Not the greatest run ever. Bruised and sore, I got back before the weather took another turn for the worse finishing with a 12:20 average pace.

I was freezing the minute I finished, as was the teammate who finished before me, so we hightailed it over to the cabin to shower, get warm, eat, and hopefully catch a nap before we’d be up for round three. We were absolutely soaked, muddy, and miserable and SUPER grateful that we had solution. My heart truly felt for the thousands of people stuck with no option but to wait it out inside a tent!

Around 5 AM we laid down to grab a couple of hours of sleep. When we awoke just a few short hours later, we couldn’t believe the news we were hearing!!! While I was laying there half awake, I decided to check out updates on my Instagram and Facebook accounts. What I discovered was quite a shock. The ambassador rep from Nuun Hydration was at the event and had just posted a group picture of her team in big puffy winter jackets surrounded by SNOW! Lots and lots of it!! I jumped up out of bed and sure enough, a good two inches had fallen in the 2.5 hours I had been asleep. Her caption with the picture read: “SNOW just canceled Ragnar Trail Zion!”

This was NOT in the forecast!

This was NOT in the forecast!

Not sure what was happening back at camp, we didn’t know what to think! Finally our team members began to filter back over to the cabin to relayed the news that indeed, the event had been called due to the snow.

Canceled. Over. Done.

Our final runner on the course was on the same loop I had finished a few hours earlier. While it was light outside, the snow made it nearly impossible to see the trail or the markers meant to help guide us. The poor girl was out there for about 2.5 hours and frozen when she got back!! While it was disappointing that we couldn’t finish what we set off to do, I think the Ragnar team made a good call in cancelling the remainder of the race.

Before and after.

Before and after.

My plan all along was to stay the night after the event was over and camp out with my team. I was a little concerned about traveling back if the conditions worsened but I really wanted to stay. Plus, we had a toasty warm and cozy cabin to stay in complete with a few bottles of wine. I’m a sucker for wine, you know? ; )

And a sucker for the front porch!

And a sucker for the front porch!

I’m so glad I waited it out. The snow melted off later in the afternoon with some mild flurries off and on all evening. I had such a fantastic time bonding with my team while sitting around a propane heater watching it snow. We made the very best of the situation and I think that memory will stay with me longer than the one of the cancelled event.

Team bonding post-relay.

Team bonding post-relay.

Sunday morning we woke to blue sky! I began making my way back to St. George but took my time, again stopping several times for pictures and little walks along the Virgin River.

The Virgin River in Zion.

The Virgin River in Zion.

That view is awe inspiring!

That view is awe-inspiring!

I fell in love with the sweet little town at the entrance to the park, Sringdale, Utah. It’s a quaint tourist town with lots of cute shops, restaurants, and kindred nature-loving spirits. I had to stop for a snack and took a short walk around town before the final stretch of the drive back.

Such a great group of people!!

Such a great group of people!!

Team Captain George and I before departing.

Team Captain George and I before departing.

I would not change a single thing about my journey, the race, or my time there. Everything happens for a reason and I feel so very blessed to have been extended the invite and the opportunity to actually go. I met some fantastic people whom I hope to cross paths with again in the future. I got to spend time with a my friend and I got to experience the vast beauty of Zion. It was such a wonderful trip!!!

Rumor has it that the cabin has already been reserved for next year…