*Weekly mileage ~ Nov. 28-Dec. 4*

Mileage for the week of November 28th – December 4th

Total weekly mileage: 32.5

Total November mileage: 126.5

Total December mileage: 23.5

Total year-to-date (2016) mileage: 1,353.25

Week in review:

11/28      No run/sick

11/29      29:15 min./3 mi./9:43 pace

11/30      25:04 min./2.9 mi./8:39 pace (NP PR day)

27:16 min./3.10 mi./8:48 pace

12/1       45:28 min./5 mi./9:08 pace

12/2      45:25 min./5 mi./9:05 pace

12/3      30:50 min./3.5 mi./8:49 pace

12/4      1:21:06 min./10 mi./8:07 pace

This week was a mixed bag that, all considered, turned out decent enough. Most of my runs were done at an easy pace with the first few days focused on trying to get back to 100% after a flu/stomach bug. The week culminated with my first double-digit run since the Portland Marathon.

I’m still ironing out some kinks but I’ve got a whole post in progress regarding the new training cycle I’ve just started. All of the sudden on Saturday afternoon, it occurred to me that I already have less than 16 weeks to prepare for the LA Marathon. The realization sent me into a state of urgency to get to business. I had intended to be more organized in planning my training for this cycle. Not the best way to start what I’m hoping will be… well, I’ll share more on that later, but it’s starting to come together. Even if most of it is still in my head. (I’m a HUGE advocate for writing out goals, plans, checklists, to-dos, the like and this step is really important to me.)

Anyway, busy, busy. As usual!

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*Magical unicorn rainbow stardust shit*

For pretty much the entire duration of my training cycle leading up to the Portland Marathon, I let self-doubt rule. Slow training runs plagued with discomfort, a random knee ailment that forced me to miss several days, lack of training supplemental to my long runs (ie: hill repeats, track work, etc.), and not feeling as fit as I could have been in general lead me to feel that I wasn’t up for a rockstar race performance or that I deserved to line up in the B coral.

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In the days leading up to the race, I shared my wish list of what I hoped could happen if for some reason, and I quote “magical unicorn rainbow stardust shit” shows up the morning of the event. Given the mounting insecurity, especially with the travel, on-the-go eating, time on my feet at the expo, and cramming in as much time as I could with family and friends while I was in Portland, I really was just hoping I’d be able to run the whole damn thing without a DNF (did  not finish).

On Saturday afternoon I pretty much thought I was screwed. I was exhausted while I worked a few hours in the Portland Marathon information booth at the packet pickup and expo. I bailed a little bit early because my legs were tired from standing and I was getting hungry. I found a bite and browsed a few stores to kill some time and take my mind off the marathon. Mr. Wasn’t Just the Wine Talking was working just a few blocks away so I was planning to make my way to his location but wasn’t in a huge hurry because I’d be basically just waiting around until he finished his day.

I finally made my way there but was feeling a little cranky and was getting hungry again so I toured the set and watched some of the filming before I went out in search of food again. When I returned, I found a distant corner in a hallway and set up camp. I napped for about an hour before someone woke me up apparently concerned whether or not I was okay. Not long after filming wrapped for the day, Mr. WJTWT and I walked around the corner to a bar. I was so groggy, and exhausted, and emotional that I was literally crying into my wine glass with worry about the race. (Yes, I drank a little wine the evening before.) Mr. WJTWT proceeded to give me a pep talk which helped and promised me a chill evening and early bedtime.

We picked up Thai food as we made our way to where we’d be staying for the night. (I had Thai for dinner the night before I ran the Boston Marathon so I was hoping for some good juju.) Another glass of wine was consumed with dinner and then I started getting ready for bed.

Originally, the weather was forecasted to be perfect! Around 55° at the start with a high of 77° for the day and dry and sunny! Reports Saturday starting indicating a turn and sure enough, I woke on Sunday to pouring rain. Considering I’ve probably run the majority of my runs over the course of my life in some sort of precipitation, the rain itself wasn’t too much of concern. However, for the past four months, I’ve been training in a warmer, dryer climate so of course, this was cause for added anxiety about how things would unfold.

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The pre-race look of terror while trying to fake a smile…

Mr. WJTWT drove me to downtown Portland and dropped me off just a few blocks from where I needed to enter the coral holding area. I immediately jumped in the porta potty line and then found shelter in a doorway where I waited right up until they moved the coral toward the starting line. My relentless and optimistic ambition had me join the 3:30 pace group. I wasn’t cold but I should have probably made some effort to warm up… which I didn’t. Fortunately, the rain had become more of a light mist and restored hope that maybe we’d have a dry morning.

Soon we were off in a congested glob of sogginess. I immediately was several yards behind the pace group and then found myself among the 3:35 group. That was fine with me. I hung with them for a little while but they pulled ahead and again I was separated by a mass of bodies rhythmically prodding forward.

It took me a couple of miles until I caught back up to the 3:35 group, somewhere between mile four and five. The pace felt too easy so I sped up and set my sights on catching up with the 3:30 group. I believe it was around mile 7 that I settled in with the 3:30 pacers. That lasted until about mile 12 when my pace dropped back and I once again found myself among the 3:35 pack.

Somewhere along the way the rain returned. And then the wind picked up. I started to get chilled and aware of the increasing numbness is my legs and fingers along with psoas discomfort on my right side. Good times. I had a few mantras on rotation that I kept running through my head which I believe was ultimately what got me to the finish line.

Similar to the first year I ran Portland, the approach to the St. Johns Bridge proved to be a setback. The elevation at the peak of the bridge is about 150 feet. My strategy was to take it easy but stick close to the pace group. As I started to ascend, I struck up a conversation with a runner who commented that it was steeper than he thought. We used each other as a distraction from the hill, up and over the bridge, and into the residential neighborhood of St. Johns. While the distraction was nice, my pace slowed more than I wanted it to and now I was further from the 3:35 pace group. I started to fear that the 3:40’s would be hot on my heels soon.

I never really got back to the low 8:00 pace I desired. I settled into a roughly 8:25 pace and decided that from mile 19 to 23 I’d hang there and then pick it up for the last 5k. I could no longer feel anything from my hips down and marveled at how I could still actually be moving with no feeling. But despite that, I didn’t feel like I was completely falling apart. I kept repeating my mantras over and over. I smiled at the spectators that braved the rain to cheer for us and loved hearing people yell out at me, by name since it was printed on my bib, that I looked strong, had a great stride, etc. (That made a huge difference.) I talked with a few runners as we briefly paced side by side. I just kept moving forward.

Those last few miles were tough. They always are. But I was able to pick up my pace slightly. The 3:35 pace group was long gone but the 3:40’s hadn’t caught up yet so I found some hope that I still might make it to the finish line in under 3:40. I gave it everything I had left the last mile and when I rounded the final corner and saw the time, I knew I’d have a Boston qualifying time, even if a squeaker.

I finished in 3:37:40.

It wasn’t a PR but I walked (slowly and painfully) away completely satisfied with my performance. Given the conditions and how I felt leading up to race day, staying mentally strong was a HUGE win for me!

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Good enough for a BQ! Even if only by a 2:20 margin!

You just never really know what you’re going to get on race day. Months of preparation can be affected by so many variables… whether or not you’re in a good mental state, the weather, how rested you are, what you consumed in the days leading up to the event… a lot of it is truly chance. And maybe some magical unicorn rainbow stardust shit.

*Good, Better, Best – Marathon #9*

In a little under 24 hours, I will be landing in Portland for a whirlwind weekend of catching up with my loves, representing the Portland Marathon at the Sports and Fitness Expo, running the marathon on Sunday, and spending as much time as I can with family and friends. I have a feeling it’s going to be a doozy.

So with that, here is my outline of goals for my 9th marathon this Sunday.

Good: show up at the starting line feeling fresh, ready (mentally and physically), and confident.

I’ve had a headache for about four days now along with some mild sinus pressure and an overall feeling of tiredness. I’m assuming it’s some sort of allergy but it’s driving me a bit bonkers. I’ve been getting less sleep than I had hoped due to an overactive mind and on several occasions, waking up in the early morning hours and not being able to return to sleep. I’ve been busy with projects that have cut into time I’d hoped to utilize for more stretching, rest, and relaxation.

On top of all that, I’m starting to find myself in a bit of a panic about the few days leading up to the marathon with working the expo and some crazy-ass logistics that are still being sorted out. Oh, and believe it or not, one of my biggest worries is about food. Trying to maintain consistency with your diet prior to racing when traveling and inevitably eating out (and celebrating your birthday no less) I’m sure is going to be challenging.

There is nothing I can do about it at this point except make the best of it and pray that despite being busy and running around crazy in the days leading up to the race, I toe the line knowing that I’ve done everything in my power to show up prepared to the best of my ability.

Better: a Boston Marathon qualifying race

There is a little part (okay, big part) of me that fears being a “one hit wonder.” Which essentially means that I often wonder if qualifying for the Boston Marathon was a fluke. (Technically, I’ve qualified twice since I requalified with my finish time at Boston in 2015, but still…) I’d really like to see if I’m capable of knocking out another sub-3:40 finish. Walking (crawling?) away from the finish line with a BQ would be pretty dang amazeballs!

Best: a 3:30 (or under) finish

A PR would be nice but my ultimate desire is to run a 3:30 (or under) marathon. Truthfully, I’m not sure this marathon is the one. But I can still dream for some magical unicorn rainbow stardust shit on race day! If only my dreams matched my actual ability.

Regardless of the outcome on Sunday, I’m excited for the opportunity to run a great race in a city that I love and call home.

If you happen to be running the Portland Marathon, I’ll be working at the information booth during packet pickup on Friday 10/7 from 11-3:30 and Saturday 10/8 from 9-2. Please come by and say hello!

With my focus on my family and the race this weekend, I’ll be absent here but check out my Instagram account for updates on the festivities. And to those of you running Portland or any event this weekend….Chicago… what else? The very best of luck to you for a fantastic race!

*One week until marathon #9*

Time flies, doesn’t it?

It seems like just a few days ago that I was considering whether or not I was going to actually train for, and run, the Portland Marathon. I decided to go for it since I’d been registered since the end of last year and to be honest, I needed something to get me moving again after the stress of relocating. Now, in just four days, I’ll be heading home to Oregon and preparing for my 9th marathon next Sunday.

pdxmarathon

Crazy.

I ran my last “long” run this morning. Eight conservative miles. It was the first morning that actually felt like autumn. It was much cooler than most recent days and so welcome! I’m hoping that training in the heat here in Los Angeles will work to my advantage next weekend!

My week will be easy mileage-wise and I plan to take an extra day off on Friday, in addition to my regularly scheduled rest day on Monday. I will run four easy miles on Tuesday, four miles on Wednesday with two miles at tempo, three miles on Thursday, and two on Saturday.

I feel as ready as I think I’m going to feel at this point. My only concern is that it’s going to be a bit a whirlwind with traveling Thursday (on my birthday no less!), working two shifts at the race expo, and trying to spend as much time as I can with my daughter and Mr. WJTWT, all while being mindful to squeeze in as much downtime to rest and relax as I can.

As always, high-quality nutrition, hydration, and self-care are at the top of my list in preparing for race day. A little more challenging when traveling but I’m getting that game plan together too.

I guess it’s about time I start getting serious about creating a list of things I need to pack!

*Taper makin’ me cray*

Happy autumn!

As I write this I’m sitting next to the AC unit, the ceiling fan is on high overhead, and I have a pumpkin scented candle burning. It was 99° today and tomorrow is forecast to be 101°. This Pacific Northwest girl, who loves the changes of the seasons, ESPECIALLY fall, is a bit confused.

The good news is that in a little over a week, I get to head home to Oregon to reunite with Mr. Wasn’t Just the Wine Talking and our daughter, visit family and friends, and soak up some much-needed green and cooler temps. Oh, yeah. And run a marathon!!!

I’m officially two weeks out from marathon #9. While I’ve been tapering (sort of) for the past week, this coming week is when things really begin to shift. Last week was taper “light”, basically. I ran most of my runs easy but still managed a good chunk of mileage. Only 4.5 miles less than the previous week in fact. This coming week will see a slightly bigger drop in mileage and slower paces. More rest and stretching are on deck too.

I’ve come to realize that, and I’ve probably been thinking about this waaaay too much, but the taper is going to be the deciding factor on how race day goes. Yes, I’ve put in the miles but every one seemed to be a struggle during this training cycle. I really had a hard time with pacing and staying mentally strong when my body started to bitch. I’m trying to not let it totally get to my head but honestly, I’m a wee bit worried about the outcome on race day. To counter it, I’m committing myself to hard-core taper self-care these next two weeks.

Even with 8 marathons under my belt, I still struggle with finding confidence in my training, my body’s innate ability to perform and recover, and that I won’t lose my mind during the taper process. I’m already feeling like this taper is makin’ me cray!

With that, I’m off to shoot some vitamin C, chug some water, have a turmeric nightcap, stretch, and hit the hay!

*You’re doing it wrong*

Adaptation

ad·ap·ta·tion / ˌadapˈtāSH(ə)n/

noun

  1. the action or process of adapting or being adapted.
  2. a change or the process of change by which an organism or species becomes better suited to its environment.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been a little bit of a mental mess when it has come to my marathon training. My intentions have been good but I sort of feel like I’ve been doing the whole thing wrong. For various reasons, each week has found me making adaptations to my training plan… which honestly, I’m starting to think it was never very solid to begin with.

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It’s all “fun and games” BEFORE you run 21 miles.

I’ve skipped long runs (due to an injury of sorts). I’ve run two long runs in a 7 day period. I’ve increased my totally weekly mileage by more than 20 miles in a single week. I’ve bumped my long run mileage from 15 to 18 miles in a single run. And then again from 18 to 20 miles. I’ve beat myself up over the *slow* pace of my long runs when in fact, they are supposed to be run slower. I’ve been comparing myself to other runners and their training plans, mileage, paces, etc. (A BIG no-no!) I’ve allowed myself to think that I’m not fit or fast enough, nor have I worked hard enough, to accomplish the goals I’ve set for myself.

Before I continue, I should note that I realize that I’ve done a few things right too. I’ve been trying really hard to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night and naps on the weekend. My nutrition plan has been on target. I’m consuming close to four liters of water each day. My post-run recovery routine has been going well and I’ve been taking one day off completely each week. Also, because early on this week I noticed that I was feeling extra rundown, I backed off my mileage and effort. I skipped my tempo run and opted for a shorter, easy run instead of pushing myself.

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Fueling/refueling like a boss!

I was planning to keep my mileage high… maybe even increase it… for another week before tapering. However, due to how I’ve been feeling during the latter part of my long runs… essentially my body screaming “uncle”… I’ve decided to make another adaptation and am going to call training good. As in, DONE! (I will also note that I believe one of the reasons I’m struggling during my long runs is because I’m running through the city and have to stop numerous times for traffic lights. I lose momentum and I begin stiffening up the moment I stop which makes it hard to get moving again.)

I’ve never tapered for three weeks before. During past training cycles, I’ve run my longest, or close to longest, training run two weeks before the race. I think it’s time to try something new. I’m planning to follow this guide that I found online from Runner’s World. And more important, I’m trying to reframe the messy mental chatter that I’ve been doing it all wrong. Instead, I need to see those adaptations over the preceding weeks as opportunities to become better suited to my environment. I got the mileage in despite the challenges thrown at me. Now, I need to find trust in the final portion of the training process. (And let my body rest!) (And also, you’d think I’ve never trained for a marathon before!)

So, with the Portland Marathon officially three weeks from today, I say, “BRING ON THE TAPER!”

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Ice bath alternative.

*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!!