*Marathon training update*

When the number of days until your next marathon falls under 20, sh*t gets real. That means today, 19 days out, I’m facing that sh*t head on!

This marathon training cycle has felt “off”. While my mileage has been high, my training in general has not been very structured. Or at least not as structured as I think it should be. Every few weeks, for about a year now, I find myself wondering if hiring a coach could help me streamline my training and allow me to reach my highest potential. I know that I have more to give and that I can continue to become better. I just feel a little lost sometimes figuring out how to reach that next level.

The Vernonia Marathon, on April 13th, starts in Vernonia and finishes in Banks, Oregon. It is a small event put on by the Oregon Road Runner’s Club. It is almost entirely on a paved trail, the Vernonia-Banks Linear Trail, a former railroad bed that runs through picturesque forests, along side pristine creeks, and through the quaint communities of Vernonia and Banks.

I ran the half marathon there last year and the year previous, the Crossfit Kid and I volunteered. It is fairly close to home, an easy drive, and it starts a little later which is nice. The later time allows participants to be bused from the finish to the start since it a point-to-point race.

While I’m always hoping for magic on race day, I decided a few weeks ago that Vernonia is not a “target” race for attempting to BQ. More of a gauge to see where I’m at. Sure, if it happens, even by accident, I’d be absolutely thrilled!!! I do plan on really focusing my efforts on the Vancouver USA Marathon in June, just two months later. I have a good feeling about that race! ; )

Last year I ran three marathons in just under five months. The longest span between them was three months. The shortest was a two-month stretch. I felt like I was building momentum, especially between the last two, the Portland Marathon and the Seattle Marathon. Either way, I improved every time I ran and got closer to my qualifying time which was a huge confidence booster!

By the time race day arrives, it will be four and a half months since my last marathon. That break is either going to work in my favor, or not. Of course I hope for the latter.

One other thing to note, which could be a good thing, is that for Portland and Seattle I never ran more than 18 miles during training. While I intended to do at least one 20 mile run during training, I never did but still made gains! Perhaps getting 20 miles in this cycle will contribute in a welcome way.

Meanwhile, this week is my last big training week before I begin to taper. I’m so glad I already got the 20 mile run done. This weekend I’m planning 18, which is still daunting, but it’s not 20!! It seems funny to think that running “only” 18 miles is such a break! Ha!

If you have any experience working with a coach, I’d love your input! It honestly has been on my mind a ton and my biggest hold-up, besides funding, is being absolutely certain that I’m ready and able to commit 100%. I think I’m there, especially as I begin to look toward my next training cycle to prepare for Vancouver.

Okay, enough of that heavy stuff! I hope you are having a great week and for those of you on spring break, getting some needed R&R!

I leave you with a pic from the Portland Shamrock Run last weekend as I crossed  the finish line! Happy Tuesday, friends!

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*Don’t go breaking my heart*

The greatest part of racing tomorrow is that I don’t have to feel guilty about being lazy today! I did run an easy three (very wet!) miles with my running group this morning. Afterwards, I came home, took a hot shower to warm up, and put pajamas on. That is happiness right there!

Now about that race… tomorrow I’m running my first race of 2014 and my first since the Seattle Marathon which was on December 1st. The break between Seattle and the race tomorrow, the Heart Breaker Half, is the longest I’ve had in a about a year. I’m not sure if it’s the span of time between events, feeling an overall lack of fitness, or just a case of pre-race nerves, but my confidence is waning.

What I’d really like is a new half marathon PR! I ran three half marathons in 2013, finishing all three within 9 seconds of each other. My fastest, and current PR, was 1:43:53. 

This morning I sheepishly shared with a running friend that I will often look at the past results from a race I’m about to run to figure out where I might finished. I was relieved when he told me that he does the same thing. I find it comforting to know that I’m not the only person that does this! Anyone else out there want to confess too?

Anyway, based on the results from last year, I’m figuring I’ll at least place in the top 10 for my age division. Being the wishful dreamer that I am, I’d really, really, really like to place in the top five… but there are a lot of factors at play, including “Heart Break Hill” (a mile-long hill with a 150+ ft. elevation gain beginning at mile 2.98), so we’ll just have to see how it goes. I just hope that I don’t get my heart broken!!

As far as the rest of the day today goes, my agenda includes lots of rest (and possibly a nap since I likely won’t sleep well tonight!), watching some track and field, fueling up with plenty of carbs, hydrating like mad (with Nuun, of course!) to make up for the Valentine’s Day wine consumption, getting my gear ready (including the shirt shown below rockin’ my sponsor’s logo), and enjoying a rainy Saturday snuggled up at home.

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So grateful for the support from Z.P. Transport, Inc.!!!

Even when I’m not physically running, I’m submerged in something running related!

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It’s all running, all the time around here!

Now for that nap! Have a great day!

*A look back at 2013*

Never in a million years would I have believed how this year would unfold for me. This time a year ago, there was no plan to run a marathon (or three!). No grand dream of running the Boston Marathon. No idea what a Ragnar Relay was. No sponsor offering support. No goals bigger than running a couple of races for fun. No website…

Crazy how things change and how our goals and dreams evolve over time.

It has certainly been one heck of a ride and I’m so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, the people I’ve met along the way, the things I’ve achieved… and even the things that didn’t go quite right because I’ve learned a lot this year.

My races in 2013 included:

3/17/13   Shamrock Run, Portland, Oregon   15k   1:13:47   7:55 pace

4/14/13   Vernonia Half Marathon, Vernonia, Oregon   13.1   1:43:55   7:56 pace

5/11/13   Hippie Chick Half Marathon, Hillsboro, Oregon 13.1   1:44:05   7:56 pace

7/4/13   Foot Traffic Flat Marathon, Sauvie Island, Oregon   26.2   3:49:04   8:44 pace

8/23-24/13   Hood to Coast, Oregon

9/1/13   Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon, Dundee, Oregon   13.1   1:43:58   7:56 pace

9/7/13   The Color Run, Portland Oregon   5k (no time or pace, just a heck of a lot of fun with my daughter!)

10/6/13   Portland Marathon, Portland, Oregon   26.2   3:42:42   8:30 pace

11/8-9/13   Ragnar Relay Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada

12/1/13   Seattle Marathon, Seattle, Washington   26.2   3:41:33   8:28 pace

Besides the racing (or relaying as the case may be), I was honored with some great opportunities throughout the year. Some of the highlights include:

  • Being featured on Oregon Live’s Run Oregon blog as their featured runner of the week.
  • Getting invited to be a VIP at the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon in September, which of course means that I got to drink more wine! That race also provided me the chance to meet one of my idols, Olympian Kara Goucher, which was beyond awesome!
  • Winning a race entry giveaway on Run Danielle Run, which allowed my daughter and I to run the Color Run. It was a totally new experience and my daughter and I had a blast. I have to tell you, almost four months later, I still have orange dyed powder in my left ear!!
  • Volunteering time to help Fit Right NW with set-up for their fashion show which yielded free passes to the event. It was such a great production and evening. I was really impressed with the whole experience and look forward to next years show.
  • Receiving one of the highlights of my year which was an invite to run a Ragnar Relay with Nuun Hydration and Pro Compression in November. I did not even know what Ragnar was before then. I had never traveled outside of Oregon for a run. It is hard to describe what an amazing weekend it was. I met so many wonderful people and loved representing two fantastic companies. Without a doubt, one of my favorite running adventures EVER!
  • Being gifted on of the most generous gifts ever: sponsorship. Nearly all of the races I ran after July were made possible by Z.P. Transport Inc. and two wonderful people who I am so grateful to have in my orbit. They have changed my life and given me the opportunity to take chances and reminded me that I can believe that dreams do come true.
  • Loving my first coaching gig. I had such a great time as an assistant cross-country coach for a local middle school team and I’m fairly certain that there will be more coaching in my future.
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So many great memories!

Besides those highlights, I also marvel at discovering what I, and my body, is capable of. I run faster in my mid-thirties than I did in my 20’s! I ran three marathons in five months and my time improved with each one. I’ve discovered things about myself… things I didn’t know I wanted, or could do… until I dove into my training and began to follow my heart.

More so, I found so much joy in witnessing both of my children discover running this year. My daughter ran her first half-marathon in July and my son ran his first season of cross-country. As a parent, when your children begin to follow your lead, you can’t help but feel like you’ve done something right!

I ran my final run of the year this morning bringing my yearly total to 1,510. (125 miles for the month of December.) While I didn’t track the first two months of 2012, I roughly finished the previous year with around 800 miles. That increase shows how much of myself I have dedicated to running this year. It also reflects a passion that sometimes surprises me but continues to grow. I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

Then there are the people who have support me this year. And there are so many! But I just want to thank a few here. From the bottom of my heart, please know how thankful I am for you Ron, Makenna, Russell, Mom, Dad, Omma, Papa, Trudi, Allison, Meredith, Woody, and Linda! Thank you for believing in me, encouraging me, cheering for me, driving me, funding me, holding me up when my legs wanted to fail… whatever your role, please know how grateful I am!

I’m super excited about what is to come. Without a doubt, 2014 is going to be a great year and I look forward to sharing my vision with you soon!

Until then, have a wonderful New Year’s Eve. Make time today to reflect and take stock while you celebrate the passing year and all that you have to look forward to in the coming one. Above all, please be safe!

Cheers!! xo

*Woody: Let’s do this!*

My friend Woody turns 50 next week. The day after Christmas. A few weeks ago he mentioned to me that he wanted to run 50 miles the week leading up to his birthday. Not much unlike a goal I would probably set for myself, I told him I’d do whatever I could to help him reach it.

(Similarly, if you don’t read Skinny Runner’s blog, she ran 31 miles on her 31st birthday this week! How awesome is that?!?)

As the story goes, I actually met Woody while running a charity race in my town back in the late 90’s. (Am I really old enough to say that?) Our paths have continued to cross over the years and for the past couple of them, I have volunteered time with a couple of programs he manages through his work with the Oregon State University Extension Service. Anyway, our friendship has been primarily based on one commonality: our love of running!

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Coaching (and goofing off) at XC.

After setting his goal, he made it public by posting about it on our local running group Facebook page. He was seeking support and offers from friends and group members to run with him. Later, he told me he had regretted telling people because it made him feel committed. Awww… gotta love accountability.

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The 50 mile plan. (Pic stolen from Facebook.)

Fast forward another week, to last night, when I received a text message from him. (At this point he probably already hates me so what the hell…) It read:

“I’m going to run next week, but I’m abandoning the 50 mile goal. My body can’t take it. I haven’t run since last Saturday. I’ve not prepared my body for the abuse. Not willing to risk sidelining the running I do get in. I know I suck and am a pansy for pulling the plug. Major failure!!”

My intention is not to bring shame to my friend, or maliciously hurt his feelings. I’m sharing his story because I know that we have all been in the same place he is at some point or another. And let me tell you, after three unsuccessful attempts at trying to run a Boston qualifying marathon this year, I know a thing or two about feeling like a failure.

The funny thing is though, we forget that we are in control. We decide what and where we want to put our energy and effort into. One of the first things I told him in my response was that being honest with yourself is a huge step forward. Sometimes having that conversation with yourself about where you are with your training, your current level of ability, your enthusiasm for your goal, etc., can be tough. In fact, it can be a total game changer! His concerns are legit but at the same time, he has already planted that seed that it’s not possible to complete the challenge he created, so why bother at all?

So here’s the thing. Modify your goal. Really. No one else has the authority over you to tell you that you must do exactly what you said you where. If, in your heart, you can let the original idea or goal go and manifest a new one, awesome. If, when you have that conversation with yourself and you still believe that your goal is possible, or at the very least, you want to TRY, figure out what steps you need to take to make it happen and then get going.

After the Seattle Marathon, when I was pouting and feeling sorry for myself, instead of everyone agreeing with me that I was a total loser, they were congratulating me and telling me how proud of me they were. (Woody was one of them.) Go figure. The only person that thought I was a failure was me.

I also suggested to him that he try to not look at the overall, big picture. 50 miles in 7 days is a lot to process and without a doubt, overwhelming, if you aren’t running that kind of mileage regularly.

So lets start with day one. Ten miles. Or maybe 5 or 7. It is up to you. But your good buddy Hyla will be there to support you, keep you going, kick your ass a little if need be, and if you decide to alter your goal a little, no biggie. I will support you 100%. Let’s give it a shot!

*Eat, drink, and be merry!*

Well hello! These past few days have been a flurry of merry-making! I do love this time of year but tend to feel a little out of balance by all of the busyness, late nights, over-indulgences, etc., so I’m cherishing a lazy pajama day today. I’m taking it easy (no run today), loading up on nutrient-dense foods, lots of water and tea, and hopefully allowing a reset of sorts before another busy week ahead.

I know I missed another Fuel Friday this past week and I’m sure you feel super disappointed about that. ; ) There was a half-ass attempt to try to put something together but I just couldn’t fit it in.

A future Fuel Friday might have to include this awesome find that I discovered at the store the other day. I’m super excited about it!

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Gluten-free chocolate pie crust!!

Since going gluten-free way back when (I honestly can’t remember… 2008 or 2009 maybe), I’ve missed graham cracker and the related chocolate cookie style crusts. I’ve never liked pies that are made with savory dough crust and sweet filling. The two didn’t work together for me. (I like crusts for quiches though.) But I always loved the sweeter crusts and custardy fillings. I have no clue what I’m going to make with this but I bought one anyway and have it on stand-by in the pantry when inspiration strikes!

Two weeks have passed already since I was up in Seattle for the Seattle Marathon on December 1st. I took a lot of time off within the first week, post race, but have been slowly finding my way back to my regular rhythm. I’ve been taking it easy on runs… no real prescribed time or distance goals. In fact, yesterday was my longest run since Seattle at just 5 miles!

A friend and I had been talking for months about trying to offer group run opportunities to our local running community. To help connect runners, we started a Facebook group and yesterday was our inaugural St. Helens Road Runner’s Club group run. There were five of us and I enjoyed the heck out of it.

While I really like running with others, I most often run alone because it is just easier scheduling wise. It was so fun to mix it up and hang out with people who share my love of running. Despite a unfortuante mascara incident (that I’m sure made an awesome first impression) it was a great time and I’m looking forward to next Saturday!

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Race bling.

The other day I took a picture of my medals from my races this year. For the first time all year, I don’t have a race coming up or something I’m training for. It is disorienting. Setting goals and having a target event is a huge motivator for me. So while I’m happy to have some time to rest, heal, and enjoy the holidays without the stress of trying to train, I really want to get something on the calendar. I guess this is what you call the “off-season”, right? I might as well relax and enjoy it. You know… eat, drink, and be merry!

*Surrendering to a snow day*

While it is still “technically” autumn, winter has taken its hold on me. And I’ve decided to surrender. Even if only for today.

It seems to begin each year around daylight savings. This pull to withdraw a little. To turn inward. To slow down, pause, and savor slower days. I think a snow day is the Universe’s way of telling us to do so. And today I decided to surrender to it.

It is 1:30 in the afternoon. I’m still in my pajamas and about a half-hour-ago, I woke up from a nap. My son and I are sharing the couch but we are each bundled in our own blanket. The fire is oh-so-toasty and I’ve got a glass of wine within reach. This is the view outside my front window.

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A light dusting of the white stuff.

Not every day will I be able to indulge this slower pace but for today I’m embracing it fully without any guilt over a missed run or the fact that I might eat an extra treat or two. (Why on earth am I craving donuts???) Or that I have absolutely no desire to do laundry! I just want to marinate in it as long as I can.

Due to the weather, I cancelled my morning yoga class today, sharing much of what I’m sharing here with my students in the cancellation notice. A student responded back to me with this note that I thought was brilliant and wanted to share:

“I agree with you regarding the daylight hours.  I also believe that our bodies want to be attuned to the rhythms of the sunlight cycle.  During the winter time I notice that I sleep longer hours, go to bed earlier and sleep in longer — wanting not to rise until the beginning of dawn.  Because I have less daylight hours I am under the impression that I am moving slower, doing less.  But that may not actually be the case.  The case may be that I accomplish less as I have less active hours of sunlight.
 
In addition, I have been toying with the thought that SAD is not caused by lower sunlight hours available, but rather caused by society’s enforced work schedules that have people rising and going to work in the dark and returning home in the dark.  I remember those days very well and how hard it was to be living in the dark for months.”
 
BINGO!!
 
Sometimes I try to fight what I’m feeling during these darker months. It usually takes me a few weeks of struggling and then I stop fighting and surrender. Once I accept that this is my body’s way, I can allow myself to make peace with it all. (It is a little challenging with the holiday’s thrown into the mix and typically I find that January my slowest of months.)
 
Over the course of the past 9 days, I’ve only run twice. I believe that I am still recovering from the Seattle Marathon and the week of travel surrounding it, so I’m not putting any pressure on myself. I’m content curled up by the fire with my vino and latest addition of Runner’s World. My soul is happy. Snow day = slow day… er, donut day?  ; )
 

*I’m back!*

My absence in this space this past week was not a reflection of anything that happened in Seattle last weekend, or because I didn’t want to be here. Life happens and I stepped away to focus on my family and spending time with a couple of my favorite people in the whole-wide-world! My sister-in-law and my new nephew who I’m absolutely head-over-heals in love with! 

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I’m so in love with this little man!

I really wanted to be present with my family so I still have not spent a lot of time thinking about my race at the Seattle Marathon. Maybe because I chose to focus my attention and energy on them, I eluded the post-race, failed goal, let down. Because the truth is, I’m just not that sad about Seattle. (Unless it hasn’t hit yet.) But I find myself feeling really proud of my performance. I ran three marathons in five months, improving with each one. And I have to take in to consideration that I’d never run a marathon up until five months ago! I was within just over a minute-and-a-half of my goal time. My post-race recovery was way quicker this time around. And! I wasn’t in the porta-potty when the race started which was my number one goal!

Being with family last week provided the perfect opportunity to take it easy and allow for some serious rest and recovery. I didn’t run the entire time I was there! I didn’t feel guilty about it either. ; )

Yesterday I ran about 3 miles (of a 5k) with a 5th grade girl as her “mobile cheerleader” for our local Run Girl Run program. It was my first run since Seattle. Despite it being about 15 degrees outside, it felt so good to run again!! Most important, it was so cool to watch a young athlete run her first 5k and to help coach her through it.

Today I got out for my first real run. Just me. Freezing cold with several layers and no goal other than to get out there and move my body. I felt slow but had no desire to push myself. Or beat myself up about it either. After so many weeks/months of training, it was nice to run just to run.

I have no more races scheduled for the year. At this point, my only goal is to finish the year with 1500 miles. After today’s run, I need to run a little over 80 more to make that happen. I feel pretty confident that I’ll be able to do it.

Later this month, I look forward to helping a friend of mine achieve one of his goals. He turns 50 just after Christmas and has set a goal to run 50 miles the week of his birthday. I love that idea and am excited to support him however I can.

I’m glad to be back!!