*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!

*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!

*Simplicity in 2016*

S I M P L E

It’s my theme for 2016.

Instead of resolutions, I set intentions. Often times in the form of a single word or short phrase that encompasses multiple aspects of my life. This year I’ve settled on focusing on simplicity with a healthy dose of self-love.

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Less is more and doing more of what I love. My 2016 manifesto.

As far as running goes, as you may see above, I’d like to switch to predominately trail running but still include shorter distance races focusing on speed. Hence, trails and track. Given that desire, I kicked 2016 off with 8 glorious (albeit slightly hungover) miles on one of my favorite nearby trails with my favorite boy.

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Me and my mister.

As we prepare to dive back into the regular routine, which is terribly bittersweet, I’m so grateful for these past few weeks. I had an awesome holiday with what matters most: my family!

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#teamridenour

Whatever your goals, resolutions, or intentions are, I wish you a wonderful 2016! Happiest of New Year’s and let’s kick some ass!

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Starting my year with what I hope to do LOTS of in the coming months!

*Weekly mileage ~ Nov. 23-29*

Mileage for the week of November 23rd – November 29th

Total weekly mileage: 15.5

Total November mileage (to-date): 119.5

Total year-to-date (2015) mileage: 1,737.75

Run review:

11/23           8:24 min./1 mi./8:25 pace

11/24          35:06 min./4 mi./8:47 pace

11/25          41:25 min./5 mi./8:17 pace

11/26          29:38 min./3.5 mi./8:28 pace

11/27         17:02 min./2 mi./8:31 pace

11/28         No run/travel (and getting sick)

11/29         No run/sick

And then weeks like this happen.

I knew from the start that last week was going to throw me for a loop. I did the best I could given the challenges of the week including getting sick over the weekend. The biggest bummer was that I cut my November running streak short. I still ran 30 consecutive days, spanning from October 29th through November 28th, so I’m happy about that but ultimately missed my goal by just two days.

Oh well.

I’m still sick and feeling really crappy but I did attempt a short, easy run this afternoon. I didn’t cough up a lung so that was pretty cool. I’ve been working some holistic wellness magic in hopes that I’ll feel better by the weekend since I’ve got a race on Saturday. Just a small, home-town 5k, but one in which I’d really like to kick some ass at!

If you’re curious about my wellness protocol, basically it’s Bourbon. Lots of Bourbon.

Kidding. (Sort of.)

There are a few go-to products that I incorporate at the onset of a cold and continue to use until the symptoms subside. They include:

  • Astragalus tincture in water or tea. (To support healthy immune function.)
  • Source Naturals Wellness Formula (I actually take one a day during the colder months.)
  • Hot cocoa-like tonics made with Ashwaganda. (To help strengthen my immune system.)
  • The cold/wet sock remedy (There is a link in THIS previous post.)
  • Miso soup with lots of garlic, ginger, cilantro, onions, and Astragalus root (because I have it on hand).
  • Emergen-C.
  • Elderberry syrup by Honey Gardens.
  • Lots of tea.
  • Rest and staying warm.
  • Eucalyptus and peppermint essential oil in the shower.
  • Aura Cacia First Response Mist.
  • Bourbon. (I want to make sure all the bases are covered!)
Bulleit Bourbon Frontier Whiskey 1.75l

I prefer Bulleit. ; )

My fingers are crossed that it works and I’m feeling a ton better within a few more days!

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and celebrated the abundance in your lives with your loves! Get ready to jump into a festive month ahead! Cheers!

*Weekly mileage ~ Sept. 14-20*

Mileage for the week of September 14th – September 20th

Total weekly mileage: 36.5

Total September mileage (to-date): 98

XC mileage (part of weekly total): .5

Total year-to-date (2015) mileage: 1,482.5

Run review:

9/14            No run

9/15            XC only (.5 miles)

9/16           1:16:12 min./8 mi./9:32 pace

9/17           No run

9/18           50:53 min./6.25 mi./8:09 pace (+1.75 mi. w/XC)

9/19           No run

9/20           3:01:32 min./20 mi./9:05 pace

Thanks to my 20 mile run yesterday, I managed a decent mileage week on only 3 days of running. (Not counting the measly half-mile I ran during Tuesday’s XC practice.)

I’m still feeling the effects of those 20 miles yesterday and the grumpy psoas is still causing some discomfort today. Every time I lift my right leg I’m reminded that it’s not happy. But it should be a fairly easy week, running wise, with a little more thought and effort being put into self-care (soaking, stretching, rolling, etc.).

I hope your week is off to a fabulous start!

*On the rocks*

My relationship with running has been a little rocky lately. Well truthfully, not just lately. More like the last three months. To be even more specific, since Boston.

I wrote about it in depth a few weeks ago, which you can read here. Instead of training, I’ve been maintaining and often times doing the bare minimum just to keep some semblance of the runner I was a few months ago. I lowered the bar. Like really looooowwwww.

After taking 9 days off, I felt physically and mentally ready to dive back in. My first run felt great. The second, third, and fourth ones… they were a struggle. The ailments that have plagued me for months returned with my first stride. The negative thoughts I’ve desperately tried to push aside have started to creep back in. I’ve considered giving up more times than I’d like to admit.

But here’s the funny thing. My heart won’t let me.

I stumbled upon this great quote this morning that put things into perspective for me:

“Don’t lower your expectations to meet your performance. Raise your level of performance to meet your expectations. Expect the best of yourself, and then do what is necessary to make it a reality.”                    ~ Ralph Marston                 

I’ve been lowering my expectations. Not only physically, but mentally. And I’ve been meeting them, sadly.

So, new game plan! Of course there are a few things that I need to take into consideration and I need to be realistic. You have to start where you are, with what you have, and move forward from there, right?

First and foremost, better self-care practices are in order. I’ve been slacking and I know it. For me, they include:

  • Consistent yoga and stretching
  • Regular baths, both hot and cold (hot tubs whenever an option)
  • Massage
  • Foam rolling
  • Continue to eat an anti-inflammatory diet (Dr. Weil’s anti-inflammatory diet most closely resembles how I regularly eat.) and incorporate more foods that have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Ibuprofen. I list this because I typically avoid taking it unless I’ve lost hope and am desperate. I guess this is me with no hope and desperate. I’m prescribing myself a regular (albeit temporary) dose of Ibuprofen to hopefully assist with easing the inflammation and soreness I’m feeling while I implement the other strategies.

Aside from self-care, there is the running part. I’ve got a training schedule written out for the next 8 weeks but I’m allowing myself to ease back into it. I will take it somewhat light the rest of this week and not push myself with some unrealistic goal at my race this weekend. It is strictly a training run with a nice medal and finishers shirt at the end. Next week I will begin to ramp it up a bit more.

It’s interesting what a little clarity and shift in mindset can do. This morning I was literally in tears from frustration. (I also had a bad dream in which I had to crawl across a race finish line!) This evening, well, I’m going to make a mojito with those “rocks” and take a bath!

How do you bounce back after a setback, either physically, mentally, or emotionally, when it comes to running?

*Runner’s feet*

When was the last time you thought about your feet? Like, really thought about them?

Do you know that our feet each have 26 bones in them? I find it pretty incredible that such a small structure supports so much weight and activity. Especially for us runner’s.

Us ladies are usually a little more on top of our foot care game. With sandal season in full swing, you’d be hard pressed to find ten toes that haven’t been pedicured to perfection.

I for one, however, have been avoiding professional pedicures like the plague. Mainly because I’m a do-it-yourself kinda chick and would prefer to save my money for other things. But the other reason is, well, my runner’s feet. I’m always either missing a toenail or will be soon. I’ve feared that, in the case of the latter, I’d freak the poor pedicurist out should one fall off while they where tending to me.

That all said, every once in a blue moon I like to splurge. And in this case, the motive behind going for a pedicure wasn’t a selfish one because I was planning to treat Mr. Wasn’t Just the Wine Talking to one too! As part of his birthday gift, I scheduled pedicures for both of us to be enjoyed together. (And just so you know, it wasn’t his first pedicure!)

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Listen up, guys! There is no shame in treating yourself to a pedicure!

The point I’m trying to make is, that regardless of gender, I think foot care, whether do-it-yourself or professionally done, is really, really important. As runner’s, we place so much demand on our feet. Hundreds and hundreds of miles can take their toll so I think we need to give more special care to protect them and keep them healthy so we can continue to run and enjoy doing the things we love!

If, like me, you are at risk of losing a toenail, I would suggest that you let your pedicurist know before they get started. The gal that did mine took caution and was careful and gentle. It definitely helped me overcome my fear of freaking them out… I’m sure they’ve seen worse, after all.

This website has some great tips, for men and women, on the subject.

I would also recommend that you take some time to massage your feet once in a while. Or better yet, have your partner do it for you! My favorite way to self-massage is while in legs up the wall, a fantastic yoga pose for runners that can allow for easy access to your feet. I wrote a post about it here. If you bend a knee and place your ankle on your thigh, you should be able to easily massage your foot while the other leg rests against the wall.

Another option I like is using a golf ball to massage my feet. Just put the ball on the floor and roll it around under the sole of your foot. This is a great technique for dealing with little nagging aches too.

So, I made it through my pedicure without a toenail falling off. Yay! Aren’t they pretty… even post-hike? ; )

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My feet in all their glory!