*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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*New year, new goals*

The start of a new year brings such a sense of renewal. I’m not huge on resolutions… I’d rather use this time to recommit to the things that started building momentum in the previous year, making a few tweeks here and there, of course. Planning, strategizing, and organizing, to better the odds that I will accomplish what I hope to, is how I like to jump into January. There sure is a lot of promise though and it is fun to fantasize about what is in store!

I took time on New Year’s day to reflect on my past accomplishments in an effort to begin creating a plan. I began by writing out a list of some of my hopes, dreams, and goals for 2014:

  • Run at least 2,014 miles
  • Run four marathons
  • Qualify for the 2015 Boston Marathon
  • Get RRCA coaching certification
  • Find part-time work at a running specialty store
  • Continue to grow website and social media outlets
  • Seek out ambassador and sponsorship opportunities
  • Make the Oiselle team
  • Run Hood to Coast with a Nuun team
  • Be an awesome Nuun Ambassador and deepen my relationship with the company
  • Get *invited* to the Runner’s World Half Marathon & Festival
  • Continue to become a faster and stronger runner

One of my first agenda items is getting some races on my calendar! After a lot of thought, I’ve come up with a list of events I’d like to run. Like last year, I’ve chosen to focus on the first half of the year. Ideally, I’d like to have one race to look forward to each month, including two full marathons in the first 6-month period. (However, it is hard to find races in January to get excited about!)

Also, for fun, I decided to look for races that I’ve not run before. Except for the Shamrock Run (and technically the Vernonia Marathon since I ran the half last year) I’ve not run any of these events before. I’m not committed to any of them but this is sort of my race wish list. (I’ve also purposely chosen races near home to minimize travel expenses.)

2/16/13   Heartbreak Half Marathon   Hillsboro, Oregon

3/16/13   Shamrock Run 15k   Portland, Oregon

4/13/13   Vernonia Marathon   Vernonia, Oregon

5/18/13   Rock n Roll Half Marathon   Portland, Oregon

6/15/13   Vancouver Marathon   Vancouver, Washington

I’m looking forward to seeing how things begin to unfold and I’m ready to dive in! I hope your New Year is off to a great start!

*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

*Now what?*

Just before I began to compose this post, I was reading comments from readers and found a congratulatory message from a guy named Dan. He mentioned that he had finished just 6 minutes behind me on Sunday, despite his situation. Hmmm.

So being the stalker that I am, I had to know what his “situation” was. As it turns out, the guy is a beast! The day before the Portland Marathon, he ran the Leavenworth Oktoberfest Marathon. Is he a special kind of crazy or what?

Upon a little more research, I discovered that he is working toward a goal of racing in every state and writing about it on his site: dan’s marathon. How cool of a goal is that? And it got me thinking about my next goal(s)…  not to mention my current goal that is still alive and well: qualifying for the Boston Marathon.

My race calendar for the remainder of the year is pretty light. In just under a month I’ll be heading to Las Vegas to run the Ragnar Relay with Nuun Hydration. Beyond that though, I’m not committed to any event or race. I think I’d like to do one longer race before the end of the year. Perhaps a half-marathon in December… but at the same time, I sure would like to check that BQ off the list for 2013…

I have started making a list of races that I want to consider for next year. A few of my faves from this year are on the list including the Vernonia Half-Marathon, the Hippie Chick Half, and the Oregon Wine Country Half. Aiming to run a half marathon each month of 2014 has crossed my mind a couple of times!

There is no real rush to pin it all down at this point. Just a few thoughts swirling around as I find inspiration from others, like Dan, out there setting awesome goals and making sh*t happen.

*A new favorite race*

This post has been started over and over, in my head, at least a dozen times. How do you adequately capture what was one of the most enjoyable race weekends you’ve ever experienced? I will start off by saying that Destination Races did a fantastic job organizing the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon. From the overall location, to the expo, the start and finish areas, to the post-race party… every detail was well thought out and made for a truly great event.

We arrived in wine country early Saturday afternoon. I was so fortunate to be able to stay locally and avoid what would have a been a super early morning drive to the start. I have my wonderful in-laws to thank for that! (Thank you Omma and Papa! I love you both 10 hours!)

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Less than 2 miles from the start!

After checking in and getting settled, and well, having a glass of wine of course, the girls (MIL, the CrossFit kid, and myself) headed down the road to the Evergreen Aviation Museum where the expo was being held. I’d never been there so it was a treat to see it all up close and in person.

As soon as I stepped inside, my attention was quickly diverted to the seating area for the main event of the afternoon. That is where I got my first glimpse of Kara Goucher! I went and retrieved my race bib, t-shirt, and other swag but was having a hard time containing my excitement.

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Clearly, I am one classy act!

We proceeded to check out the expo a little more until Kara’s 4:00 PM presentation. A little goofing around ensued.

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The CrossFit kid and I having a playful moment at the expo.

Soon after, we headed back inside to hear Kara speak about her career as a professional runner and how she is balancing training and motherhood. I was so inspired listening to her speak. She radiates passion and dedication for running. It was a total honor to meet her. She signed my race bib and wrote the word “believe” on it. YES!

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Grateful for this moment!

We left the expo to head back to camp for dinner, a little more wine (because when in wine country…), and an early bedtime for me.

Race day started around 4:50 AM. It wasn’t the most restful night… I never sleep well before a race, but I was eager to get up and get moving. I wanted to be there plenty early. My sweet husband got up and drove me the start which was held at the Stoller Family Estate. I was a little nervous about potential traffic issues heading to the winery but there was ample parking and awesome volunteers helping everyone get where they needed to go so I had nothing to worry about. We arrived just before the sun came up.

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Sunrise over Mt. Hood.

 A few more pictures from the start at Stoller Family Estate, which was stunning.

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Love that hillside!

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Here comes the sun!

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Heading to the starting line.

Up until the day before the race, I didn’t really have a clear intention for the half. I always make sure that I’ve done everything in my power to be well fueled, hydrated, rested, etc., and was feeling really good Saturday. My competitive nature started to kick in and I began to set my sights on a PR. I was also hoping to finish within the top 50 in my age division.

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Ready!

The backdrop for the Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon is the beautiful Willamette Valley. The rolling hills, farmland, and vibrant vineyards of that region are gorgeous. The course, primarily on rural country roads, was so scenic and peaceful.

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Heaven.

Just after 7:00 AM, the race began. The first few miles passed quickly. I started to settle into my groove and was enjoying the views. I was pleased with my pace and was feeling really good once I was warmed up. The first half of the race flew by. My splits looked pretty good to keep me on track for a PR but by mile five I knew I’d need to refuel. Until mile 6, I was able to stay under the 8:00 minute mile mark. Mile 6 is when I was eating a gel. I cannot maintain my pace and suck down gel at the same time! My splits for the first 7 miles were:

7:52 / 7:43 / 7:45 / 7:43 / 7:55 / 8:06 / 7:51

Things improved again for the next couple of miles and I was cruising along at a comfortable pace. Since I had spent so much time reading about the race and the course, I knew there was a gravel section coming up but I guess I didn’t realize how much of it there was. That section of the race was its only flaw. Miles 10-12 were not great. The gravel was loose and hard to manuever on. I decided to take it easy and then kick it up when I hit pavement. But by the time I got back to paved road I knew I couldn’t pick it up enough for the last mile to PR. My splits for the last 6.1 miles were:

7:38 / 7:48 / 8:04 / 8:02 / 8:06 / 7:44 / 1:44

My official finish time was 1:43:58. My half-marathon PR was set in April at the Vernonia Half-Marathon. I finished in 1:43:54. What I find most ironic is my consistency. I’ve run three half-marathons this year and I finished all three with an average pace of 7:56. What’s up with that?! I was the 27 female to cross the finish line, out of 1158, and finished 5th in my age group. (Not the 40-something placing I expected!)

After I finished, I met up with my MIL and husband and proceeded to enjoy the post-race festivities. I had the privilege of being a “VIP” and got to enjoy a fantastic glass of wine from Ken Wright Cellars (check out the beautiful animated intro on their website!) in the VIP lounge. The United Healthcare Wine and Music Festival was in full swing and we sure took advantage of it! I lost track of how many wines I sampled but I was a very happy girl.

The Oregon Wine Country Half Marathon, without a doubt, was an amazing experience and is at the top of my list for race favorite! I would seriously recommend that you put this race, or any of the Destination Races events, on your running bucket list. The final two this year are coming up: the Kelowna Wine Country Half Marathon in British Columbia is this Saturday, September 7th. Then in October, on Saturday the 26th, the Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon in Healdsburg, California. (I REALLY wish I could afford to travel there and run this… I love Healdsburg!)

Thank you, Destination Races, for bringing two of my greatest loves together: running and wine!

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Cheers!

*Epic adventure, part 2*

Tomorrow morning I will get up around 4 am, make the 25 minute drive to Sauvie Island, soak myself in the abundant pre-race adrenaline, and for the first time ever in my life, run 26.2 miles.

I can’t help but reflect on the past 17+ weeks as the culmination of a huge goal, hundreds of miles, countless hours of researching, planning, and training, all come down to one day. One race. My first marathon.

On March 4th, I posted my first blog post here at Wasn’t Just The Wine Talking titled Epic Adventure. For several weeks prior I had an idea swirling around in my head. I had yet to cross “run a marathon” and “qualify for/run the Boston Marathon” off my list of life goals. These two (actually three) goals kind of morphed into one idea, one goal, which I blabbed shared over a glass of wine at happy hour with some family and friends days before my blog was born.

Early on in the planning stages, it seemed I was receiving signs from the universe… in the form of unicorns.

I decided that the Foot Traffic Flat Marathon on Sauvie Island, annually held on the 4th of July, had all of the elements I was looking for (close to home, flat, a Boston qualifying event) in a marathon. I officially registered on March 16th.

Already on my radar before the marathon goal evolved, I was planning to run the Shamrock Run in mid-March. I ran the 15k event and was so happy to finish in 1:13:47 with a 7:55 pace. My time put me in 42nd place in my age division.

Days later, Nuun announced that they would begin to accept video applications from bloggers that wanted a chance to win a spot on their Hood to Coast team. Oh man, did I want to make the team. This was my entry submission.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nq30ot_Sic&feature=player_embedded

Moving into April, I ran the Vernonia Half-Marathon and set a PR with a 1:43:54 finish. In this event I placed third in my age group!

The day after Vernonia, I spent the morning snuggled up on the couch and watched the Boston Marathon on tv. Hours later tragedy hit Boston and I, like the rest of the country and running community, was heartbroken.

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Love to Boston

A few days later, I found out I did not make the Nuun HTC team. It was a rough week!

I did find however, that I’ve never been more proud to be a runner as I watch everyone unite to support the victims, families, and everyone affected by what happened on Marathon Monday.

And then I got some good news! I received an email from Nuun inviting me to run a Ragnar Relay with them!

In November, I will get to travel to Las Vegas, Nevada to be a member of the Nuun team. The relay spans 200 miles, beginning at Mt. Charleston and finishing at Lake Las Vegas. I’m so stoked to run this event!!

On Mother’s Day weekend, I ran my second half-marathon of the year. I was attempting to run a 1:40:00 race and finish in the top 50 overall. A chronic hamstring issue preventing me from hitting my time goal but I still ended up finishing in the 50 which was a pleasant surprise because initial results put me in 51st place. I ran the Hippie Chick Half-Marathon in 1:44:05.

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At least I looked halfway decent!

Two weeks later I ran a local 5k as a mobile cheerleader with our Run Girl Run program. The program mentors young female athletes and trains them for their first race. I love being apart of this program!

That run also kicked off a 39-day running streak. The challenge, started by Runner’s World magazine, was intended to run Memorial Day through Independence Day. Since I started a little earlier, I finished a little earlier too. I ran a minimum of one-mile per day for all 39 days. My mileage total was 177.5!

The remainder of May, and then a good chunk of June, was pretty much dedicated to completing my training process, one long run at a time. Midway through June I ran my longest run to-date (20 miles!!!) and with that, the taper began. I have some mixed feelings about this whole taper thing but I’m learning to trust this very unfamiliar process and tomorrow will be the ultimate indication of how this all comes together.

At the tail-end of June I reached a blogging milestone! I posted my 100th blog post since that first one way back on March 4th. To commemorate it, I teamed up with my favorite hydration company, Nuun, to sponsor a giveaway of their Nuun All Day! (You still have time to enter, here, if you haven’t already!!!) And just so you know, they are offering free shipping on all orders through July 7th!

So here I am, hours away from running my first marathon. Looking back over these past 17 weeks I am so proud of what I’ve accomplished and beyond grateful for this experience. Regardless of tomorrows outcome, I know that I have given it everything I’ve got and I am ready.

It has, indeed, been an epic adventure.

 

 

 

*Mixin’ it up*

I’ve never have been good at following directions. Or recipes. I’m the type of person that uses recipes as a guide. A loose suggestion of how if could be done if one was inclined to follow it exactly. Not really my style.

Over the course of a few days, I spent time here and there creating my marathon training schedule.  I planned and plotted and came up with what I though was a sensible and smart outline of when I would run, how far I would go, when I would rest, etc. I followed it pretty much exact for the first few weeks. Heck, maybe even that first month. But as I was looking at it yesterday, I realized that it has been a while since I actually followed it.

That’s not to say that I’m not using it at all. For the most part, I’ve been consistent with my weekly long runs. I guess I’ve been running more based on how I feel rather than what my spreadsheet says I’m suppose to. It’s actually kind of liberating.

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“Unscheduled” track run

The real reason I thought about all of this is because after running the Vernonia Half in April, I took two days off post-run, followed by a couple of easier days. (I also took the two days before the race off too.) By the time the weekend rolled around again, I feel like I hadn’t recovered at all and had to cut my long run short.

This time around I decided to mix it up. I only took one day off before the Hippie Chick Half last Saturday and ran 6 miles the day after to shake it out. No run yesterday but I did go to an hour boot camp class. (I’m sort of becoming addicted!!) Today I ran 5.5 miles at an 8:13 pace and while still a little sore, felt good overall. I’m thinking there is something to the less-is-more recovery approach. The true test will be this weekend… Stay tuned!