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Week 7: Ups and Downs

Side note: The wizards of WordPress let me know that last week’s training recap was the 300th post on this blog! Kind of exciting. I may neglect this site more often than not nowadays, but I did feel a little pride in just how much content and work I’ve put into it when I realized this milestone. Here’s an lol-moment with my first post here!

Onto training. Quick refresher: I’m currently training for the Colorado Half-Marathon on May 7th. It’s in Ft. Collins, it’s moderately downhill, and with any luck it will be a fast race to kick off the summer. I’ve retired from spring marathons for the time being, so training for a half felt like a happy compromise.

Monday: Easy run (8 miles)

Woof, this did not feel easy. Technically I had a rest day the day beforehand so I expected this to feel okay, but it was one of those runs that started off bad and just went south from there. Thinking about it afterwards, I realized my “rest day” the day before was hardly one at all. I did 75 minutes of yoga and over 5 miles of walking, which wasn’t very conducive to true recovery from my harder-effort long run on Saturday.

The rest of the day didn’t go much better. I had a bad sinus headache and both my lymph nodes were super swollen. Allergies! I had originally planned on doing a track workout on Tuesday, but considering the aforementioned ailments, the pending forecast of snow, and my obvious lack of recovery, I bagged that idea without any hesitation.

I spent the whole evening doing lots of foam rolling and legs up the wall.

Tuesday: Rest!

As stated, a morning run – specifically a track workout – was not happening on Tuesday, which I could not have been happier about. We woke up to snow everywhere, and after weeks of sun and blooming, it was kind of rough to see such a site out the window in the morning. I patted myself on the back for proactively being non-weatherproof.

I thought I’d do an easy run when I got home since the weather improved a bit, but it was still a little touch and go with snow showers. I got home, wavered back and forth about running while chowing down on goldfish, wavered some more, and instead decided to put on sweatpants and call it a day. I baked banana bread and a batch of these pb&j bites that Adam and I can’t get enough of.

Wednesday: Three-peat?? (13.1 miles)

There was zero “plan” to run exactly 13.1 miles on Wednesday. In fact, the only plan was to go to November Project and not feel as terrible as I had on Monday. It was really cold on Wednesday morning (~26 degrees) so I was a little worried about slick roads from the precipitation the day before, but it turned out okay. The NP workout was “climb the mountain” which is a pyramid circuit of stairs and body weight things, and I felt pretty good throughout.

During the day, the sun and blue sky came out, melted all the lingering snow, and all of a sudden it was spring again! I got home and had to get on the phone with Century Link (which I never, ever recommend), and since I knew I would mainly be on hold for a while…I plugged my headphones into my phone and headed out on a little jog. Wednesdays have kind of turned into my optional “double day,” I suppose. Anyway, I ran for 4 easy miles and was literally on hold the entire time.

I decided to be a good runner and take an epsom salt bath a little later on. Adam was about to get home from work later than normal so I decided to wait and say hi to him before getting in the tub. He walked in, saw me still in my running clothes, and immediately recruited me to come run his one mile for the day with him to keep up his run streak. I couldn’t say no to helping my dude out. So, the hot water waited for approximately 9 minutes, and I managed to log exactly 13.1 miles for the day. How d’you like them apples?

Thursday: PlayGldn (8 miles)

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We stayed up late on Wednesday, so the early morning call to head to Golden came a bit rudely. But, remembering my FOMO from the week before, I headed west with the promise of a good sunrise and good people. I decided to make the hill repeats my workout for the week, so I decided to try and work hard-ish despite my desire to instead perform DGAF-frontz (Mike Bell – TM). Overall, I felt decent. I worked about 75% effort, specifically on the ups, and while it certainly could’ve been better, I called it a win.

Friday: Easy run (3 miles)

I was a bit confounded with what to do on Friday. I kind of wanted to take another rest day, but I wanted to go to NP, but I didn’t want to do body weight exercises. So when Julia suggested running a few miles during the NP workout instead (after the bounce and before the finish/photo) I was all game. It was a nice little shake out with my buddy on a lovely morning. We finished it up with some suicide relays and lots of hugs with the tribe. Happy Friday indeed.

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I claimed temporary ownership over this sweet little girl. Charlie!

Saturday: Green Mountain (10 miles)

I wanted to save my legs a little for pacing duties at Sunday’s half-marathon, so a 10-miler on Green Mountain sounded just right for a sunny Saturday morning. I also wanted to test out my new trail shoes, the La Sportiva Bushidos, which I’m hoping will be the perfect hybrid trail-runner/14er-hiker shoe I’ve been pining after.

*Edited to add: two runs in the Bushidos, I love them! Lightweight but sturdy.

Meaghan is tapering for Boston and was looking for a similar medium-long run, so she joined me on the loop. After my last unicorn jaunt on Green, I was hoping for a similar floaty experience; alas, it was a bit of a death march. My whole body felt achey (specifically my back, hips and hamstrings), my energy was super low and I just didn’t feel like I could make my legs move at all. Luckily it was a gorgeous morning, albeit a little hot, but it was great to be on the trails and hear all about Meaghan’s plan for Boston.

Afterward, I felt super thirsty and drank two Nalgenes of water before I had to pee. Might explain my lackluster feeling a bit, huh? I spent the rest of the day drinking many beverages, stretching and generally relaxing.

Sunday: Platte River Half Marathon spectating and pacing (11 miles)

Race day! Even though I wasn’t racing, I felt like I had skin in the game with so many friends going for it at the Platte River Half. I ran this race two years ago and had far less-than-favorable memories from it, so I was exceedingly thrilled to be on the other side this time. I arrived at the NP5280 cheer station location right at 8 am (race start time) and looked like a child who’d lost their parents. Multiple volunteers asked me if I had either a) misunderstood where the start line was, or b) needed to know where the relay hand-off was. No! I’m just here for my friends!

I decided my best course of action would be to just jog over to mile 8 where I intended to pick up Julia for some shared pacing through the back half of her race. I found a great spot just before the mile 8 marker where I could see people coming from a couple hundred yards away. It was really fun cheering for the front of the pack, although several of them had their super-serious faces on and didn’t exactly love my emphatic chants. But then I saw a happy, familiar face. Dan! He was in the top five and looked relaxed as could be. You should go and read his own race recap. I also saw Jim, Tyler, Danny, and then…Julia! She looked strong and under control, and I was ready to help out however necessary. She wrote a race recap that far exceeds any description I could give, so I recommend reading that here. In a few words, her legs and brain were in it, her stomach was not. The worst! She fought hard and I, as always, was proud to run alongside her. I was reminded that the last few miles of this race aren’t the best for running fast; rolling cement, one steep hill right at the end, and a stretch where you run right next to the interstate. Bleh.

Anyway, I ran into the finish area with Julia and cheered with the whole gang as we watched more NP runners finish their races. It was so much fun and I was reminded how inspiring it is to witness the grit of runners, specifically of friends, as they fight hard for their goals. I was pumped up! Afterwards, I did a 180 and retraced the course back to where I’d parked my car (about 3.5 miles backward).

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Totals: 53.3 miles, 2,317 feet of climbing

Highs: After Tuesday, I thought this was going to be a wash week of training. I’m happy I managed to pull off another 50+ mile week without a lot of wear and tear and having some fun along the way.

Lows: My hamstrings and glutes both continue to be super susceptible to getting uber tight and rickety. Maintenance of the little things is proving to be crucial!

 

Week 6: Springtime in CO

Mother Nature reminded us this week that while the flowers might be blooming and the grass is getting greener, winter’s not quite over yet. Throughout the week, it was pretty rainy and gloomy and everything from the foothills to the 14ers received a solid covering of snow. As anyone here will tell you though, “We need the moisture,” and it couldn’t be more true. Luckily, training still went pretty much as planned. I’m getting excited though for more shorts-and-tee shirts only runs!

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#artshot

Monday: Lookout Mountain (9 miles)

Back at it with the Golden girls! We did the standard jaunt up and down Lookout, and not one, not two, but all three of us had to use the bathroom at some point. Happy Monday? I always enjoy starting the week off with this crew and this run, but I also didn’t sleep well at all the night before (ugh, again), so the rest of the day was kind of miserable. I felt like I was getting feverish all day and even had two coworkers tell me I looked clammy/pale. Compliments, I’m sure. No idea what happened there, but maybe I’m getting too old for early mornings following short nights.

Tuesday: Easy around Wash Park (7 miles)

I hadn’t actually done my standard 7-mile Wash Park loop in a long time, and I was happy on Tuesday to indulge in a super relaxed run after sleeping in a little. While nearly the entirety of Denver hangs out at this park on the weekends, on the weekdays in the early morning I like to think it belongs to the runners (and walkers). There’s a lot of “regulars” out there and we all kind of recognize/know one another; it’s like a quiet, comforting little active community.

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Mommy it also belongs to doggies!

Wednesday: Clovers at November Project + after work dog jog (12 miles)

Clovers again! At the end of every month, we run a course of stairs and straightaways at November Project and everyone is supposed to count their laps and try to beat their previous PR. It’s one of the best NP days of the month as everyone is super energetic and encouraging, plus it’s our hardest and best workout.

On Wednesday, my goal was to get over 17 clovers. My PR is something like 17.3, but considering that it was kind of wet out and I’ve only run over 17 three or so times, it felt like a good goal. I slowly ran the two miles there as a warm-up, and when I got there I was surprised at just how much the prospect of rain had scared people away. It was a small group! This is actually a good thing for clovers, because it makes it easier to navigate around the tight turns. Anyway, off we went and I was feeling great! I felt relaxed but also really strong, and I was actually thinking early on that I might be able to pull out a real PR. I was cheering on people and knocking out laps one after another and on one 90 degree turn…splat! I slipped on the wet brick and took a pretty decent fall, landing first on my elbow and scrapping up my knee. A few people stopped around me (I think it looked worse than it was…) and after a minute or so of assessing that there wasn’t any permanent damage, I continued on. I remained a little more cautious about my turns throughout the rest of the workout (two other people fell too!), but as we approached the end and I realized that I was nearly at 17 clovers and I’d lost a minute when I fell, I was kinda pissed. It felt like a wasted opportunity considering how good I’d been feeling beforehand, but…safety first. I finished with one section of stairs short of 17 clovers, and later on realized we’d only been allotted 33:30 of the normal 35:00 time window. Dang. Next time I’ll be ready to bust a move!

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My elbow pain lingered the longest following that fall, in fact I can still feel it a tad 4 days later, but ultimately I got lucky.

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Knees are weird looking. This is from Saturday.

I decided after work to double up on the day and take Mona out on a little run. This went better than the nightmare of a run we had the week beforehand, but man…my stomach is not into running in the afternoon. Wearing the hands-free leash around my midsection doesn’t help anything out either, so I might need to be a little more strategic in planning my lunches on days where I do these afternoon jogs. It was nice and slow though, and it’s a good way to get in some shake out miles without a lot of wear-and-tear.

Thursday: Rest!

I really, really wanted to go to PlayGldn, but it had been several days of running in a row and I was ready to sleep in. I had intentions to go to yoga but instead just did a long walk with the dog instead after work. Real dog > downward dog.

Friday: Easy run with Adam (8 miles)

Adam and I decided to take Friday off work (like, three weeks ago) in order to have some scheduled time to hang out together. I’d been looking forward to our day off for a long time and obviously scheduled a “group” run for the two of us to get everything started. Unfortunately, Adam really wasn’t feeling great on Friday morning, but he muscled through and we ended up taking the whole run pretty easy for both of us. Fortunately for me, this meant that the 8 miles weren’t especially taxing on my body and throughout the rest of the day I had kind of forgotten I’d run that morning. That’s probably the way recovery running is supposed to go, eh? Anyway, the better parts of the day included a long delicious breakfast and a long delicious (?) trip to REI where we were both patient enough to leave with new trail running shoes that should be good for both mountains and smooth single track.

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Marriage real-talk: when a selfie on the couch together is an accurate description of “quality time.”

Saturday: Long run with progression finish (17 miles)

I had been watching the Saturday weather like a hawk all day Friday and didnt’ really know if I’d be able to do my long run. It had sprinkled rain all day Friday, and it was supposed to turn into consistent snow throughout the night and through Saturday morning. I was really hoping to run long on Saturday instead of Sunday, but before I went to bed on Friday night I decided I’d need to make a game time decision upon conditions in the morning. I naturally woke up around 6:30 on Saturday morning feeling very refreshed, peeked out the window and…no snow! There was a bit of precipitation in the air, very Seattle-ish in fact, and I quickly made the decision to go for it. I took my time a little waking up, drinking coffee, and outfit planning – all of which got me in the long run mode. I haven’t done a long run alone in a long time actually, and while I missed my crew I was actually excited for a solo effort along with some tunes.

I headed for the Highline Canal trail and the plan was to do a second-half progression. I wanted the first half to feel easy and consistent and to make it hurt in the second half by gradually cutting down my pace every mile. I’ve never done this workout during a long run before, but in my limited experience with progression runs it’s important to be very patient. Go too fast one mile, then it’s going to be even harder to go faster the next mile, on and on. The point of the progression is to practice accelerating on tired legs, which is really good prep for race day, or you know…so I’ve read :).

Anyway, off I went on the easy miles with my earbuds in (throwback!) and I felt fantastic. It was 34 degrees when I started which is actually my ideal running temperature, assuming I’m dressed correctly. I was clipping off very even 7:55s and feeling like I was holding back a lot, which was encouraging. I wasn’t paying a ton of attention to my watch during the first half but every time I glanced at it I had to slow down to save some steam for the second part. I was feeling great though and kept picturing running into and striking up a conversation with one of the Broncos’ players who live in the area (okay, mostly just Peyton Manning). Alas, only a bunch of regular rich people :(.

I stopped briefly at my halfway point and calculated (in my head) how I ought to go about my progression miles. Since I had 8 of them to do, I couldn’t get too ambitious right away, so I decided that shaving off 5-6 seconds per mile would be perfect and land me right above 7:00/mile by the end. I switched the screen-face on my watch to show lap pace so I could keep close tabs on my speed, and off I went with a fresh Pandora station blasting (Pitch Perfect radio, FWIW). Right off the bat, I had to keep reeling myself in pace-wise, which ended up being the trend almost every mile. Stay patient, stay patient. This workout got a little scarier every mile, which was actually kind of entertaining. One mile would beep on my watch and it was time to kick it up, but just a little bit. Overall, it was a great practice in control and making small adjustments, as well as staying in the current mile. Forewarning: this required a lot of watch stalking and like I said to Julia later that day, it’s actually a good workout to do by yourself. I’m really happy with how the progression miles went, and I was definitely fighting for those two at the end:

7:48, 7:43, 7:37, 7:30, 7:25, 7:17, 7:12, 7:06

One cool-down mile and I was toasted, which was exactly the goal. Admittedly, it was a little intimidating to think that the ending pace of that progression is where I’d like to be half-marathon pace wise (comfortably…), but this was also supposed to be a tired leg, race-simulation situation at the end of a 50+ mile week. Calling it a success.

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So this was a braid at one point.

Sunday: Yoga + long dog walk

I slept in for real today, took Mona on a big park loop and eventually found myself indulging in a Core Power class. I don’t go to CP regularly because of cost and general time availability, but I do enjoy it on the off chance I decide to go. My hips and hamstrings certainly appreciated the love, and it was a super sweaty and satisfying class overall. Good Sunday!

Total: 53.6 miles

Highs: I was able to run over 50 miles including two non-running days and a lot of slower miles, which meant that I didn’t feel overly exhausted at the end of the week. My two workouts this week were clovers and my long run, and while clovers didn’t go exactly as planned, I felt pretty fit during both harder sessions.

Also! I was way better about foam rolling and stretching at night this week, which I think were really helpful.

Lows: My sleep has been relatively poor recently, which is really counterproductive to training and my overall demeanor (I’m a mean tired person…).

 

 

 

 

Week 5: Good, Not Great

Cut-back week! I’m on a mission to do a better job of implementing some lower-mileage weeks in my training this year, and this felt like a good time to execute on that goal. Overall, as the title of this post suggests, I’d say that this week was good…not great. I got in three really solid workouts, but none of them felt especially fantastic, and all of my other running felt super bleh.

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 2 x 2 workout with warm-up and cool down (8 miles)

Julia and I met at Sloan’s Lake Park (halfway between our houses) for a workout. The plan: 2 x 2 miles at ~7:00 pace and 4 x 400s, plus a warm-up and cool down. We both got out of our cars less than enthused for the whole thing, and I’m pretty certain that had we been by ourselves, we both would have bagged the workout and run easy instead. But, that’s the thing about accountability: when two people have a plan, it’s a lot harder to back out of it than if it’s just you.

So, after a two mile warm-up that went by too quickly, off we went on the first set. The fast miles felt…fast. They were a little less comfortable than I would have liked, but we still felt under control. I kept a pretty sharp eye on my watch the whole time to make sure we stayed on track. Before we started the second set, I thought it would be a good idea to just stick to the 2 x 2s and not do the 400s; we were both still cooked from the previous weekend and I knew just finishing the main workout would be a win in and of itself. Luckily Julia agreed, and I think we were both rejuvenated at the thought of just getting the second set done. Our third interval felt by far the best to me and the last one felt the hardest (no surprise there). We averaged 6:56 for the miles, and I was super glad we’d muscled through and got them done. Considering we were both desperate for a bathroom on the cool down, not doing the 400s was definitely the right call.

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Sloan’s Lake sunrise: the best in Denver!

Wednesday: November Project + after-work run (5 miles)

Ugh. Nothing went right exercise-wise for me on this day. I drove to NP instead of running as a means of keeping mileage down, and I just felt sluggish and off during the workout. I think I almost tripped three different times just jogging up stairs. We did a “dog bone” workout including push-ups, abs stuff, box jumps and mountain climbers, and while I ordinarily like these circuits, I just couldn’t get into it. Oh well.

Things didn’t improve much after work. I’d planned to do a super easy, podcast jog with Mona in the afternoon. Basically everything went wrong. My podcast app kept freezing (?), my stomach felt awful, Mona wanted to chase every dog/goose/human we saw, and the 9:30 pace we were running might as well have been a 7:30 pace.

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What’s worse? No photos, or lame photos of my legs up the wall before bed?

Thursday: PlayGldn at Dino Ridge (7.5 miles)

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Another Thursday, another trek to Golden for a great run with the crew. I wasn’t totally sure how the hill repeats would feel, and I wasn’t very optimistic after Wednesday’s disaster. Regardless, after I got started, I felt decent enough to push a little. Again,  it was good…not great. I was happy that I felt better than the week before, although I’ll say that those ups and downs at Dino never get much easier.

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Run buddies…the best!

Friday: Rest

I had good intentions of going to yoga on Friday, but it was too pretty after work to not be outside. So, I took Mona on a long walk (while podcasting, always) and did a Jasyoga video while making dinner. Adam was gone for the weekend, so I had all the time to myself to stretch, relax, etc. I took full advantage of that on Friday night, and I was trying to simulate race-prep mode for the hard workout we had planned on Saturday.

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Saturday: Long run with 8 miles @ HMP pace (13.1 miles)

Another lovely example of Julia creating workouts and me saying, “Okay then!” The plan was to do a 3 mile warm-up, 8 miles around 7:10 pace, and a 2.1 mile cool-down. There were a bunch of NP friends doing their own long runs on the Cherry Creek bike path, so there were lots of friendly faces to see. After our short group warm-up, Julia and I took off for our 4″out” fast miles on the moderately uphill portion of the path. Admittedly, I didn’t feel too great on the warm-up, so I already had a sneaking suspicion that this workout would take a lot of work.

Oof, and a lot of work it was! Neither of us felt great right from the start, and factoring in the slight uphill during the first half of our fast miles, we both kept our heads down and focused on one mile at a time. Luckily, we were still hitting the splits without a lot of difficulty, they just didn’t feel great. We took a short break at the halfway turnaround point, and then headed back to the start with a little more gusto than before. The wind was at our backs and we were no longer fighting an incline, which all around made the second half of the workout better than the first. However, within the last mile, I was hurting. Both my hips were aching and my stomach was no longer on board with running fast. All in all, not the greatest run in terms of ease and strength, but it was really good for mental preparation and continuing to grind when things don’t feel optimal. We averaged 7:08s for the half-marathon pace miles and 7:30s for the run overall.

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Kind of hard to believe I ever used to run alone.

Sunday: Recovery run (5 miles)

My goal for the week was to not run over 40 miles, so an easy five miler to round out 39 miles total sounded just perfect. I slept in, lounged around, and finally made it out with very few expectations for this run. Surprisingly,  I felt pretty darn good! I wore my watch but kept it on the time-of-day mode and just focused on running super easy and relaxed. Running slow felt awesome and to my surprise afterward, it didn’t even end up being that slow.

Thinking I’ll do another Jasyoga video today before gearing up for a big week next week!

Total: 39.3 miles

Highs: Hitting splits and getting the work done despite not feeling optimal

Lows: Both my hips ached a bit last week, which they haven’t done since the middle of February. Planning to roll as much as possible this week!

CO Half-Marathon Training Week IV

Roman numerals just feel right for blog post titles recently. Going with it.

I’m typing this while a snoring doggy is snoozing away in my lap, and frankly I feel about the same. This was a big week! It was mostly all good, and I’m happy with the momentum that seems to be building.

Here’s how training went over the past 7 days:

Monday: Lookout Mountain (9 mi)

After last week’s weather fiasco, I really wanted another go at Lookout for the full experience. Luckily, the weather was positively perfect last Monday; crisp, clear and still. Thanks to good ole’ DST, it was much darker on the way up the road than it has been recently, but the sun rose on the way down and it was gorgeous! Julia, Meaghan and I all agreed that this jaunt more than made up for the week before. And bonus…I felt super strong and fresh. I was encouraged by this run, as I’ve been trying to get stronger on hills, and it was overall a great start to the week.

Also, I wore a new pair of shoes (Saucony Freedoms) and I loved them! They are super lightweight but also sturdy and good for all-around wear.

Tuesday: Long Fartlek workout (9.5 mi)

I read about an awesome time-based workout on the Picky Bars blog (designed by Lauren Fleshman, no less) that I was itching to try out. I’ve never done an interval workout that’s based on time instead of distance, which is what really piqued my interest. Here’s what was on tap:

10x – 3:00 on, 2:00 off (10 minute warm-up, 10 minute cool-down)

For the “on” intervals, my goal was to run around 10k effort, which I thought was probably around a 6:45 pace. I managed to wrangle Nina to do this workout with me, which I was so thankful for because it kept me honest to stick to the plan and not skimp! Nina did 7 of the 10 intervals with me, and overall we stuck closely to the prescribed “on” pace and enjoyed a nice easy jog during the “off” 2 minutes. I felt good through about 7.5 intervals, and the last 2.5 were tough! I had to muscle through them, but I felt very satisfied and comfortably wiped afterward.

When I finished, I texted Julia that the workout really compounded on itself; I felt really good at first and the fatigued just gradually settled in. Great workout!

Wednesday: NP5280 + run to/from (8.2 mi)

I was ready for an easier day on Wednesday after hills on Monday and speed on Tuesday, so I took it pretty easy on my run to and from November Project as well as at the workout. My stomach also felt kind of terrible when I woke up, so I was wary of it throughout the morning.

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On your marks! Look at those pretty new blue shoes and that dirty old white hat (lower left)

We did a couple of sprints around the Capitol Building which were fun, as well as a stairs + push up + sit up workout that acted as my lone strength work for the week.

Thursday: Dino Ridge hill repeats (7.5 mi)

I slept approximately 3.5 hours on Wednesday night, and had I not already been awake when it was time to get up to run, I would have bagged the whole thing. Not exactly setting things up for success.

I really wanted these hills to feel good, but deep down I knew I was probably in for a not-so-great run, which I was unfortunately right about. My legs had zero gusto! I was happy enough to just be out there with the PlayGldn crew under a beautiful sunrise. Hopefully next time I’ll have a little more fire.

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Sky!

Friday: Rest

 

I think I had less than 4,000 steps on Friday. Taking rest days very seriously over here.

Saturday: Mt. Bross – March 14er! (6.2 hiking miles)

Oh man, Adam and I were about as close as you can get to not doing this one. We were both so tired from the week, and generally a 14er day didn’t sound super appealing to me. But, I knew there wouldn’t be much more time to get in a 14er for the month of March, and as we’ve said so far throughout this “challenge,” we want to at least give ourselves a chance to succeed at it. So, on Thursday I made a dog boarding reservation for Mona “just in case,” and somehow that was enough of an inspiration to muster up the energy to go.

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It was so fun! We decided to hike Mt. Bross, which is a mountain ordinarily done as one-of-four in the summer months (Democrat, Cameron, and Lincoln are the other three). Admittedly, Adam and I have poked fun at Bross for just being kind of a walk-over, ant hole of a mountain that you happen to do when you do the others.

However, after doing this peak on its own from an alternative route, my respect for it has greatly increased. We didn’t follow a standard trail due to avalanche safety precuation, but the route we did create for ourselves was super steep! We hiked the east-facing side so it was nearly all dry above treeline, and we both wore t-shirts for most of the hike. It was lovely but also a bit alarming considering it’s technically still winter and there was hardly any snow. Anyway, we were up and down in about four hours and it was overall a great day.

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Third 14er of 2017!

Sunday: Long run (16 mi)

The adventure of Sunday’s long run started before we even put our feet on the pavement! The plan was for a group of us to run Magnolia Road in Boulder which is an iconic 16 mile, high-altitude rolling dirt road. The weather was ideal, everyone’s schedules synced up, it seemed too good to be true. And unfortunately…it was. On the way into Boulder, we noticed that there was smoke billowing out of the foothills and wondered if there was some kind of fire. Sure enough, Meaghan called me minutes later and told us that the road up to Magnolia was closed. We tried to keep the group momentum going and opt for another Boulder option, but it was frankly too smoky for anyone to safely run outside.

My car (Adrienne and me) weren’t on any time restriction necessarily, so we decided to follow Julia and Meg back to Golden so we could copy-cat Dan on the long run he’d done the day before near Golden Gate Canyon State Park.

And it turned out as the best happy accident! The run was so beautiful, challenging and all-around awesome. The climbs and descents seemingly never ended in the best kind of way, and you truly felt completely isolated from any nearby city. Loved the run, the company, and loved how (mostly) good I felt! My legs were feeling the mountain climbing from the day before, but I still felt strong and capable throughout the 16 miles we covered. Near the end, I was flirting ever so slightly with the threat of bonking, but it never happened and I ended feeling exhausted in the best kind of way.

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Longest run since December, too!

Total (running and hiking):  56.6 miles, 7,826 feet of climbing

Highs: 14er and awesome long run. My kind of perfect weekending!

Lows: Bad sleep throughout the week, poor stretching/rolling/recovery regimen. Will do better this week!

 

 

 

 

CO Half-Marathon Training: Week III

Well look at that…three blog posts in three weeks! According to my TimeHop app, this hasn’t happened in a long time. Speaking of which, I’m shocked at how much I had (or at least thought I had) to write about back then! I used to run alone so much during the early blog days, so I suppose I had no other outlet for all my running-related thoughts. Now that I have training partners (teammates!) to share my runs with, I think I’m just left with less to say online. I positively prefer the way things are currently; running friends are the best.

Last week was finicky, but overall good. I began the week thinking that I’d have a lower-mileage/down week, but then I got into a bit of a groove and just rolled with my new “normal” mileage (40-45 mi). I did do a shorter long run, on trails no less, which made my weekend a lot less pound-inducing than usual, which I’m happy about.

Monday: Lookout Mountain attempt + easy after work (10 mi)

Monday was wild! I headed to Golden to run Lookout Mtn. road with the Monday crew, which ordinarily would have meant about 9 miles with 1,200 ft. of gain. It was a crisp, bright, and calm morning…almost eerily so. Meaghan even commented about how “weirdly calm” it was out. Well, within a few minutes we turned a corner and were hit smack in the face with a massive headwind and snow! It was so fast-moving and strong that we had no choice but to turn around, which all of us did without any hesitation. Even after so many years of living in Colorado, the craziness of our weather patterns never ceases to amaze me.

After work, I decided to add on some miles for the day with an easy jog with Mona! It was super cold out and I was feeling less-than-stellar, but I was really glad I went afterward and Mona hit a personal distance record! Proud dog mama.

Tuesday: Full rest day

Wednesday: November Project + run to/from (7.5 mi)

I wanted to take Wednesday a little easy since I was planning a speed workout on Thursday. However, NP got sneaky and did a workout that kind of necessitated sprinting and races plus some body weight exercises. It was super fun and the vibe was strong, but I was wiped afterward! My hip flexors were super stiff the whole day following, and since I actually tried to do my burpees with correct form for the first time…I was sore from those too.

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Fam

Thursday: 8 x 800s + warm-up and cool-down (9.75 mi)

Track Thursday! There’s an NP group that’s been going to the South High School track on Thursdays and I’ve been itching to join them. It’s infinitely easier for me to go to the track when there are others around rather than just going on my own, so I jumped at the chance to recruit people to join in.

800s are my default track workout, partly because I really like them, and partly because I’m too lazy to figure out my paces at other distances.

Ideally I wanted to do eight, but I decided six would suffice if I was feeling overworked. The goal was to run around 3:15s for each interval (6:30 pace) and for them to feel like work but not entirely out of my comfort zone. This is a little embarrassing, but I only recently discovered the Garmin feature that shows average pace for a single rep instead of just current pace. Game changer for intervals! I checked my watch every 200 meters or so to make sure I was staying in range of my goal pace. After four intervals, I was feeling a little cooked already but decided to keep going and try for the eight I’d planned on. Splits:

3:13, 3:10, 3:13, 3:13, 3:12, 3:13, 3:11, 3:10

Needless to say, I was psyched with that consistency! I jogged a lap between each one and including the run there and back home, I ended up with a little over 9 miles for the day.

Friday: November Project hill repeats (7 mi)

NP was at my favorite Friday location: Little Man hill at Hirshorn Park in the Highlands. I normally love to run the hill repeats hard at Little Man, but after the workout day before I was more than happy to just cruise up and down while socializing instead. I jogged a few miles beforehand too, which I was thankful for since my legs needed some warming up!

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Saturday: Green Mountain (10 mi)

Oh sweet, glorious trails. I’ve been wanting to take advantage of the dry March trails, and since I also didn’t want to do a very long run this weekend – the standard 10 mile loop at Green Mountain was calling my name. Before heading over there, I drank coffee and ate breakfast over an hour (very pleasant) and registered for my third Pikes Peak Ascent! The Ascent might be my favorite race of all time, so I was positively giddy after submitting my registration and was brimming with excitement to run some trails as a celebration.

The combination of my good mood and the foggy 40 degree weather made for an A+ run! The trails were ever so slightly damp, which meant the traction was perfect, and as much as I love the sun, the humid and cloudy air felt so good after how dry it’s been otherwise.

I decided to push a little bit on the final descent, and I ended up running the whole loop faster than I ever have before! It was really encouraging and I rode high all day afterwards.

Sunday: 6 mile hike

I planned on not running on Sunday and just doing whatever felt good, which ended up being a hike with my family (Mona included). It was lovely out and a great, easy way to move on an otherwise sluggish DST day.

Total: 44 miles

Highs: Green Mountain unicorn run and speed consistency on the track

Lows:  The forced bailout of Lookout Mountain was disappointing, as was my continued inability to implement a regular at-home stretch/strength regimen. Trying harder this week!

Goal for this week: Take some darn photos!

 

 

 

 

Real Training: Week 2

I don’t really have a countdown yet in my head for Colorado Half-Marathon prep, so we’ll just call this officially week 2. This week started slow and picked up a lot of steam at the end; I had nearly chalked it up to a dud, but then two awesome runs made all the difference. Isn’t that how it always goes, though?

The best part of this week, aside from those two key runs, was that I finally, finally, felt like myself again. I feel like over the past two months I’ve been running in a “walking-on-eggshells” fashion. I’ve been hyper-aware of aches and pains, I’ve been fearful of doing too much or going too fast, and generally I’ve just been a little overly-cautious most of the time. Not that having caution is a bad thing at all, but it’s not a very enjoyable way to constantly be feeling with running. But this week, I felt strong, controlled, and like I was actually in a groove again. A great feeling, especially on the onset of spring.

My goal for this week was to run 45 miles, which I managed to do in only 5 days of running – meaning 2 rest/non-running days. While I would love to comfortably run every day, my body responds well to two days off from running, especially when I’m in the midst of coming back after a break (which I still feel like I am right now). Not to mention, I freaking love rest days.

Here’s how the week shook out:

Monday: Easy (7 mi)

I ran 4 miles around Wash Park nice and easy. I was a little creaky from the cross-country race the day before, but it felt nice to get some blood flowing. After that first loop, I swung by home to pick up Mona for a few miles with her. Two birds with one stone; I love running with her!

Also,  I decided to go rogue and do squats and abs after my run. I felt super smug about it, but then I was so sore from the squats all week. Note to self: even air squats will bite you if you don’t do them regularly.

Tuesday: Rest

Wednesday: NP + to/from (7.5 mi)

It was pretty cold on Wednesday, and after a few weeks of moderate weather and nicer mornings, I resolutely decided that I am DONE with the cold. My muscles really don’t love sub 25 degree weather either, and running in the cold is just all around achey. Hugs were still had, kumbaya.

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Thursday: Dino Ridge hill repeats! (8 mi)

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Together Everyone Achieves More (®Turbo)

Real talk: Doing hills with the PlayGldn crew is a humbling experience for me. Hills have never been a strong suit of mine, and these Golden kids are a bunch of fasties – especially when it comes to moving up and down anything. The first time I met them all for the 0.7 mile repeats at Dinosaur Ridge, I sorta got my butt handed to me. All that to say, I wanted a little redemption on Thursday! We had a big group of runners, and somehow the combination of the lighter morning, the beautiful weather, and the larger crew netted out to a super kickass workout for everyone! I haven’t had that much fun running in a long time; everyone was working hard and encouraging one another – it truly felt like running with a team. I finished with 8 miles total and 900 feet of climbing all in a 7:46 average pace. Not to mention, I felt super strong! I had a runner’s high the entire day after.

Friday: Easy (8.6 mi)

I am really trying to use recovery runs for just that…recovery. Still getting in miles while soothing my tired muscles from the day before. Luckily, I actually felt pretty good after our fast workout from the day before, and a run around both Cheesman Park and Wash Park seemingly flew by.

Saturday: Long run (15 mi)

I’ve been piggy backing off of Julia’s half-marathon training, which has worked out well for me for a number of reasons. Not only do I not really have to think about what to do, I always get in a good run, AND I get to run with friends. Win, win, win!

On Saturday, Julia, Meaghan, and I teamed up again for a 5-5-5 mile workout on Cherry Creek trail. Jules wanted to run 5 easy, 5 at her goal half-marathon pace, and 5 more easy for 15 miles total. Meaghan ran 5 ahead of time to get 20 total for the day, so we all had our heads down for the task at hand. And it went so well! The 5 fast miles went by so quickly, and the sub 7:10 pace felt much more do-able than expected. Probably the easiest that pace has ever felt in a workout, which was super encouraging. Good miles, strong women, and coffee in the sun with our men afterwards. Great morning!

I also took an Epsom salt bath afterward and walked Mona in the afternoon – both of which encouraged some good recovery for my legs.

Sunday: (Active) rest day!

Sunday was going to technically a rest day, but I’m not really counting it as one since I did yoga and hiked! I went to a 75-minute flow class which was good, not great, but a nice way to start the day after sleeping for over 9 hours. Then in the afternoon, Adam and I took Mona on a hike up Lookout Mountain trail. It was 5 miles total, and while I love hanging out with the two of them, it was admittedly a little frustrating just how many people and off-leash dogs there were on the trail. PSA: unless you are at an off-leash designated dog park, keep your leash on your pooch!

Total: 46.4 miles (running only)

Highs: The literal runner’s high from Dino Ridge and feeling super strong on Saturday’s long run

Lows: Realizing that winter isn’t gone, and we’ll still have darkness and cold for another month (at least)

 

 

 

 

 

Testing…testing…training!

Does this thing still work? Why yes…I think it does! Jokes about my lack of blogging aside, this is kind of how I’ve felt about my legs and my running recently. It’s been kind of two steps forward, one step back ever since the 50k in December. I was full-fledged burnt out and showing signs of generally being over-trained after that race, and I was ready to approach the spring season with patience and caution. I took a few weeks off, I ran very infrequently in the  weeks following, and I didn’t stress myself out with any immediate goals or expectations.

Once I did start “really” running again, both of my hamstrings – particularly the left – were essentially achey rocks more often than not. While running, while at work, when I woke up in the morning…it was impossible to get any kind of fluidity going through my hammies and hips. Nothing painful, just clearly overworked from the past season. I maintained an every-other-day type of running routine through January, and until recently  I never ran more than two days in a row. Slowly but gradually, things are feeling much better and in working condition. It’s an interesting and tricky thing to not feel injured but to still feel so off. Basically, I focused on ingraining the “little things” that I ignored for too long and consequentially landed me with all my achiness; lots of evening flexibility work, a few chiropractor trips, and generally taking it easier than I had in 6 months. I only got frustrated a few times with my slow progress, but that’s kind of what this winter season is all about: resetting and regaining.

All that said, I feel like I’ve been “training” again for about three weeks. For what race, you might ask? Well, since I’ve retired from spring marathons, I decided to focus my efforts over the next few months on one of my absolute favorite distances: the half! I’m registered for the Colorado Half-Marathon in the beginning of May, and I’m pretty psyched to really fine-tune my fitness and speed over the next 2+ months.

Taking a hint from my favorite fast couple, I’ve decided to start recapping my training again on this blog. It helps me stay accountable, it keeps me honest, and after all…I renewed my domain subscription for a reason, right??

Here’s what this past week looked like:

Monday: Mt. Bierdstat! 8.5 hiking miles, 3,241 ft of elevation gain

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President’s Day! Adam and I had the day off from work so we decided to head for the hills. I had this crazy idea last year to try and do a 14er every single month in 2017. Obviously we pack in a ton during the summer months, but there’s something so wonderfully challenging and exciting to me about tackling these mountains in the winter. Anyway, we had one last shot in February to attempt a summit, and Monday did not disappoint. I really didn’t feel great on the majority of the ascent, but once we reached the top I was instantly reminded of why I love these mountains. Not to mention Adam and I got to spend a whole day just the two of us, which is always my favorite part of our big hikes.

Tuesday: Rest – much needed after the long day before

Wednesday: November Project clovers + run to and from – 8.4 miles

Clovers! I decided before even starting that I wanted to take it easy at November Project’s PR day in order to save my legs for the race on Sunday (spoiler!), so I stayed relaxed for most of the 35 minutes and cheered everyone on. Particularly, I was focused on Julia who was attempting a new clovers PR of 18! She is the absolute queen of clovers and I was happily distracted watching her cruise. I jumped in at the end with her and wound up doing 16.5 myself, kind of surprising given I felt very relaxed otherwise. Love clovers, every time.

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Photo by: Morgan Anderson

Thursday: 6.6 easy miles

I took recovery miles seriously and ran very easy around the park once then picked up Mona for an additional 5k! I love running with her; she’s getting much better on the leash and I barely feel like I’m running because I’m so distracted by encouraging her the whole time 🙂

Friday: HotVin yoga

I was sad to miss November Project with TROY leading it on Friday morning, but I was in desperate need of some extra sleep and I’m glad I stayed in bed, ultimately. I managed to make it to a rare after-work yoga class which was one of my favorites: a combo of hot and vinyasa which is always super sweaty and stretchy. Exactly what I needed at the end of the week!

Saturday: 10 mile long run

I met up with Julia and Meaghan for an easy 10 mile out-and-back on the Platte River. Continuing the trend of what happens when I long run with these ladies, we intended to go slow and ended up running faster than any of us expected. Regardless, I always feel strong running with these two and it was a beautiful, albeit cold, morning.

Sunday: West Side Best Side XC race! 8 miles total (3.3 warmup, 3.0 race, 1.7 cool down)

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This was the third time November Project has participated in the West Side Best Side cross-country races, and we showed up in a big way at today’s race! We had SEVEN teams of five runners and made up the majority of the field. I’ve been thinking of this race as a jumping-off point for the spring, and I wanted to run hard and execute my best effort to kick off real deal training.

I am mentally incapable of not getting unnecessarily nervous about these races. Running fast is my absolute favorite thing, as is racing, but I still get flooded with nerves at that thought of pairing them together, especially among peers. However, I also think my ability to channel this energy toward my race is a strength, so I just kind of embrace it.

Anyway, I managed to chill out once we all got there (which is what always happens…), and a crew of us warmed up along the course. It was clear that the course was going to be much more authentically “cross-country” than the other races we’ve done; the terrain was a combination of dirt road, rocky trail, sidewalk, and generally unstable footing. Not to mention…hills! It was going to be fun.

My loose goals for the race were to finish in the top 3 NP females, and it would be a bonus to finish in the top 5 females overall (they award top 5). Generally, though, I wanted to race hard from start to finish.

From the gun, it was hard to not have fun since I knew basically everyone around me! There’s nothing quite like running with a team, and I felt focused and powerful to be surrounded by friends. I felt controlled in the first mile as everyone weened out a bit; not too fast but still keeping up with the front-ish pack. Eventually I was running basically side-by-side with Erin, another NP lady, and I knew if I could keep up with her I’d have a good race. Around mile 2 there’s an out and back where I was able to assess where we were among the ladies, and I noted that I was currently around 7th female. Time to buckle up! Like I said, the terrain of this race was super fun and wild – it was more like a trail race than anything else, and I knew Julia would be loving it. Erin and I passed another woman, and as we rounded the bend to the final 800 meters (uphill!), I knew it would be a guts race to the finish. Erin turned on her 4-wheel-drive and I held on the best I could, finally managing to pass the 5th place woman in the final 100 meters. I finished in 20:38 as 5th lady, 3rd for NP women! Our team finished 2nd overall and the other NP women’s team finished 1st! How lucky am I to have such fast friends to run with and against??

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I am really happy with this race and my effort, and mainly I’m excited to capitalize off this race and start training hard.

Total weekly miles: 41.8 miles (including hiking miles)

Highs: 14er on Monday, XC race, and running the exact same mileage as Julia without us even trying.

Lows: My knee bothered me for a couple of days, but then I realized I was pushing 650 miles on the pair of shoes I was wearing. Swapped shoes, problem solved!

Taking ownership of my goals and training is something that’s always helped me in the past, so my intent is to keep  up these weekly recaps. The Colorado Half-Marathon is on May 7th which is my primary “A” race, and I’m planning to schedule a couple more short races along the way.

Here’s to a fast, healthy and fun spring of running!