Tag Archives: marathoner

Hills, 2012 Miles Update, and Pancakes

Hello!

I don’t have anything monumental or ground-breaking to say today (because, you know, the rest of my posts are essentially scholarly journal-worthy), however I thought I’d drop in for a quick update on some goals that have been discussed before.

To start off, on Tuesday I made a vow to add some hill training into my routine in order to train for my {new} marathon course in Tacoma. Actually, I don’t really think I vowed that—but I did in my head, and now I’m admitting it, which means I’m accountable.

But it’s okay! Because I am adding hills!

Exhibit A: Today’s run…

Look! Hills!

I realize that might be crazy hard to read, but the elevation change is there—I promise. There is a nice 6 mile loop near our house that goes something like this: Flat, down, down down, flat, flat, flat, flat, then up, up, up, up. Isn’t my topography narration pro? This should probably be a science blog. Anyways, here is a visual:

This probably means a whole lot to you, I know.

In order to get my semi-long-run miles for the day (12) in and include some up-and-down hill action, I decided to do this loop twice.

And let me just say, adding 350 feet of climbing TWICE into a 12 mile run makes the whole experience a lot more—interesting—than my normal candy route of out and back on beach-front, flat path heaven. The first loop I kept thinking “Oh great, I get to do this all again,” and so that was a little distracting, however the second loop was glorious and actually a bit faster than the first. I finished in 1:43:30, meaning just below 8:40 average/mile.

Note: If you’re wondering why I never post splits, it’s because I don’t own a Garmin, and I haven’t decided yet if I want one. Currently, I record my “splits” and pace and min/mile using a lot of mental math and number memorization. The way I knew that the second uphill run was faster than the first was because I played the same song both times up, and the second time I was further up the hill when the song ended. Again, so pro. But creativity points, perhaps?

And because I know you’re dying to know…yes the song was Defying Gravity, and yes it was awesome.

A Garmin someday… I do have a birthday in less than a month, don’t I? 😉

Anyways, although that pace isn’t ideal, I was happy with it—particularly because it took into account the probable 10 min/mile trudge I was racking up on those big hills.

Good news is that I know Tacoma doesn’t have climbs nearly this steep for this long, so if I just keep thinking a “hilly course” includes some of these monsters, maybe marathon day won’t be quiet so daunting?

 

Moving on, I realized recently that I hadn’t been updating or keeping track of my 2012 miles since the whole knee debacle started. I panicked a little, thinking there was no way I would be able to come up with my most recent number, but thanks to some memory skillz and past blog posts, I came to a final tally.

Miles Run in 2012: 538.7

Percentage of 2012 Goal Completed: 26.77%

Percentage of Year Over: 26.22%

Success still! Even though I definitely lost some of my progress when I was busy resting instead of running, I’m glad that I had accumulated enough cushion to make up for lost time. Again, this goal is more of a “just for fun” thing, so I’m not completely engrossed with making it happen, but it’s kinda cool to keep track of mileage build up.

This mileage tally also indicated that I need to buy some new shoes. I’m nearing 500 miles on these ones I’m wearing now, and so I’m due for some upgrading.

And finally, I leave you with this beauty of a breakfast-for-dinner created by BF and myself last night:

If you cover pancakes with enough strawberries, all the syrup you have already put on them is cancelled out. Fact.

I realize I’ve been talking about pancakes a lot recently (i.e. in reference to the Eugene Marathon, photos of weekend happenings, etc.) and it’s a little strange because I actually don’t love pancakes that much. I mean, I love all food, and pancakes are delicious, but I am not nearly as passionate about them as my blog has been showcasing recently. They are not, for example, equivalent to peanut butter or Cadbury Mini Eggs, both of which I could easily write long poems about every day.

However, apparently both BF and I are on a pancake kick, and we really can’t get enough. The shapes you are seeing portray various inside jokes between the two of us, and none of them—surprisingly—are inappropriate. Shocking, really, if you know our humor. There’s still more batches to be made though…

__________

Friday Favorites tomorrow! See you then, and if you don’t mind sharing:

What pancake shape is your favorite? Is there a design you’ve made that you’re particularly proud of?

 

 

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Spring Marathon Announcement

I have a kinda-sorta-semi significant announcement to make, and it involves a change in my spring marathon plans. I got this idea planted in my head last week, and upon mulling it over and weighing all the pros and cons and whatnot—I’m confident that this is the best call for a variety of reasons.

To put it simply (WHAT? Crazy…I never do that) here you have it:

I am not running the Eugene Marathon.

Instead, I am running the Tacoma City Marathon.

I realize that this is really only a big deal for me, but since some of you may have been following me throughout this training cycle(hey followers! I love you!)—which has, up until this time, been focused solely on running in Pre’s old stomping grounds—I figured I owed an explanation.

The idea to switch my marathon plans first came about during a run (weird, right?) last week. For those of you who don’t know, I’ve recently been battling back-and-forth with some intense knee bursitis. I had to alter a lot of my training plan, visit the orthopedic doc (aka: Dr. I’ll Give You Cortisone Therefore I’m a Godsend), and generally wait out the inflammation that has been crippling my entire left leg. So needless to say, although I’m on the way out of injury land and kicking back into training mode, I definitely lost some time.

The Tacoma City Marathon is a week after Eugene, and I knew this only because I was planning on going to volunteer for it. I began thinking about the logistics of Eugene (aka: travel, lodging, time, etc.) and I thought, “Huh, if only I was doing Tacoma instead…that would be so much easier.”

Obviously this triggered all of my logical-decision versus idealistic-decision making thoughts, which looked a little something like this:

(Note: when I talk to myself, I don’t really use second person, but for the sake of blog-talk, just go with it.)

“Wait, why don’t you just do Tacoma instead?”

“But Eugene has been the plan all along. It’s flat! It ends in Hayward Field! I could BQ in Eugene!”

“You would have to go to Eugene by yourself, buy a hotel room, pay for gas, and spend 12 hours driving ALONE.

But you already paid for Eugene! And they have pancakes at the end!”

“Tacoma is HALF AN HOUR AWAY. BF could come. You won’t have to celebrate at the finish line alone. You will SAVE money.”

So, this went on for approximately 4 days (Doesn’t my brain sound like a party?!), and thanks to some guidance from Mama, they always are right—aren’t they?, and some big time pros in the “Tacoma” category…I’ve decided to forgo my Eugene Marathon plans, as well as my dreams of a flat-PR accessible course.

Yes, that entire paragraph is one sentence. Too lazy to change…it’s free form, right?

The course change is really the biggest downside of this decision: Eugene is notorious for dishing up PRs and BQs to its participants, right alongside the all-you-can-eat pancakes at the end. And while this wasn’t the reason I chose this race, it has certainly helped encourage my secret-but-not-really-secret BQ goals.

No big deal, you say, just go for a BQ in Tacoma instead.

Yea…that’s the thing about the Tacoma race. One word can be used to describe the course, and it starts with an “H” and ends with a long, exhausting, oh-my-God-never-ending “ILLS.” No one sugarcoats the hill factor when describing the Tacoma Marathon—even the website says “train for hills!” in an annoyingly chipper yet threatening way. I know websites don’t have a tone of voice, but I was offended by this statement.

Not that I’m necessarily bad at hills, but when you go from training for a flat/marginally downhill race to training for a constantly rolling hill race, your time goals dial back a bit. And you know what? It’s okay.

Truthfully, I had already come to terms with the fact that a BQ was perhaps not in the cards for this spring, due to bursitis being an a-hole and sidelining me for three weeks. Also, it’s not like I won’t try my very hardest in Tacoma—and I look forward to seeing how my effort thus far emancipates on race day.

There are also many reasons why Tacoma is definitely the smarter and more logical choice. Let’s do some listing, because that’s what being type-A is all about, right? Cool.

Tacoma is where I first started to love running. I went to school in Tacoma, and while it took me a few years and many boxes of wine to eventually lace up and head out on the roads, I do feel a certain home field advantage about racing in this town. Although I love Seattle and will never live in Tacoma again (that’s putting it nicely btw), there is a certain nostalgia I get when I think about running in Tacoma.

Money. Monetarily, I’ll probably end up better off. Yes, I’ll have to bite the $90-Eugene-Registration bullet and tack on another registration fee for Tacoma. However, given the fact that with Eugene I’d had to pay for accommodations, gas, food, and all the race shwag that I’ll rationalize with “But I came all this way!!!!”, I’m thinking I’ll actually save money.

Time. For me, a marathon is certainly a good reason to spend a whole weekend traveling, but the fact that I won’t have to drive 6 hours after running 26.2 miles (and not to mention beforehand) provides some enormous relief. Post marathon time should only be spent at Chipotle, on the couch, or in the Dairy Queen drive-thru. ONLY.

(Boy)Friends! I know it’s silly to consider having a cheering section as an advantage, however I am comforted by thinking that I’ll have some supporters in Tacoma. BF is in crazy-busy-work-mode right now, and there was no way he would have been able to come to Eugene. This way, not only will he be able to come, but he’s thinking he’ll race the half too! Hooray couple racing! Also, I have some friends in Tacoma that I’m planning on forcing nicely asking to come to the finish line. My sister also said she’d be able to make it to Tacoma. It’s just a T-town party, all kinds of fun.

Revenge. That sounds intense, because it is. Let’s back track: Last year, I signed up to do the Tacoma City Half Marathon and was all amp-ed up for it: It would be spring, it would be in my own backyard, and it would be ON MY BIRTHDAY. Perfect situation for 13.1 miles right? And it was…but not for me. You see that was the time of the year that my little friend Torn Hip Flexor was hanging around and decided that it wouldn’t let me walk or run for a very long time. Racing was out of the question, and I had to settle with my first “DNS.” So, when I say that “revenge” is motivating my change in race plans, I’m being very serious. Although it was not the race itself that disabled me from running, I do feel a certain call from it to come back and get some redemption. And oh Tacoma City Marathon, I will get that redemption…and instead of taking back those 13.1 miles I was robbed of last year, I’m going to tack on another 13.1 just to prove my point.

Are you scared of me yet? Just think I’m insane and spend too much time by myself? Well, agree to agree with you on that one. Threatening and personifying a perfectly innocent race is perhaps one of the insights into my psyche I should have kept to myself.

But in all seriousness, I’m feeling pretty pumped at the thought of redeeming my Half DNS from last year with a full marathon. I have no clue how well it will go, I am still working on some time goals (stay tuned for that), but I’m psyched to run 26.2 miles on the roads where I first started to love running. So Tacoma, next time I see your smelly, sketchy, humble little self, I’ll be waving at you with a race number tagged on and presumably a lot of salt on my face. Hey, if you’re not dressing up for me…I won’t pull out the stops for you. Let’s just be stinky and tired-looking together, okay? It will be beautiful.

_______

I hope your Tuesday is going well! And today I’d like to know…

Do you have any spring racing plans? Have you ever changed a race plan mid-training? Do you enjoy thinking of races as living, breathing things that you want to get in a fight with?

 

Injury Psychosis, or “My Irrational 10 PM Panic Attack”

Last night around the time I was supposed to be basking in a post-long-run comatose, I was actually having a panic attack. It wasn’t loud, aggressive, or filled with tears (can you guess how these normally go for me?) but it definitely happened, and it kept my brain a-flutter for far too long.

To summarize, in the space of about 3 iPhone internet searches, I self-diagnosed myself with a stress fracture and resolved myself to a fate of another spring without running and no more Eugene marathon.

Let’s back up a bit though.

Yesterday, I ran 18.5 miles for my long run—a bit longer than I intended on, however I felt great the whole time. Despite a brutal head wind that never seemed to go in the right direction, conditions were ideal for this run, and I was thrilled to be out in short sleeves again. There was really only one thing irking me, and right from the get-go it didn’t really make sense: a shin splint.

I’ve had shin splints before, however that was back when I was running track, and I don’t think I’ve actually had one from running since then. Therefore, I was really confused how after all the mileage I’ve built up and training I’ve done, one persnickety little shin splint would choose to show up out of the blue. It didn’t get worse or anything throughout the run, it just kind of hung out not wanting to go away. After I was done, I noticed that flexing my foot to push the pedals in my car was irritating it—and this put me on edge a bit.

I’m very paranoid about any kind of injury (as most runners are) but I think that I’m particularly wary when it comes to any ache or pain in my body. I go right into prevention/recovery mode whenever I feel something’s off—ice, pain killers, stretching, etc. Last night, the pain still hadn’t subsided, and although I was completely fine in terms of weight-bearing and walking, I still had a pang whenever I would flex my foot.

So, after BF had fallen asleep (yesterday he ran the furthest he’s ever run before—14 miles!), I decided to do what I believe is one of the biggest mistakes runners can do: I went online and tried to figure out what was wrong. Now you see, shin splints and stress fractures are quite interrelated in terms of their similar symptoms, their location, and their frequency in runners. Therefore, when you start Googling anything related to shins and running and pain, you get a very wide range of possibilities for the culprit. This would be the part of the story where I go straight to the worst case scenario, deciding not only that I have a stress fracture but that I can no longer run the Eugene Marathon and must resound myself to swimming and spinning for 6-8 weeks. Not only that, but I actually thought about how sad I would be to read other runner’s blogs and how I would need to try to stay positive in my own blogging. Oh, I also thought, “Maybe I’ll still be able to do the half? But then I’d be so depressed seeing people do the full…and why would my family come if I was only doing the half?”

Okay.

Yes, all those thoughts did go through my head.

No, I don’t have anything near a stress fracture.

Once I woke up this morning and regained a better grip on reality, I realized two things: It’s actually not running or impact that irritates this feeling in my shin (it’s flexing my foot), and I’ve had this pain before—and it definitely wasn’t a stress fracture then either.

After a little more logical and thorough investigation with my sports doctor known as Dr. Google, PhD., I got a little closer to what I think is going on.

Ready for some fancy name-calling? Tibialis Anterior Tendonitis. AKA: Really bad shin splints.

In a nutshell, one of the muscles on the front of my leg has some tendonitis, and it hurts to bend my foot.

So yes, it’s too bad and I’ll be taking all the proper precautions in the mean time, but no…it’s not the completely debilitating injury that my pre-bedtime brain decided it was.

Now, I know many runners are super hyper-aware about getting hurt, and understandably so. However, I do think there was a particular reason I so quickly and dramatically decided that this pain meant the worse case injury. You see, it was almost exactly one year ago to the weekend that I got hurt last year. I actually think it may have been the exact same weekend; I had run my half marathon PR, and like a really super smart person decided to run 9 miles the day after. Thus began the week-long downward spiral of my hip flexor, which ultimately would end up torn and disabling me from being able to walk, let alone run. I couldn’t even run 10 feet for a solid 2 months without my hip seizing in pain, and it would be 3 months before I could run more than a mile.

Those were fun times. No, actually they sucked. However, despite it all I did learn a lot about myself as a runner, and more importantly about my limits.

So, what does all this have to do with my panic attack about a stress fracture?

Well, I can’t be entirely certain, but I do think a part of my brain—that mysterious subconscious part that enjoys playing tricks on you—is in full-force protection mode right now in regards to injuries. Because last year my spring was so wholly down-trodden due to my limping gimp status, I think part of me is really bugged-out scared about the possibility of something like that happening again. And, sure, it’s for good reason—no one wants to get hurt—but for me that period of time is not entirely pleasant to think back to. I have such high hopes for this spring, for this upcoming marathon, and for the plans I have for the summer, and it cripples me to think of them going wrong.

As a runner, I do need to realize that injuries do happen—it’s all in the nature of the sport. I have internalized this, and I feel better prepared for if and when something happens again, but this little bout of panic I had last night made me realize that maybe I’m more afraid of it than I consciously think I am. I know I got through it last time, I know I could get through it again, but I also remember the feeling of disappointment that lasted for months. And that feeling is what I’m most afraid of. Disappointment in myself for not training smarter, disappointment in not being able to cross another marathon finish line, and overall disappointment in missing the glory of a good run.

So I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I’m feeling a bit vulnerable right now, and I know it’s because at this point—I do have a lot to lose.

And in reality, that’s a really good thing.

Sure it’s scary to think that one little slip up could take everything away, but I’m a big believer in the idea that it’s when you’re happiest that you tend to feel the most vulnerable. When you’ve built up a great deal of strength(both literally and figuratively) in your life, you cannot help but feel exposed and be fearful that all your hard work will come crashing down.

It is better to feel like you have something to lose rather than nothing to lose, though. When you have something to lose, in this case—training and mileage build up—it’s because you’ve put dedication into something; you’ve taken time and care into making something happen. The thought of those hours and grueling efforts going to waste is horrifying, but I think we/I should remember that they actually will never go to waste. Sure, if I were to get hurt, there would definitely be a loss in morale and my marathon registration fee, but it wouldn’t take away from the hours I’ve spent on the pavement, loving the feeling of running, and soaking in the greatness that is a runner’s high.

I’m going to try and remember this, as I nurse this pesky shin splint, but also as I think about the future of my running career. This momentary lapse in my better thinking made me realize that part of being a good runner is internalizing the fact that injuries happen, and I need to trust myself a little more. I’ve done everything I can to stay healthy, and if my body doesn’t choose to cooperate—well then, there really isn’t anything I can do about it.

Of course, as with most tough things, this mentality is easier said than done, but I am going to try and focus on the reality of being a runner instead of just the ideals of it.

Obviously running a PR in every race and having a great run every day would be awesome, but it’s not the nature of the beast. Sometimes, we need a little dose of fear to help us realize that running isn’t a submissive mistress. She keeps you on your toes, and you need to listen to her demands in order to maintain a steady relationship.

 

Icing, ibuprofen-ing, massaging, and resting until this bugger subsides. I’m considering waiting until later in the week to run again, but we’ll see how things go. Thanks for reading my attempts at narrating the complexities of my brain. Sometimes I feel like it’s trying to be an announcer for a 20-person trapeze show…not a cool task.

Questions: Tell me something fun about your weekend! Or, if you’re feeling deep, tell me about your thoughts on the psyche of injuries.

 

Crunching the Numbers

I’m feeling a bit consumed with needing to consolidate the things in my life that are accumulating faster than I can keep track. For instance, clothes I never even touch but are somehow still in my closet, various pieces of mail that need to be sorted through but just kind of sit there, and tallying my mileage progression for Eugene Marathon training.

Since I would rather talk about running more than most anything else, and since it’s a lot easier to record my training than to tackle the sweaters I bought in high school, let’s do a little recap, shall we?

Eugene Training

So, I’m currently in week 4ish of my training “plan.” I use the word plan loosely because, truth be told, I’m not following a schedule very strictly. I’m concentrating more on overall weekly mileage as opposed to achieving specific numbers on specific days. And honestly, I’m really enjoying it. It allows for more flexibility in my running and my normal life schedule, and I think that because there’s less strictness I’m mentally more excited and ready for each run. Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely tracking progress/speed/splits/etc., but my focus is more on weekly totals.

That said, I logged appx. 43 miles last week, including a 16 miler on Saturday morning followed by a 4.5 mile recovery run Sunday. I normally keep the long runs for Sunday, and I hardly ever do recovery runs the day after, so this weekend was quite experimental! I enjoyed it though—and I’m feeling really well recovered today.

The week before I ran 49.2 miles, so this week will be a bit above that. I’m trying to build in a week on/ week off kind of pattern. Meaning, I’ll be adding, then subtracting, adding a bit more, etc. This seems to really work well with my body, and since I have the time I’ll be able to pull off this safer approach while still getting in several extra-long (20+) runs.

With that said, I have a 20 mile beast scheduled for this weekend. I really do love the long run, however it starts to get scary/serious when I reach that number. Not only does it require some interesting route-creation, it’s really just a long time to be running and takes a lot out of me. However, it also requires ample pasta consumption. So, I suppose it’ll all be okay.

Right now, I’ve been doing a decent job at averaging 8 minute miles on my long runs—and I’m hoping to keep it up. It’s definitely not feeling totally comfortable yet, and some days are better than others, but I’m encouraged with the consistency of my speed.

I’m coming for you Eugene.

2012 Miles for 2012

I’ve mentioned this goal before, but for those of you just tuning in—I’m hoping to run 2012 miles in the year 2012. It’s lofty, I’m not sure if it’s gonna happen, but it’s fun to keep track of the progression and—if my legs blow up—I can always change the goal to 2012 km. Right?

That said, this is what the progression looks like so far:

Miles Run in 2012: 253.3

Percentage of Year Over: 12.02%

Percentage of Goal Mileage Completed: 12.58%

Whammy! .56% ahead of schedule…practically done!

Okay, so essentially I’m right on schedule. But that’s still neat.

Alright, I feel a bit better about organizing my life already. Despite the fact that running analysis tends to make a fun hobby seem a bit more like work, once I do it I feel a better sense of understanding of myself as a runner and of my training.

The fact of the matter is that marathon training needs diligence and attention. I think we’d all like to think that we can just trot out, run as far as we want without care of worry, and whip out an effortless marathon fueled merely by a love of running.

Maybe for the Dean Karnazeses of the world, but for the rest of us—crunching the numbers is a necessity, and in the end it makes us smarter and helps keeps us healthy.

Questions: How close attention do you pay to your training numbers? Why do you think keeping track is important for becoming a better runner?

Bests, Worsts, and Scary Things.

So yesterday’s post got a little serious—I know, I’m sorry for my susceptibility to getting all  existential in my writing (the English major in me lives on).

Anyway, if you read yesterday’s post, you know that I think we should take advantage of the New Year, and I personally intend to use the opportunity to highlight some of my goals.

I use the term goals instead of resolutions because most of them have already been in existence for a little while. My specific running goals were detailed in my running wish list, and I’m planning on prioritizing those throughout this year’s races and training. I do have an overarching resolution, however, that I feel encompasses several areas in my life—both running and otherwise.

But first, I’ll being with a quick New Year’s recap. BF and I spent the evening visiting with some of our friends from high school, and it was low key but all-around a good time. We all went to the fancy shmancy hotel in our hometown and pretended to be upper-crust socialites that can afford $10 drinks and lavish suites. Hint: We can’t. Instead, we lounged in the overly-manicured hotel bar/lobby/hang out area and shared our best and worsts of 2011.

If you’re interested, I would say that I had 2 Bests of 2011. Yea, yea I know it’s cheating, but ties are allowed in your own list-making rules.

But I’ll start with my Worst of 2011, because I like ending on a good note. The worst part of 2011 was being injured for 3 months, completely unable to run and even walk correctly. I had full-fledged gimp status from March to June, and let’s just say in the beginning I was not happy about it. I cried, I was angry, I was lost. In the end, though, this worst turned into a very important lesson for me, and the harshness of the situation turned out to be bittersweet. I am now a more careful, smart, and balanced runner—and it took a humbling and disabling experience for me to reach these new understandings about running. So yea, it was a worst, but fortunately I was able to make the most out of a crappy situation.

The beginning of the end. Days before the death of my hip flexor.

Now onto happy things:

My first Best of 2011 was officially moving into a place with BF. Sure, we started living together toward the end of 2010, however in July 2011 we signed an official lease together, bought furniture together, the whole real-world-relationship shebang. It was great and a true highlight.

Look! We are Seattle residents!

The other Best somewhat goes without saying—running my first marathon.

You've probably never seen this photo before, right?

Two years ago, I would have laughed in your face if you asked if I could run a marathon, or even a half-marathon for that matter. Even months before signing up, I felt that a marathon was for the “other” runners, and I was content with the 13.1 distance. However, after recovering from my injury, I realized that only sticking with the 13.1 distance was really playing it safe. I knew I could go further, and I knew that if I worked at it enough I could build to doing a full marathon. Also, I knew that following a strict, regimented schedule would help me from overdoing it and abusing my running as I had been before.

So I went for it, and it was amazing. The training was intense, as were the nerves and apprehension leading into the race, but there has not been anything more rewarding in my life than seeing the “Mile 26” marker and mustering all my strength to sprint to the finish line.

So what’s next?

Well, inspired from the marathon and my overarching quest toward expanding my horizons, I’ve decided that this year will be all about alleviating the things that scare me.

No, I won’t be re-watching The Ring or visiting graveyards, however I will be facing head-on the things in my life that I either avoid, shy away from, or simply ignore based on the fact that they are hard or daunting. I find that too often there are things in my life that I settle with simply based on the fact that they are comfortable and easy. A simple example would be driving my car down the massive hill by my house because running up it at the end of my run is simply too hard.

A bigger example would be deciding to spend my entire weekend at home instead of calling my friends and making plans, because sitting on my couch and perfecting my hermit status is easier than mustering up the energy to go out.

{Dexter, you do not help with this habit}

The fact is, in each of these examples, I know myself and I know that taking the harder, less-convenient option is almost always much more rewarding. When I complete a long, brutal hill, I feel much more satisfied in my run overall. When I actually go out with my friends (whom, mind you, I adore) and spend some quality social time, I am a much more well-rounded person and frankly happier overall.

When we are able to identify the things in our lives that we do based on comfort and routine, we can recognize that there is an element of apprehension and curiosity missing. And understandably, because facing the unknown as opposed to the familiar is typically the much easier choice. However, when we acknowledge our fears and purposefully face them, we are given a rejuvenating sense of accomplishment. These fears can be monumental or miniscule, however opting for the more challenging course gives us the opportunity to expand our experiences beyond that which is comfortable. Comfort is good, however we cannot grow or learn without reaching beyond our safe zones.

I look at this “resolution” to face the things that scare me as more of an overall mind shift. I might be able to get up and get sweaty every morning, but when it comes to laziness and taking the easy way out I am also a master. I want to get rid of this mentality; I know myself well enough to know that sticking to the mundane, simple routines of life do not stimulate my need for new experiences. I know that if I can be intentional about facing the things that I’m scared of, I will begin to establish a greater understanding of my strengths, my weaknesses, and my overall potential.

2012, fearlessness is the name of the game.

Gah, got serious again. Something about the New Year is getting to me apparently. If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading, and I highly encourage you to think about the things you’re afraid of and how you can overcome them. Because I guarantee—you can.

Question: What scares you? 

 

Reading and Running

Hello!

I hope your Monday has been a little bit more action-packed than mine. Unless you count sitting on the couch at home working, absorbing heat from your laptop, and eating your body weight in peppermint bark as action-packed—and in that case I have been pro-duc-tive!

NOT.

It’s alright…Monday tends to be slow and steady for me anyway.

Today, I wanted to talk a bit about a recent addition to my passion for running—one that has not only helped get me out on the roads but has inspired my overall mentality and purpose behind running: Reading about running!

It sounds somewhat simplistic, however I honestly had not thought to read words from other runners until one of my friends ended up shoving a book in my face, proclaiming that I “HAD” to read it.

Now, mind you when I first started reading books about running, I was still very much injured and pretty bitter toward anyone who had the mobility of their legs.

Too much? Yes. At the time, though, I was going through some serious running withdrawls, and I was jealous of anyone who had the capacity to run even one mile without their hip searing in pain (this was me for three months).

However, I wanted to feel like I was still a part of the running community, and the only way to do that was the bit the bullet and keep up with those in the running world.

This is when I discovered Dean Karnazes. Specifically, his book Ultramarathon Man.

Dean has been featured in every media channel possible; magazines, television, movies, newspapers, etc.—they all want to tell a piece of Dean’s story. Those of you who have never heard of him, I’ll give you a brief synopsis of this ultramarathon man:

He’s one of the most incredible athletes in the world, he has inspired thousands of runners and non runners to reach further than they ever thought possible, and he is certifiably and positively NUTS.

This dude has run 50 marathons, in 50 states, in 50 days in a row. He has run a marathon to the South Pole, he has done the Badwater ultra multiple times (the hardest footrace on earth), and he has run across the United States stopping only for brief naps along the way. Additionally, he has done every crazy/inhuman running race imaginable, and he continues to come up with new ways in which to challenge the potential of the human body.

And all because of one small, simple fact: He loves to run.

Despite the fame that Dean’s acquired through all of his coverage, it is a genuine love of human endurance that keeps his endeavors alive. Reading his books is addicting; certainly, his stories and adventures defy all logic in terms of athletic accomplishment—but to me the most engaging parts of his writing are just how possible he makes it all sound.

Sure, his resting HR and running form may rank in the superior range, however for the most part he is just an average guy who found something that he loved and went after it. Reading about the feats he takes on, absurd as they may be, he makes the goal of doing a marathon or even a 50k seem, well, do-able.

When I first started reading Dean’s books, I was convinced that I was a half-marathoner through and through, and if I were ever to try and do a full marathon it would be years away and a one-shot type of deal.

After being so inspired by his accomplishments and humble story-telling, I was not only motivated to complete a full marathon, but I actually believed that I could do it. I was done with being an injured, reckless runner who limited herself to only one distance. No, I was going to take the next step, throw my doubts aside, and go for the beast of all races.

And here I am, 5 months after recovery and not only have I completed one marathon, I’m planning my next year around the next marathons I want to do.

Okay, I realize how obnoxiously cocky this all might sound—but I promise I have a point. While my inspiration came from a variety of sources, I really believe that reading about running was and is one of the most effective means to achieving my goals as a runner. These goals can be as big as running a marathon or as small as getting out of bed in the morning for a short run, but I have come to fully appreciate the power of words as a runner.

One of the best things about runners is their unwavering ability to provide their wisdom, experiences, and support to other runners. This is why I believe runners love to read books, magazines, blogs, and even Twitter feeds about running. Running is a sport that forces us to be humble, patient, and smart—but it also yields an intangible amount of glory, peace, and feeling of accomplishment. The dichotomy of these two facets of running makes runners eager and willing to share their experiences with others and also incredibly receptive to hearing stories from others.

There’s a reason why the familiar “runner’s nod” is so genuine no matter where you are.

I love this about running, and frankly I can’t get enough of reading the words of other runners. There is no “right” way to run, and therefore reading about what works for some gives a multidimensional guise to this sport that is so simple in principle.

One of the primary reasons I started my blog was because I became so hooked on reading other blogs about running. I stumbled upon Ali on the Run, a NYC based runner and writer, and from there I found an entire network of females my age who loved all the same things I do—namely, running.

I got enamored with reading all their stories of training, successes, failures, and everything in between that makes up the lives of runners. I loved the idea of combining two of my greatest passions—running and writing—into one single space, and this is how Run Birdie Run was born.

I want to highly encourage anyone in search of some motivation, inspiration, or simply entertainment to try out the stories of runners. We are a group of people who seek nothing from our sport other than personal success and endorphin-induced happiness, and somehow we can’t seem to talk enough about it.

Here are some suggestions (both print and web) I have if you’re interested in some good running reads:

-Dean Karnazes’ Ultramarathon Man, Run!, and 50/50

-Kristin Armstrong’s Mile Markers book and blog

Runner’s World Magazine 

-Running blogs. They are all over, and once you find a few you love—you’ll be visiting them daily!

I’m in the midst of acquiring Soul Sisters, Running on Empty, and Chi of Running as my next running-based reads.

What kind of running reading do you do? Suggestions? Does reading about running keep you inspired, or does it overwhelm you?

“Santa, can you hear me?” Running Wish List

First things first. Yes, my title is referencing the magical Britney Christmas song, “My Only Wish This Year.”

It will remain my favorite Christmas song of all time for the rest of my life.

Alright, now that we’re all caught up on my shamelessness, let’s talk about running.

First, THIS:

HA!

An old friend of mine from high school—who I ran with—sent me this the other day, and I got a big kick out of it. I think race photos are very humbling proof that if you think you look hot when you run, you’ll always be wrong.

Anyways.

Today, it happened again. I don’t know what’s going on with me—some sort of brain metamorphosis; I spent about 85% of my run in voluntary silence, and I loved it.

My brain juggled around numerous thoughts on running, writing, blogging, and other miscellaneous wonderful things. While I was playing this fun game of weaving through various thoughts and enjoying the crisp {frigid} morning air, I began thinking about my upcoming running goals. The list is somewhat substantial, both in length and content, and I can only attribute it to the fact that running is my most treasured hobby, therefore it comes with a lot of extraneous planning.

So, today—in honor of the holiday season—I thought I’d share with you my “Running Wish List.” My actual Christmas list is way too far-fetched and idealistic, and obviously I don’t want to be known as the materialistic running girl who wants anything and everything to do with Lululemon and workout gear. No, a “Running Wish List” is not only more plausible, but it offers a lot more potential for self fulfillment than a new pair of fabulously cut running tights.

So, without further ado…

This year in my running career I hope to…

1) Do a 12k in under an hour

Ah I hate saying these things out loud, because somehow it makes me feel much more accountable than keeping them in the back of my mind. However, this wish is due to the upcoming race BF and I are doing called the 12ks of Christmas. However hard I try, I cannot go into a race without a specific number pulsing in my head, and in this case it’s under the 60 minute mark. I will have to run pretty dead even 8 minute miles to do the 7.45 in under an hour, and although I’m confident I have it in me—it’s still pretty fast, and there isn’t much wiggle room

2) Get faster

I have been very purposefully resisting the plunge into integrating speed work into my routine. The fact of the matter is I would so much rather go out for a nice long, leisurely run than spend an hour on the track doing intervals and sprints. Understandable, right?

Unfortunately, I do want to get faster and speed work is the obvious gateway to that wish. Fine, I give in. 2012—you’ll see me on the track. Plus, my local running store West Seattle Runner offers weekly custom speed workouts. I have no excuse. Maybe I can use my old track spikes?

3) Get a BQ

Again, I can’t believe I’m saying this out loud. Now it’s real. Affirmed by the officiality of cyber space documentation. (No, officiality is not a work—but it should be and you get it.)

For those of you who don’t know, a BQ stands for Boston Qualifier—meaning you ran a  qualifying time to get into the Boston Marathon.

Okay, I KNOW I have only run one marathon and the loftiness of this goal is completely irrational and far fetched. I know this, trust me. However, the sprinter inside of me cannot help but want to reach the next level. And when your first marathon time is only 7 minutes away from qualifying for Boston, you cannot help but wonder how possible it could be. Those 7 minutes stick in my head pretty consistently, and I know that with some good solid training I can shave off that time. Also, Boston continues to lower their qualifying times, so if I don’t go for it soon the time will only be do-able by the Olympic hopefuls.

BTW…thanks a lot for this, Boston.

4) Get a new half marathon PR

I am seriously convinced that the race I ran my half PR in was a fluke. I ran way faster than I ever do, and I still have a hard time understanding how I was able to pull it off completely unintentionally. Therefore, the thought of breaking this PR is really daunting to me. Just doing the math of how fast those 13.1 miles need to be gives me a nervous stomach.

I haven’t done a half since that PR (mostly due to my injury and marathon training),and since my endurance/weekly mileage is higher than it was before running that race—I’m on a mission to set an intentional PR, no matter how gut-wrenching it might be.

5) Do more yoga, stretch more often, and fuel more appropriately

Okay, so I thought I would put a wish out there that was a bit more easily accessible, and doable on a day-to-day basis. The fact of the matter is that when I take good “running care” of myself, I’m a much happier and better runner. It sounds simple, but I think that all the extras that are required in this sport can easily fall to the wayside. Which is ridiculous, because as I’ve written before—the simple things such as proper stretching, adequate fuel intake, and ample hydration make all the difference when it comes to running performance.

In the next year, I’d like to try and do yoga—here goes—3 times a week. I feel so much better when I keep up on a yoga routine, simple as that. So despite my reluctance and excuses (typically consisting of wanting to sit on the couch and watch Jeopardy instead), I am vowing to get on my mat more. Additionally, I could do a much better job of pre and post run fueling and hydrating. I cannot tell you how many times in the middle of a run I think, “Why the F did I not just drink more water yesterday?” And then after I’m done, once again I don’t drink enough water. This is not acceptable as a runner—and I plan on changing this bad habit. Also, I’ve decided to eat more bagels and pasta—because, you know, as a runner I should. I get too wrapped up in getting all my food groups in that sometimes I forget—oh yea, on the night before a long run I should probably up the carbs. Ridiculous, I know. And this is a “wish” that is really freaking easy/awesome to fix.

 

So there you have it. My “Running Wish List” is out there for the “world” to see. It makes me nervous to say some of those bigger goals out loud, as they’ve remained in the depths of my running psyche. However, putting them out into the universe—even just in the sense that I can go back and read that I’ve said them—actually helps motivate me. And ultimately, saying them out loud is the first step to making them a reality.

Now You! What are some of your wishes, running or otherwise?