Tag Archives: training

Updates!

Once upon a time, I used to write on this little blog more often.

Hey folks! I’m not quite sure where the time has gone, but somehow when I kicked up my feet after running Boston, blogging got kicked aside too. In its place came a lot of sleep, a lot of work, and a lot of food. I played the marathon recovery game oh-so-well, if I do say so myself. It was wonderful and it was necessary, and I’m really starting to appreciate the vegging-out period that comes with big races.

One last stolen photo. Running and smiling knowing that rest, sleep, and cake are on the other side.

One last stolen photo. Running and smiling knowing that rest, sleep, and food are on the other side.

Luckily, all that cake and sleep did a lot of good for my recovery, and I’m happy to say I’m back on the roads and feeling better than I have in a long time.

I thought it best, since my life has basically been a whirlwind of change recently, to provide some updates on just what’s going on in my life currently. Some might be super uninteresting, so feel free to skim, but this is what I’ve been up to lately (and why my blogging has been non-existent).

Work Update

Did I tell you all I got a new job? Like, three days after moving? It happened ridiculously fast and threw me for a bit of a loop, although I’m not going to complain about receiving quick employment.

See? I'm official!

See? I’m official!

Since I’ve settled in and no longer feel horrified every day of asking where everything is, I’m happy to say things are going really well in my work life. I’m super busy most of the time, but I really enjoy that. My days fly by, and I like feeling like I’m actually getting into a groove with my workload as opposed to merely dog-paddling through it.

I work exactly 7 minutes from where we live, which is also super convenient. Run-commuting perhaps in my future? I’m generally just really thankful to have found a job, that I really like, so soon and to not be relying on Adam for all my running-related purchasing (…and food and living and stuff, too).

Health Update

I’ve had some people ask me, so I thought I’d give the skinny on the current state of my intestines. And let’s get real, you all have been along for the Crohn’s ride for a while now— you’re used to it. 🙂

After Boston, my focus became to get my stomach and general health back in order. I had a bit of a set-back after we moved given the change in routine and general stress of it all (I’m guessing?), so it was time to get back to the doc.I found a GI in Denver that I liked enough, and once I gave her all the nitty-gritty about my shitty stomach’s history (puns and rhymes forever!), she came up with a course of action.

So, despite me telling her that previously steroids did nothing for my flare ups, she prescribed a small, tapering dose of Prednisone which she hopes will kick my regular medications back into gear. They were working before, so apparently there’s no reason they should have fallen off the wagon. I was hesitant, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to try. Luckily, too, my charts all looked normal with the exception of higher inflammation levels – indicative of my current symptoms.

I’ve been on the ‘roids now for a week and despite some altered sleeping patterns, puffy cheeks, and emotional rollercoasters— I think they’re working. My stomach seems to be improving, and I’ve had two stop-free runs for the first time in months. Winner winner. I just hope that I’m able to seamlessly taper off the steroids and enter into a forward-moving health progression.

As always with these issues, we’ll see, but I have high hopes and fully believe that a positive outlook is directly related to increased healing power.

Running Update

Ah, running. You’ve been a fickle beast over the past 6 months.

I don’t need to recap all the complaining I’ve been doing since last November for you, but the short and long of it is that running had just been so hard. Honestly, since I was hurt and then sick, I could count on ONE hand the number of “good” runs I’d had…and it was getting to be so defeating. This thing that I loved so much and was so dedicated to had become such a chore and so frustrating. Running had never been as hard as it was for me, and between the constant emergency bathroom stops, the lingering IT band issues, and overall fatigue, I was wondered how I’d ever been (relatively) good at this sport.

Then something happened. I don’t know how or why, but within these past two weeks, my gears started to click again. My stride felt familiar, my legs felt strong, and running felt…good. Good! Like, really good. Certainly part of this has to do with the steroids and their impact on my stomach, but generally I think I’ve actually started to regain some of the fitness I once I had. My breathing no longer feels strained by the air, and I’ve found myself enjoying hills again rather than avoiding them.

I hadn’t been wearing a watch since I started running again after being sick, which I think was the only way I didn’t completely melt into sadness. But after being gifted with this beauty for my birthday (thanks fiancee!), I’ve started using the pace-awareness to keep myself a little more honest.

<3 <3 <3

❤ ❤ ❤

And it’s been great! I’m not keeping track every run, but I’ve found that with the numbers flashing at me, I’m held more accountable to not sink into my current easy pace and try pushing it a little.

Now, “pushing it” currently is equivalent to my former easy paces, but you have to start somewhere. And I’m thrilled to even be making a little bit of progress.

More than anything, I’m thrilled that—for at least the time being— running is starting to feel fun again.

Training and Racing Update

While I don’t have anything in the near future when it comes to big race plans, I certainly have a long-term outline of what my year will (ideally) look like.

I’m running Ragnar Northwest Passage again this year in July as an ultra team, so there will definitely need to be a step-up in terms of volume. I’m so excited to do this again! My base last year for this race was so much better than it currently is, so I’ll need to step it up in order to survive the 35+ miles of running in 24 hours.

Otherwise, I have very little on my calendar. Which I’m currently very comfortable with— because other than getting my numbers up for Ragnar, I want to make a very serious transition into reclaiming my former speed…and then some. I’ll write about this in another post, but after Boston (as in, a few hours after) a fire was lit…and it’s currently blazing. I love the feeling, I’m scared of the feeling, but I’m ready to get serious about the long-term running goals I’d like to achieve.

That said…I do have one more race on my calendar.

I’m registered for the Philadelphia Marathon in November, and after a summer of heat and speed training, I’m absurdly excited to take on an aggressive marathon training plan. I love fall marathons with all my heart, and my plan right now is to go all-in on this one.

But, that’s a long ways out. But, for the sake of this being a running blog, I figured I’d share.

And the best part….

Adam’s running it too!

Denver Update

We moved! Remember? I can’t believe that it’s been over two months since we left Seattle in our massive Uhaul.

Getting acquainted with his new home wonderfully. These windowsills are heaven for a curious kitten.

Getting acquainted with his new home wonderfully. These windowsills are heaven for a curious kitten.

Life in Colorado is generally going very well. It’s been great to see our families and old friends so often, and I’ve loved meeting new friends as well. Despite having lived in Colorado for most of my life, Denver still feels like a very new city and with that comes all the fun surprises and a general sense of novelty. The sun, the people, the atmosphere…it’s all very good.

Car picture, but look! Sunrise!

Car picture, but look! Sunrise!

I do have to admit, though, that I miss Seattle more than I expected. I suppose I didn’t really know what to expect in terms of how severing my Pacific Northwest ties would feel, but on the other side of it all…I have to say my heart is a little broken. I know this is perfectly reasonable given that Seattle was home for me for so long, but that doesn’t really make it any less sad to think about. I miss the water, I miss the people, I miss my favorite spots, and dear lord do I miss West Seattle.

We’re visiting in June and I’m euphoric with excitement.

That’s about all I’ve got in terms of updates! I’m hoping to write soon about my plan of action for getting my butt back in gear. I’m feeling good about it.

Happy Wednesday!

Boston Marathon Training Week #3

One more week in the books! Boston is starting to feel closer and closer, and I kind of wish there was an extra two weeks or so to play with. Oh well. Quality is going to need to trump quantity in terms of miles and training days.

Step-back week must have: absurdly huge pancakes. To those of you who choose smoothies after long runs, I'm sorry.

Step-back week must have: absurdly huge pancakes. To those of you who choose smoothies after long runs for refueling, I’m sorry.

This past week was a step-back week, which in hindsight was a great idea. I’ve been building up mileage and fitness in general for the past month+ after having essentially no base, and I wanted to do a little tempering before continuing to add. My legs are a bit unpredictable at this point, and I’m trying to baby them as much as possible, as evidenced by the two rest days this past week and lack of much strength training.

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 8 miles

This run was a little forgettable, but generally it was fine. I was glad to get in some decent weekday mileage again.

Wednesday: 45 minutes elliptical, 30 minutes stair-turner, lifting

I like to call this day: “Being Bored at the Gym.” Ugh. I wanted a good cardio workout but didn’t want to run two days in a row. The new issue of Runner’s World was the only thing that kept my sane. I was reminded of the days when I was much more of a gym rat than I am now, and I didn’t miss it at all.

Thursday: 7 miles

Gross, awful, no-good run. This was one of those runs where I was just so mad the whole time. Mad at my legs. Mad at my stomach. Mad at not feeling like a runner. I rallied by the end, but there was nothing encouraging about those 7 miserable miles.

Friday: 4,000 m swim

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For the first time in history I went to the pool after work on a Friday. But by some miracle, I was really into this swim. I guess subconsciously I’ve been craving some pool time, and I just kind of got lost in thought the whole time. I was definitely getting tired by the end, but otherwise this was a lovely swim. Yo’re welcome from my pruny fingers and mangled pinky.

Saturday: 12 miles

Mentally, this long run was very manageable considering it was shorter than I’ve been doing the past few weeks. And physically, it went well. I wore a watch again, and while I’m still far off of my “old” normal pace, it wasn’t too disappointing. Inching closer and closer back every week. I’ve been positive splitting my long runs like a champ recently, which shouldn’t be surprising at all, but I’m going to try and maybe spread out my effort a little more next week.

Good thing the dim lighting is hiding my Malbec-colored cheeks.

Good thing the dim lighting is hiding my Malbec-colored cheeks.

Sunday: Rest

I took an unplanned rest day yesterday, which I was fine with. My knee (not the recovering IT band-injured one) has been stiff this week, so I didn’t see a point in logging junk recovery miles. Instead, BF and I walked around Greenlake and I stretched a ton.

Total= 27 miles

Generally, it was a solid week, especially for a step-back week. I’d really like to be logging more miles, but I need to keep reminding myself of the end goal —Boston— and not immediately getting back to fitness I had four months ago. It will come, I just need to keep April 21 as my focal point for the time being.

More miles this week though, and an 18 mile long run as the grand finale. Starting to feel more like marathon training, and I like it.

Happy Monday!

Boston…here I come?

Would ya look at that, we’ve reached the end of January.

Well, shit. I guess I’m training for the Boston Marathon now?

Based on my offical-yet-loosey-goosey plan I told you all about at the beginning of the month, now is the time that I should be officially “starting” to train.

I feel many things about this, but namely…I’m a little overwhelmed with uncertainty. And it’s not just my body and health I’m uncertain about, but perhaps scariest of all, my motivation.

Don’t get me wrong: the idea of training for and racing Boston is so bright and sparkly in my head. The thought of running the course on April 21 makes me giddy, and I’m very grateful for the chance to do so. However, it’s the getting-there process I’m a little more apprehensive about, which is consequentially putting a kink in my excitement to get into training.

Real talk: I’m really not used to not being in good shape. That probably sounds way more conceited than I intended it to, but it’s a fact of the matter. For years, most of my easy days were what would be considered a long workout to many, and I was always able to count on a very solid base of endurance and strength when approaching my training and races.

That’s not the case right now. My workouts are much shorter and less intense than “normal,” I’m not able to float through runs with any kind of ease, and muscles that I never even knew I had before have disappeared (namely: the entirety of my butt). Not that I’m surprised by any of this, don’t get me wrong. The mere fact that “training for Boston” is on the table is something I’m hugely thankful for. But, this new reality of starting from scratch has been a harder pill to swallow than I anticipated.

Because I’m sure we can all agree on this: running, going to the gym, taking a class, etc. is so much easier to do when you’re in good shape. Sure, sometimes we have lazy days, but there’s a whole new level of willpower needed when you know that you’ll be struggling through your workout rather than kicking its ass.

(Obligatory acknowledgement that all of this is all incredibly eye-roll worthy complaining. I get it. It’s so very first world and things could be and have been much worse. But this is my blog, meant to detail my experiences in running. Cool? Cool.)

So, in a nutshell, the fact that I’m having to garner way more motivation for runs that are generally not fun and yield much slower results than I’m used to means that I’m not exactly chomping at the training bit. Not to mention the ill-effects of the weather, the dark mornings, and my need for bathroom access on every run.

There are moments of hope though, which rekindle my memory of being a happier runner. This past weekend, for instance, I was able to run multiple times around a foggy, quiet Greenlake and it was perfection. I’m also running without pain, which I’m grateful for with every footfall. My IT band isn’t 100%, as in it’s still stiff and cranky whenver I sit down, but I’m confident that it will be near 100% before too much longer. Also, for the first time last week, I found myself enjoying (at least for a little bit) my favorite strength class which recently has been embarrassingly difficult.

So yes. Progress is being made. I just need to remember to celebrate the little victories instead of expecting to instantly regain all of my strength and speed back. To use the most cliche yet appropriate metaphor, “It’s a marathon…not a sprint.”

I know, I’m sorry

So yes, I am now training for Boston. My mode of operation hasn’t changed, in that I’m focusing primarily on staying healthy, regaining fitness, and getting myself to the start line. Despite my natural instincts to plan out paces and workouts and goal times, it’s not really the time for those things. This training cycle is going to be about learning different kinds of lessons, namely in patience, in letting my body be my guide, and in appreciating the journey.

My focus will be on spending the next three months experiencing marathon training from a different vantage point, one that I am hoping will make me a more complete and smarter runner. I’m hoping Boston will be a victory lap of sorts, in terms of celebrating both the joys and the struggles I will inevitably face during the process. Because the joys cannot exist without the struggles, and if I’ve learned anything from these past few months — it’s that a heavy dose of perspective can be a pretty transformative thing.

Here’s to learning along the way and appreciating the smaller victories. And, hopefully, there will be a wonderful run from Hopkinton to Copely Square at the end of it all.

I’m planning on documenting the weekly training, per usual. So look for those coming soon 🙂

So with a chip on my shoulder and a healthy dose of humble pie, let’s get this underway!

The Boston plan, for now

In my head, I really want to write out your run-of-the-mill “Goals for 2014” blog post. There are two problems with doing that though: 1) I’m goal-less, and 2) I’m a little unsure of what this year will look like, and don’t want to set myself up for disappointment.

Neither of those things are a solid recipe for a motivational “Hell ya let’s do this 2014!” post.

Truth be told, being unsure about the future scares me less than feeling like I don’t have any goals. If the end of 2013 taught me anything, it’s that you never really know what life will throw your way. Admittedly, I’m a little scared to put my all-in ambition out into the universe just yet, because I was knocked on my rear pretty hard not too long ago. In the same breath, while I am definitely recuperating nicely and feeling more and more like my old self, I also know that there are some changes coming up that will put a wrench in any plan-making. Therefore, it’s hard to think of setting goals in a somewhat unpredictable environment.

*Cryptic blogging, I know. Sorry.*

But as I said, those changes and uncertainties regarding my health and life in general aren’t actually what’s getting to me. In fact, I feel a certain sense of resilience when I imagine all the unknowns, and in a weird way I feel more ready for them.

What is digging at me is how directionless I feel.

For so long it’s been all about dedicating a training season to a new distance, a certain time goal, or a qualifying standard. While there are plenty of those options still available to me, for whatever reason I am just not feeling inspired by much of anything. Perhaps it’s because I’m so gravely out of shape (strong likelihood), or perhaps it’s because I’ve been so out-of-sorts for the last few months. Either way, it’s irking me that I can’t seem to get excited about anything.

I’m sure it will come, and I realize it’s only 1 week into the new year, but in the mean time I’ve decided to just focus on the next upcoming months of rebuilding, restrengthening, and (if I’m lucky) getting myself across the Boston Marathon finish line.

So, in lieu of shouting a big sparkly goal time from the rooftops for Boston and proclaiming all the magical sweat-filled things I want to do in 2014, I’ve instead settled upon a step-by-step road map of sorts for getting myself from a wheezing, calf-less, cheese-binging girl-on-the-mend to a Boston marathon finisher. And please note, finisher is the operative word here.

January

This month is 100% devoted to building back my endurance, strength, and generally learning how to run again.

I’m optimistic that my IT band injury is on the way out the door, but that doesn’t mean that it’s ready for full-clearance. Generally, my entire right leg seems to have a mind of its own nowadays. Even on days when I do absolutely nothing at all, it seems like a new area is irritated for no apparent reason. I’m going to have to match my “rebuilding” ambitions with equal amounts of TLC to ensure that I don’t sideline myself even further.

I’ve also very intentionally decided that getting back in shape does not need to be exclusive to running. And in fact, it shouldn’t be. Lots of swimming, elliptical (bleh), spinning, etc. will all be incorporated in attempts to reestablish my endurance. Running will be very purposeful and tactical throughout this process. I.E: my runs will be spaced out, will be done only when I’m feeling good, and will be built up slowly and steadily.

I’m also trying very hard to ignore the fact that most people running Boston have already started their training. I would have started by now too should conditions have been different. But, this is the hand I’ve been dealt, and instead of focusing on the miles and paces that shoulda, woulda, coulda…I’m going to keep focus on what I can do right now.

So, January is about recuperating while still getting some fitness back. And I am very intentionally not starting “Boston Marathon training” yet.

February

Should things go well in January (running without pain, not wallowing through every single workout, happy intestines), I will “officially” being training for Boston on February 1. I don’t have any idea what this training will look like, other than I’m fairly certain it will not resemble marathon training of the past. At this point, I’m going to be focused on getting in the long runs and generally building mileage. That’s about it, running wise. Maybe a miracle will happen and I’ll be inspired to get all tempo/goal pace/mile repeats crazy…but I’m doubting it. And that’s fine.

In December, in the midst of failing health, I decided that should things turn around and should I be able to get myself to Boston, it would be for the finish, and not the clock. At that point, getting out the door seemed like a success, so the idea of even getting to Boston felt like a reach goal.

Now that I’m (hopefully) able to try and pursue that goal…I want it to be without pressure or chance of disappointment. At the same time, this is going to no doubt be a special year at Boston, and I’d like to soak as much of it up as I can, should I make it there. This is the same mentality I went into Chicago with…no pressure, just enjoy the race…and I had the most enjoyable marathon of my life, easily.

So, in a perfect world, I will start training and building mileage on the 1st of February, giving me 12 weeks to get myself marathon-ready. If I were at my normal level of fitness, I would feel fine about this. However, given my current state of patheticness, I’m much more nervous. Rediscovering just how hard running (and marathon training) really is is not exactly what I’d been hoping for in training for Boston.

But, it is what it is. And ultimately, I’m grateful to even having the ability to make a “training plan,” given the unfortunate state I’ve recently been in.

As for March and April, ideally, I’ll be carrying on per standard marathon training procedure. It will all be very dependent on my body’s temperament, but overall I’m planning on getting myself in shape to run a marathon and enjoy it. No killing myself with workouts for the sake of a certain time this time around, and I’m fine with that. And to tell you the truth, considering my current “pace” is MINUTES slower than I regularly run, I know I’m no where near ready to even think about my time, training wise and race wise. And that’s okay.

So, the name of the game for the next three weeks is to get myself back into shape. Run some, swim some, stretch a lot, roll a lot, and generally let my body be my guide. Should all go according to plan, I’ll be looking at 12 weeks of prep to get myself to the Boston start line. It’s not going to be pretty, and it won’t always be fun, but if nothing else…I’ve got determination on my side. I fought hard for my BQ last spring, and I am going to be relentless in ensuring that effort is rewarded in April.

Playing Catch-Up: Running, pets, and Boston

Hello! Long time no talk. How is everyone?

It’s so exciting that fall racing season is in full swing—it’s been fun to hear about everyone’s super long runs, tapering, and race results! I’ll admit I’m a tad jealous that I’m not doing a fall marathon (ahem, Chicago), however it’s made scheduling more relaxed and gets me even more excited for whatever’s next.

For now I thought I’d just give some updates—on running and otherwise.

Lately, I’ve been running between 40-50 miles a week, and recently it’s been closer to 50. It’s been fun, and feels surprisingly manageable. A year ago this would have been really high mileage for me, but it’s starting to feel a little more “normal” I guess you could say. I feel like I’m developing a really good base, and by alternating between speed, long runs, cut back weeks, and easy runs, I’m hoping that my base will be really strong by the time I gear up for my next marathon.

This is what a typical week has looked like lately:

M: rest, always

T: ~10 miles, no watch

W: ~8 miles, some kind of speed work, mostly tempos, and Maximum Sculpt class

T: ~8 miles easy

F: 6 miles slow and Maximum Sculpt class

S: 14-18 mile long run. I did do one random 20 miler last weekend, but otherwise I’m normally around 16

S: cross-training, normally swimming

My Wednesdays are Fridays almost always look the same, but otherwise things float around a lot. I’m starting to switch my long run days to Sunday for the fall/winter because the only thing better than finishing a long run is finishing a long run and laying on the couch watching football for the rest of the day.

Football season=Sunday long runs

So, despite the “not training” higher mileage, I do have some method to my madness—in the form of fall half marathons where allegedly, I’ll be testing my fitness.

Full disclosure/honesty: I’m 99% sure I’m not ready to run The Big Goal Time at the Bellingham Bay Half, which is two weeks from now. I could ramble away on a variety of excuses, but instead I’ll just take ownership and admit that I haven’t put in the amount of work necessary. Yes, I’ve been running and I’ve been diligent about workouts and miles, but I never feel like I jacked things up to the level I need to be at. It might have been fear, laziness, burnout, etc—but whatever the reason, the result is that I’m not feeling prepared to attempt a 1:35 half marathon in two weeks.

However, I do feel like the work I have done could be worth something, and I think I’ll use Bellingham as a fitness test and benchmark race as opposed to an A race. There is the chance of a PR (my current is 1:38:25), although I won’t be all that disappointed if I don’t break that either.

Do I want to be in shape to gut out 7:15 miles at Bellingham? Absolutely. Do I feel guilty for not being there yet? Not really. And here’s why:

I spent the summer having an incredible time running spur-of-the-moment races, spending hours in a van and on the road in two ultra relays, and generally living a life that didn’t revolve around A-race training. And it was fantastic! I don’t regret it for a minute. It was so good for my hyper-competitive self to take a break from the grind and live life a little less strictly. However, my summer didn’t come without some hard work—and in fact it left me more exhausted than I anticipated.

So, I suppose what I’m trying to say is that while I don’t feel ready for a 1:35 just yet, I do feel like with a little more time I’ll get there. I have a few more half-marathon plans up my sleeve this fall, and in no way have I discounted those as opportunities for fast races. I’m also secretly hoping that as the temperatures drop, all my hot weather training will have miraculously made me faster without changing anything else. 🙂 Point blank, my goal to get faster and to be a better runner hasn’t changed one bit, it’s just taking a little more time in the short-term than I originally hoped for.

In other news…

In case you haven’t seen on my social media posting spree:

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We got a kitten!!!

His name is Jasper, he’s 11 weeks and 5 days old, and he’s perfect.

He’s completely stolen our hearts, and every day I love him even more. I’m also a paranoid kitten owner, and I’m chronically afraid that something’s going to choke him, electrocute him, or that he’s ill with some rare kitty cancer. This definitely bodes well for how I’ll be with a baby.

Nevertheless, he’s a happy, healthy, curious little kitty and makes my day brighter.

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He is also very helpful at drawer organization.

He is also very helpful at drawer organization.

And lastly…

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Stay tuned folks! Boston registration is still open for all us “barely there” qualifiers, and this morning at exactly 7:08 AM, my registration was sent in. I’m guessing we won’t hear until the end of the week, but I do know that if space does fill up…every second counts. Let’s hope that my -2:54 minutes helps me!

I do have my hopes up, admittedly, but even if I don’t get in, it felt so incredible to even have the chance to register. Two years after I ran my first marathon, I never imagined I could be on the Boston Athletic Association website hitting “submit” to my very own application. It was awesome, and I can only imagine what it will be like to actually run the race, whenever that may be.

That’s all for now! I think it’s safe to assume most people are as excited as I am about the upcoming crunchy leaves and cooler weather. And as much as I scoff at all the “scarves!” and “boots!” and “OMG PSL!!!” yammer, I have to admit that fall is seriously my jam, and I plan on soaking it up to the fullest.

Happy Monday!

Check In

Hello friends! Long time no chat. How’s everyone doing?

It feels a little like summer vacation recently, which is part of the reason I’ve been MIA from my little blog. Lots of activity going on, lots of plans, and generally lots of fun. I feel like I’ve been busier with social “obligations” than I have been since college, and it’s been great. I blame the sun—it turns everyone into butterflies who flutter toward each other.

#proof that I wore fake eyelashses and glitter in honor of Pride.

#proof that I wore fake eyelashses and glitter in honor of Pride.

So, while I’ve been staying out later and swapping second runs for happy hours, there’s still been plenty of race prep going on. And by “race,” I should say “races” because right now I’m in trifecta mode—trying to improve my fitness for three different types of events coming up in the next few months. It’s been…interesting. So let’s recap those sweaty and non-sweaty endeavors shall we?

Tri-Specific Training

I haven’t necessarily been doing more or less in regard to triathlon training. Honestly, I would run every day if I could, but since I can’t I’m trying to tuck swimming and biking/spinning in once or twice a week. It’s not that I don’t like either of these activities (although swimming can be boring…) it’s just that in the summer I want to be running outside.

However, I’m really starting to like biking. In a new-crush, giddy kind of way. I always loved the idea of being a biking person, and now that I have a good bike, good weather, and good company—it seems the stars are aligning. Super bike pro Lindsay invited my slow self last weekend for a Burke-Gilman ride (34 miles!), and I really enjoyed myself. It feels really good to shake it up, and I actually like feeling like a beginner at something, strangely enough. It’s also really nice to have another option besides running where I can be outside, go for a long time, and all the while not worry so much about the impact. I’m hoping by the end of the summer to have a few extra-long rides under my belt.

And all this bike love is definitely a good thing—because when it comes to the triathlon disciplines, it’s definitely the one I need the most work on.

Ultra-Relay Training

This is how I feel about running 35 miles in 24 hours. Also how I feel about how neon has taken over my life. Neon bra is showing THROUGH neon shirt. WTF.

This is how I feel about running 35 miles in 24 hours. Also how I feel about how neon has taken over my life. Neon bra is showing THROUGH the neon shirt. WTF.

I was initially feeling really good about this training. I was logging at least once-a-week double run days, and my training felt pretty specific to ultra-relay conditions. However, ever since life started getting busy and the first ultra race started to get closer, I’ve been feeling a little more apprehensive about my prep. However, I did run 12 miles at 7 am Sunday morning after being out really late the night before (see eyelash photo above), which I decided was good Ragnar simulation. Right? Right.

I’m running 35 miles at Ragnar in 24 hours, which is A LOT. It was always going to be a lot, no matter how well trained I was, but it’s getting to be intimidating in a scary kind of way. I’ve been averaging between 40-45 miles a week lately, which is good—but compared to what I’ll be doing at Ragnar, it seems measly.

That doesn’t mean I’m not excited though, because I really can’t wait. And despite the high mileage, I’m feeling good about my projected running times. According to our pace calculators, I should be running around sunset, sunrise, and then late in the afternoon (I’m the last runner). So, although I’ll be waking up in the 4 o’clock hour to run 15+ miles, I’m hoping I’ll get a sunrise out of it 🙂 Can’t complain, it’s all part of the adventure—I just hope my legs hold up.

And, if I do horribly, the good (?) news is that I get to try again a month later at Spokane to Sandpoint. I know, I don’t know who I am either.

Goal Half-Marathon Training

Meh. That’s all I have to say about this one. With nearly three months until my big scary goal race, I’ve been a little lackluster about my speed-dedicated workouts. I did 7 x 800 last week and it was HARD. Please, don’t let me postpone a speed workout until the afternoon ever again. It was hot, my stomach hated me, and it was harder than it should have been. I ran each 800 at 6:55 pace, and I could feel every one of them. Two bathroom stops too, fun times.

So, for right now I’m focusing on one speed workout a week, which will pick up after Ragnar. I also have the See Jane Run half coming up in two weeks, and while I don’t expect anything spectacular—I’d like to use it as a bit of a check in. It’s a flat course, and presuming it will be somewhat shaded, I think it will be a good opportunity for a “test run.”

Basically, I could be doing better with speed-specific work, but with the heat it’s not necessarily the best time to push the envelope every day. However, I do trust heat training to have rewarding benefits once the fall comes around. Oh dear, sweet fall running…I’m excited for you.

Other things

I haven’t been photographing much that’s been going on (per usual), however I do have some photos to marginally depict my life as of late:

Seattle sunset by the Seattle Big Wheel. I can't stop photographing the sky. And because I'm now obligated to say it, #nofilter.

Seattle sunset by the Seattle Big Wheel. I can’t stop photographing the sky. And because I’m now obligated to say it, #nofilter.

I look like a child at Disneyland. Except I'm surrounded by drag queens and nearly naked men.

I look like a child at Disneyland. Except I’m surrounded by drag queens and nearly naked men.

And speaking of…

Yes, he is one of my best friends. No, he doesn't go to the gym very much. Yes, you are allowed to hate him.

Yes, he is one of my best friends. No, he doesn’t go to the gym very much. Yes, you are allowed to hate him.

You’re welcome/I’m sorry.

Yesterday morning at 5 am. This is the view from my house, i don't hate it.

Yesterday morning at 5 am. This is the view from my house, i don’t hate it.

 

Reading at the park, one of our new favorite activities.

Reading at the park, one of our new favorite activities.

So there’s my training and life check in. I’ve been orchestrating a bigger balancing act between the two than I have in a while, and to tell you the truth—it feels really good. Besides the apprehension about my preparedness for upcoming events, I am really liking the shift in prioritization that’s been happening. Like I said, it feels like summer break—and in that sense, it shouldn’t be all about the miles. And while it may seem like I’ve bitten off more than I can chew with all my upcoming races and goals, it’s all in the name of having fun and trying new things—and I actually wouldn’t have it any other way.

And on one final note…CONGRATULATIONS to Miss Nicole “Ricole Runs” on her beautiful new baby boy!!!!! I think he came early because I wants you to run a PR in every distance sooner 🙂

 

 

 

 

The Fall Goal

Without really meaning to, I somehow came up with a fall racing schedule that I instantly fell hard for—as in, head-over-heels obsessed with.

I commiserated to all of you about how I felt goal-less, restless, and lost after Eugene. I think the post-marathon blues hit a bit harder than expected. Okay, a lot harder—and I can admit it now.

I’m finally coming to terms with the fact that while I was really excited to have accomplished a big bucket list goal, it was actually really hard to wave goodbye to that goal and look out into the great beyond. Qualifying for Boston had been my baby for so long, and I think I had this idea in my head that once I’d done it, all the running happiness would be mine forever and ever. That’s exaggerated—but you get the point.

But I didn’t feel like that, and it wasn’t just because I had a hard, less-than-perfect race. Yes, Eugene wasn’t as satisfying as I might have hoped, but I’m realizing now that it had less to do with the race itself and more to do with my lack of direction afterward.

I know I should have let my unrelenting goal-setting brain kick back and take a break, but that’s not really how I work. Even when I’m between training cycles and running less frequently, I still like to know that a new possibility is out there, waiting for me to take it on. Without a defined goal, I was left with a very jumbled mess of potential ideas, and consequentially a very blank drawing board.

I went back and forth on running a fall marathon, on committing to triathlons, on working solely on speed, on jacking up strength training (no pun intended). Around and around it went, until all I had was more confusion, too many “potential” race options, and not enough enthusiasm to even make a decision. In retrospect, this is one of the reasons my blogging went down so much after Eugene (okay…one of the reasons). I felt like I had no idea what I was doing, so what was the point of lamenting those frustrations to others?

So I kind of gave up. Not because I no longer wanted a goal, but because I decided a “roll with it” approach was going to be more tolerable than orchestrating a race schedule that I wasn’t totally psyched about. Sure, I had races lined up, but none that had a sparkly “goal race” asterisk attached to them.

But now, approximately 48 hours after a light-bulb went off, all that’s changed. I think the light-bulb may have actually broken with how much intensity the idea came to me.

FYI, this is a very long-winded explanation for my decision making process. Sorry…there was just a lot of build up.

It all started with a little triathlon last Saturday. I had such a great time at this race, and it left me hungry for more. Admittedly, when it comes to triathlons, I’m more interested in the distances that have an “iron” in their name. But it was too soon for that. There is a chance that I could do the 70.3 distance this fall, but I feel like it would be a little half-assed. I’m not experienced enough on the bike or in the sport itself to have a real go at it, and it’s not really my style to commit to a serious distance without a decent training cushion to go off of.

But I still wanted more from the tri. I wanted to become a “bike rider” and get more acquainted with my beautiful baby bike. And I want to open the option for a half-Ironman next year. That requires more practice, more training, and less marathoning.

Which all ultimately brought up the idea of the Black Diamond Olympic Tri in September. Arielle first mentioned this race to me last year, and it seems like this year there’s a lot of blogger interest. It was also far enough away to get in some actual tri-specific training in—and far enough after my second ultra-relay to allow for some recovery time.

So yes, I was on board for Black Diamond. But it still wasn’t clicking. It felt like a means to an end; a stepping stone, if you will, toward what would be an actual goal race next year. Therefore, I still felt as if I was winging it in terms of training and racing, and I was okay with it. Black Diamond would follow a lot of summer running, and eventually I’d figure out some more fall/winter plans.

But then, THEN…an idea came to me. I shouldn’t take credit actually, in fact—credit goes to a Twitter conversation between Lauren and Larira two nights ago. I spotted them talking about the Bellingham Bay Half-Marathon this fall, and I had to chime in since it was my own first half-marathon almost three years ago. I started thinking then about how much fun I had at the race, how nice the course was, etc.

Somehow, then, after remembering how much I loved that race and how much I wanted to run it too—it all came to me: I want to run a goal half-marathon this fall.

And not just any goal. No—that’s the fun part. This goal would be hard, elusive almost, and perhaps the most intimidating training I’d ever have to take on.

And I was hooked. This is exactly what I wanted to commit the rest of the summer toward, and it seemed silly I hadn’t thought of it sooner. I have never done goal-specific half-marathon training, in fact—I’ve never actually done intentional half marathon training, and I figured why not start after already running 6? 🙂

I considered a few options for races, but Bellingham just felt right. It’s close by, it’s cheap, and it’s a PR-ready course. I considered a few other options, but after navigating a few scheduling plans, this was clearly the best option. The best part was that I could still do the Olympic tri as it’s a full two weeks before Bellingham, leaving enough time for recovery while still gaining the tri experience.

So basically, I’m obsessed. For a number of reasons, but mainly:

1) I’m sticking to my no fall marathon plan 

I really wanted to try and commit to saving myself for Boston next year (assuming I’ll get in), but I could feel that commitment slipping away when I felt completely goal-less. It would be easy for me to just plan another 26.2 training schedule, but that wasn’t ultimately what I wanted. This plan totally fits the bill for maintaining distance but without going all out marathon.

2) Speed!

I have been wanting to focus on speed forever now but never fully could because marathon training + excessive speed work is kind of a recipe for disaster. At least for me. With a goal for a half instead of a full, I’ll be able to really narrow in on speed workouts, which will be very new to me in some respects. I can’t wait.

3) Forced cross-training

By keeping the Olympic distance tri on the schedule, it will not only force me to spend more time on my bike and in the pool, but also off the roads. Cross-training, IMO, has a direct correlation to decreased injury risk. Double wins all around.

4) Tempering the sadness of no fall marathon

Despite my aforementioned goal of not doing a fall 26.2, I knew that when the time came and everyone was after their respective marathon goals and running 20 milers, I would be seething with jealousy. Having a distance goal of my own will (mostly) help offset that little green monster and keep me focused on the Boston end-game.

5) Lots of work to do

No sugar coating…this goal is a big stretch for me. It is going to require more discipline and probable more puke-inducing workouts than I’ve ever done. And while that probably sounds awful to some, it’s exactly what I need right now. Feel free to remind me of this at my 4:30 am alarms 😉

6) It doesn’t feel possible (yet) <— Biggest reason of all 

Here’s the honest truth about training to BQ in Eugene: I was nearly 100% sure I could do it. The required pace was something I was already comfortable with, and without the injury when I ran Chicago, I’m almost certain I could have done it there. Of course, I wanted to work hard and I wanted to secure my confidence, but I never really had a doubt that unless disaster struck—I could do it.

This goal? Not so much. In the name of full disclosure, let’s get real with numbers here:

I would like to run a 1:35:xx half this fall.

That would require dropping nearly 15 seconds off my current half-marathon PR pace. And here’s the biggest kicker: I’m still convinced my current half-marathon PR was a fluke. Yes I’m proud of it and I’m happy it happened, but I still, to this day, have a hard time believing it wasn’t a lot of luck.

Which makes shaving 3 minutes off that time even scarier.

So no, I’m not totally sure if I can do it. Do I believe with the right training it’s possible? Of course—which is why I can’t wait to dive into the horrifying place of having a very big reach goal.

This whole agenda, tri and all, feels like the perfect formula for all the things I was hoping to take on this fall season, and I can’t wait to get started.

In fact I did start, yesterday, with a 5-mile tempo at my previous half-marathon PR pace. It wasn’t the easiest, but it happened—7:30s on the dot. And it’s a start.

Time to get uncomfortable folks, I can’t wait.