Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Birthday Running Thoughts 2016

It's been a pretty great while since I wrote. And by "great," I mean literally. Great things have happened, but this past Sunday I turned the big 4-2 and that's what I want to write about now. My birthday is a time I like to assess my year and how I hope to change and grow in the future. For the past 5 years, these thoughts have included what I am doing with running, naturally. This is going to be an amazing year! At the age of 42, hundreds of hours and thousands of miles will culminate in participating in the Boston Marathon for the first time! My current fantasies include a new PR at this event and the excitement of a kid at Christmas over the wonderment of 2017 jacket colors. Who else is going bonkers with guesses?

For my birthday, Mallory gave me the Compete Training Journal by Lauren Fleshman and local Providence runner Roisin McGettigan-Dumas. I spent part of my birthday using this journal to assess where I am now and what I can work toward to help me improve further. These were my conclusions for areas to build upon and make me a better runner: 1. Strength train as assigned everyday. 2. Spend more time on social runs. Run with Rhode Runners and friends when I can in order to bring more joy and connection to my training as well as maybe push myself a little harder by doing long runs with others who may be faster than I am. 3. Use my new training journal religiously to keep me on task and accountable.

Journaling my goals
I've done well with goals and training this year. I qualified for Boston in both of my marathons (Sugarloaf for 2017 qualification and Detroit to get me in hopefully for 2018) and completed more than 2016 miles in training. I set a lot of goals and completed almost all of them, including new PRs in every distance. I placed in AG or overall in the majority of the events I ran. However, I also know I could have done even better with a couple little tweaks.

Boston Marathon Training begins on January 9, so for now it's just about building mileage back up after taking some serious recovery time, having a regular cross-training/strength building practice and  riding the wave of all the exciting things happening this month: Detroit marathon age group award and shirt coming in the mail, finding out about Boston colors and getting my bling for the one virtual event I did this year, Resolution RunMo (2016 miles). This is going to be a great birthday month!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Training Week 3 Haikus and Photos

It was another imperfect week, but overall fantastic. The highlight of this week was attending, crewing and pacing in the Vermont 100, where a friend of mine was doing the 100k. Seeing people doing something this crazy epic was a real motivation booster. What's 26.2 when somebody somewhere is running 100k or 100 miles at a time? I have previously said I am happy to max out at the marathon distance, but now I am not so sure. One hundred miles is some hardcore bass ass stuff. This trip resulted in a decrease in strength training sessions, one missed run and no swims, but it also increased my total assigned mileage for the week and provided some extreme hill work with the pacing, so overall success for sure and I'm glad I did it. This is my overall breakdown, pacing  and biking included.
Monday: 5.1 miles and ab routine 
Overcast day, which makes me far more comfortable outside running in the summer. I was able to run at a decent, albeit easy pace without enviously eyeing benches and cool places in stranger's front lawns to lie down. This always makes me happy. Wrapped up my run with 21 minutes of core strengthening.

Gray skies and dirt path
Keep me moving on tired legs
Short easy today

Tuesday: 9 miles + 6 strides (9.7 miles total) and leg strength routine
Suns out. Guns out. I began this run in dread, as is typical when it is hot out. I suffered throughout, but decided to work on changing my mindset. Before I went on my run, I looked up the benefits of training in the heat and learned that when I'm training in the heat, I'm also increasing blood plasma and potentially increasing my V02 Max, I'm decreasing my heart rate and increasing oxygen consumption. I'm also making my goal fall races feel easy in comparison. I chose to think about all of these things every time it hurt instead of "how will I ever run fast again? This can't possibly be helpful. Maybe I am overtraining." Oh, I also looked up the difference between overtraining and hating to run in the heat and determined I'm just being a big baby. Although the heat is still my greatest running nemesis, I felt like I was better conquering that sweaty bastard.

Still summer chugging
Under highways over tar
Winners never rest. 

Wednesday: 10.01 miles run, 4.14 miles cycled and 10 minutes of planks
All of that mental prep of the day before was totally forgotten and I was hot and whiny again. Also, I wore my hydration vest without a shirt and gave myself a lovely chaff scab this time (I don't know why that hasn't happened the 10 other time I did the same thing). I also decided on something new. Previously, it has been difficult to motivate myself to get on the bike for anything less than 10 miles, but knowing I would be gone for the weekend, I decided to just do what I could fit in before work and did a single loop around the local bike path. Finished up by doing a variety of planks and rushed to work as fast as I could.
This is the day I decided to write the haikus on the images
Thursday: 4.11 miles run, 14.69 miles cycled and core routine
I had more time before work today and decided to put in a bike ride as well. I have not done brick workouts as planned lately (as in bike first and then run like in an actual triathlon), because well, like everything... weather. I want to do the sweatiest workout first. All that sweat keeps me cool on the bike.

Friday: 8 easy miles and 4 fartleks (9 miles total)
I left for Vermont early on Friday and had to get it done at 5am. It was so hard to get out of bed and I did not leave enough time to do as many fartleks as I had planned or my strength routine, but I had a beautiful sunrise foggy run and could drive for 3 hours, knowing I put some quality work into my morning. I downloaded The Runner's World Podcast and listened to this during my drive.

Saturday: 19.3 miles of trail running at the Vermont 100
On Saturday, I spent the morning and afternoon crewing for Faith and Laura's 100k. I had met Faith's husband and other crew members the day before and we drove around and talked about running and races. It was awesome! Hanging with other runner-obsessed people is the best! After 5pm it got more awesome, because I paced Faith and Laura for 19.3 miles and climbed almost 3,000 feet of elevation. It was fantastic. There was almost no phone service and it was dark when my pacing was finished, so I never put this photo/haiku of my gross trail foot on my Instagram.

Sunday: Cycled 20.73 miles
I spent the early afternoon driving home and had also intended to run 4 miles, but after driving and biking, I was spent. I decided to let my body rest a little and watched the movie Cliffy with Mallory. We're going to download the Vermont 100 documentary when our attention spans are better.

The weekly breakdown:
Run: 57.59 miles
Bike: 39.57
Swim: 0
Strength: 1 hours and 23 minutes total

Monday, July 11, 2016

Training Week 2 Haikus and Photos

July 4 - July 10, 2016

Week two of marathon and triathlon training is in the books. I did a great job getting my running miles in and some decent strength workouts. However, I completely failed training for triathlon. One reason: weather! The beginning of the week was horribly sticky nasty hellishly hot. I did my runs and they took foooooreeeeeeveeeeeer, causing two problems: I didn't have time to bike and I didn't have the ability to move my body outside anymore. I basically died. Over the weekend it was cold and rainy, so no swims. Of course, if I was a badass swimmer, I would have done it anyway, but alas, I am a wee baby when it comes to being wet and cold. My marathon is my top priority, so I didn't let the heat keep me inside and made running and strength training my number one with no excuses. Here's how it broke down.

Monday: Arnold Mills Fourth of July Four Miler Race, 4.01 miles
This was a big disappointment for me. We had been camping and I spent the weekend eating shit and not drinking water. I totally didn't take care of myself. Combine this with a hot day race and it wasn't pretty. I was running into every spectator with a hose, all up in the water stops and at one point I walked. I literally ceased to care at all and just wanted to be done with the whole experience. Then I placed fourth in my division and was a minute behind first. Lessons learned: Take care of yourself before races and don't punk out!

Thirsty from the start
Cramping, tired, giving up, hot
Regret is painful
Tuesday: 9 easy miles run, 4 strides and leg strength routine
Killed it. I was still fired up from cutting it so close at the race and letting myself give up that I got through this, no problem.

Hair in sweaty knots
Sweat from eyes and finger tips
Drenched from the inside 

Wednesday: 10.01 easy miles, ab routine
OMG! I am just not a heat runner. I hate to complain, but that is all that was happening in my mind. I decided I hated running and did not know why I do it. I was so slow and no amount of self-pep-talk or physical pushing could fix it. Should have been a brick workout, but I prioritized my run and did that first due to the heat and good thing, because I ran out of time before work to get back outside on the bike.

Salty pain stings eyes
On the road in hell degrees
Someone kill me now

Thursday: 6 easy miles and 4 strides
Seriously, the heat! I thought I would be okay since I was running less than Wednesday, but I kinda hoped for death during this run. Slowest!

Usual suspects
Are fewer on the dirt path
Summer keeps them in

Friday: 8 miles easy and 5 timed fartleks, core routine
Overcast and super cool for summer! I was so happy, because I could run again and I liked it! Knocked this out, no problem and the fartleks added a mile and a half to the run. Got everything done before work and felt totally satisfied with the day.

Overcast cool day
Finally running is fun
I remember this

Saturday: Rest day, but walked my dogs almost 4.5 miles
Went shoe shopping and didn't find anything. 

Rest, but legs don't sleep
Walked these dogs full Blackstone path
We all sleep tonight 

Sunday: 12 miles long run, core routine
Killed it! I bought new shoes beforehand and tried out some new New Balance Vazee 2090 (I also got the Saucony Kinvara 7!) and felt so light and fresh. It was cool enough and comfortable for running. Loved everything today. Watched the documentary The Highest Race on Amazon Prime and determined I have no desire to EVER do that. I'm excited for Detroit Marathon though.

Fresh legs and fresh shoes
Dreaming of awards, goals smashed
But first today. Now.

The weekly breakdown:
Run: 51.53 miles
Bike: 0
Swim: 0
Strength: 2 hours and 15 minutes total

Total Time Invested (dog walking included): 11:44:34

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Training Week -1

For a little while at the beginning of this blog I was updating what was going on with my training once per week. I would like to begin that again as one more method of accountability. I hope my two readers (or perception of thousands of readers) will keep me honest. Side note: please subscribe to my blog, so this feels a little less in vain. 

My training for the Women's Triathlon in September and Detroit Marathon in October begins tomorrow and I did a little work this week to help me feel ready. Here are the numbers.

Run: 40.06 miles
Cycling: 25.2 miles
Swimming: 2.2 miles
Strength Training: not much
Yoga: None

This has been a very exciting week. The highlights include being the Detroit Free Press Runner of the Week, feeling like I am really working on the swim and getting used to being in open water, trail running with new runner friends and just now making a full week of healthy meal prep, so I start this new phase of training strong and nutritionally sound. 

A great shot of Mallory and I running this weekend.

My second swim of the season.

Funny note: I think it is likely hilarious to watch me swim in the open water. It goes like this: swimmy swim swim, see a leaf or get touched by a piece of grass, startle, stop, look around, swimmy, swim swim, repeat. However, by the end of more than a mile back and forth in the pond today and 45 minutes in the water,  I stopped being scared of leaves and nature, so thumbs up to me!

Trail run with our new friends Faith and Aimee. 
Being famous in the Detroit Free Press Sunday Paper!

Some of the amazing food I just made

As a new triathlete who hasn't officially even begun training, here's what's scary to me right now. I don't know anything about cycling or swimming. I can do both without dying, but that's about the extent of my talent and knowledge. I don't know about form, technique, speed or other drills AT ALL. I don't even really know where to look. My knowledge is so poor on cycling and swimming, I can't say any more than that. Technically I can do a sprint triathlon no problem right now, but doing it well, that's a wholly different story. I also don't know what it would mean to do it well. Yep, I cannot even define well. There's a lot of learning to be done in the world of triathlon and some quality work to be done in the world of marathon for the next several weeks. 

Here's to killing 12 weeks of triathlon training and 16 weeks of marathon training. Cheers!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

My 5 Tips for A Maniac Training Cycle

My personal philosophy is that since I am only given one life, I better squeeze the most into it. I apply that to everything that's important to me in every domain. Go big or go home, right? In terms of training this has played out by making things harder for myself in the interest of seeing what my body is capable of accomplishing. I want to find the limit for how fast, how far and how intense I can race for no reason other than to just know and enjoy the process. I like to find my edge. This fall I will be trying something new: a triathlon. Coincidentally, one month after my sprint triathlon, I will be running the Detroit Marathon, and the training plans start at the same time: this Monday! In comparison to a marathon, I think a sprint triathlon is easy in terms of training, time and commitment, but I would really like to rock both of these as much as possible and do so without pulling, tearing, fracturing or having any diagnosis ending in "itis." I also want to have fun and not feel I am creating my personal Guantanamo Bay of a training plan. So, in preparation for the super intense training that begins next week, I've been thinking about how to organize two training plans at once and stay healthy at the same time. I've come up with a list of ideas to get it done.

My plan is to replace the running part of sprint triathlon training with marathon training and follow the bike and swim as close as possible in the triathlon plan. These are some other things I need to do to pull it together.

1. Use my technology. This may not make sense to anyone who doesn't use a smart watch for their every move, but bear with me or skip to 2 if this doesn't interest you. I think what has kept me healthy is making warm-ups and strength training a regular part of my training. However, it's easy to think this is less important than miles and speed work. To be a better runner, one must run and only run. More is better. Just kidding! Running isn't helpful when it leads to burnout and injury. To put in maximum miles, I need to be strong. I wear the Garmin Fenix 3 and created a "brick app" to use when I bike and then run. I can create apps to do just about any exercise or combination of exercises. Today it occurred to me I can make an app that starts with my warmup, goes into running, biking or whatever and includes strength, measuring all of these things in one press of a button. Why does it matter if my sequence of workouts is in one app rather than I spend two seconds pushing a button for strength, then run and then strength? Because it sets the expectation that warm up, run or bike and strength is one day's work as it should be. These are not three things of varying importance, but one complete workout.
Added a multi-sport for the expectations of each day
2. Swim options? I think I am not alone in finding the swim training the most complicated part of triathlon training. I cannot swim out my backdoor or in my bathtub. There are bodies of water within a mile of my home, but none that allow swimming. Getting a swim in is a several hour affair. I do not have a gym membership or the desire to pay for a pricey gym with a pool in order to swim .5 miles one time in September. My plan calls for swims 3 times each week, including weekdays. I'm not swimming on weekdays, let's leave it at that. I can swim once, maybe twice per week, when weather allows, on Saturday and/or Sunday. However, as mentioned, I do have water close by and it is often used for kayaking. I have a kayak. I will throw a midweek kayak in. Granted it's not a swim, but it's getting used to being on water and working my upper body. It may or may not help me be a stronger swimmer, but I like it and that in itself must count for something.

How I look when swimming

For me, the workouts are the easy part. I like being outside and I like exercise. No problem. It's the other things that keep me healthy like rolling and eating well that are toughest. And therefore...

3. Sunday needs to be serious food prep day, whether I feel like cooking or not. I need to stop eating shit. It's true, marathon training burns a lot of calories, but the body needs nutrients to keep it healthy and my muscles repairing and growing, rather than cupcakes and Doritos just to replace calories. Know a great source of calories and fat? It's not ice cream and french fries. It's avocados. So, more avocados and less ice cream and fries. It's been my experience that eating well involves eating planfully rather than on the go. So Sunday gets some food time thrown in and hopefully, I can organize myself enough that I won't have to even think about it much the rest of the week.

How I feel about meal prep. 
4. Giving rolling a designated time. Why is rolling so hard? It usually feels pretty good and by that I mean hurts so good. I have benefits when I do it. It takes 10 minutes at the very most and it's impossibly difficult and never a priority. So, knowing that my most challenging training days are Wednesday and Sunday, those will also be my post workout roll days. I mean, 5-10 minutes of self-massage injury-prevention isn't the worst thing.

Injury-prevention is just so horrible sometimes.
5. As mentioned, I like to be outside and I enjoy all sorts of activities other than running, biking, swimming and kayaking, so in that vein, I shall have "Friday Funday," in which I allow myself to do whatever the heck I like: hiking, climbing, skating, surfing or ping pong. Whatever. I will be active in anyway I wish and enjoy it, because exercise should be fun even when everything hurts and I'm dying.

Hopefully not me by October.
And just like that, a new journey of a training plan begins.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

What's Good About A Race I Can't Win

Since I started running, I have enjoyed staying for the awards, even though until recently, I never got one. I would be awed by the times and wonder what it must be like to run fast. How amazing it must be to win! 

Running in 2016 has been incredible so far. I have gone from a middle of the pack runner in 2015 to placing or PRing in every race I have done in 2016. (Excluding the 5k and 8k that were part of the Gasparilla Ultra Challenge, but more on that later.)

I am one of those people who looks up past race results when I register for any race and sets goals accordingly. I have even been guilty of picking races specifically because historically the field has been smaller and my odds of winning are greater. Call me a narcissist, but winning makes me happy. I really enjoy it and why not? It makes me feel like my miles and extra cross training are paying off. Sometimes I get gift cards and cool prizes, which makes me feel loved or special in some way that must have been missing from my childhood. Plus it's just fun. How often as adults do we get to compete in this very structured concrete kind of way? In running races you win or you don't. You reach a goal time or you don't. There's just no ambiguity about it. It's good to see success and it keeps me motivated and excited. But... the truth is I'm not really all that fast. I mean, I have Instagram and I see what other runners are doing. It kinda makes me embarrassed to post my times or wins, because someone will one day pick me out as a faker. Hey you, you're really not all that! Stop acting like you think you're a champion or some shiz. Of course, I post my times and wins anyway, because I still worked hard to get them and feel proud of the accomplishment.

My newest medal says CHAMPION and that means I am worthy of love.
Sometimes, I check the results of bigger or more competitive races and I know I can't get close to what other really fast women in my age are doing. I may have won my age group at the Newport and Sugarloaf Marathons, but that's not going to happen in Boston or New York. I'm also recognizing a place in my runner's heart that doesn't like to lose and feels a sense of loss that goes beyond the not winning kind at the thought of participating in bigger events. That part feels pressure and anxiety about racing, because this streak of wins and PRs is amazing and my ego would appreciate this being how it is for the rest of my life, all of the time, in every race, forever and ever. But my logical mind also knows there is something that happens when we take success for granted and do what's safe. We cannot grow to our fullest potential. 

Like I said, I see those other faster runners on Instagram or Twitter and I know I have a way to go before I can max out what is possible for someone in my division. Am I genetically blessed enough to take another 40 minutes off my marathon time or run a mile in 5 minutes? Could I continue to improve much more or be a faster runner? I don't know how fast I am capable of becoming. I assume I have more speed in me and I would like to find out how much. Taking my training and what's working for granted is no way to get there. Running safe races where I think I will place isn't the way to do it. What I love most about running is figuring out what's possible if I push myself, try new things and step out of my comfort zone. This can be a metaphor for everything else in my life. 

A year ago, my running goals included to place in a half marathon or marathon and to be able to run a half marathon with a sub 8-minute-per-mile average. I thought that was impossible, but it has happened in every half marathon I have run this year. I dreamed of qualifying for Boston by 5 minutes and I qualified by almost 11 and a half minutes. This year, things I thought could not happen anymore due to my age or lack of talent have happened and been exceeded. I am blessed to be able to do this.

I have been thinking about signing up for shorter races more regularly as a way to challenge my speed and increase my tempo. Today I looked up an upcoming 5k  and the results (of course!) and saw that I cannot compete with the top runners at that race and am really unlikely to place. There will have to be a stomach bug running rampant in fast women for me to have a good day there. At first, this made me not want to do it. I wanted to find a smaller 5k and improve my odds. But then I thought, what would be a better way to motivate me than to show me what's possible in others? To see other runners my age at speeds I can't comprehend? To get a little angry and fired up that running isn't easy and I'm not there yet? So, I'm gonna sign up for that 5k and know I am not going to come home with an extra medal, trophy or gift card. I am going to sit at the award ceremony and listen to the times and envy the speed I have never known and wonder what that must be like. There was a time when that's what inspired me and I believe I will work my hardest and perform at my best if that's a time I am willing to revisit more often. 

Sunday, May 22, 2016

First Week in Recovery

Recovering after a marathon and an intense training cycle is WEIRD. A massive part of my life that I didn't entirely enjoy, but somehow needed for mental and physical well-being, has been temporarily disabled. I'm still high from Sugarloaf Marathon, excited about Boston 2017 and want to get right back into training hard to accomplish more goals, but I'm not even sure what those goals are yet and I know this is no time for "going hard" at anything. Like planet earth, the body has its seasons and this is winter for me. Granted, a very short winter, but winter, none-the-less.

So what are some things we can do to keep our bodies active and our minds entertained in the metaphorical winter of training? This is what I will be doing.

1. Move Way Less Everyday

It's important to avoid overdoing it, so I'm able to train hard again and get the most from my future training, but also keep up some level of fitness and activity. For me, in spite of how excited I am about my recent success from the heavy training, not long ago, my mind was pretty sick of it and longing for this break. Even if I think I'm totally stoked and mentally ready to go, the truth is that my mind would like to be enjoying running rather than running hard or maybe not running at all for a little while.

This is my week in training...
Monday: Walked 4.12 in the morning and 1.54 in the afternoon at work
Tuesday: Walked 4.01 in the morning and 2.02 in the afternoon at work
Wednesday: Walked my dogs 4.2 miles
Thursday: My legs felt fine so I tried a run -- 4.1 miles
Friday: Ran 4 miles
Saturday: Ran 3.84 miles on the trail
Sunday: Ran 3 miles

Ran 14.95
Walked 15.91 (actually more since I forgot to use my watch two or three times)

The walking was so helpful at the beginning of the week and I decided I would only run when I was feeling little to no soreness. I also ran very slowly with each run this week. Next week I plan to continue walking if I feel sore and run short and easy when I feel good.

This guy loved the extra walks and it thoroughly calmed his nerves as you can see.
2. Decide What Comes Next

I've also been thinking a lot about future goals and races and getting very excited. This is another busy year, full of goals and races, but my main number one goal for the year was to get a major BQ in Sugarloaf and now that it's accomplished, it's time to figure out how to direct my future training energy. The races I am most excited about for the rest of this year are, well, all of them! I am registered for 7 more before 2016 draws to a close with everything from a 1 miler to the Detroit Marathon, a six-hour-race and a sprint triathlon in the fall just to try something different. I know I would like to see what I can really do in the half marathon if I give it my all, but I don't know which one from my list to pick as my goal race. Today I rewrote my goal/race/workout board in our basement gym and made up a simple training week just to keep me focused and moving.

3. Adjust Training Plan

Downtime after completing a goal or race is an ideal time to consider what went well and what could have gone better. I'm happy to say I think I've got the pacing and fueling for endurance down, which was my past weakness. I've also worked on my mental game and getting through motivation lows, but I'm also thinking about what I have been missing physically with all of this training, like climbing, kayaking, biking and skating and hoping to fit in some more activities in the meantime. Yes, I would like to PR again in Detroit, but it's not as important as it was to kill it last week, so it's okay to back off the training a little and allow for some fun. I'm trying to figure out what to do for my next marathon training plan and how to fit in more pleasure since I reached the big BQ goal. And, it's almost summer! For now, I think I would like to do the advanced plan I just completed with some twists. Twist number 1 is I need to add a little biking and swimming, since I have a triathlon coming up and twist number 2 is I want a rest day. By rest day, I mean PLAY day, so one day per week to skate or kayak or whatever else I want to do instead of run, bike and/or swim. Twist 3 is adding scheduled rolling, yoga and food prep, so I don't end up neglecting those things more often than not like I did with this last training cycle. There's still plenty of time to figure this out and get it into writing though.

4. Do Other Cool Stuff

Recovery time is a great time to think about those other goals that may have been forgotten while I was busy getting extra sleep, running all morning and weight training in the evenings. I mean, there is more to life than running right? For one thing since my last race, I've written in this blog. I've also completed a Rubik's Cube and I am working on being able to do that without following YouTube videos for every little step. #lifegoals It's also a great time to keep working on my basement art studio and complete a few neglected household and craft projects. I could even work on developing a meditation routine.

My home art studio continues to need ceiling tiles and a cover for the fuse box.

5. Just Relax

Easier said than done. I'm not a fan of this one, but it would have been lovely to go for a massage and take a couple of really gentle restorative yoga classes that are more about lying on the floor than arm balances and warrior poses. Even spending more time sitting on the back patio in the sunshine with the dogs at my feet would be lovely.

Home yoga studio where I could be perfecting my corpse pose any day now.