Thursday, July 25, 2013

week 10 - what I've learned so far

I am now in the middle of week 10 (holy crap how is that possible?!) of my training plan since starting with my running coaches Stephanie and Ben Bruce.  To say every workout has been amazing would be a lie.  More importantly though, I have learned a lot about running and even more so about myself from the past 10 weeks.

Running is freaking hard.  Running has always been, and will always be a challenge for me.  But I think that's why I love it.  The feeling I get after a difficult run is like no other.  I'm not sure when or where I got the idea in my head that some days running should feel effortless.  Maybe this is true for some people.  Not for me.  Oh well, it's a good thing I like a challenge.

It's ok to run slow on easy days.  Three out of my five runs each week have the word easy in them.  Ex: 40-45min easy with 4x100 meter strides...16-18 miles easy.  When I first saw this I kind of laughed.  I mean 40-45 min and easy, ok.  16-18 easy?!  I'm not sure 16-18 miles and the word easy have ever gone together in my mind.  I felt like if I ran at what I considered an easy pace, it would be too slow, and I'd just be wasting my time.  But after talking to Steph I realized the "easy" paced runs are just as important, and necessary, as the speed work.  Ok, Steph, I can embrace the easy pace.  I have no shame running a slow, easy pace.

Faster times will come.  I was never really sure how much I should be pushing myself on each run.  I didn't know if in order to get faster, I needed to feel like I was going to die at the end of every run.  Thankfully, my trusty running coach told me otherwise.  Turns out, as I work more on my speed during the speed workouts, my paces will sort of just start to get faster.  One day I could go out to run an easy pace, feel like I'm running an easy pace, and the Garmin will tell me it's a little faster.  Then, eventually all of my paces will start to be a little faster.  Cool!  I like that.

Ditching the Garmin can be a good thing.  I bought my Garmin over the winter some time.  I had been wanting one for a while and finally bought one for myself.  Before my Garmin I would use an app on my phone to track my miles and my pace.  While it has been a great tool for me, it started to dictate whether my run was good or bad based on the pace I saw, not how I felt.  So, after talking to Ben about it, I decided it would probably be a good idea to go Garmin free for last weekend's long run.  It was the best long run I've have in a while.  It was so nice to able to run based on how I felt.  I didn't spend the majority of the time obsessing over how far I had gone and how far I had left to run.  I just ran.  It was perfect.  

Rest days are good days.  More is not always better in the case of running.  For a while I kind of thought running 6 days would be better than 5, and sometimes maybe I didn't need a day off because it was just a couple of miles.  Turns out, that's not really true.  I have two rest days a week, and they are glorious.  My legs are so ready for a rest day when one comes around and I don't feel bad at all for taking one.  If I put in the work during my workouts, rest days are totally deserved, and necessary for recovery.       

I love racing.  Since I started racing in 2007, I have never ran more than 3 races in one year.  I did not run any races in 2009 or 2012.  The races I did run, I didn't really race.  I didn't push myself to run any faster than when I was training.  Running was purely recreational.  I did it for fun, and to try to stay in shape.  This year, I already ran 4 races, and I am signed up for 4 more so far.  Every race I have run I have pushed myself to run faster.  I have felt the nerves and the adrenaline waiting for the gun to go off.  Even though every race has not gone as planned, I have loved every one of them.  Turns out, I love racing!!    

stolen photo from my last race.  sorry.

A bad race is not the end of the world.  A few weeks ago I ran my 7th half marathon.  It was not exactly a good race.  In fact, it kind of sucked.  I dwelled on it for a few days, and then thankfully snapped out of it.  Again, with the help of Ben and Steph, I realized that it's much more beneficial to try to learn from the race, rather than only thinking negatively about it.  It helped to write my thoughts down in an email in order get them out of my head and then move on.  There's so much you can learn from a bad race, and that's where the focus should be.  Once I let the negativity from the race go, I started to realize that during training I was seeing improvements and feeling much better.  This past week I have had some of the best runs since starting my training program.

I have to focus on myself.  It's so easy to get caught up in reading blogs, and twitter and thinking, damn they're fast....crap, I suck.  I went through a little phase of thinking maybe I'm not cut out for this because I'm not fast like this person or this person or this person.  Confidence is something I have to work at every day.  I started to go backwards in my mental state rather than moving forward, which obviously wasn't good.  I'm not those people.  I am me, and I run at a different pace right now.  That's ok.  I talked to Steph about this on Tuesday and she reiterated the importance of focusing on yourself and not being influenced by social media.  She said something else that really stuck with me.  Not only is it important to try not to compete with other people.  It's equally as important to try not to compete with yourself.  I had been experiencing this as well because I felt like I haven't been running as strongly as I was a few months ago when I ran the half marathon I PR'd in May.  But I have to remember I am in a different place now than I was then.  I am running more miles, and doing harder workouts.  An adjustment time is normal and should be expected.  So, not only do I need to focus on myself, I need to focus on myself in the present time.              

I feel like I could go on forever about what I've learned during these first 10 weeks.  But I think I'll stop there.  It's been a very exciting journey so far with more ups than downs.  I feel like I've grown a lot as a person and a runner.  I definitely owe a great big THANK YOU to Stephanie and Ben for everything they've helped me with so far!  Let's keep this good thing going :)             

Sunday, July 21, 2013

garmin free

Lately my long runs have been a bit of a disaster.  Last week's half marathon didn't go quite as planned either.  I have been feeling a little discouraged, and felt like I needed a change.  After emailing with the incredible Ben Bruce I decided it would be a good idea to try running my long run Garmin free.

Sorry, Garmin, not today.

Since getting my Garmin a few months ago, I have not gone on a run without it.  Before that I would use an app on my phone to track my mileage and time.  It's been a while since I've ran without something telling me how far and how fast I've gone.

I knew yesterday's run was going to be a challenge.  I haven't run longer than 13 miles since 2007 when I ran my first marathon.  I was ready to get out there, give it my best shot, and hopefully erase a few of the bad long runs that had left me feeling defeated.  I planned out a route that looped back by my house around 11 miles so I could get more water if needed.  After my normal pre-long run routine I was out the door before 6am.  Huge PR for me.

I started running completely based on how I felt.  I have no idea how fast I was going.  I wasn't focused on how far I had gone and how many miles were left.  I just ran.  It was amazing.  The miles flew by and I was genuinely enjoying just running.

you never know what animals you'll pass by in NH

beautiful sunrise
It was already close to 80 degrees while I was running, so I was very happy to be able to stop at my house to refill my water bottle.  I filled it up with cherry limeade nuun, changed my sweaty shirt and socks, and was back out the door for the 5-6 miles.  My legs were starting to feel it at that point, but other than that I still felt good.  I was confident I'd be able to get through this run without walking and feeling much more positive.  The last couple of miles were tough, and probably pretty slow, but I finished...without walking, which lately has not been the case.  FINALLY a good long run.  I needed that badly.  I'm pretty sure my Garmin will be left at home for most of my long runs for a while.

In other, non-running related news, after my run I went to North Conway to see my best friend try on wedding dresses.  I'm one of two maid of honors in her wedding.  First time MOH here.  It was fun watching her try on some beautiful dresses.  After trying on many and debating back and forth between two, she finally said yes to the dress.  And of course, we had to do the obligatory jump photo in celebration. 


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The good, the bad, and the ugly

Jamestown Half Marathon Recap

The Good

The race was in Rhode Island, which meant I was able to drive down the night before and stay with my dad and stepmom who I haven't seen in a while.  Friday afternoon I packed my bags and headed down to RI.  I stopped and picked up my number before going to my dad's house.  They cooked a delicious dinner of gluten free spaghetti and meatballs.

When I don't know what to wear,
I bring almost my entire wardrobe.

missed it 
The start time.  The race started, or was supposed to start at 6:30am.  The temperature at that time was around 70 degrees or a little under.  With the heat we've been having in NH, this sounded like a welcomed change.

The location.  The race was on an island off of Newport.  It started and finished with views of the water and one of the many bridges in RI.  

taken from the window of the bus
Thanks, dad, wasn't quite ready.
Not sure what my hand is doing.
crappy picture,
but this is where we lined up for the start

The first 6 miles.  I felt good for about the first 6 miles.  I was running between an 8 and 8:15 pace, which I was happy with.  I was even complimented by a man for how good my form was and that I "made it look effortless."  I didn't quite feel that way, but it's the first time anyone has commented on the way that I run.  Thanks, dude!

The Bad

Poor organization.  Parking was not allowed on the island where the race was, so we had to park in a large parking lot just over the bridge and were shuttled over to the start of the race.  Thank God I picked up my number the night before, because when we arrived just before 6am, there was a line of at least 100 people waiting to get theirs.  There was also a very large line for the porta potties.  Over 1500 runners = more porta potties...always more porta potties.    
Late start.  The last shuttle was supposed to leave at 6:15, and the race was supposed to start at 6:30.  Well, at 6:15 there was still a very large number of people waiting in line for their numbers.  When I arrived at the start before 6:30, there was an announcement that we needed to wait for a few more busses and the race would start about 10-15 minutes late.  A half hour later, the gun went off right around 7:00.  

Water please?! When I crossed the finish line of the race, dying of thirst, I expected there to be a nice person standing there with a water bottle for me to take.  Yeah, no, not exactly.  Instead I had to continue to walk through the sea of people searching for some water to drink.  Finally, maybe 50 yards passed the finish line I found some on the side of the road under a tent.  Later while waiting in line for the busses to go back to the parking lot, I hear 2 girls behind me commenting on their same annoying search for a bottle of water.  

The Ugly

The humidity.  I hate to keep talking about this, but it's something that really affects me, and has all my life.  I sweat a lot on a cool, dry day...never mind a hot and humid day.  Even though the temperature throughout the race remained in the low 70's, the humidity was between 90-95%.  I felt the effects of this pretty quickly.  I usually don't need to stop at many water stops, if any, during a half marathon.  I stopped at almost every one during this race.

The awkward smirk is because I saw my dad and stepmom.
In my head I was thinking when the hell is this going to end?! 

The hills.  For some reason when I looked at the elevation chart, I didn't think it would be to bad.  I was wrong.  Very, very wrong.  I mean, it looks hilly, but it only goes up about 100ft I thought no big deal.  It was a big deal.  Those hills were not a good time.  That one big lump around mile 6 is what did me in.  Then, from about mile 9.5-11.5 I repeated the words "are you f'ing kidding me" in my head many times.  It sucked.  I was not prepared for a course that hilly.  

I left this race feeling pretty defeated.  My time was over 12 min slower than my last half marathon.  I walked.  I wanted to scream.  It was not ideal.  But after having a couple of days to digest what happened, I am once again determined and ready to do better at the next one.  There are many what's ifs about this race that I'll never know the answer to.  So, maybe that means it's not worth getting upset over.  

If nothing else, I have another half marathon to add to the list.  I'm happy I did the race, and that should be what matters.  This race definitely was not about the time, it was about the experience, and what I can learn from it.  

Friday, July 12, 2013

I think I'll go to RI

Tomorrow I am running my 7th half marathon in Jamestown, RI.  I'm a little nervous about how this is going to go because my long runs lately have been kind of a challenge.  I like to blame the extreme humidity and heat we've been experiencing, but the little voice in my head likes to make me question if it's actually just me.  The weather for tomorrow looks a little cooler, and it should help being on the water (Jamestown is an island off of Newport, RI).

Tomorrow will be the first time I am heading to a race where I don't know anyone else who is running it.  I kind of impulsively signed up for this race.  I think it will be a fun experience though and a beautiful course.  My dad lives in RI, so I'll be spending the night with him and my stepmom before heading over to the start at 6am.  They're going to come with me to the race too, which is exciting because they've only seen me race one other time.

Training lately has been pretty up and down.  Most of my shorter runs and speed work have been going pretty well, but the long runs have been a little bit of a struggle.  If you've read anything I've posted before, or know me at all, you'd know that I do not like the heat.  Add some serious humidity and I am miserable.  Probably the worst combination for a long run in my opinion.  On Saturday I woke up early thinking I could try to beat it, but no such luck.  Even at 6am it was HOT.  After that run I was feeling a little defeated and frustrated.

Thankfully, Tuesday's run left me feeling much better.  It was still really humid on Tuesday, but there was some relief from the high temps, which helped so much.  My workout was 15 min w.u. 2 mile tempo, 2 min rest, 800 @ 10k pace, 3min rest, 2 mile tempo, 15 min c.d.

The tempo miles were supposed to be between half and marathon pace.  I ran them closer to half marathon pace.  I also had a brain fart and when I saw 10k pace I was thinking 5k pace...ooops.  BUT I felt really good so I went with it.  That's the run I need to remember tomorrow, not the horrendous attempt at 14 miles on Saturday.

Time to get my butt in gear so I can pack and hit the road!  Here I come, Rhode Island...I hope you're ready for me.    

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Runday Favorites

I did my long run this week on Saturday instead of Sunday because it fit in to my schedule better.  I set my alarm for 5am to try to beat the heat even though I knew it wasn't going to be possible.  I set out for 14 (hilly) miles just after 6am.  For the first 7 miles or so I felt pretty good.  It was hot and humid but I was able to stay mostly in the shade, which helped.  Once the temperatures started to rise and the sun continued to come up I started struggling.  I took some Gu around mile 8, which helped for a bit, but eventually the heat won.  I struggled through the last 4 miles.  I'm not even sure how much of it I actually ran and how much I walked.  I was desperate for water and I could feel my body temp rising to an uncomfortable degree.  It sucked.

The run was brutal, but the views were anything but.  My schedule called for a hilly run, so I ran up some big hills.  The climb is obviously tough, but once you get to the top it's usually worth it.  Today was no different.  Once I started to struggle and my pace slowed way down, I did the best I could to enjoy the run and the scenery.

That brings me to this week's runday favorites:

Everything is so peaceful at 6am 

So much corn!  

Thursday, July 4, 2013

First 5k on the 4th of July

Happy 4th of July! 

This morning I ran the Merrimack Sparkler 5K in Merrimack, NH.  It was my first 5K.  Kind of funny...6 half marathons, 1 marathon, a 10k and now finally a 5K to add to my list.  I'm not sure why I never ran one before.  I guess I figured if I was going to pay to run a race it should be a long one?  But lately I've started to become pretty curious about what the 5K was all about, so a few weeks ago I decided to sign up for one and give it a try.  

Obviously, I knew nothing about the 5K or what to expect.  My plan was just to try to run fast, and I knew a lot of others would be trying to do the same.  I could go all out for 3.1 miles, right?!  At least I hoped so. 

The weather forecast for today was HOT.  When the race started at 8am it was already close to 80 degrees and over 80% humidity.  Gross.  I don't do well in the heat and humidity.  I tried not to stress about it though and did my best to hydrate my ass off by drinking as much Nuun as I could last night and this morning.  I really wanted to give it all I had.  

Race day attempt at red, white, and blue.

While lined up for the start I was already starting to sweat.  The sun was out, and the weather dudes were actually right.  It was HOT.  I tried not to think about it and just focused on the race.  The gun went off and I started to jog slowly with the big crowd.  It was tough to get around people and I couldn't even really tell where the start line was.  When I got to where I thought it was I started my Garmin.  (The race was timed, but there wasn't a timing mat at the start of the race, only at the finish.  So everyone's time was based on the gun whether you were at the front or the back of the pack ((not sure if that's normal for a smaller race..?)).  The time on my Garmin was almost 30 sec less than what the results said.)

Once I started my watch I was determined to get around people as best I could.  I was there to see what I could do, not get stuck behind people running for the hell of it.  I weaved around a bunch of people, and eventually the crowd started to thin a bit.  We took a turn on to the main road and then another turn on to a back road that was closed for the race.  To my very pleasant surprise, the entire road was basically shaded.  Thank you running Gods!! 

Mile 1: 7:45

I felt ok after the first mile.  Yes, I was hot and already drenched from head to toe in sweat, but my legs felt great and I wasn't breathing too heavily.  I was having fun and enjoying the race.  

Mile 2: 7:36

At the half way point we turned around and ran down the opposite side of the road to the finish.  This is the second race I've ran like that and I really enjoy it.  I love seeing the leaders fly by me and motivate me to keep pushing.  I had friends running the race today as well who I saw on my way back.  It's a fun push to keep going strong.  At least until something goes not quite as planned.

Mile 3 was not exactly the perfect last mile.  I was hot.  Very hot.  Then, my stomach decided to do a little dance that left me scared I was going to need to bolt for the woods...or poop my pants.  Crap.  Literally.  I kept pushing on hoping that it would pass and I would be ok.  Eventually it did pass.  My legs still felt great, but I was tired.  The heat was winning and I was desperately trying to fight the urge to slow way down...or walk.  

C'mon, less than a mile to go.  I could do this.  

Mile 3: 8:00

Not exactly what I was hoping for.  I had hoped to keep a steady pace throughout the race, or at least be under 8/mile each mile.  I knew I was capable of that.  But today, the heat got to me.  

Last 0.1: 0:38

My undeclared (realistic) goal was under 24 minutes.  I stopped my Garmin at the finish and it read 23:58 for an average of 7:44/mile.  I know I have to be happy with this.  Was I hoping for more?  Yes.  Do I think I could have gone a little faster?  Yes, I think so.  BUT less than 6 months ago would I have thought I'd see an average of 7:44/mile?? HELL NO.  Do I want to run another 5K ASAP to try to earn a PR??  HELL YES.  (This one doesn't really count in my mind...since there's nothing to compare it to).             

And with that, it's time to BBQ, relax, and enjoy this holiday.  

yum yum yum

great post race recovery

Monday, July 1, 2013

Favorites and First 5k

This past weekend was super busy, so I didn't have time to post my runday favorites.  I decided to do my long run on Saturday because I had plans for Saturday night that included staying up late and having multiple drinks.  Friday nights I am usually wiped from working a 12 hr day, so I thought it'd be best to stay home Friday night and get up early Saturday to run and then be able to enjoy myself Saturday night.  So that's what I did.

For the first time since I ran my first marathon in 2007, I brought Gu with me on my run.  I want to start experimenting now so when marathon number two comes around in October I'll be a pro at what my body can and can't handle.  It's been so long since I've used Gu that I had forgotten what it tasted like and was slightly nervous about trying it again.  I bought a few different flavors and brought vanilla with me on Saturday.  Surprisingly, it turned out to be a runday favorite.  The texture was a little strange, and it was thicker than I remembered, thankfully I had water with me to wash it down.  But I thought the flavor tasted like vanilla cake batter...yum!  I took it around mile 8 and it gave me a nice pick me up for the remaining 5 miles.  I was dreading trying these again, but now I'm kind of excited to try the others I bought. 
other "treats" to try
Another runday favorite was the new sneakers I ordered on Thursday that showed up on my doorstep on Friday!  Free overnight shipping?!  Thank you, Zappos!  I am hooked on Mizuno Wave Rider 16.  I've always been a loyal Mizuno runner and have tried a few different models, but recently I've returned to the Wave Riders and absolutely love them! 

so pretty 
In race news, I am running my very first 5k on Thursday, July 4th.  I'm scared.  I think it will be fun, but I'm nervous to pop my 5k cherry.  I've also heard/read more than once that 5k's are brutal and not well liked.  BUT I guess I should decide that for myself.  I'm really curious and figured I had to try one eventually.  Who knows, maybe I'll love it!  Or maybe I won't live through it.  

go easy on me, please.