Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 - Year in Review

2014 has been a wild ride!  The year didn't go as planned which at first left me with a lot of frustrations, but as I look back, it has been an amazing year!  Often you'll hear me refer to what I call "Operation See the World on Foot".  We LOVE to travel and more importantly we love running destination races.  There is no better way to explore a new place than on foot.  This year I was blessed with the opportunity to run in the Bahamas, the wine country of Oregon, and of course Chicago.  How in the world could I be frustrated with this year, it was amazing!

Running Highlights of 2014:
  • I ran 4 half marathons.
  • 3 of those half marathons were destination races.
  • Ran my 3rd full marathon.
  • Set a new PR in the full marathon AND in the 5K.
  • Logged a total of 918 miles.

Lets take a look back at 2014 shall we...

January started off by completing part two of the New Year's Double!  Two half marathons in 24 hours left me more sore than a full marathon.  True story.

At the end of January Brandon and I took off to the Bahamas to start celebrating my 30th birthday!  We ran the Bahamas Half Marathon and I would recommend this race to anyone.  So much fun and the perfect way to see the island.  
The best backdrop for a finish line ever!

February I finally turned the big 3-0 and enjoyed celebrating with all of my family and friends!  At the end of February we celebrated another huge milestone, Brandon ran his first FULL marathon at Cowtown in Fort Worth.  I logged 9 miles myself that day running around the course to cheer him on and get some pictures.  He learned that day what an amazing experience the full marathon is and just not how much it challenges you as a runner but how it humbles you as well.  I love this picture!  Not too many times in life can you be in agonizing pain and still manage to kinda smile for the camera and give a shout out.

March consisted of a lot of resting for me and deciding what races I wanted to run.  On a whim, I entered the Chicago Marathon Lottery thinking "Eh, I won't get in but I'll enter for fun".....

April started off with Brandon and I celebrating 4 years of marriage!  Then a couple of weeks after that, I got the email that would change the course of the rest of the year for my running:

The rest of April was spent researching training methods, making travel arrangements, and mentally preparing myself to this whole marathon thing again...for a third time.

May was the month that I hired a coach for the first time from the Hanson's group and it was the best decision I ever made for my running.  The information and knowledge I gained was worth the cost 10x over.

June and July can just be summed by saying I ran.  A lot.   I really don't even remember anything else from the summer.  264 very sweaty and disgusting miles were logged during these months.  So there was a lot of this:
I learned to love the ice bath.
August was made up of a ton more sweaty miles and was a really hard month for me mentally.  I was tired of just training and was ready to race!  Luckily we already had a trip to Oregon planned to a half marathon out in the wine country.  Coach and I made this race a training run and it worked out perfectly!  The course was absolutely breathtaking and the break from regular training was much needed.

September we celebrated Brandon's birthday and it was another month full of sweaty miles, a lot of ice baths, and a lot of cursing mixed with me asking "Why the hell am I doing this again".  We also ran the Plano Balloon Festival half marathon as part of the training for Chicago.  That race was miserably hot!  Honestly, I wasn't a huge fan of the event itself and will likely never run it again. 
I looked like I was having way more fun than I actually was ;)

October was RACE MONTH!  The month that I had been working towards for almost 6 months.  I was ready, soooooo ready to run the race.  You can read all about the race here if you want to know the full scoop as well as how excited I was to meet my coach from the Hanson's group.  Chicago was....incredible.  Just incredible.   Training harder than I had ever trained taught me so much about myself.  I grew stronger both mentally and physically and for the first time knew the limits of my body.  From marathon #1 to marathon #3 I took 46 minutes OFF of my time.  That's crazy and I know I will continue to chip away at that!  Each marathon is a learning experience and makes you that much more prepared for the next go-round.

A little over a week after Chiacgo we had been registered for a fun little 5K in town featuring my favorite band, The Old 97's afterwards.  I approached that race with a "just run for the hell of running" attitude and voila, I got a PR in the 5K!  I was so stoked.  It was so nice after months of grueling distance training to just get to run as hard as I wanted to knowing that it was for only 3 miles.  Even more exciting than a PR?  Seeing Rhett.  Swoon.

November was spent with a TON of resting and allowing myself to recover.  I was able to finally focus my attention on other areas of my life that needed a little extra TLC.  For example, I can finally see properly.  I think I'm finally used to glasses...
December it finally hit me that I needed more than just recovery time, I just needed a break.  I don't think I can call it burn out because every day I want to run, but I think it was more of just taking a step back and taking time to just be.  December is a time for friends, family and celebrating the little things so it all came at a great time.  

Dear 2014,

Thank you for being a year of adventure.  A year that taught me so much about myself and allowing me to learn to know when to say "enough" and just enjoy the moment.  You took these feet (and wonky hip) all over the place and allowed me to explore the world.  For that, I am so grateful.  Every run is a gift.  Fast, slow, far, short....they are all a gift.

Cheers to an even brighter 2015!  Who knows what adventures are next?  Stay tuned....


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Hi, remember me?

My last post was about two months ago and honestly in that time I've sat down probably 20 times to start this post....to no avail.  I just couldn't compile my thoughts.  After Chicago I went into a weird place, a place of zero motivation and feeling completely lost.  Without my training schedule where everyday it told me how I would start my day (ie what workout I needed to do) I felt completely lost. Kinda sad, right?  I worked all year towards a huge goal in Chicago, and I did it!  Then I was left with, what's next running through my head over and over.   Normally I can easily snap myself out of that but not this time.  Over the last almost two months I've realized something, I needed a break. A serious, genuine break...

No blogging
No training schedules
No mandatory 4:30 am wake ups
No washing 4 loads of running clothes each week (on top of all the other laundry)
No carb counting
No foam rolling

So that is exactly what I've been up to these last several weeks and why I haven't blogged.  Chicago training was a grueling 6 months of a demanding running schedule combined with the demands of work and also trying to keep a happy home.  When taking a look at the training I've put in this year and the amount of racing done last year, I realized that I've  basically been in a continuous training cycle for almost two years solid.  That is nuts!

I've also continued to nurse my hip injury that I left Chicago with.  It's easily the most persistent and annoying thing I've ever dealt with.  The only race(s) I had left on the agenda this year was the New Year's Double which is a half marathon on NYE and then another half marathon on NYD.  While I LOVE this race, it is really taxing on the body.  I was only running this race for fun, so after a lot of thought I decided that it wasn't worth the risk of re-injuring this hip and sending myself back to square one.  I have some big goals for Spring, and that just wasn't worth it.  Silver lining though?  This race was sold out months ago so my backing out opened up a spot to someone who is going to be stoked to get to run!  That makes me happy :)

During the month of November I was starting to run a little bit here and there because I knew I had to have somewhat of a base for the double races.  Once I made the decision to back out, the pressure was off and total "no running" mode was back on.  Honestly?  I was relieved.  I knew deep down I needed this rest after Chicago, but being a stubborn runner (aren't we all?) I thought I had to press through for the races.  The month of December I've enjoyed getting to embrace the holiday season and spending extra time with friends and family.  It's easy to let running take over your life and sometimes we forget that while it is a huge piece of our lives, it is not our entire life.  I plan on spending the remainder of the year letting myself live with no schedules or obligations to training.

Spring time brings about a new opportunity to tackle new goals!  I've had plenty of time to think about what I want to do for Spring and honestly I'm still not sure.  When taking a look back at this year, one of the things I really enjoyed for the first time in my running life was speed work.  My track workouts became the things I looked forward to each week!  Speed workouts were new to me and I started to love the complete ass kicking that they were.  Just about each one left me feeling like I wanted to puke and that's an oddly good feeling.  This Spring, I really want to focus on speed workouts and trying to improve my foot turnover.  In Texas there is a 5K pretty much every weekend on every corner in Spring so I might make those my new goals.  Faster and more efficient with each race!  Will I run another half?  Likely...but that won't be my focus.  My next distance goal is to run a half marathon in under two hours.  I feel like putting the focus on speed the first half of the year, will set me up to really go after that sub-2 hour goal in fall.

So there you have it, that's what I've been up to.  Here's to hoping for a strong and successful Spring racing season!    

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Dear Motivation, where are you?

After Chicago, my coach issued minimum of 10 days rest to recover both mentally and physically.  The first few days of sleeping in and getting to hang out in my pj's all morning (instead of throwing on running clothes) were fantastic.  By the fourth and fifth days I started to feel lost.  All of this time off gave me plenty of time to think about "what's next?".  Coach gave me the go-ahead to go for an easy-peasy 3 mile run on Monday to test the waters and see how I feel.  My hip-flexor, the side I fell on, was NOT a happy camper.  At all.  I had a sneaking suspicion that some delayed aches and pains would show up there and boy was I right.  My "what's next" plan originally included the thought of going after the Dallas Marathon and seeking redemption to hit my "A" goal that I was just shy of in Chicago.  However now that I know my hip isn't playing around, I think it's time to re-think that plan. During my marathon training I knew that after the full I wanted to focus on speed and work towards a sub-2 hour half marathon.  My current PR in the half sits at 2:09:30 so there is definitely some work to be done, but it is within reach.  There's only one problem with that, I have no motivation right now.


The combination of knowing my hip needs time to heal and still in recovery mode from the full has drained me of all motivation.   I look at the race calendar and nothing excites me, my desire to get back to cooking every night and whipping up fresh green smoothies in the morning isn't there, and sleeping in instead of doing anything productive in the mornings just sounds way more up more alley. Totally unlike me.  Fall racing season is usually my absolute favorite!  The problem though is that Chicago fell smack dab in the middle of all my favorite races.  My favorites were either right before, during, and immediately after Chicago....not even kidding.  So between taper time and recovery time, there's really no races that I care to invest the money or time in.  I've never run the Dallas Marathon (full or half) and I hear great things, but honestly I just look at it and think "meh".   For no other reason than I've run races through those routes a billion times and I'm not sure about the route since it merges half and full runners together.  With a sub-2 hour half as the next goal, I think I'm more eager to get back into training mode instead of racing mode.  Last year was the year of the race, and it was a TON of fun!  However, those races were just for that - fun - and time goals weren't the focus.  In order to reach the sub-2 goal I need to finally get myself back to 100% so maybe the universe is giving me a sign that there are no interesting races on the calendar for a reason....it's time to rest.

Lots of exciting things are lining up for Spring so I may just put my focus there!  I want to run some new races and explore different routes and go after that sub-2 half.  I'm still not sure what my game-plan is for the upcoming weeks.  My first priority is getting this booger of a hip-flexor back to being happy so some additional rest time is coming up.  I still feel a little lost and hoping that I find my way out of this funk soon.

Give me some exciting races to look into!  What is on your race calendar for the end of this year or Spring?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Race Report: Bank of America Chicago Marathon

Warning:  LONG Post Ahead

Back in May after a couple of months off completely from running, I started over from scratch and began my journey to the Chicago Marathon.  After 5 months of training, 720 hot and humid miles logged it was finally time to head out!

Friday we arrived in Chicago and first order of business was to get checked in at the Hilton in downtown and then hop the shuttle over to the expo.  I haven't run a race of this magnitude since the NYC Marathon back in 2010.  The expo is HUGE and full of fun things to look at and a million opportunities for vendors to drain your bank account.

We piddled around the expo for a bit and then made our way back to the hotel where we had planned on meeting my coach.  Coach Mike Morgan and I have talked so much over the last few months that it was nice to finally get to meet!  He would be running the race as well but as part of the elite field so it was really cool to get to hear some of the behind the scenes details of what the elites have to go through.  Everything from drug testing to getting their race day attire/uniforms pre-approved, media events, strategy meetings, etc.  As we were talking, Luke Humphrey popped in to say hello.  If you are familiar with the Hansons Marathon Method then you likely already know he is the co-author of the book and owner of Hanson's Coaching Services.  We went over my race-day plan and more importantly where the good Chicago pizza joints are :)  Getting to meet them was definitely a highlight of the trip and something I'll always remember about this race.  Despite what stress they were under for the race and the pressures that being on that "level" presents they were so nice, so humble and genuinely kind.
Luke - Me - Mike
Saturday was my day to kick my feet up and pretty much do a whole lot of nothing.  Brandon and our friend Fonzie headed out to go explore Chicago and I hung back at the hotel.  While out picking up my lunch I walked across the street to the start/finish line and got my bearings down.  Seeing the set up happen definitely helped to allow the excitement take over my nerves!  Corral F is where I would be lining up in less than 24 hours!

I also had to re-live a piece of my childhood and go take a picture at Buckingham Fountain AKA the Married With Children fountain!
Love and marriage, love and marriage....
Saturday night we put on real clothes and headed out for one last pasta filled meal at The Rosebud.

The days leading up to the marathon I had zero appetite, none, nada.  So basically I force fed myself a $22 plate of spaghetti while Fonzie dined on his $70 steak....another Chicago memory that I will forever remember.  After dinner it was back to the hotel to rest up and get some shut eye!

Sunday - RACE DAY!  Even though we were within walking distance to the start line I still set my alarm for 5:30 so that I could get my bagel in my system in case my stomach decided to play games with me.  At 7am we made our way to the start line and unfortunately this is where Brandon had to say goodbye and good luck.  Security was tight, so no spectators were allowed anywhere near the starting area.  A kiss, hug, and a good luck was followed by 'see you at the finish line'!

The corrals were shut off at 7:45 and at 8am we were off!  I had read about GPS being spotty during the race because of all the buildings, but I really underestimated just how spotty it would be.  I only had consistent pacing/GPS for about 30% of the race.  This caught me off guard and proved to be a huge challenge.  I can run by feel but having trained in MUCH hotter and humid conditions my perception of "feel" was way skewed when running in a much cooler climate.  Don't get me wrong, the 50 degree temperatures were awesome, but in that regard it was a bit of a challenge.  I made my way through the course and at around mile 3-3.5 I experienced something that has never happened to me before in all my years of racing...I fell.  For the most part I caught myself but my hip took the brunt of it and pulled in a really forward and weird way.  You cross over the river several times during the race and on those bridges there is a metal grated surface.  For the race, they covered this surface in a thin carpet-like material.  I guess the carpet had taken a beating for a few hours because there was a buckle somewhere in the carpet at that crossing and myself along with a few others tripped and fell.  My instinct was to just get up as quick as possible (there were herds of runners around) and keep moving.  My hip nagged at me throughout the rest of the race but that pain seemed minor compared to what was on the course at around mile 9.  Going into mile 9 there was a runner who appeared to be my age who had dropped in the middle of the road.  Lifeless.  A guardian angel was watching over him and the story being told is that another runner stopped to start immediately administering CPR. Receiving immediate CPR likely saved his life.  Over the years I've seen lots of people getting medical treatment on the course for various things, but never have I seen someone dropped in the middle of the road, completely lifeless while medics were working to revive him with CPR.  I slowed down to say a prayer for the young man and the medics that were working on him.  That shook me to the core and was a reminder that your finish time is NOT that important.  Finishing the race and getting to go home that night to your loved ones is what is important.

My emotions finally settled down and I continued through the course.  I was feeling ok through the first half but my legs never really felt "fresh".   When I hit mile 14 I saw Brandon and Fonzie for the first time.  They handed off a fresh water bottle and I continued on!

I saw the guys again at mile 16 and then started the long stretch to where I was supposed to see them again at mile 21-22.  The course was FULL of spectators!  I have to say, Chicago throws one hell of a party on marathon day!  This is the stretch of the course that is the hardest for me.  Things start to ache and you know you're not quite to that home stretch.  At mile 21 the streets were packed with so many people that I knew it would be almost impossible for me to see Brandon.  Our plan before the race was that if he got to mile 21 and it was packed, just get back on the train and meet me at the finish line.   That is exactly what happened.  At mile 22 I took a walk break to take in some Gatorade and stretch my hamstrings that were starting to cramp.  I knew early on in the race, especially after the fall, that I wasn't going to meet my "A" goal.  Despite the disappointment of that, I knew that I still had the opportunity to land a pretty hefty PR.  After a couple minutes of walking I picked it back up and pressed forward.  This is where the cumulative fatigue training that Hanson's focuses on really kicked in.  Sure my legs hurt, but they seemed to move forward at a relatively easy rate.  I ran all the way until I got to the last .2 miles of the race.  When I turned the corner and saw that dreaded hill that lead to the finish line I just couldn't mentally will myself to run up it.  I walked up the hill and then high-tailed it to the finish line!  Marathon #3 was done and I did it with a 12 minute PR!  I made the long walk out of the finisher area and on to Michigan Avenue which is where Brandon would be looking for me.  It's a little scary to be alone after a marathon and that feeling that your legs could give out from you at any moment.  After a few minutes they spotted me and boy was I happy to see them!  Brandon said my Mom needed a photo to prove that I was indeed still alive.  This picture cracks me up for so many reasons!

Did I hit my big goal?  No.  Things didn't exactly go smoothly on the course and that happens, but I sure as hell am happy with a 12 minute PR.  That's the really funny thing about running, you can train your heart out but race day can throw you a curve ball that you never in a million years could have expected.  How you choose to handle that curve ball dictates how you will finish.  I could have easily thrown in the towel after all of the craziness that happened in the first half but instead I got out of my own head and just kept cruising.
Official Finish Time:  4:41:06
After looking at the splits from my official results I can tell that I suck at pacing without a Garmin.  I was allllll over the map.  I know that with proper pacing I can hit my "A" goal.  I know it!  My nutrition for Chicago was on point.  I felt great both during and after the race!  My stomach didn't start doing back-flips around mile 23 like it has done before nor did my my stomach churn for 24 hours post-race like it did before. This time around I felt as normal as could be and that is something to celebrate! I was stiff and sore, but overall I felt great.  One of the things I've learned in the last two years is that your strength as a runner isn't 100% based on your performance on race day.  Proper training and nutrition will lead to you not feeling like you've been run over by a bus post-race.  That signals that you HAVE trained your body to endure the rigors that a marathon puts you through.

I've been asked so many times how I liked this race compared to others.  I have a million thoughts running through my head so I thought I'd keep my opinion on Chicago into three pros and cons:

Chicago Marathon Pros:
1) It's a really flat course
2) The crowd support is hands-down the best!  I had so much fun on the course that I didn't even wear my headphones.  They were in the first few miles but I didn't turn them and after awhile I just tucked them down into my sports bra.  26.2 miles of enjoying the sights and sounds was incredible!
3)  The race organization was absolutely flawless.  Whoever your event director is, give them a big raise.  The volunteers are just as much a part of the organization and they were rock stars!  Not only did they do their jobs but they also cheered us on as much as the spectators!

Chicago Marathon Cons:
1) That really flat course is great for a lot of reasons, however an entirely flat course also leads to only using one set of muscles for the entire race.  My quads were on FIRE by mile 19-20.  FIRE.
2) Gatorade was nice to supply their endurance chomps at the majority of the water stations.  This was a nice gesture however on top of a crazy amount of cups and Gatorade spilled all over the streets, you also had to contend with avoiding getting chomps stuck to your shoe.  Despite having brought my own water, I had to tiptoe/walk through most of the aid stations to avoid busting my butt (super slippery) or stepping on chomps.
3)  Spotty GPS signal. This no fault of the race at all, but I still have to put it in the con category if you're trying to hit a specific time.

Overall, the Chicago Marathon is a MUST run race!  It takes a lot to be thrown onto the list of World Marathon Majors and it did not disappoint in the slightest.  This is a trip that I will truly never forget. It was filled with so many wonderful memories and reminders of just how blessed life is.  A lot of people just don't understand the marathon thing and that's ok.  When you're out there surrounded by 45,000 others who share the same dreams, that's all that matters.  You still fall into the 1% of the population who actually have the balls to even step up to the challenge of the marathon.  I don't know that I will ever qualify for Boston, but I do know that each and every race gives me the opportunity to do something better than the race before.  If you stop dreaming, you stop living.  Runners dream big.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Hello Race Month.

Well friends, here we are...October is finally here.  Months of training, hundreds of miles logged, and now we have reached the taper.  Normally in taper time I get super ancy and want to go out for a long run but not this time.  Hanson's sufficiently kicked my ass for 20 weeks and I am LOVING this low mileage right now.  Taper does bring its own set of mental battles.  Did I train hard enough?  Should I have done just one more long run?  What is that phantom pain I'm feeling?  I don't care how many times you've done it, the doubt still tries to creep its way in.

Looking back at my training logs I am kind of blown away.  Regardless of what happens on race day, I can say that I have never pushed myself so hard.  I've never run SO many miles because quite frankly I never believed I could do it.  I have learned so so much about myself and about my ability throughout this process that actually sticking to and finishing this training is something to be very proud of.  I run all of my runs solo and having to motivate myself to get up every single day (schedule had me running 6 days a week) and get my butt out the door wasn't always fun, but it had to be done.  I wrapped up the bulk of my training last week and then completed September yesterday with 190 miles logged.  In one month.  That.  Is.  Insane.

A few days ago my long awaited participant guide showed up!  Something about this just makes things so real.

Getting a bib number is kind of that official moment that reminds you, holy shnikes you're about to run another marathon.  Not only is 26.2 about to happen again, but I am so blessed to be able to run another marathon major!  For those who don't know, there are 6 World Marathon Majors.

  1. Tokyo Marathon
  2. London Marathon
  3. Boston Marathon
  4. Berlin Marathon
  5. Chicago Marathon
  6. NYC Marathon

Chicago is expecting to have roughly 45,000 participants.  I haven't participated in a race this large since I ran the NYC Marathon in 2010.  I can tell you that is A LOT of runners.  Big races bring a whole new level of excitement to the experience.  (They also bring a lot more chaos but that just comes with the territory.)  The big races also bring in the elite field and if you've never witnessed it before, watching elites tackle a course is so incredible.  They run a pace that I can't even fathom all the while making it look effortless; it is truly a spectacle to watch.  The 2014 Elite Field consists of several runners from the Hanson's team, including my coach Mike Morgan.  He will finish the entire marathon at about the time I pass the halfway point...true story.  We're planning on a brief meet up on Saturday so I'm looking forward to saying thank you in person, and wishing him luck.

Now that the training is starting to wind down I can focus on the other fun part of this trip, getting to explore Chicago for the first time!  If anyone has any "must-see" activities or places to eat please let me know.  I'd also like to know what the good pubs are in town for us to try out some local brews...after the race of course!      

Friday, September 12, 2014

The 30 Day Countdown Begins!

Commence panic mode.

I keep a countdown widget on my phone so that every morning when my alarm goes off stupid early, I see that calendar first thing.  It's the reminder that I need in these exhausting final weeks that we are almost there.  It's no longer months away, it is weeks away and pretty soon just days.  Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and drudging through miles.

The 30 day mark also triggered a mass reaction of panic mode.  We ONLY have 30 days left?!?  I'm not ready.  I don't feel ready.  When I took on the Hanson's approach I knew there would be no 20 mile run to help me prepare.  That part really excited me at first and now it has left me a little terrified.  I know the theory behind their plan, and I just have to trust it.  "Trust your training" is something always preached in the running world, so I am having to let go of that fear and just roll with it.  Admittedly it has been hard to see all my fellow runners post about their 20+ mile runs.  Every time I see one a little wave of doubt creeps in to my mind.  I took on Hanson's because I wanted something completely different and something that would challenge me on so many levels. So, I'm trying my darnedest to not let those thoughts of doubt creep in and instead focus on race day. Then and only then will I know if I made the right decision.
On my tempo run yesterday, I had a lot of time to think.  It was a ten mile set so I had plenty of time to find ways to distract myself.  It was also day 6 in a row of running and my legs felt like concrete blocks, so I welcomed any distraction.  Since we are only 30 days out I started thinking about the things I'm looking forward to after Chicago.  In no particular order...
  1. I look forward to sleep.  Oh Lord, sleeeeeeeeeep.  Don't get me wrong, I'm an early bird and enjoying being up and productive.  It's more about having the option to sleep in instead of my alarm that is currently set for 4:30 or 5am 6 days a week.  Especially Sunday mornings, I miss lazy Sundays.
  2. I look forward to boycotting bagels and pasta for at least a year.  Ick.
  3. I look forward to not having to spend at least an hour every single day stretching and foam rolling.  Between the runs themselves, stretching, work, and sleep there really isn't time for anything else during the week.
  4. I look forward to not having to wash sweaty disgusting workout clothes three times per week. Yep, three loads of just workout gear per week.  Over it.
  5. Speaking of, I look forward to not being a sweaty mess every single morning.  
  6. I look forward to going back to my Zfit strength training crew.  I still don't miss burpees though.
  7. I look forward to that first Saturday after Chicago.  It will be the first Saturday I have slept in, in over 5 months.  Instead of preparing for the long run, I'd like to spend my morning preparing for what patio I plan on having brunch at.  With lots of mimosas.  Like normal people.  
  8. I look forward to getting the best pedicure money can buy.  During marathon training calluses are your best friend, they protect you from blisters so you don't want to lose them.  During training I just accept ugly feet as a way of life.  I still proudly wear flip-flops because quite frankly, I really don't care what people think.   A pedicure now would just be a waste so once I'm all healed up from Chicago, I'll take that french pedi with a hot stone massage...ahhhhhhhh.
  9. I look forward to having the energy to cook again.
  10. I look forward to being able to stay up late (as in past 9:30) so that I can spend more time with my family.
You make a lot of sacrifices during marathon training, and it is something you just have to be able to deal with it in order to make it all work.  These final few weeks are always the hardest because not only are you physically drained, but you're emotionally drained as well.  I just want to race!  I either want to sleep, eat, or cry these days.  So basically my husband is married to an infant.  30 days....one month....I can handle anything for one month.  I think I can, I think I can.....

Friday, September 5, 2014

Race Report: Oregone Wine Country Half Marathon

Well it's been over a month since I've blogged, oopsy.  I've been just a tad bit busy!  August was the month from hell and I'm convinced the universe was trying to kill me.  Between work stress (that still hasn't let up) and running crazy miles (149 for the month), I was downright exhausted all day every day.  Our weekend getaway that we have had planned since January was much needed!  Last Friday I logged a 5 mile run and then we loaded up and headed for the airport!  We arrived in Portland around 2pm and headed to The Westin to check in, drop off our bags, and then start exploring.  This was our first trip to Oregon and I must say, I fell in love.  Everything is so green!  Not to mention the temperatures were a glorious 60-70 degrees during our entire stay.  You win over a Texas girls heart with that one.  One of our first stops was to the Deschutes Brewery pub in downtown.  Being the craft beer nerds that we are, this was a must!  Texas gets several Deschutes brews around town, but luckily they had an entire menu of brews that were new to us! We ordered a flight of those #duh

Brandon insisted that a growler come home with us back to Texas.  This trip was for his birthday, so who am I to say no.

After walking all over Portland we called it a night.

Saturday was packet pick up day and more importantly we got to sleep in!  The one thing I have longed for during this entire training cycle is getting to sleep in.  It just doesn't happen anymore.  We slept in until 7:30 and let me tell you, glorious!  Packet pick up was about an hour outside of Portland so we rented a car (fun fact: it is illegal to pump your own gas in Oregon) and took an adventure to the countryside.  The drive was absolutely gorgeous (despite the rain).  Evergreen Aviation Museum hosted packet pick up and it was by far the most unique expo I've ever been to.  Such a cool place that without running, I would have never known about let alone get to visit.  

If the weather had been better, we would have made the trip out to the coast.  However, driving along the coast isn't a whole lot of fun in the rain so we ventured back to downtown Portland.  The plan for Saturday was to lay low and rest our legs a bit.  Sunday was race day and a very early one at that!    

Race day!  Our alarms went off bright and early at 4am.  The shuttle was leaving The Westin at 5:15 sharp to make the one hour journey to Stoller Vineyards, where the start line was located.  I think we were still half asleep on that bus ride:

The sun was just starting to peak when we arrived at the race site.  We talked with several runners who had also made the journey from Dallas!  Turns out, we all wanted to run in cooler weather.  Shocking I know.  This picture really doesn't do it justice but the rolling vineyards (and massive hills) would be the landscape along about 80% of the course.  Beautiful!  

We didn't have to wait around at the start line long, which was great!  The temp was about 58 degrees and felt a-mazing!  It was funny though to see a lot of the locals wearing their cold weather gear, and Brandon and I were downright giddy in our tank tops and shorts.  

Before the gun went off, I thought about what my goal was for the race.  My number one goal is to always have fun, but strategically my plan (dictated by coach) was to start off really conservative and then settle into my tempo pace for the remainder for the remainder of the race.  This race was more about controlling my pace and having a strong training run.  When the gun went off, away we went!

Miles 1-6 were packed FULL of hills.  I mean every time you finished one big climb there was another one already waiting for you.  Having reviewed the elevation chart beforehand, I expected this and knew that if I made it to mile 6 it was mostly flat and/or downhill from there.  At mile 2 I realized I was getting a little too quick so I slowed it down and ended up having to stretch a bit at mile 3.  (splits below)  
Miles 6-10 - This was where I settled into my pace and honestly it felt great.  It felt effortless.  Exactly what I had hoped for!
Miles 10-12.5 - Damn you gravel.  Damn you.  This stretch of miles was solid gravel and not just a road with a few rocks sprinkled in it, gravel.  If you've ever had knee and/or ankle issues, you can only imagine just how awful this felt.  My splits for those miles tell the whole story:

When I hit the gravel at mile 10 I tried to get through it without walking but after two miles of it my knee felt like it wanted to give out so I walked the last .5 miles of the gravel road.  I figured at this point, it was a better safe than sorry move.  Oregon wasn't my goal race, Chicago is, so that was that.  You can see at mile 12 where two minutes got tacked onto my time because of it.  I was so so upset!  Once we hit concrete again I was right back into my pace.  Eh, well.  Given the course challenges, I was happy with my time. Certainly no PR but since that wasn't the goal, no need to dwell on it.

I will gladly accept my medal and cold beer, thank you.

  Brandon tackled the course in 1:53:13 which is well off his PR time but a super speedy finish anyways!  Hope you enjoyed your birthday gift!  Seeing the world on foot is way more fun with you around.
After we cooled down a bit, it was time to do some wine tasting!  There were SO many vineyards there pouring it up and we tried a few.  So much fun!

 This was a smaller race which I am a huge fan of!  Overall the race and packet pick up was very well put together and went off without a hitch.  If I did have one piece of feedback, it would be to offer more substantial post race food.  I didn't even see a banana!?  

The setting of the course was gorgeous, and the post race party was a blast.  Looking forward to doing another race in the Destination Races series!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

157 Miles in July!

I wrapped up July training today with a 10 mile tempo set.   1 mile warm up - 8 mile tempo at 9:40-9:45 pace - 1 mile cool down.
Mile 5 I had to wrestle a packet of GU out my hydration belt (always fun) so I made up the time on mile 6 to make sure it averaged out.  We had a crazy thunderstorm roll through last night which meant I got maybe 3 hours of sleep and the aftermath of the storm left a cooler temperature, but 94% humidity.  I'm so over the humidity.  Over it.  Regardless, this was a fight from start-to-finish so I'm happy with the results!

After uploading my data I got the grand total for July - 157 miles!  Me?  Run 157 miles in one month?  Holy shnikes.  My thoughts on that real quick...

  1. Ouch.
  2. If you had told me 6 months ago that I'd be running 157 miles in one month, I would have told you to stick that thought where the sun don't shine.
  3. Your body really is capable of so much more if you're willing to push yourself.
  4. Running 5 days per week has resulted in me slacking heavily on my strength training, which I hate.  The fatigue from the mileage hit me like a ton of bricks these last two weeks, and my body literally craved sleep.  So I listened and slept in on rest days and treated them as true rest days. Still working on trying to find that balance.
  5. Ice is my friend.
  6. My knees have always been my nemesis during training, no matter how many miles I run.  Obviously with this high mileage they are pretty peeved but are getting a lot of love via ice, stretching, and regular visits to the chiro.
  7. My husband sees me more in sweaty disgusting running clothes than he does in anything else.  And he still loves me.  He's a keeper.
  8. Speaking of my husband, I should send him back to school to be a chiropractor, we'd end up saving a TON of money on doctors visits.  Hmmmmmmm... 
  9. I want to eat food and lots of it.  LOTS of it.
  10. If money wasn't a factor, I'd hire a masseuse to live at my house during training.  Seriously, foam rolling is practically a second workout.  

  Despite the aches and pains that come with high mileage, I am loving it!  We are a little over two months away from Chicago and training is going to keep getting more intense.  I think I can...I think I can...I think I can....

Monday, July 21, 2014

Progress not perfection.

Last week was rough, really really rough.  Physically and mentally I was drained.  We had a horrible storm roll through on Thursday which meant I had to miss my tempo run.  There was no way I could handle doing that on the treadmill.  Me being the "must stick to the schedule" person that I am kind of freaked out over it.  After realizing that I was ten weeks into training and hadn't missed a single run yet, I cut myself some slack.  Life happens.  Everything from the waist down was achy so I took the storm as a bit of divine intervention and took a rest day.  Since I had a long run on Saturday, coach said to not worry about the tempo and instead tack on a couple of extra miles to the long run and enjoy an extra day of rest.  Done and done.  My workouts have been progressing nicely and coach said that this week we were going to tinker with moving me up to the next tier of pacing, which I was super excited about!  Until I saw the paces.....

After a rough week I honestly had zero confidence in my ability to hit the paces for my speed work today.  The Pyramid workout was something new to me and it went a little something like this:

1 mile warm up
1 mile cool down
(7.5 miles total with a 400m recovery in between each set)

It was hard...wayyyyyyy harder than I expected.  (The hearty steak dinner I ate the night before certainly didn't help the cause.)   Coach assigned me a target pace of 8:25 and low and behold I did it!  The 1600m segment was a few seconds slower but hey, that was no easy task.  A month ago he had me do a series of 800's to determine what my training paces would be.  He told me to put 100% effort into those 800's to gauge where I was at.  I pulled those numbers today and was super excited to see how much progress has been made in just a month.

On June 18th my 800's ranged from an 8:42 - 8:52 pace.  Today my 800's paces were both at 8:28!  Keeping in mind this was during a workout that was full of longer segments both before and after the 800's.  I'm really happy with that!  I'm curious to see how I would fare if I did another round of purely 800's (so I could really go all out) and see where I would end up.  I'm sure that will be on the schedule at some point!  It's always nice to step back and see how far you've come instead of how far you have to go.    Every bit of progress should be celebrated!  I'll never qualify for the Olympics by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm really happy with the progress I've seen and it's the motivation I need to "keep crankin'" as coach says.       

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Training Update: Week 10

Back in May when I signed up for coaching under the Hanson's team I knew it was going to be challenging and something above and beyond what I've ever done before.  When I wrote the title "Training Update: Week 10" I sat there and stared at it for a minute.  10 weeks already??  More importantly I have survived this for 10 friggin weeks?!  As I've stated before, I started this training cycle completely from scratch.  Spring 2014 I took a few months off and only ran for recreational fun here and there.  Week 1 of training was simply to develop a routine, there were no paces to hit, only easy paced runs.  It looked like this:

15 total miles for the week and running 4 days per week.  A few weeks into training we started introducing structured speed workouts, tempo runs, etc.  In all my years this is something I've never pushed myself to do.  Why?  I was uncomfortable.  I didn't really understand it all and I especially didn't understand the benefits so I just didn't do it. I'm not comfortable doing things I don't fully understand.  I think we're all guilty of this in some form or fashion right?  Over the last 9 weeks I have learned to be fully OK with being uncomfortable.  Every Monday I wake up, load my workout onto my Garmin and head out the door to tackle a speed workout.  These workouts have ranged from 200's repeats to 1200's repeats but the one thing they all have in common:  they all kick my ass.  Speed was something I kind of dismissed as "not for me".  Over the years yes, I have gradually gotten faster but it was nothing I ever focused on because I simply had accepted the notion that I was ok being a mid-pack runner.  Don't get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it, I repeat, NOTHING wrong with it.  I just didn't think I, Lindsay - little ol' me, could be any faster.  Low and behold though I have learned to LOVE my speed sessions.  They are such a huge challenge for me and admittedly the first couple I was terrified.  I was scared that I wouldn't be able to even finish it or that I wouldn't be able to hit the paces coach assigned.  As we entered week 10 of training I tackled what was undoubtedly my hardest workout to date, a 1200's workout.  After eating and drinking whatever I wanted over the 4th of July holiday it was pure punishment. (80 degree temp and 88% humidity doesn't help either)  In fact, I almost puked twice but I slowed the pace to a walk on my 400 recovery and kept on pushing during those 1200's.  Not only did I finish this workout, but I nailed my paces assigned to me!  Major victory for me physically but more importantly mentally.

In addition to weekly speed work, my mileage has reached a level it never has before.  In June I finished the month with 110 miles logged, which I know is a record for me.  Weekly mileage during week 1 was 15 miles, and last week (week 9) I ended that week at 33 miles logged.

Week 9

Let me put this into perspective, 30+ miles used to be my PEAK weeks for marathon training.  And by week(s) I mean I only had two maybe three that hit that level.  So here we are, not even halfway through training and every single week is now 30+. Over the weekend coach emailed me my training calendar for the next two weeks and said "You're going to start feeling some fatigue now".  LOL.  Now?!?  I got a good laugh out of that.  Ok bub, I'm a little ahead of schedule on that fatigue thing but thanks for the heads up. July is on schedule to have me enter 40+ mile weeks.  I've never gone over 40 before and in my previous marathons, I only had one week at 40 miles each time.  So uh, I'm about to start getting really uncomfortable!  Bring.  It.  On.

It has been tiring, stressful at times, and painful.  I spend quality time with my foam roller each and every day and take my Nighttime Recovery every night.  Those two things are what I'm convinced have helped me to keep trucking forward.  Focusing on my recovery has been a HUGE area of focus this time around.  Yes, it adds even more time to my morning and nighttime routine but it's critical.  Three things I am really focusing on in the weeks ahead:

1) Nutrition - all of these miles means I need to eat more which is actually harder to do than it seems.
2) Form - I have started to work on lifting my knees just a tad extra (like an inch) during my runs to keep from over-extending my knees.  So far so good!
3) Recovery - I've dedicated a ton of time to this so far, and more is going to be needed in the weeks ahead.     

I entered week 10 with a lot more confidence and desire to keep pushing.  Over the last 9 weeks I have learned what it's like to push myself beyond what I thought I could ever do.  I have overcome hurdle and after hurdle both mentally and physically and it hasn't been easy.  Becoming uncomfortable has become the new norm!

This post is simply to say and hopefully encourage you to get out of your own damn way!  You can do anything you want to and the only thing holding you back, is you.  Great things really do happen once you step outside your comfort zone - I fully believe it now.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Training Update: Week 8

Oh, hey there blog...good to see you again.  I've severely neglected the blog for no good reason except that I've been just plain busy.  I knew that hiring a coach and really pushing my limits was going to be challenging, but it has also proven to be downright exhausting.

My last post (here) was at week 3 of training where coach and I were really just working on feeling out where I was at exactly, and starting to build a solid base.  A few notes/updates on things I mentioned in that last post:

1) Shoes...shoes shoes shoes.  Switching shoes is not an easy thing.  It's something that most people don't realize until it's too late.  I knew what I was getting into when going to an 8mm shoe vs what I was used to running in and was prepared for a few side effects.  After over a month of fighting my way through shin splints from hell, I opted to go back to my tried and true Brooks Ghost.  As soon as I took a run in a shiny new pair of Ghost 7's, my feet felt like they were home again.  Dear Brooks, I will never cheat on you again. XOXO

2) I had my blood work done and I'll take this opportunity here again to say, it is so so important to have this done.  Not just for runners, but we aren't getting any younger folks.  Making sure everything looks good on the inside is 1000x more important than looking good in that swimsuit.  I'm sure every doc does it different, but for runners make sure to ask that an Iron count is included in the standard blood panel.  Sometimes it isn't, as was the case with my doc but I knew to ask.  I feel like I can't preach about it without giving my own results, so here ya go:

The results of your recent tests are explained below:
Kidney Tests: Good -- no changes needed
Electrolytes: Good -- no changes needed
Liver Tests: Good -- no changes needed
Diabetic Tests: Blood Glucose (Sugar) Normal. No evidence of Diabetes
   Blood Glucose: 79 (05/16/2014)
Lipid Studies: Excellent
   Cholesterol: 145 (05/16/2014)
   Triglyceride Total: 119 (05/16/2014)
   LDL: 54 (05/16/2014)
   HDL: 67 (05/16/2014)
Thyroid Function: Normal
Complete Blood Count:  Normal.
 Iron: Normal
Comments: Your lab work looks incredibly healthy.    <----That comment from the doctor is like getting the Shining Star award in grade school.  (Minus the certificate and an awful outfit with poofy bangs.)  While there's no certificate I do have evidence of the awful outfit, poofy bangs, and an awesome power drill for extra cred.  I'll just let this sink in for a few....  

#whatyouknowaboutthat #neverafashionista #tomboy #purplejorts #winning

3) Today marks week 8 (of an initial 24 week plan) and things have gotten real y'all.  During base building my weeks were about 15-18 miles total mileage for the week and now in week 8 we are crossing over into the 30's for total weekly mileage.  As I predicted in that last post, I'm now running 5 days per week.  So when you combine that with my strength training schedule, I only have 1 true rest day per week.  Luckily, it's on Friday's which is when I like to have it.

Each week has included a form of speed-work and much to my surprise I've come to really enjoy these workouts.  It's so nice to log miles in a way that really challenges you and keeps things interesting!  Last week was a set of 800's  which if you're familiar with the Yasso 800's theory you understand the significance.   Long story short, 800's can be used as a guideline/predictor for what you can run a full or half marathon in.  Do I think they're totally accurate?  Eh.  No.  But in my case for example, when you take the results of the 800's combined with the results of all the other workouts I've been doing, then you can really build an accurate time prediction.  Luckily, all my results point to the time goal that I have in my head so I'm pretty stoked!  There is still a ton of work to do to get there obviously, but knowing you're on the right path is so encouraging.  This was me super happy after my 800's workout and fighting the urge to want to puke.  This whole 90% humidity thing is an ass-whoopin.

This past Saturday was the first official day of Summer, which really means nothing in Texas.  It's already hot, humid, and miserable by the time "Summer" gets here.  Brandon and I celebrated this monumental occasion with a trip to the lake and knocked out 9 miles.  I ran 8 (which is what was scheduled) and walked one.  It was a cool crisp 80 degrees out at 6am, but Mother Nature did us a solid with some extra cloud coverage. Training in the summer can be brutal, but we look forward to it because afterwards we treat ourselves to breakfast!  We tried Fuzzy's Taco's for the first time and um, why haven't we done that sooner?!  Yum!   Good breakfast tacos, cold beer, and some tunes you can groove to on the patio at 9am?  Yes please.  Treat yo'self!
He's the best :)
The first workout of week 8 consisted of 6.5 miles total this morning with 4.5 of that being 600's intervals that just about killed me.  The last mile the sky completely fell out and I'm not talking drizzle, I'm talking a complete instant downpour with raindrops that actually hurt when they hit your face.  Luckily, I was done with intervals piece so I made my way back to the house to complete the cool down on the treadmill.  I.  Was.  Drenched.
Fo'shizzle that was no drizzle.
 So, here we are 16 weeks out from Chicago and I'm feeling pretty good.  It hasn't all been gummy bears and rainbows so far with training, but that's just how it goes.  Looking forward to the weeks ahead as the heat kicks up, the weekly mileage gets into the 40's and 50's, and I will do everything I can to avoid any hangry outbursts.