YOUR TRAINING IS A PUZZLE- & YOU ONLY SUCCEED WHEN YOU FIGURE IT OUT

Basically- that is the longest blog title ever. But it's so true. Your body/your training are unique to you. And in order to get the max out of yourself- you (or a coach you're training with) have to figure out what works for you. Until you do, you may be working against your body, causing yourself to regress, getting injured, or just frustrating yourself by not improving.


SO HOW DO YOU FIGURE OUT THIS TRAINING PUZZLE?

1. Listen to your body. MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN TAKE OUT OF TRAINING. Be body intuitive. Listen to your body. You know your body more than any training plan does. Your training plan may not know about that poor night of sleep you had- or how that last week of training took a little too much out of you and your legs feel like lead- but you know this- and you can listen to what is going on with your body and respond to it.

2. High Mileage v. Low Mileage. Honestly - this is something best assessed with your coach (ESPECIALLY IF YOU'RE A GREEN RUNNER). High mileage should really only be attempted if you have been running for quite a while, have built up a base and been running comfortably at that base, and have adequate time for the recovery necessary for high mileage. That being said, you can get faster on low mileage. I have found this out over the last year.  All the mileage in the world does not matter if you aren't able to get in there and get some fast miles. If you're too tired from all the miles you're running, you're probably not able to run really fast on your speed days- and that (I believe) is how you get faster.

3. Recovery. Everyone's recovery and what they need is different. Don't go by what works for someone else. Make your recovery specific to you. How many hours of sleep you need, the amount of days between your workouts, etc. EVERYONE RECOVERS AT A DIFFERENT PACE. So don't compare what you need to recover to what someone else seems to get by with.

4. Speed. Speed/tempo is the only way you're gonna get faster, y'all. But if you're tired from too hard of training or too much training for what you're able to handle, then you won't be able to run fast and ever tap into that speed. THIS IS KEY. Training is basically a balance between running your hardest workouts, recovery, and then feeling fresh enough to do it all again. That's how you improve. I didn't really understand this until this last year- it's a simple formula really. And it's a formula you want to use to your benefit. Get the most out of yourself by starting out your workouts recovered from your last workouts, and ready to hit some serious speed. That being said- if I'm feeling flat or unusually fatigued at my second workout of the week, I'll back it down the next week and just do one workout until I feel like I have my legs underneath me again and am running like myself.

5. Make Easy, EASYYYY. So you run hard on speed day, what do you do the next day? RUN EASY. Active Recovery. Listen to your body and run as SLOW as you need to. No shame in my game, y'all. (I qualified for Boston my first time by legit running slower than 10 minute miles on the treadmill 4 days a week and running one long run a week at Lake Miramar and finishing it fast. I was able to run my longer runs harder and qualify for Boston on not a lot of miles or that much speed, because the rest of the time was easy peasy.) Your recovery pace should be about 2 minutes slower than your half marathon pace (this isn't an exact number - but can be used to help you reign yourself back and keep it easy). If you're working hard every single workout, and pushing every workout, you're showing up for the days when you really need to work with less to give- basically defeating the whole purpose of that workout date. Maximize your results on speed/tempo days by taking the other days easy. Just listen to your body- if it's dragging the day after a hard run- let it- just run easy and get those legs moving. It's still working your systems- but not taxing them unnecessarily. I'm the QUEEN of easy running- and still do a majority of my runs at 9:30 pace- but it has let me run much harder on my speed & tempo days. I know I would show up with less to give on speed days if I was set on running a harder pace for me on my easy days.

6. How many workouts a week??! This is another "listen to your body" item. But really. Start at one. And then stay there for awhile- see how you're doing with that one and once you feel like you're on firm ground with that- you can add another. You CAN improve with just one hard workout a week. So especially if you're just starting- just stick with one hard workout- and make it a good one. Once you get acclimated to the load you've taken on, you can add more to it. But ACCLIMITIZATION is KEYYY! If you're not acclimatizing, you're drowning. (Hello, Boston Training for me!) The point of training is not to literally drown yourself in the workload you're taking on. Sure, it should feel hard. But it should be doable- because there is a structure in place to tax the system- and then recover and built it back up in time to tax it again. If you're taxing it to a breaking point, you've gone over the line- and it's too much! And you won't improve. You'll probably take steps back in the progress you've already made. And who wants that?! The point in working harder is not to get slower, right?? (Guys- THIS IS VERY POSSIBLE hahah.)

7. The key is work as hard as you can & recover as hard as you can! Training is all about riding that line of how much you can add to the workload (to facilitate improvement) without breaking. How hard can you push your workouts? How much time do you need in between before you can do another hard workouts? These are all the questions that you can only determine from trial & error. 

Some of my favorite people to discuss running & training with!!!! 

8. Talk to people. I have learned so much by talking to people and learning about their training. There is wisdom in a multitude of counselors (Proverbs is right!) I love hearing about what has worked for people and their take on training. It's crazy how there are a million ways to get faster. And what works for one person, may not work for you- which is why there are like hundreds if not thousands of run training plans out there. But I love hearing the different journeys because maybe something in there will be just that piece of the puzzle that I'm missing in my journey to getting the most out of myself.

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Sadlyyyyy, I am sick post- SD HALF. Gah. It's only frustrating because I feel like my training for this entire season has been interrupted SO many times by being sick. All I can do is what I can do: sleep, eat well, try to rest, gave myself a break from running these last two days, etc. Trusting God that my immune system pulls out of this weird slump it's been in. I decided to skip speed (hahah, "decided" as if I had a choice in the matter and that a "speed" workout wouldn't look like a power walk) this week- because I was feeling SO ill. And at this point, I have pushed off tempo to Sunday to give me one extra day to recover. I'm just chomping at the bit over here to get on to 5k specific workouts for Carlsbad on April 2nd... but ya know- they say Patience is a virtue. ;-)

Hope you got out there & got to run- and I hope it was REALLY great.

HOW TO BE A RUNNING GOALDIGGER

I wrote this blog post for the San Diego Track Club & wanted to share on my blog too! ;-) Setting goals is basically my favorite thing & such a great way to propel your running forward. Enjoy!!!

So you’ve been running for a while, and loving it. But maybe you’re not seeing the improvement you’ve hoped for as you’ve been running. Maybe you’ve been stuck at the same level for a while- and you have been wanting to go to another level. Well- there’s hope! That’s probably the most exciting thing about running- anyone can improve. If my husband can go from running a 4:10 first marathon to a 2:23 marathon- then you hitting that 5k goal doesn’t sound so wild. You just have to set some goals and put yourself in the position to start hitting them.

my new goal: make my form look like this ... at the END of a race.

Here’s how to get from Point A to Point B (literally & figuratively):

1.     Spend some time evaluating where you are now- and where you would like to be. Sometimes it helps to talk to a friend/mentor- they can see you and your fitness better than you can at times and they can push you further than you thought possible.

2.     Set tangible goals. You know those goals that are so lofty and vague that there is no tangible way to measure the results (i.e. I would like to be as fast as Meb). Yah- let’s not do that. The best way to be successful in accomplishing goals is actually setting ones that you can measure success and that are within reach (i.e. I would like to run a 3:14 marathon).

3.     Figure out how to get from Point A to Point B. What good are goals if you don’t have an action plan to get you there. Get with a coach/mentor and have them help you figure out what you need to be doing to push past any plateaus and start making new gains- in distance or speed.

4.     Commit to a schedule. It’s not enough to have good intentions and a lot of positive thinking. If it was, I would just be sitting on the couch eating Krispy Kremes dreaming myself thin & a gold medal Olympian marathoner. At some point, you have to buy in to the goal and really commit to getting there. How are you going to make this plan a reality? What are you willing to do/give up/facilitate in order for this to happen?

5.     Get outside your comfort zone. You won’t be hitting new and crazy goals by doing exactly what you have been doing for years. Mix it up, baby.

outside my comfort zone?? doing hard workouts with my girls!!

outside my comfort zone?? doing hard workouts with my girls!!

6.     Get mentored. Don’t be afraid to make yourself accountable to someone. All the elites have coaches and mentors- and they have the discipline of a Tibetan monk- so what makes you think you will be successful in reaching your goal if you are out there going rogue.

Tyler is the best mentor/coach/sports psychologist/listener/etc. Everyone needs someone like this to help them weather the ups and downs in their running!

7.     Set a deadline. When is this goal going to happen? By putting a deadline on it, you create the urgency and the need to be accountable and faithful to the process to make this goal a reality.

8.     Trust the process. There will be amazing days- where you are on top of the world (Is it possible that I may accidentally in my goal marathon qualify for the Olympic Trials?) and days when you think that your speed workout resembles powerwalking at a retirement home. Don’t give up on your goals and things you have committed to because of some bad days. Regroup and stay positive. Everyone has off days.

9.     Write this goal everywhere. Or tattoo it on your body (just kidding). But seriously- see the goal. Have it be something you wake up to and go to bed to. It needs to be so engrained in your consciousness. Tell people about it- let them be on your team supporting you to reach this goal.

I have been setting goals in my running and it has paid off in huge ways. I have enjoyed my running more and have been able to see myself hitting big goals that I wasn’t sure were possible. I have some new big goals - and I can’t wait to make them a reality. Hope you set some crazy goals for the year and commit in the day to day to making them happen!

 

RECOVERY- basically the most important thing ever.

Soooooo.. because I always choose to learn things the HARD way, I wanted to write a post on Recovery. Recovery, as I have come to realize- is THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF TRAINING. Could it be even more important than the training itself?! Maybe! Haha.

When I was training for Boston, I got up to 80 miles a week for 5 weeks in a row. This was on basically no sleep- and with ZERO regard to how my body was handling the work. No matter how I felt, I did what my workout was supposed to be. I overrode every single fatigue red flag- blazed full force ahead, delusionally thought that my hard work could somehow come together (even though I was barely hitting my MP runs on a downhill road with taking breaks- UGHHH!), and was the most surprised person in the world when Boston ended up being a complete and emotionally tragic DISASTER.

pre- carnage!

Luckily, I'm emotionally and physically removed from the carnage of that race and training leading up to it. Having a more objective perspective and the time between it made me realize some VERY important things:

1. If you're not recovering, YOU'RE NOT IMPROVING. It's really as simple as that, folks. Forget all those fancy, hard workouts. If you're not taking the time after them to recover- they are literally meaningless. (Or for me, post-Boston- worse than meaningless, they set me back hardcore.)  Have the desire to improve- but just as greatly as you desire to improve, FACILITATE recovery. Make your hard work actually count for something. A warning sign that your body is not assimilating the work is that you're regressing. Your body talks to you in training. If you are feeling slow or flat or more fatigued than normal, PLEASE LISTEN TO IT. The goal is to work WITH your body, not against it. The whole mantra of "sleep when I'm dead" and the most successful people don't sleep is a dead ideology. We need rest and recovery.

2. Always be willing to reassess your current training. Gosh- there are SO many stressors and outside variables that can impact training. One too many of those variables (e.g. lack of sleep, emotional stress, work stress, etc)- and you're overloaded and not responding well to your training. It's so important to take note of them- to realize when your body is overloaded- and either ease up on training, or eliminate that stressor. Your body and your performance is affected by not only your training- but by the 23 other hours in your day that affect it. Remember that. Don't try to tough things out- or not connect the dots. Your training and performance is not buffered from the remainder of your life (unfortunately, right).

3. It's ok to do LESS. I come from a "more is more" type of mentality. Everything I do is a LITTLE extreme, a LITTLE too much. It doesn't help that my hard work ethic was bred in academics- where for the Bar exam you REALLY couldn't study enough for it. It's almost impossible to study too much. So apply that to running?? My thought was- the more miles, the better. Sign of a green runner- they run too much and are foolishly optimistic that they won't fall apart or succumb to injury or fatigue. After Boston, I was shocked into realizing 1. I wasn't invincible, 2. Fatigue is real and should be avoided at all costs. I was so worried about recovering quickly from the fatigue hole I got myself into and also safeguarding it from happening again. Instead of running everyday with doubles most days, I held back the reins and limited my running to 5 days a week- a restriction still implemented almost 2 years later. Hard work and lots of miles is AWESOME if you 1. are ready for it - i.e. your training history has made the new level of training a natural consistent progression for you and 2. if you have the proper recovery techniques in place to help that training count.

4. You don't have to do ALL THE WORKOUTS to improve. The workouts are what get you faster. It's really hard to get faster without the workouts (like speed or tempo) to get you there.  With my 5 runs a week, I have 2 workouts (speed & tempo) in there. That being said, when I'm feeling overloaded with fatigued, I'll drop back to just one workout per week. You can improve on just ONE workout a week- maybe more workouts is preferred/or ideal for you- but if you are noticing you aren't feeling like yourself/or feeling flat, try cutting back on one of your hard workouts and replace it with another easy run or an extra rest day. This is why it's so important to pay attention to how your body is responding to workouts and be flexible enough to change things around to allow your body the recovery it needs to get back on track.

So how to recover best??!

1. SLEEP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I could probably end this category with that one. Sleep is the NUMBER ONE MORE IMPORTANT KEY TO RECOVERY. Do not underestimate it. Don't put it on the backburner. Don't think that you can fake it with your running on poor sleep. I mean, you may be able to for a short time, but sleep is a pied piper, and you will pay. The lack of sleep WILL catch up to you and your performance. I was sleeping like 4-5 hours a night when I was Boston Training (aka drunk in love newly dating Tyler) and that on top of the most mileage I have ever done was an epic recipe for a complete disaster. Now, more than ever, I'm convinced that Sleep is the secret factor to take your running to the next level.  Prioritize sleep- the new iphones have the feature to set a reminder on your phone when to head to bed. Put things in place, like that, that can enable you to meet those sleep & recovery goals.

2. Nutrition. Isn't it great that you literally can eat in a way that helps your body to heal/recover better? I focus on clean eating and anti-inflammatory foods. First thing after my run, I make a huge shake of protein, tons of veggies, and cinnamon & turmeric. It may not look or taste like the most amazing thing - but I know how good it is for me- and it helps me hit my goals of getting more veggies in. Plus those veggies fill me up so I'm not looking for some poorer quality filler foods after I'm starving after a run. ;-)

3. Rolling out/Stretching/Yoga/Sauna. There are so many ways to aid in recovery- these are all some of my favorite methods. After a workout, I'll hop in the sauna and help my body detox (and bonus- it keeps your heart rate high post run so it conditions your heart aerobically while you're just sitting there and sweating!). I try to be proactive about rolling out - especially after a hard workout. I'm honestly not PERFECT at this and I can be a lot more diligent and religious about rolling- but that's something I am starting to work on. Yoga and stretching are excellent ways to keep your muscles feeling good and not neglect any areas that may need some extra attention.

I hope when you recognize that you may be in need of some extra recovery- that you are secure/confident enough in your running- and in the importance and benefits of recovery- that you can pull the reins back, and let your body get back to its baseline so you can keep on improving. While it has been the HARDEST/most emotional lesson I have learned- and a lesson paid at a high price (basically 2 years of poor running/no improvement), at least I learned it right. And it has made me a LOT more cautious and focused on recovery than if I hadn't have been burned by overtraining. RECOVERY IS EVERYTHINGGGGG.

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So speaking of Recovery- that's basically what I'm doing now on the couch on Saturday- post-workout, watching the Tokyo Marathon- that I did last year (sadly still coming back from overtraining so it was nothing to write home about). I had my best tempo workout and am feeling SO positive about getting to do 2 more workouts before SD Half. I want to see if I can gain any more ground to try and PR at SD Half. 2 weeks, baby!!!!

We set out to do 5 miles at 6:57 pace. And first mile Christine took off and I hit the first mile at 6:35 (eek). I was like oh gosh- I cannot make this a 2 mile tempo workout instead of 5- I need to hang back a bit. I think seeing the average pace we were hitting on my watch stressed me out/scared me- and I was worried I was going to blow up. But I kept pep talking myself- I WAS fine - I wasn't blowing up- I wasn't THAT fatigued- so I made myself keep going and try to stay relaxed into it. Sham and I did a 5 mile tempo at 7:05 2 weeks ago and I was pushing hard at the end- but today felt a ton more relaxed during most of the tempo- and only felt hard towards the end/hard part of the loop. It's so crazy how your mind can tell you, you probably can't do something- and it makes you want to give up. But when I checked in with how I was physically doing- I wasn't really hurting- I honestly just didn't want to do it- because it was hard work- but that's definitely not reason enough to cut my tempo short. I did 5 miles at 6:51 avg pace - my current 10k pace is 6:50- so I'm just so surprised and thankful to have had a good workout- and there is clearly some fitness there that I need to be pushing myself to. Now I'm going to make myself a veggie smoothie and stay on my recovery ;-)

Hope you get out and get a good run!

RUNNING THE ISLAND

Just got back from the best week in Kona with Linds. We went there in 2013 to celebrate New Years- and had the best time- and when she asked me to head back over with her- it took me NO TIME to say - YES PLEASE!!! We decided it would be our KONA TRAINING CAMP since we are both doing the San Diego Half Marathon on March 12th (*cue the stomach race butterflies*). Since I have been dealing with some health issues of late (over the course of a month, I had the flu, a cold, and then some gallbladder issues), I thought that getting some Vitamin D, relaxation, and just happy time with Linds would be SO good for my physical and emotional health. And since we are both training for the race, it makes it easy to say yes because I don't have to worry about having to fit workouts in: it was a priority for us. Ideal!

I had scheduled for us to fly out on Sunday morning to get one last tempo before I got to Kona- because for me travel/vacations are no workout zones - just running. Keeps me from stressing myself out. Of COURSE it is pouring rain- and normally I would just do a speed workout on the treadmill, but since I was literally staying in town to do tempo (and go to Valentine's dinner with my husband) I forced myself to get wet. HA. Luckily Sham wasn't afraid of a little water- and of course it was SO great to have her out there working with me. I've been pretty used to doing tempos alone (sometimes the guys I run with are in view for the beginning of the tempo) and working EXTRA hard at the end to keep myself on pace. It was a welcome relief to be working with Sham and to have help towards the end of a workout when things start getting ugly.  I have isolated myself in workouts for a REALLY long time- so I'm really trying to do more workouts with people- I think it's a good change for me!

so fast the picture is blurry, right?!

so fast the picture is blurry, right?!

We did 5 miles at 7:05- soaking wet - but happy the workout was over.

Tyler and I got in an amazing dinner that night at Brooklyn Girl to celebrate Valentine's. And then I was off to Hawaii.

I have wanted to begin incorporating spinning on Sundays (instead of just doing a Kayla Itsines BBG workout). So once we got to Kona, Linds and I decided to do a sunset spin. The views spinning there were out of this world. I hadn't cycled since forever- literally years- so it was good to do it again. I have these two expensive Felt Tri bikes that I have used a combined total of like 10 times (no exaggeration) so I'm hoping to set them up on my trainer at home and start SUNDAY SPIN (aka validate myself for spending all my money on tri stuff but not using it for all these years). Not going to lie- it felt horribly hard at first. Especially since it was a recumbent bike- so my legs were literally isolated and having to work. After awhile on the bike, I started to really enjoy it though- so I predict great things for my Sunday Spin. ;-)

OUR VIEW FROM SPINNING = PHENOMENALLLL

We had the chance to hike down to Pololu Valley- umm BEAUTIFUL. I wish this was my weekly hike. ;-)

I love a vacation that involves a lot of walking, hiking, sun, running- and this was PERFECT for that. We got in all those things and then some.

We even got a long run in while in Hawaii. My original plan was just to do 10 or 12... then I slowly talked myself into 14. And good thing I did- I haven't done that distance in almost 3 months. It was MEGA hot and sunny and just definitely not my ideal running temp (which falls in between 60-62 degrees, no humidity, cloud cover, etc.). But I decided to set out and just do an out and back- that way once I was 7 miles out, I didn't have a choice but to actually run the full 14. What a great feeling having done my 14 on the Queen K in hot, hilly conditions- I kept thinking during my run- the conditions will be a lot better for the SD Half!

end of the run by the ocean = reward for those hot lava rock miles

I've been really realizing that what I'm lacking for now is consistent, steady running. I know that the piece of the puzzle that I need to work on is the longer stuff, since I think I've been doing a good thing really trying to maximize finding any speed that I may have (hidden deep inside). But if I don't put the strength to work with the speed, then it's all pointless, right? So I'm doing my best to really force myself to do the longer, more sustained stuff. I'm doing a longer tempo this weekend- just 2 more longer tempos before my Half.

Based on these last couple workouts (speed & tempos), I'm feeling a LOT more hopeful and excited for the SD Half (just 17 days away). I'm looking at my workouts and thinking- how do I maximize the time I have left and make these workouts count for something. Just gonna keep running away and see what I can pull off at SD Half- either way, I'm setting myself up for a great season with these last few weeks as a base. ;-)

 

I SURVIVEDDDD & I'm Back!

In case you were wondering...I survived planning a wedding (while working, and running, and doing a bunch of races, and having a basically long distance relationship - I count 45 miles apart as “long distance” ;-) The blog obviously (and sadly) took a necessary backseat while I tried to do my balancing act before the wedding.  I may have neglected the most important elements of wedding planning until the week before, but for the most part, I got all my daily runs in (missed some key weekend workouts- but c'est la vie)  I come back to the blogosphere a married woman (still haven't legally changed my name, and there may be problems with our marriage license, so at this time mostly emotionally & spiritually married, but I'll take it!) I married the cutest/fastest guy I know in the hopes that his speed & kindness may rub off on me. 

I now pronounce you husband & wife. Meet the RUNDERWOODDSSS. 

We had the best honeymoon in Southeast Asia. I came into it with a flu (seriously - all that wedding planning/life stress will catch up to you at some point- and for me it did 2 days out from our magical day)- but I recovered by seeing all of the beautiful sites in Vietnam...

Hanoiiii!!!- thank you for the amazing intro to Southeast Asia!!! We loved you!

can't handle the beauty that is Halong Bay. a beauty so disorienting that I do the weirdest poses to try & compete. 

Halong bay is easily one of the most magical/beautiful places I've been to. 

Then we bopped over to Siem Reap, Cambodia. WOW is all I can say. It was SO hot there- and we spent our time outside exploring tons of different ancient temples constructed in the 12th century and discovered by the French randomly in the jungle last century. Isn't that nuts?! They were all so exquisite and detailed- pretty impressive. We really loved Cambodia- the food, people, and gorgeous scenery make it a must-visit!

such a gorgeous, hot day exploring all over Angkor Wat, Cambodia- with the guy who puts up with just about any pose I make him do. #husbandsofinstagram

such a gorgeous, hot day exploring all over Angkor Wat, Cambodia- with the guy who puts up with just about any pose I make him do. #husbandsofinstagram

Sunset at Angkor Wat = MAGICCCCC. 

We headed back down to Phuket, Thailand. Did I mention that we got 2 hour Thai massages almost every day? Talk about recovering well from a run. I felt like a pro being pampered pretty much every afternoon!

THREE'S COMPANY!!! Kayaking around Phang Nga,Thailand. 

My philosophy for traveling and running is- just run for fun. I do my daily runs (7 miles) but I don't ever force myself to do a speed or tempo workout. There are WAY too many variables that can make a workout not go according to plan- and instead of setting myself up for failure, I choose to just enjoy the runs, enjoy the time off from having to do serious workouts, and to run without any expectations. WAYYY too many times I have gone out for a run after lots of air travel and my legs have felt like 1,000 pounds- I'm pretty used to it now- but having no expectations during travel is the way to go for me! (Wish I realized this before 2 goal marathons overseas. You live & learn! ;-)

Patong Beach in beautiful Thailand!

We found some nice areas to run in while in Southeast Asia- it's nice when you have a couple days in an area so you can get into a routine and know where you are running. It is definitely work though to run while you're traveling- because you don't have the luxury of knowing where a good route to run is - and some of our runs were spent dodging tourists and in too much heat. But all that aside- what a cool sport that you can literally pick up and do any & everywhere! 

Towards the end of our trip, I became pretty ill.  Of course, Tyler and I got sick at the same time (different illnesses though) ANDDDDD it was tropical storming for 2 days. At least, to be sick and lay on the beach would have been good. But we made the best of it and still managed to have fun together/survive our illnesses. HAHA. In sickness and in health, right?!

After being super sick, I finally felt decent enough to leave & it was pouring rainnn. 

Coming back from our trip, I just wanted to get better & I was thankful to be back in the states. It is always pretty scary to be sick when you're not at home in case you need medical care.  We came back and I got back to running- but ended up getting a cold so - needless to say, it's been a pretty interrupted training season. My immune system has really taken a beating. 

But all that to say- I'M BACK! I count it a win continuing to run through wedding planning/honeymoon/and being sick (multiple times). I have been having to fight moments of feeling really frustrated that I have not made greater headway with speed workouts/or felt like I was at a higher level of fitness. I was so excited this fall to feel like I was making big strides, so I was just hoping that this season wouldn't have me losing too much fitness & speed.  But wedding planning and honeymooning is not for the faint of heart. Haha.  Even if I am not where I wanted to be now- 4 weeks out from SD Half, life happened and I’ll still do everything I can do to make it a great race. I’m determined to make it the best year I’ve had yet- my fastest, most fulfilling, most married year. haha. 

This last weekend I had my first real workout back and it went really well. It's crazy how having a good workout can really turn everything around in your mind. Because it went so well- I actually think I can get SOME type of PR at SD Half since my fitness seems to be pretty intact.  And if I think I can get any type of PR, I'm gonna work my little butt off to see if I can make that happen. So yah- challenge accepted. I may not have had the most perfect leadup- but I'll work with the time I have to maximize it. Let's do this. ;-)

SAN JOSE HALF MARATHON & A SURPRISE PR

GUYS! So I signed up for this race right after coming back from Lululemon- and mostly because I wanted to go up and support Tyler in the race. I was just planning on doing the 5k until I realized it was the day before the half- and we weren't going to be up in San Jose in time. So i signed up for the half marathon. (The amazing Savannah got me a comped bib for it.) The time from Lululemon to San Jose was tough. I felt OFF- tired, fatigued, mentally drained from so many poor races in a row, just not really excited or ready to get back in da ring. So with it getting closer to the race, I entered into a new state. COMPLETE DENIAL. I just did not actually believe I would run the race. I thought I would figure out SOME way to get out of it. Because there was just NO way I could/would run it. I was just too tired. 

Ironically, week of- I strained my hamstring to the point that it felt weird walking and to the touch. NOT IDEAL. And I'm the person that is never injured. So I was like- well i'll play this by ear - but if I can't run- not worst thing in the world. Because of my lackluster attitude for the race, I also decided not to taper, really for it. I mean- this wasn't a goal race- so why cut my miles down? And I still kept my Kayla workouts at the same intensity and amount. So yah- I really wasn't expecting to run. 

literally in the uber over- happily snapchatting and in complete denial about running 

literally in the uber over- happily snapchatting and in complete denial about running 

We left Saturday morning and drove up. The drive went by really quickly- especially because we pulled up the new Amanda Knox netflix movie and before you knew it- we were in San Jose. We got to the expo and somehow even though the guys were registered as Elite with VIP access- they didn't have them on the list. And shocker- they wouldn't give them VIP wristbands because they didn't have enough for them/it was an exclusive area (this would give them access to the start line to do their strides/warmup without having to go through the melee of people to muscle their way to the front). In the end, we didn't walk away with those wristbands- which makes it even MORE ridiculous when they came in 10th and 13th at the race. Like seriously? If they are not giving the access to the top 15- who ARE they giving that access to?

still really happy. i really didn't expect to have to run. 

still really happy. i really didn't expect to have to run. 

getting all the important things done- like pre-race photo shoot, before my 1. warmup, 2. portapotty stop, 3. dropping off gear, 4. getting to corral.

getting all the important things done- like pre-race photo shoot, before my 1. warmup, 2. portapotty stop, 3. dropping off gear, 4. getting to corral.

Anyways back to SLOW me. So I took a couple pics before warming up. Decided I needed to do at least a mile even though I wasn't that into the race- so I jogged around with my gear bag flopping around on my back- so the jog definitely wasn't that "athletic" looking. And then I ran to the start line, drank my Nuun Energy bottle (do this before EVERY race) and took a gu (ps I'm going to try Huma gels- I've heard really good things about them). I squeezed myself between the gates and got as close to the front as I could. That morning while we were getting ready, Tyler said to try to keep the first couple miles to a 7:15- so when the gun went off I decided to do that. Usually when I go into a race, I let my body naturally do what it wants to do (read: murder myself first mile of the race and kill any chance for a good race) and find whatever pace that it wants to and run it (sometimes it works, sometimes I crash and burn- so it's not exactly a flawless plan). Unfortunately, being so fatigued lately, I didn't have the luxury of getting to go with that great wing it/let the wind carry you plan. I knew that I REALLY WOULD crash and burn if I didn't go slower this time. So even though a 7:15 first mile felt like a slow jog, I went with it. I controlled myself first whole mile and brought my pace down when it was getting too wild. First mile I went through in a 7:12- mission accomplished. Then from there I just went on cruise control. I stayed relaxed, I just would look down to make sure I wasn't going too fast, and I focused on quick small steps/turnover. I maintained like a 7:10/avg pace for the first 7 miles and I started to think - maybe I can actually PR today- if I just let myself stay relaxed at this pace, I COULD do this. (I literally have never felt that controlled and relaxed in a race EVER.)

Mile 1- 7:12
Mile 2- 7:06
Mile 3- 7:08
Mile 4- 7:12
Mile 5- 7:11
Mile 6- 7:11
Mile 7- 7:15
 

still living the blissful life

Basically until mile 8- it didn't even feel like I was working, or like I was in a race. Maybe that's how it's supposed to be? All I know is that, I didn't really have the energy to go to the well earlier and suffer the whole race that day. Mile 8 it started to feel hard and like EFFORT to keep the pace. It was basically a struggle fest for 8, 9 and 10. And I just watched my average pace add a second or two on in each mile. 

Mile 8- 7:24
Mile 9- 7:33
Mile 10- 7:23

things are getting real + feeling like a 5'1" Mary Keitany NYC- marathon winner with my close arms here. 

At Mile 11, I started to really say DO YOU EVEN WANT THIS PR? You're about to lose this. Pull it together. The pep talk worked because I somehow managed to get myself back on pace even feeling pretty rough. Pretty much the whole race I was cheering myself aloud. I wish I was kidding. Anyone who was running by me must have thought I was nuts- but I REALLY was working hard to keep myself in the game. 
Mile 11- 7:14
Mile 12- 7:18
Mile 13- 7:07

I knew when it was coming down to the last stretch that EVERY single second counted in order to make it under my PR. I saw Tyler and Nick right around the corner from the end and I was already in survival/sprint and don't lose your PR mode. 
Mile 14- .2 miles- 6:16/mi

I came in at 1:35:33- exactly 20 seconds under my PR. Literally every second counted. I was so happy that I fought for it because it was worth it. Completely unexpected- but really EXACTLY what I needed to mentally get me back in the running game. It can be hard to continually weather all of the lows and not have a lot of validation, so this race was JUST what I needed. 

GOOD MOOD CENTRAL

Do I think this race was an accurate representation of my fitness from this summer? No - not really. I had been feeling so exhausted and tapped out for awhile- not itching to race. I had stopped my speed/track workouts for 2 months because of being sick and recovering from my  races. So having my best race in 26 months feeling so off, gives me a TON of hope that once things start feeling back to normal, I can pick up some more gains. I'm definitely re-energized after this race, and really excited by what I consider some of my best race execution in awhile (v. flying and literally dying and being buried, mid-race). 

Thankful that this race gave me JUST the injection of hope I needed- and ready to get back to it. ;-)

SQUAD (where i bring down our half marathon avg. no big deal.) 

America's Finest City 5k RECAP + TrackSmith PR BONUS!

So I really wanted ANY type of PR after not getting any at TJ Half and at the Lululemon Seawheeze Half (possibly weather/being sick was to blame- but that's neither here nor there). Tracksmith had the BEST campaign this summer- PR and they give you a shopping spree?! YES PLEASE. I reallyyyy had felt that I was in the shape to PR at either of my half marathons, so not PR-ing was even a little more disappointing. 

After I didn't PR in Vancouver, I came back to the hotel and looked up 5k's to do before the campaign ended 2 weeks later. Uhhhh. The only one was AFC 5k and it was the NEXT weekend. Not SUPER ideal since I had wore myself out with the half, but I figured that I was in good enough shape that I could PR by something even if it was so close to my last half. I ran it by Tyler to see what he thought- and he agreed. We felt like most of my tempo workouts were right around where my PR was for the 5k - 21:14- so we didn't think it was a stretch that even on tired legs that I could hit under that. He said he would pace me. Guys- first for me. Well- he ran me in the last mile in Tijuana Half- but really, I'm not a huge fan of him seeing me like a cow that needs to be put out of its misery on the race course. Obviously- getting some type of PR overrode my embarrassment over my pain face. ;-)

I signed up a few days before the race and just focused that week on trying to get a lot of rest and feel recovered ASAP. I felt slow and sluggish all week. (Probably didn't help that we did 10+ miles of walking daily in Vancouver.) So on Thursday, I decided to do some fast intervals. I did 10 by 30-40 seconds at 5:30 pace and my last one I hit 5:18 pace. Isn't it crazy how throwing in some fast running can just like kick you back to life? 

being fully dressed by 4:40. yahhhh. early.

The race started at 6:15 am- a really good thing since it was supposed to be in the 80's and mad humid that day. Tyler is the best sport to wake up at 4:30 am with me and to do the race.  He was planning on proposing later that day (I had no idea at the time) and it's just so characteristic of him to go out of his way for me- which is the reason I ended up saying YES! Haha. Ironically we parked in front of a wedding dress shop, and I made a joke about wedding dresses as we walked by. Tyler nervous laughed to it. HAHA. So we got there around 5:30 am and jogged around and got my bib.

PAINFUL - to look at now, and to have run this part.

I only had a chance to do a little over a mile- but potato potaHto. The race started out and we had thought that it would be pretty flat. MEH. The first mile started out and my goal was just not to go out too fast. I went out and felt comfortable on the first mile- and like I was holding back. 6:43. Perfect. We went into the second mile and I still felt like I was cruising. 6.37. Then we had to go uphill. UH oh. My dead legs that I wasn't sure could race, did NOT want to run fast up a hill. 7:00. UGH. I had been eyeing my avg pace and I was still at a 6:45 and thought that I would surely PR. We came in towards the finish and I was pushing while eyeing the clock and instead of going under 21, I crossed at 21:13. The last .16 at 5:22. I.e. I was in panic mode and finally my body found another gear to try to get any type of PR in. Hahaha. Also, why is it my luck to get all the long courses? I managed to PR by LITERALLY 1.5 seconds. HAHA. How wild is that?! That was literally my only real goal of the day...

hiding agony.

I knew that this wasn't going to be a major PR race since I had just raced two halfs and also had been sick- so I was happy that on an off day, I still managed to be faster than my current fastest time. And that in a week, I had run my fastest half and my fastest 5k in 2 years back to back. While these aren't the wins I want, heyyyyyy- they are something, right?! ;-) Taking the wins I get and running with them.

proud owner of a 1.5 second pr.

Oh- and I qualified for Tracksmith's PR Bonus. Basically the coolest campaign ever. Run a PR in their clothes- they give you $250 of clothes. Um. RIGHT UP MY ALLEY. Can't wait to go on that shopping spree ;-)

me & my pacer-fiance (his pacing me is the reason why I agreed to marry him. ok, not the ONLY reason.)

LULULEMON SEAWHEEZE RACE RECAPPP

HOW IS VANCOUVER SO BEAUTIFUL??!!!

Back now from a great trip to Vancouver- my fourth one to boot. While I didn't come away with the outcome I was hoping for- it was still such a fun trip- and you know- sometimes you gotta still work hard even when things aren't going your way. (IS THAT MY NUMBER ONE TAKEAWAY LESSON FROM RUNNING OR WHAT?!)

boarding the plane!!!

So we left for Vancouver on Thursday (this has been my M.O. for the last 4 times because the race is on Saturday). The day before we left I looked at the weather to help with packing. 80's. Heart dropped. Gah. After months of really pinning all my excitement and hope on this race, I just didn't want to read that the weather may be a little tough. I needed all the help I could get. I had come down with a bad cold less than 2 weeks before the race- fever, cold sweats, working the entire week from home instead of going into the office. So the week before the race I ran 17 miles total for the race. Not ideal. I didn't love that I basically reduced mileage that much and then only did one hard workout in those two weeks leading up to the race. I just didn't feel ready or like I had any pop or readiness in my legs or body. Not the best feeling to go into a race with. But everyone kept encouraging me and I tried to think positive, even though I could just tell my body wasn't ready to get back to it.

welcomed at the airport by the best lulu crew. OMG. i was dying laughing and smiling. so great.

Friday morning we headed to the expo. As usual, it is a lot of fun and they have a lot of really great/quality vendors that made it more interesting. They gave us bags, a waterbottle, and some sunglasses at the expo- plus some NUUN (MY FAVORITEEEE!). We tried to not walk around too much - because really who needs to completely tire themselves out from a half marathon they are already feeling a little not ready for. Luckily the Olympics were on so we headed back to our hotel room and watched them.

Legs up the wall? We were willing to try EVERYTHING to feel ready for this race.

We were less than a mile from the start which was the PERFECT distance to use as our warmup and made life sooo easy to not have to worry about how to get to the start/race morning logistics. This is literally the easiest of any of my races to get to. And I get to wake up the latest for this race. Last year I woke up at 6 am and race starts at 7 am. HAHAH.

GOOD MORNING VANCOUVER

We ran down to the start- and it was already warm and humid (80 percent humidity, y'all). I didn't feel REALLY great about the fact that it was so humid, but what can you do. Gotta play the cards you are dealt. Tijuana 3 weeks before was also very humid- and I still pulled off a respectable time- so I was hopeful.

Race started and I took off settling into my goal pace- I never quite felt that thing where everything comes together in a race- but I was able to hold goal pace for awhile. It was fun seeing all the spectacles along the course (the bridge that had a spin class lined up cheering us on, mermaids in the water along the seawall, tons of different cheer groups in random costumes). I bopped along and listened to my music and tried to hold back in the beginning- and then once we hit some hills- I was now trying to make myself push. Pretty much at mile 6 I was spent. To be fair- it was a very long "tempo" for just having been sick- and I wouldn't have made myself do this much "work" for a workout if I hadn't had a race scheduled.

I slowly started slipping off goal pace and was watching my average pace slowly get higher. UGH. I fought it so hard. I definitely could feel that it wasn't my day. I hadn't been feeling great lately- or had much pop since Tijuana (maybe that took too much out of me) and my dumb cold in the summer- so it honestly wasn't a HUGE surprise- even though it was disappointing since I had put all my race eggs in the Lululemonbasket. So I just focused on doing the best I could under the circumstances. I focused on trying to pass people and I let that carry me. I was so tunnel visioned from fatigue that I didn't enjoy the second half as much or notice as much as I should have- but I was just struggling to get to the line in one piece and the whole time hoping that a second wind (either internally or literally THE WIND) would push me miraculously to the finish line in a PR.

The end was NEVERENDINGGGGG. And then they changed the course so once we hit 13.1 I was just so confused what was happening since we were not where we have ended for the last 3 years.

I came through in 1:39:11- for 13.26 miles. I had been pinning so much of my hopes and excitement on this race and once again, things didn't work out for me. I was exhausted and kinda wanted to cry. But I had already told Lindsay and Carrie that I would run them in. So I grabbed a bottle of water and started running back. Along the way, I decided to start cheering for everyone and telling them "If you're gonna go, go now- you're almost there." I think race cheering is one of my favorite things ever. It totally emotionally recharged me to get to cheer people on as they were so close to the finish. I saw Lauren Padula who was with a passed out runner and gave her my water bottle. I finally found Linds and literally cheered her on and pushed her to the end (she only hates me a little bit now). She also had a tough race and didn't hit her goal. I know how rough the end is for me- so I was happy to be along for her. She did like 2 mins/mile faster on the last mile that I ran with her- so it kinda worked.

Then once I got Linds to the finish line, I went back for Carrie. I found her a mile back. It was such a warm day and people looked like they were dropping like flies. The course got pretty sunny and Carrie soldiered to the finish line. Her first race back after THREE YEARS! Isn't that nuts!

A couple days post the race, I actually feel less sensitive about it. I didn't give myself time right after I finished to mourn another rough ending- but once I got back to the hotel room and was recapping it for Tyler- there were definitely tears. It can feel EXHAUSTINGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG to put in endless work, to try and do everything right with my training, food and rest, and then to see what seems like imperceptible gains on race day. I KNOW that I'm in a different place- a 42:31 10k in July definitely shows that. I'm going to keep enjoying the journey and working hard until things start clicking for me.  Running is worth it. ;-)

We got to enjoy a few days in Vancouver after the race. Active recovery is my favorite! ;-)

Free pianos to play around the city? Another reason why VanCity is the coolest.

Chinatown in Vancouver is supposed to be one of the best (outside of China, obviously)

Totem poles in Vancouver? YES.

You better BELIEVE I'm signing up for Lululemon Seawheeze next year? Who else is in??!

On the Run in CUBAAAA [Part UNO]

So this post is WAY late. Ironically, Keeping up with the Kardash came out with their Cuba episode this week. If you want to understand what Cuba is really like- please don't watch it. Haha. They seemed to have zero idea of what is going on in that country. Super frustrating to see- especially because that's the view that the public will have of it if they have never been. 

So anyways- back to our trip! We enjoyed a quick week trip down there at the end of May to explore the country and get a better idea of what is happening in that super isolated island in the Caribbean. It's been a dream of mine to get out there for forever- and I have probably mentioned it to Tyler a million times since we've been dating that I wanted to somehow make it happen. So we decided to just go for it. No time like the present- only catch being that the PRESENT is currently SUPER hot down there. Haha.

So we started out the trip with a MINI heart attack in Mexico City when all of the ATMs declined both of our cards. Seriously. SO STRESSFUL. Don't mind that I have traveled to almost 50 countries and have NEVER had a problem with withdrawing money- of course it would happen to BOTH of us - in Mexico, nonetheless- and when we only have basically half an hour to get money, get through security, and get our Cuban visas- a LOT to do in a really short amount of time. Literally sweating SO much during this. HA. I was able to get on the phone with B of A- who couldnt even help me- they gave me ANOTHER number to call to try and get help. REALLY?! Anyways- we got the money- and THANK GOD because you have to carry every dollar you plan on using with you in Cuba in with you when you arrive (you can't use any of your credit/debit cards down there- and for a girl who lives on plastic, this was a stressful concept. ha).

We got to our flight and got on the plane and ended up being SOOOO delayed on the runway with rainy/lightning weather- that our 10 pm arrival time became a midnight arrival in Havana. Not ideal since we had already let our accommodations know that we were gonna be there earlier in the evening. We arrived after midnight, went through immigration, and then had to go outside and exchange money to even pay for our taxis. We were first in line- and the person attending to the money exchange was apparently "en el bano" while the rest of the people she worked with were sitting outside and chatting it up. FINALLY after over half an hour, we were able to exchange our money. We got in a cab and the taxi driver dropped us off in the nice neighborhood of Vedado- but oh wait - we were never given the apartment number we were staying in and we were dropped off in front of a huge apartment building and it was 1:30 am. I walked around the neighborhood asking anyone I came in contact with if we can borrow their phone and call the host of our accommodations. Finally, I found two really sweet guys drinking beer in the park who let me call our host and wouldn't take my money that I tried to give them. Our host came down and was SO gracious and kind even though it probably was not ideal to be woken up in the middle of the night by strangers. ;-)

We woke up the next morning to this stunning view. These type of wide boulevards are JUST my favorite. 

We headed down to downtown Havana and were NOT disappointed. They are rebuilding their Capitol and ironically it is an EXACT copy of our Capitol (they did this when they were still on good terms with us). The gorgeous building below is of the national ballet. 

As we were standing in front of the building (obviously taking a selfie) a guy came up to us to and offered to take our pic (below). And he was like- omg where are you from? Oh the US. I have a family member in Florida. Are you the ones staying with Maria- she's a really good friend of my mom's???! And I was like Yes!!! Maria Luisa- what a small world. Anyways so he told us about this cigar factory and how the workers there get a certain amount of Cuban cigars and they sell them to the public at like half price and we should go there because they are only open one day out of the month - which happens to be today- and they are only open for another half hour. We thought- why not- and he pointed us in the direction. We walked in that direction for awhile (like ten or so mins)- and then a women came by us and was like- OMG- I recognize your dress from this morning- are you staying with Maria Luisa. And we were like- WOWW- that's nuts. Yes- we are. Then she talked to us for awhile and then told us about the same cigar discounts and that she was walking in the same direction. FATE. Haha. So we walked with her and talked. Every Cuban tells you right away how safe it is in Cuba- no mafia, no guns, no drugs. So she was telling us that and walking with us. Then we came to a doorway where a man was like- oh we are closing soon. And it all clicked. It was too many coincidences. From too many times of being trapped in a place and being forced to purchase something (read: Egypt, Morocco, Mauritius & other places) I knew this would not end well. Literally as soon as we saw the man, everything clicked. We were just totally PLAYED.  Knowing how high pressure it is once they get you inside, I was already sweating and panicking because I didn't want to get us into a situation that is so rough to get out of. I tried to tell Tyler as we were walking into what ended up being an apartment- this is bad- we need to get out. We stood in the doorway of the apartment and didn't go in even though they were trying to get us in. Things started going downhill fast. They could tell I didn't buy their act anymore and that I realized that we had been played (that the first man- through out the name "Maria" which basically every hispanic on the planet is named, and then I said "Maria Luisa" and then he called ahead to the women down the street and told her to say Maria Luisa.. UGH). We tried to get out and say we didn't want anything and then it turned to a situation where the man was saying the woman (the supposed neighbor of Maria Luisa) wouldn't eat if we didn't buy cigars. It was a MESS. I was like - No I'm sorry. We need to leave. 

And that was basically our FIRST HOUR in Havana. Haha. WELCOME TO HAVANA! ;-)

Basically this is what a normal street in Havana looked like along with a pedicab...

We had lunch on our first day and then found this place along the water to grab some ice cream and rest. It was HOTTTTT the whole time we were there. Literally we were sweating through our clothes. 

We were walking around and saw this- and it's something we saw a ton of times while we were in Cuba: people bringing buckets to collect potable water to carry home. Ugh. Just so sad. Also- water was REALLY hard to find. You can't drink the water- so you have to buy bottled water- and there really aren't grocery stores - so you have to find it in like window stalls or small stores on the street. It was SO hot here- and we were literally dehydrated all the time- and sometimes would be dying to find water and just like gulp down a 1.5 liter so fast because we were so desperately thirsty. 

I'm really in a good mood RIGHT after I have some ice cream. ;-)

This is a gorgeous church that we passed. STUNNING!!!!!!!!

We took a tour with the best guys in an old car- basically what you instantly think of when you think of Cuba. And right off the bat- they were so cool. I wanted to know EVERYTHING. Like just tell me- what's going on here? What's life like? They were so real and easy to talk to and just let us know what life was like. They were so hopeful that one day the Castros would not be in power and that they would have freedom. They let us know what life was like- limited opportunity to control your own future and destiny, no hopes of being able to travel outside of Cuba, limited access to the outside world. 

After reading more about Che Guevara in the National Museo of the Revolution (and after basically knowing little to nothing about him) - I just don't know how people can glamorize him. He basically helped Fidel take over and carry out the ideals that they had and which has inevitably held the Cuban people hostage all these years. I don't know... Just my two cents. 

Isn't this insane- this engine legit is 60 years old. They take such good care of their cars. The last American cars they have is from before the Revolution- so all their newer cars are asian ones. 

The park below is the John Lennon Park  - with a statute of him below. Basically Fidel tried to keep everyone from listening to any outside music- but then realized that John Lennon had the same socialist ideals as he did, as sung in "Imagine"- so they created a park in honor of that. Just John, Tyler, & I chilling...

Guys! This is one of 4 North Korean embassies in the world- the other three are in Iran, Russia- and I can't remember the last location. So wild. Those communist countries sure like each other.

We loved our tour- but even more loved getting to talk with the super great/chill tour guide & driver we had. Gave us a better understanding of daily life in Havana.

Everything here was so photogenic- like this stunning, but rundown building. 

This pineapple was literally the most refreshing thing ever in this extreme heat. We were so happy to have it. Also- it attracted all of the flies when we tried to set it down. 

One of the best examples of what Cuba is like is found in taking a trip to the Museo de la Revolucion. It's a gorgeous building that was formerly the presidential palace before the revolution when Castro took power in 1959. I knew what we would read would be disturbing and complete propaganda but I was curious to read it from their perspective. It had rooms with a ton of info about the Revolution and items of history saved from it and on display. We went through the museum taking pictures of ridiculously ironic statements and just completely in awe that anyone was buying what they were selling. We went down to the bathrooms and there was no toilet paper and no running water in the sink and no soap. This irony- that we could be in a museum housing their grand display of pride over their Revolution and showing how life is better countered by the reality of lacking even the BASIC necessities was so laughable to me. The show is all for foreigners- while everywhere in Cuba you see the people living under a reality that is not so rosey. People lining up at a restaurant in the heat of the day to get their quota of a huge bag of saltine crackers. Two currencies in Cuba- one for foreigners and one for Cubanos where the Cubanos can effectively buy nothing with it. People with multiple degrees and doctorates forced to work jobs they are overqualified for because working within their degree & for the government means poverty. Everything being state owned and poor quality- like their restaurants. Since the majority of restaurants are state owned, there is no need to be creative or have an emphasis on quality or competition- and you know who suffers- the person eating at any of those restaurants. Haha. I can't wait to come back in several years and see that in place of the Museo de la Revolucion- that they have a Museo de los derechos humanos - like they did in Chile- documenting the human rights violations and signaling that they now have the freedom to speak openly about it. Until then, I will pray for a Cuba libre.

Che & Fidel

This museum was FULL of propaganda. It was entertaining & tragic at the same time. We were moving through the museum at the same time as a group of British girls & their commentary echoed my thoughts and we all laughed at the same tragic/ironic posts that we read. 

Guys- people were lined up in this heat.. for what?? Their rations of crackers. Gosh. This just broke my heart. 

You can see in their hands that that is what they were being handed out the window. Remember this when you go to your stores and have so many options and aren't given rationed food or toilet paper. 

Down by the Malecon (their boardwalk) was the most lovely & peaceful place in Havana. We just loved sitting out there and talking and looking at the gorgeous ocean. Also- NO LARGE SHIPS in the harbor- just some small fishing boats... that's what happens when you aren't allowed to go anywhere. 

There was NO cell phone service here. NONE. And no one has wifi at home. What everyone told us is wifi is for the tourists. So it's basically at a few hotel locations- and the local people buy black market wifi cards with passcode and have to sit out on the street and try to get internet (which is REALLY poor and slow connection btw). We used less than 2 hours of internet BETWEEN THE TWO OF US for the week that we were there. It was not super convenient to access it- and then it would be majorly slow or tough to use. The guys we talked to told us that if they can keep the people with really poor connection to the outside world- are they going to be researching political things or figuring out what is out there- or are they going to be trying to contact family members and friends- I know for me- all I did with that internet time was try to connect with family and friends back home (Mountain 2 Beach Marathon was that weekend and my good friends Liz & Sharon were running it and I so wanted to be able to check in with them before and see how there race went after- and it killed me that I didn't get any access to internet after their race for 2 day to even find out how it went). 

Hope you enjoyed the commentary/photos of Cuba... second half of the trip coming soon. ;-)

And be thankful that you aren't down there running in Cuba. THAT WAS TOUGH. ;-)

Tijuana Media Maraton Recap (aka my 2 year race-iversary!)

You think you would learn from a painful 2 years of running the Tijuana Half Marathon NOT to go back and run such a brutal course on such a tough day. But you know, what's that saying? LOVE WINS?! Hahaha- or nostalgia does. I will always have such a special place in my heart for the race that introduced me to my #1. That race completely changed my life- and I'm just a little bit grateful for it- and like to suffer through it because it's nice to remember that if it were not for that race- I wouldn't have met Tyler (or at least not in that way ;-).

So my own history with this race: I went down to Tijuana in 2014 - wrestled with whether to run it or not for several days- ultimately picked up the bib - because why not? And then was actually convinced to run it because the Tijuana Half Marathon reps there were so insanely nice. I went down- ran a PR (at the time) for a 1:37 and won prize money- and had to suffer through a 4 hour long line- standing up next to Tyler.. and the rest is history. ;-)

Short Story: This is after we met in 2014 and were driving across the border- I had a mini photo shoot with a sleeping Tyler and showed him the pics when he woke up- and when he complained about his patchy beard- I told him I would "photoshop" that out. I think I did a good job.............. You can't even see how the beard is patchy anymore. ;-)

Last year- was right after Boston and I literally had done barely any runs. I was so in the thick of fatigue and being overtrained that this was pretty much my longest run since the Boston Marathon. I somehow managed a 1:45 (which is pretty impressive considering the course, conditions, and how much I was NOT running haha).

Going into this year's race, I really thought that I could potentially PR here. I didn't think it would give me a real read to where I was fitness-wise- just because the course is really tough (lots of hills) and the weather is rough (unless you're someone that loves running in heat and humidity and performs optimally in those circumstances ;-) It was in the 80's-90's that week and all of my runs taking place in my garage on my treadmill meant that I was really wearing myself out that week and didn't feel fresh- which is fine because it wasn't a goal race, and I was going to use the race as a training run/train through it.

someone wasn't interested in wasting energy before the race on smiling. SMART!

We woke up wayyy early- 4:20 am - and grabbed our race stuff and headed down to the border and parked and walked across- and took a cab down to the start. We didn't leave ourselves a lot of time to warm-up (not that we needed to in that heat) but I still got a mile in.

We went to the start line- and may I please say about my Mexican compatriots- they are the absolute worst at self-seeding. THE. WORST. ;-) They are much more ambitious about goals and less realistic about where their speed is in relation to others. And for that- even though I thought I was pretty far in front- I definitely wasn't far enough in front and had to pass like a million people in the first couple miles. Note to self: stop being conservative in Mexico races self-seeding. The best is that Tyler was FOUR ROWS BACK from the start FOUR ROWS, guys. HE GOT 6TH IN THE HALF- AND FOUR ROWS OF PEOPLE THOUGHT THEY WERE FASTER THAN HIM. He tried to get in front of two women- and they wouldn't let him. He was like- I'm planning on doing a 70 minute half marathon and asked to move forward- and they said, so are we. Uh huh.

ROLLIN' WITH DA HOMIESSSSSSS

We waited for the gun to go off and I was standing there- and legit beads of sweat were just coming down and we hadn't even started. Not ideal. Gun went off- and I tried to be careful as I was weaving through groups of people- and also trying to keep myself from going out too hot. I had set 7:15 as the pace I wanted to try and hold- not really taking into account anything except that it would feel easier than my paces at Lake Miramar for tempo.

Mile 1- 7:19; Mile 2: 7:10; Mile 3: 7:16; Mile 4: 7:24

The first couple miles clicked by pretty on point- but as the sun, heat and humidity kept at me, and the hills started coming, it started to go downhill FAST. Haha. All I could think of the whole time we were miserable climbing the hills was- Tyler is going to kill me for making him come down here and do this- he must be hating me now. Haha. Luckily he is a saint and didn't get mad at me. Right around mile 7 - we hit the hardest hills and it honestly was tough to recover from that- my paces definitely fell off and I ran my slowest mile there - an 8:19 - eek.

Mile 5: 7:29; Mile 6: 7:47; Mile 7: 8:19

 

Best boyfriend award goes to Tyler Underwood for running a 1:10 and then coming back to run me in the last mile.

I somehow got my body to try and recover during the race- and pulled my paces back in the 7:50's even though I felt pretty done and over it. My legs felt fatigued, it was so hot, and I felt like I kept seeing another hill to in the distance.

Mile 8: 7:52; Mile 9: 7:50; Mile 10: 7:51

Literally thought so many times, it would be reallyyyy nice to just walk off the course- but I kept at it. I knew that I was already a long ways off of my goal- but I really focused on pushing and trying to speed up towards the end- and to try and pass some people.

 

DYING IN MOTION. Also- my clothes were SOAKING wet.

The race was like a blur of pain and heat and fatigue. I tried to focus on passing girls- or at least keeping in sight any girls that passed me. I passed some different guys and several of them would cheer me on as I passed them. One guy tried to give me electrolytes as we were running- that's what I love about running down there- everyone is so nice! We hit a hill that was different from the years before and super steep at mile 11 or 12 and I looked at it- like- WHAT?! I thought it was different - but then I thought- this is so late in the race that maybe I was delirious the years before and it seems much worse now. Haha. After talking with everyone, I realized that no- it was DEFINITELY a (not so sweet) addition.

Mile 11: 7:35; Mile 12:7:48

I was just running and trying to focus on turnover and pushing and then I saw Tyler- looking like he was trying to come and run me in. Gosh. I was tired and did NOT want to run with him and be pushed. I literally just did not have the energy to say- no, not now babe- so I started pushing. He was encouraging me the whole time and looking back at me- but I literally could hear nothing he said because my music was so loud and I was just focusing on living and getting to that finish line. He kept pushing me and making me try to pass girls. I think was passed a girl or two- but there was one girl that we essentially PUSHED to the finish line because she could hear Tyler and me picking up the pace. We crossed the finish line and my thirteenth mile was my second fastest of the day with a 7:15. The last mile push was so tough and I was dying the whole time, but I'm so glad Tyler pushed me there.

Mile 13: 7:15, Mile 14 (.12 miles): 6:00 pace

Half Marathon done in 1:39

IN PAIN.

We waited to find out results and then when we did- GAH- I missed the podium by FIVE SECONDS. How does that happen?! Second year in a row I got 4th in my age group. Oh well. Happy to have ran 6 minutes faster than last year on a different/harder course and with more humidity.

me 'n my Tijuana lover.

We ended up waiting around ALL day to collect Tyler's prize money for winning his age group. he JUST missed the overall prize money since he came in 6th in a 1:10 - how is he SO fast?! Tijuana days after the race are the longest and hottest ever. We waited outside in tents to collect the money in a process that defies logic. Really can't complain too much about it though because if it wasn't for that long, long process 2 years ago, Tyler and I would never have had the chance to get to know each other. ;-)

AMIGOSSSSSSSSS.

We crossed the border, calling the day a win- even if it didn't feel like a win with a new PR. I'm learning to appreciate the day for what it was and to give my body credit for what it was able to accomplish on that day. I pushed hard when I could and enjoyed the chance to get run in Tijuana again.

I definitely had like a couple minutes of freakout/meltdown since I felt like my time should be different here. I had shown so much progress in my running at the 10 k earlier in the month and I didn't feel like I showed the same progress here. GUYS. Bad races can definitely get in your head. Not ideal when you're set to race your goal race three weeks later. I had to shake it off. And say that heat & humidity can definitely play a role in changing how the day goes ... and MOVE ON.

Currently, I'm on DAY THREE of not working out because I'm sick. GAH. KEEPING MY HEAD IN THE GAME AND POSITIVE THAT I'LL MAKE A QUICK RECOVERY BECAUSE>>>> LULU IS IN 10 DAYS!!!!!! ;-)

MY HEADS IN THE GAME (& Old Pro's Race Recap!)

Geez this blog post is overdue. I'm embarrassed. (Just kidding- not that embarrassed - but I do feel bad that I have neglected my blog for so long. ;-)

So what's been the latest & greatest?? Here's your quick narrative of what's been going on since my last blog post:

1. My running lately has been SUPER positive (especially compared to my running of the last two years. eesh). And I have been EXCITED about it lately. Like genuinely excited to be running, to tackle the workouts, to accomplish what I set out to do- and in some cases to beat the goals I had previously set for the workout. What a great place to be in after just some toughhhh running for the last year or so. My body feels strong and I'm never fresh for workouts - but I don't feel the heavy fatigue that I once did and I can handle the workouts I'm given. I've seen a steadyyyy progress EVERY SINGLE WEEK in my speed & my tempo workouts. Gosh. That's nice.

2. I may or may not (emphasis on MAY) have had a mini -meltdown in Cuba about my running. So our trip to Cuba was around 3 months after Tokyo & 13 months after Boston. i.e. I have done a LOT of running and training and seen ZEROOOOOO reward/positive results. Trying to sustain the workload which comes with training hard with no results is like running on (emotional) fumes. Feels thankless & exhausting. I hit an emotional low in Cuba and just was like- WHY AM I DOING THIS?! There were tears. A lot of them. And a lot of feeling bad for myself.  Luckily Tyler was there to really just keep reminding me of the facts- my workouts have been way more positive and it just takes TIME to dig myself out of the overtraining (hell) hole that I was in. Sometimes you need a moment to just really unleash all the emotions (good or bad) that you may be feeling- and sometimes it's exhausting being so positive all the time. Especially on back to back to back to back BADDD marathons (that was FOUR in case you weren't counting). Haha. It's not just a bad race. A marathon is just soooo long so the training is even longer and it just feels like you're dragged through it more when a marathon goes sour. Anyways- just wanted to highlight this mini meltdown because sometimes, right before things turn around, you feel like giving up. 

Varadero, Cuba. Don't worry. I wasn't crying here on the beach. ;-) Well that view is pretty enough to cry over. HA.

3. So I came back from my trip- and I kept at it with the workouts. I had wanted to do a 5k and was wanting that to be my first race back but when Bonita 5k decided to offroad it- I decided to pass. First race back after so many awful ones needed to be a win! (Gosh- I'm not a masochist!)

I've been keeping at my workouts- includinggggg Kayla. Went with my cuzins up to the Rose Bowl for Kayla HERSELF to do a boot camp with us!

4. When Old Pro's was looking like my first race back, I was feeling pretty confident that I could pull off SOME kind of PR. Honestly at this point, a 1 second PR would have been a win. Not even kidding.

I was getting EXCITED for Old Pro's 10k. Which is a good thing. When I was in the throes of overtraining, I didn't get excited for races. There was no nervous energy in my body over them. I literally just was fatigued all the time. So I definitely felt like that was a good sign. Tyler and I went over a race day plan and knowing that my previous PR was 7:15 pace for the 6.2 miles, I wanted to aim for a sub 7 minute pace - I said ideally A goal would be to do 6:50 pace. (Pretty lofty considering my 10k from Cardiff Kook this year was a 7:20 pace.)

The night before the race I spent SOOOO much time finding great new songs for my ipod. I live & die by my race music mix. Right before I was heading to bed, I went to power up my old computer that synced to my iPod- and what do you know. After 7 years of faithful service, the dumb thing wouldn't turn on- WHEN I NEEDED IT MOST. Haha. I only obsessed over it for half an hour (googling everything online to try and resuscitate the beast of a Macbook) before I was like- sleep is more important, you gotta stop this nonsense and finally went to bed.

Morning of the race I was definitely excited to get there and just see what my lil bod could do. I was SO happy that it was at Lake Miramar where I do my tempo runs EVERY SINGLE WEEK. Can someone say home court advantage? (A welcome relief after Tokyo, Berlin, & Boston ;-)

I warmed up for a mile and a half and then got to the start line towards the front. My PR from this race before was legit from having to weave for a full mile behind women in strollers walking and talking with their walk-besties. That was a lot of unneeded physical & emotional energy that I wasted that race. So this race, Tyler made sure to tell me I needed to make my way towards the front. Good call.

We started and I found myself at 6:50 pace feeling comfortable and calm. It felt super natural and I was like ok let's stay here. The miles ticked by pretty easily.

6:51, 6:48, 6:53

I passed through the 5k and he read the split at 21:07 and I was just elated knowing that I broke my 21:14 2014 5k PR. Tyler talks about how at NYC Marathon he ran a great first half and he turned and looked at the guy next to him and said- I'm going to do that again (and he did within seconds). And I thought about that right when I passed and got that 5k PR and said- you know what- let's go for it- I'm gonna do that again.

Then things started to feel a little tougher. As they did I focused on just keeping my cadence high and taking quick steps. I tried to refresh myself and recover as I was running.

6:57

Then we came to the hard part of the loop and mile 5. And gosh. It was rough. This part always gets me and I always work harder than any other part but with much slower times. I kinda thought- well worse comes to worse you're gonna PR anyways.

7:01

THAT FACE. hahahahahha.

Then I saw Terri as I was crossing the dam and I was so relieved to see her and just waved and instead of just waving back- she jumped on the course and paced me the rest of the way. I saw my watch jump down into the 6:30s & 6:40s and was re-energized. Then it started to feel hard again and she was looking behind her to make sure I was still there- all the while encouraging me. I tried to yell up to her that I was there with her (not sure what that probably sounded like while dying-in-motion). She got me through a TOUGHHHH 6th mile.

6:43

I saw Tyler at the bottom of the hill and was just so happy. He probably knew at this point that I was going to PR. And then the finish came and I had all of this new energy all of a sudden, I saw the finish line and then remembered that we actually finished in the dirt. I started almost slowing down on the way in and Terri was like C'MON. Like duh- don't slow down when you're almost there. I pushed as hard as I could.

6:12 for the last .2

Crossing the finish line in 42:31 was so gratifying. I instantly went looking for Tyler to celebrate with him. It didn't feel like just my victory. It felt like ours. It has been such a long, emotional, and draining road from Boston to this 10k. I know it's just a 10k. I mean, who cares about 10k's right? It's not a marathon or a half marathon- but to me- this race is the start of the turnaround. This was just like the olive branch that God sent Noah and the ark to give them hope again. Boston completely decimated me- physically and emotionally. And I was left in its wake - working hard and seeing nothing for my hours on hours of work. Finally, I got something for it- a 2:15 PR over my last 10k. And the promise that things are different. That this is a tangible win that WILL BE a string of wins. This has been such a long emotional journey- but I have believed God everyday that things would turn around. My stickers at my desk at work say "God is faithful," "I'm Getting STRONG. I'm getting FAST, " "1:29", "Sub-3." I believed that the stickers would all come true even on the days where my current fitness seemed in contradiction to it. I'm still a longgg ways away from hitting some of my goals- but I am even more excited for them and resolute in my desire to pursue them. Things are just getting interesting ;-)

Running UPbeat & that mental game.

Soooooo... I realized while in barre yesterday that I was no longer feeling like a victim of my running, if that makes sense. I think for far too long I felt wounded (strong word?) by my most recent races and really sensitive/fragile because of them. And now? I just feel fine. My running is what it is. I absolutely can't wait to prove myself- but I mean, I CAN WAIT. Haha. I am totally ok with waiting to do a marathon for awhile- or to do a half WHEN I'M TRAINED FOR IT AND READY FOR IT. When I finished Tokyo, I was thinking of doing M2B Half (or even the full for about 3 seconds before Tyler basically shot down that idea). And now with M2B so closeeee, I'm so happy I'm not. I need more time and space still. And it's fun running without imminent pressure. 

I definitely think that part of the pressure I had been feeling was due to falling into the comparison trap. Danielle LaPorte (motivational writer) wrote - "Comparison is a killer. Cut it out." Ain't that the truth. How are we limiting ourselves with comparison? How are we keeping our talents and dreams stifled because we are constantly comparing where we are to where others are? How are we limiting the joy that we feel for others because we are too busy comparing ourselves to them? How are we eliminating the joy that we feel towards our own success and accomplishments because we automatically compare them to others? Real talk. This is such a dangerous/obsessive trap to fall into that robs you of the joy of whatever you're doing (whether it's running/or your job/or your life). So... CUT IT OUT. ;-) Living a comparison-free life is the way I want to go. It's certainly not easy (since I think it's human nature to compare) but in order to get the most out of myself- and to be my happiest and most fulfilled self- I choose to not compare. Whatever I'm doing now- I'm clearly doing my best and working hard- so why would I rob myself of the joy of the process by comparing my Year 4 of running to someone's Year 10. Doesn't even make sense. 

Today- it's a good place to just run because I like it. And to get to focus on something different each week- like cadence, or my strength workouts, or my nutrition, but not feel like there is a hammer waiting to come down on me. Getting better for the sake of getting better & the love of the process is a much healthier/happier place to be. 

So the highlights of this week?

CADENCEEEEE, baby. I'm happy to put this back into the forefront of my running. I really think that my left hamstring tightness will be a thing of the past when I get my cadence back quick. Also- I feel like getting my cadence quick again takes like SOOO much more energy (at first) but once you get it back on track- you feel a lot more power coming from your hips (my personal take on it all). After having DISMAL cadence lately, I have been focusing on it on the treadmill and using my watch on the mill to monitor my cadence. I literally look at it every few seconds and just try to push it higher and higher. Day 1 of doing this- 171, Day 2- 175, Day 3- 178. Seriously. The focus translates into an actual improvement which makes it really really worth it. I know that for my 5k next month I'll consider it a win to have high cadence and faster turnover. 

TEMPOOOO. I do love doing some tempo workouts. I have been changing them up lately and focusing on shorter/faster workouts instead of the longer sustained stuff. With my 5k coming soon, I need to work on getting that speed back. This week I did 6 by 1 mile repeats and I had a lot of fun with it with an overall average pace of 6:44 (6:45, 6:39, 6:36, 6:44, 6:54, 6:45).

SPEED & FEASTING: So this is RANDOM. But I mentioned previously that since I had been eating lighter that Track sessions at night had been a LOT more pleasant. Usually I have awful stomach aches/nausea at the track (and I only recently attributed it to my overeating a late lunch which is a regular occurrence). I accidentally food roofie-ed myself this last Tuesday and paid the price again. SIGHHHH. OOps.  Still learning this- but hopefully won't be making this mistake again anytime soon. Hard to run fast when your stomach is trying to digest a Thanksgiving Day feast. 

Rundownnn for the week:

  • Monday- 6 miles + Kayla workout
  • Tuesday- Kayla workout + 8 X 800s @ 6:30 pace (7 miles total for day)
  • Wednesday- 6 miles
  • Thursday- 4 miles + Barre
  • Friday- RESTTTTTT ;-)
  • Saturday- 6 by 1 mile @ 6:44 average pace (14.3 miles total)
  • Sunday- Barre

In the words of BEYONCEEEE... I'ma keep running cause a winner don't quit on themselves. Enjoy your run today! ;-)

BEYONCE CONCERT & CHOCOLATE & RUNNING. life is good.

PIMP WALK (er, run) & Overcompensating.

So it's been another exciting week in the world of being a non-professional amateur runner who spends far too much money on clothes and travels excessively far for races. ;-) 

I call this "active recovery"/ keep me sane time with the track club babes. ;-)

This week I did 800's on da track. My favorite way to punish myself. But really.. I LOVE THEM. Can't wait until I'm hitting up 10 of them at pace (pace lately for me has been around 6:20 pace). I see ya, Bart Yasso. (Read up on the Yasso 800's and how they are supposed to be a predictor for your marathon time. i.e. you run 10 in 3:10- you should be able to do a 3:10 marathon- conservative people say- add 10 minutes to that time- so a 3:20 marathon).  They felt pretty good this week but when push came to run- I didn't get the turnover and movement in these little legs to pull off a strong finish to my 6. Telling Suly that right after was a mistake (read- best mistake of my day) because he encouraged me to go out there and do another one- and that he would pace me. Easiest 800 to not have to think or stare at my watch but just to hold on while he ran the exact pace we needed for that half mile. Remind me to get more excited about running with people. The mental effort I expend for so many of my speed/tempo workouts alone is EXHAUSTING and evidently it doesn't have to be like this. WHO KNEW. ;-) I did that last 800 in 3:04. Nice end to the workout. 

The next morning after those 800's felt like death. NO LIE. I hopped onto the treadmill and strugglefested my way through 5 miles- with some pauses for stretching everything out. The run on Thursday felt also tough- just when I hit the track hard, I feel it for a couple days after. 

I was telling Tyler- I understand how people just do medium hard effort all the time- because they aren't doing max hard effort some of the times. I.e. if I went out and didn't do speed or tempos- I could run a lot faster and push harder on my daily runs. But that wouldn't equal the push and speed I get out of myself in those workouts. Better to focus quality on the days that you have speed being the focus- and then the other days you're FORCED into recovery because your body basically can't do anything else. There is absolutely ZERO danger of me going out too fast on Wednesday/Thursday after track (1. cause my treadmill is set at an abysmally slow pace, and 2. I'm lucky I'm even getting a run in cause I feel like I have been hit by a semi). Those forced recovery days are exactly what is supposed to happen. Give it everything on workout days- and the other days are shakeouts and just running maintenance days. But I mean, you can't push everyday. That's nuts. ;-)

Physical recovery from my runs equals this every morning for breakfast! This monster is 1 scoop vanilla protein powder, tons of spinach, 1 beet, 2 carrots, 1 apple, and some frozen mangos. Yum. It literally takes me until noon to drink all of it. 

I've been hitting up the Barre this week & I just finished up Week 11 of Kayla Itsines- so I've been sticking to my strength religiously. Like Steph Rothstein said- you don't get better at running by just running alone. Nice try, but doesn't work like that. So an aside on this- Tyler is committed to getting his miles in (usually around 100 a week) and I am committed to him getting his miles in too. But we realized that while we have taken scheduled runs as non-negotiables/absolute necessities- we haven't viewed his strength/stretching/recovery the same. He has had a couple things pop up that have made him realize that if you're doing 100 miles a week- you need to do 100 miles worth of extras to keep your body running smoothly. Haha. So just like scheduled runs are a non-negotiable thing- so are the recovery/strength aspects now. 

So, I did my tempo this Saturday. GEEZ LOUISE. It was pouring and in the mid-50's on my way to the lake. Way to get a girl excited to run fast. I get there and the group I run with was whittled down to 3 brave souls (when it's usually more than a dozen). It was so miserable and my warmup was more like an icedown. My long sleeve instantly got soaked and just stayed wet and cold. On the schedule was 3 miles, 2 miles, 1 mile- a workout I had been mega excited about before. I still was excited when I started- but it was definitely tougher with the wind and rain. The rest portions in between just served to FREEZE ME UP. My first set of 3, I did in 7:13 avg pace. Respectable. My second set of 2 I did in 7:18 with the first mile and a good portion of second mile with LOTS of headwind. YES. 7:18 avg pace. Not bad, could have been worse. My third set actually WAS worse. HA. 7:30 for JUST A MILE. GEEZ. It was into the wind, I was freezing, it was my tenth mile of the day on a day that was already more miles than I have done since Tokyo- so maybe my body was like- Kim- you're not even used to running this distance right now- let alone a fast mile this late in the run. Who knows. I was SO annoyed though. Cold, grumpy, and wet. I started into cool down obviously beating myself up- since I can't let a workout JUST be a workout and drop it. I decided after a mile that I would give that last set another shot and see if I could do any better. I did that earlier this week with the 800's - so evidently the theme of the week is the Redemption Run. Ha. It wasn't windy for the first quarter of a mile and I saw a lot more normal times on my watch- then I turned into the wind but still managed a 7:10. SUCH a better ending to my day- and a good 12th mile. I finished up the day with 13.5 miles. My longest in over 2 months. Speaking of... May MAY be the time when I add back long runs. HAHA. But I have so enjoyed having a hiatus from them. We'll see.

So after my run I saw Tyler and ran with him for a bit. And he was like is your left side hurting cause you're limping as you're running. It was/is/always has lately. My left hamstring has been MEGAAA tight and like nothing I do helps it. And he noticed it then and has noticed it before. While I was getting ready for bed that night, I realized that after every workout my right calf is ridiculously tight and my left hamstring is tight and in pain. Like this is every time. So in talking to Tyler about it- and reading more on the internets - here is a REALLYYYY great article- I realized that because my left glute/hamstring is weaker- that my right side is overcompensating. I'm springing off of my right side a lot more- causing my right calf to do like double the work. I have already been doing some glute workouts to get my left glute to be a more active participant in this running thing- so looks like I need to be sticking with it and really working to get everything working correctly. 

Can't worry about my double chin. TOO WORRIED ABOUT MY OVERCOMPENSATING LEG. ugh. 

Here is an excerpt that I thought was really good- seriously though, this whole article is WORTH READING! 

Compensation patterns will only work for so long before something breaks down. The weakest link in your kinetic chain often ends up suffering the injury. Your body usually tries to tell you that it is compensating. If you can listen to it, try to figure out what is going on, and correct it, you can help prevent injury and run stronger.

One of the most common examples of the body compensating is hamstring or low back pain while running. The gluteus maximus is the strongest extensor of our hip. Hip extension occurs when the foot is behind the body with the knee straight. The glute muscle must be firing properly in order for our hip to extend forcefully as in the push off phase of running. Many people have problems firing their glutes properly, which places added stress on the hamstring and the lower back extensors. These muscles compensate to get the job done, often resulting in a hamstring strain, chronic hamstring tightness, or lower back pain.

What are the four signs you are overcompensating??

1)     Chronic muscle tightness no matter how much you stretch

2)     Unusual tenderness in the same muscles over and over again when you perform your routine massage (foam rolling, etc)

3)     That one muscle that always seem to get sore during or after your run

4)     The same recurring injury

Isn't that good stuff? Let me know if you have noticed any of those things-if you can see any types of overcompensating in your running. It's crazy because I have noticed these things - like how overly tight my left hamstring is, how when I try to speed up it feels excessively stiff and like I'm a robot trying to accelerate, and how my right calf is always crazy tight- but I didn't know that someone could see this from the outside- that's why it's worth it to see a professional - or someone crazy detailed and analytical like Tyler to look at how you're running and give you a birds' eye view of what's happening and where the problem is. 

I'll keep you posted on what I plan on doing to strengthen up that glute and eliminate this weakness leading to overcompensating. Hope I can nip this puppy in the bud soon. 

Have a great run today! ;-)

ROLL OUTTTTT. (Tyler's bday prez - aka the gift that keeps on giving)

 

 

 

HOW STELLA (AKA KIM) GOT HER GROOVE BACK/IS GETTING HER GROOVE BACK.

I DONT THINK I HAVE EVER EVEN SEEN THAT MOVIE... SOOOOO THE GROOVE I'M HOPING TO GET BACK MAY OR MAY NOT BE THE SAME GROOVE THAT SHE GOT BACK.  Just throwing that out there. ;-)

I am feeling a little more like myself after having been sick for over 2 weeks. THANK GOD. Between taxes & my cold- I'm thankful to be on the other side- a little poorer but with a lot less congestion. 

I have been feeling remarkably more excited and positive about my running- even having been sick. I know your mind is a POWERFUL place- and I think that taking off the marathon stress/burden has done amazing things for my psyche and my body. I was listening to a podcast (which I have been obsessed with listening to podcasts lately BTW) that talked about food & how you could be doing everything right but if you had emotional/spiritual stuff that you hadn't dealt with- that your body couldn't heal itself. And I think that applying that same concept to my running- that with a mindset that I'm still trying to catch up, that I'm on the pursuit of a redemption/revenge race, that I'm just still so far from where I want to be- all those thoughts affect me physically & mentally- and WON'T result in me finally bouncing back- but could keep me down in this slump even longer. NO THANK YOU. I'll take the express train out of this mess, please. Literally taking the marathon off the table has been the biggest sigh of relief. Sometimes you need to shake things up to get some different results. And clearly, hopping back onto the marathon train right now would be WAY too soon for me. 

LOVE LOVE LOVE this.

I have been excited to get back to track/tempos and to really start putting in some work. I had been debating doing Mountains 2 Beach half or Rock N Roll SD Half- but I decided having some extra time to really rest/recover and start up training from the ground up would be most beneficial at this point. 

Here's the race schedule I've tentatively settled on:

  • Bonita 5k- June 18th
  • Old Pro's 10k- July 4th
  • Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon- August 13th

I think this let's me go back to BASICSSSS. I get to hit the reset button and start building speed from the 5k up. And it gets me excited about something other than the marathon. All REALLY good things for this girl.

WHAT AM I DOING TO GET THAT GROOVEEEE BACK?!

1. Focusing on something other than what got me into the slump. Focusing on the marathon for too long has been a pretty disappointing track. Especially when I have kept choosing races which wouldn't really do me any favors. A lot can go wrong on marathon day even when controlling most variables- but deciding to make my marathon day that much harder by doing all of these crazy travel races has done nothing positive to show off my fitness. Ha. I'm excited to focus on a 5k in 8 weeks. Keeps things fresh and interesting and it's a nice and welcome break from marathon-specific training. 

2. Getting more rest. ESPECIALLY since I've been sick for now 2 weeks post-Tokyo- this lil bod needs some rest. I've been giving it more SLEEP and more rest from higher mileage (which is pretty much what I had been doing non-stop for 2 years). Super random- but in the Bible there is a biblical principal of letting the ground rest every 7 years and doing nothing with it (Exodus 23:11). Why? Because through this rest, the soil is revitalized, restored, and renewed. This principal of rest & the Sabbath (having a rest day every week) has literally been a part of culture and history for thousands of years. There's a reason for it- you keep pushing anything for too long and the results you get are the OPPOSITE of what you want.  So I'm gonna be over here resting for a bit. ;-)

Lake Miramar : where dreams are made. HAHA.

3. Shorter Intervals, Faster Legs.  My first two tempo workouts back were both 2 by 2 miles. SO MUCH FUN. No, really. I love getting to do the faster stuff and seeing some speed that I haven't seen in a while. Hoping to make these legs move quick again real soon. 

Peace Pies (in OB & Encinitas) is my FAVORITE for vegan, raw, gluten-free desserts. Sounds weird- but they are so tasty. About to dig in to a Chocolate Pie with Tyler- who REALLY likes it too. ;-)

4. Getting my nutrition on track & my weight on point. SOOOOO... I happened to see recently on my phone that my weight this time last year was a casual 8 pounds lighter than where I am now. Eek. That, my friends, is what happens when your boyfriend runs 100 miles a week and you eat every meal like it's an eating contest with him. Before Tokyo, I ate clean for January and February (literally no desserts or sweets, fries, or pizza- and I already don't eat anything really bad so basically all my meals were clean). And at the end of 2 months of deprivation, I weighed myself. I weighed the EXACT SAME AS WHEN I STARTED. Haha. Devastating for how many great french fries & yummy desserts I missed out on. So when I came back from Tokyo, I decided to do what I have reallyyyyyy not wanted to do for the last year- calorie count. I just know that while I'm at a healthy weight, I weigh more than I did previously when I was running quicker- so it would make sense that it feels like more work to run faster paces - since I'm legit carrying an 8 pounds weight with me for all these speed workouts. I started calorie counting on MyFitnessPal by downloading the super easy to use app on my phone. It's been eye-opening to say the least since I hadn't really been aware of the calories in what I've been eating and this has kept me a lot more accountable. Also, I feel like since I have limited calories in the day- I work harder to get the cleanest foods in since I know they help my body recover better. So far- it's been a really positive experience and I love that I am a lot more aware of what I'm eating. Also- randommmmm- but most Tuesday night track sessions I will have an extreme nauseousness/stomach cramping and I haven't been able to figure out what it is. I wasn't sure if it was not warming up or what- but it seems to hit me every Tuesday session- so I've chocked it up to the speed just causing me to have GI distress. Since I have been eating a LOT lighter for lunches, instead of my usual 1000-1600 calories I used to eat for a late lunch, I've noticed my Tuesday night track sessions have not had one single stomach pain. Soooo problem solved. Don't eat a whole gluten free pizza at 2 pm before a 6 pm Track sesh. 

I'll keep y'all posted on how this goes- and what I think of MFP- but so far, I'm down 4 pounds, which after 2 months of sacrifice and not an ounce lost, I'm pretty pleased with. ;-)

5. Loving what I'm doing. Life is good. Running is a gift- and remembering that daily is making this season of my life already such a good one. Taking a more relaxed approach to my running, not caring about when or where my next marathon is, and being a little more flexible with my running and training schedule is a good fit for where I am currently. 

If you're in a running rut, consider taking a break and reevaluating what's going on. Sometimes it takes hitting the pause button and doing a reassess to actually have anything change. I'm no hamster on a wheel- so I can't keep just going around in circles thinking that things will magically change. Stella got her groove back- and I'm aiming to get mine back too. 

Have a great run today! ;-)

WHEREVER YOU ARE, START THERE.

Who doesn't love a transformation story?! Or a photo where people completely transform their bodies in a side by side shot. It's no wonder that "Transformation Tuesday" is such a big hit on Instagram and that so many people are drawn to any transformation.  I think the ability to transform is one of the most amazing parts of the human journey. To know that what you are today, could completely change by tomorrow. It's clearly that hope of change that has people jumping on diet bandwagons, or buying the next insta-fix. But is there a way to guarantee a more sustainable form of change? To ensure that everyday you are just a little bit closer to where you want to be? 

I think so. But it has to start with where you are today. 

I remember 4 years ago at Thanksgiving, having just moved back to California. I saw my cousin coming back for a run before Thanksgiving dinner and she looked great & super toned and I was just so impressed with the discipline to be out there running- something I had done a grand total of 3 or 4 times while I lived in DC for almost 5 years. She had joined LA Roadrunners and signed up to run the LA Marathon. I knew right away that that was it. I had moved away from DC because I needed a change. My lifestyle over there was exhausting & it seemed like my metabolism had slowed down (how I could binge on pizza and wings all the time and never gain a pound is one of the life's greatest mysteries!)  I just felt like running was part of the change that I was looking for.  While waiting for Thanksgiving dinner, I impulsively signed up for the LA Marathon and then looked for a training group in San Diego. I found San Diego Track Club and signed up on the spot.  The website said that I needed to be able to run for 20 minutes in order to be prepared for marathon training. And that was definitely something I was unable to do at that point. But I was committed. 

I went back home and worked up to being able to run 20 minutes at a time. I started training with the track club and less than 3 months after not being able to run even 20 minutes alone and not working out for basically 10 years- I ran a 4:01 marathon in LA. That was all it took for me to stay consistent and want the transformation more. The transformation that running had on my life was NOT just a physical one. Committing to this lifestyle improved everything in my life- spirit, mind & body. I know that because of running, I processed through tough stuff that I had gone through, was able to reflect on God's faithfulness and choose gratitude, set goals & mentally challenge myself- and the obvious- get in shape.  It took the catalyst of running & the desire to make some changes in my life to really transform my life in ways that I would never have expected. 

My race fashion has come a looooong way!!!! ;-) 

My race fashion has come a looooong way!!!! ;-) 

My transformation is STILL in progress and I'm still so, SO very far from my goals. But here are a couple things to keep you motivated & encouraged in your journey- WHATEVER IT MAY BE. ;-)

1. Wherever you are, START THERE.  The "before" picture in a transformation shot- usually isn't pretty- and it's supposed to look like that. You may have had some false starts that discourage you from ever even trying to start again. Or you feel like you need to be in a different place before you can REALLY start. But I'm here to encourage you, wherever you are today- THAT is the perfect place to begin. Don't wait for this or that to happen- tomorrow never comes- and you can't afford to delay your transformation- whatever it may be. 

2. Find like-minded people. You cannot do it alone. If it's losing weight, starting an exercise regimen, picking up some type of hobby- whatever it is. YOU NEED PEOPLE. We were not made to go through this life alone. It's imperative to find people on your team to encourage you, challenge you, motivate you, speak life into you when you're discouraged. ALL OF THOSE THINGS. I've been into this running thing for 4 years now and I STILL need a support network. I am lost without it. Your mind is a crazy place- and it's easy to let self-doubt and negativity invade that fragile part of your brain where hope resides. The right people speak life back into those dreams you have and don't let you give in to those fears that will rob you of your transformation. 

I have these girls as my nutrition accountability. We aren't perfect but we focus on making better choices every day...  We are logging everyday into MyFitnessPal.com in the hopes of making better nutrition choices (i.e. more veg, less sugar). You just can't do it alone & expect to win!

I have these girls as my nutrition accountability. We aren't perfect but we focus on making better choices every day...  We are logging everyday into MyFitnessPal.com in the hopes of making better nutrition choices (i.e. more veg, less sugar). You just can't do it alone & expect to win!

3. Start with the tangibles. Rome wasn't built in the day- & neither are your dreams. Dreaming is good, right? But too many people just wish and hope for things and don't have an action plan to make things happen. Ask yourself- what can I do today to get me closer to the dream? There are probably a million things I can be doing each & every day to make myself a better runner. But that's overwhelming and not feasible to do EVERYTHING all the time. What is feasible is picking a couple things each week to integrate into my life until they become just a part of my life& habitual. For example- starting to add turmeric in to my smoothies every morning, or rolling my legs out before I go to bed at night, or being vigilant about getting to bed early so I get good rest. All things that I previously didn't do, but have been making a point to focus on those things so that they are just a part of my life- and I can focus on the other things I need to start incorporating to get me closer to my goal- like doing running drills, or focusing on more plant-based nutrition on a daily basis. You don't get to from A to Z with just a wish & a prayer. You have to do SOMETHING. 

4. Get your action plan together. So with that- put together a plan. You're the architect of your own life- but if you don't have the plans in place- who knows how that building is gonna turn out. ;-) Whatever the goal is- I like to put a plan in place to get me there. 

5. Write those goals out- everywhere.  Seeing your goals written out is just the visual affirmation that you need everyday. I spent some time working on a dream board with some friends that I will be writing out my goals for the year on and sticking up in a place where I'll see it daily as a constant reminder of my dreams. Big goals usually take a lot of sacrifice & hard work- so having something there to remind me WHY I'm doing this everyday really is motivating. 

I had this up for the months before my goal race where I ran a 3:28:56... Probably not a coincidence!!! 

6. Stay consistent.  Don't give up because you have an off day… or two.  You will never see the fruition of all your hard work if you give in to disappointment. This is another reason why it's great to have accountability in your life when the going gets rough. Life can get busy, you can get distracted or discouraged, but stay consistent in the day to day and you're going to see results. 

I have this quote up at my work as a reminder to stay consistent and faithful- and the results will be soon to come. 

7. The actual goal is good- but the real change is usually your mind! To stay consistent when the results are slow-coming (or seemingly non-existent) is so good. It's such an exercise for life- when things with your job- or family may not seem to be giving you the results you want. Instead of giving up- persevere & trust the process. Hebrews 11:1 is one of my favorite verses- it says - Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen. Trusting that things are happening, even when you don't see them yet is the very definition of faith. And it sure does take a lot of faith to put the action out there to transform your life. ;-) Practicing on having faith & perseverance with your goals will pay off in every aspect of your life. 

I know so many people see other people's transformations and think - there is no way that could happen for me. That thought is basically the number one thing you can think to keep you the way you are. FOREVERRR. Gosh- even if transforming my body/mind/spirit takes the rest of my life, I'd rather go down that path.  I'd encourage you to start where you are- wherever it is - and set a plan in motion- because you just never know what will happen.  You deserve giving yourself all the chance for happiness & to see where the journey takes you. Like they say- if it doesn't challenge you, it won't change you.

Now get out there & have a great run today. ;-)

I'm a transformation story in the making. ;-)

 

 

 

How am I recovering from my marathon??!

BIGGGG SHOCKER. I'm training again. ;-)

I know, I know. I JUST did a marathon. I JUST blogged about how I had done 6 marathons in 23 months. And I said I needed a break. And I AM taking a break. From the marathon & the type of training that comes along with it. And the mental & emotional stress that I've experienced during it (side note: most of it inflicted BY me ;-). 

I'm a full month out from Tokyo & I feel SO much better. I can't even put it into words. No, I didn't have a great race in Tokyo. No, it showed NOTHING of where I believe my fitness was. And yes, it was another bad race in a string of bad ones. But I don't care. I need a break. And I have nothing to prove to anyone (repeating this to myself, ALL THE TIME). Taking the marathon pressure off and just thinking of doing some fast things in the half just makes running not such a dread/chore. 

So how DO I plan on recovering from this race & integrating training?

1. No long runs for 2 months. So I decided to lay off the long runs until the beginning of May- basically 2 full months off from doing a 20 miler before work. YES. Long runs are physically & mentally taxing- so part of my mental & phys break is breaking up with those LR's for a bit. Get some of my energy back, get some of my excitement back. They really aren't NECESSARY right now & I think my body could really use the rest/break for a bit. 

I'm excited to bring the joy back to my running. ;-)

2. MAJOR KEY: Key workouts ARE key. What I'm not compromising or dropping are my key workouts- tempos & track. Those are my favorite workouts anyways- and the quickest way to get my speed back so I'm excited to just focus on them. I'm back at track & we are doing lots of 800's this fall. I LOVE 800's. I did a lot of them in the lead up to M2B in 2014- and I think they are such a great way to get fit fast. And I'm back to tempo Saturdays and making my legs find some sustained speed. My first two weeks back with workouts have been great. I'm SO thankful. I've had some of my fastest running in a year and a half in these first couple speed workouts back. I'm happy that not only have I not lost my fitness, but the rest is clearly helping me find some speed. This is a HUGE encouragement & I'm excited to build from where I am now. 

3. Flexibility is the name of the game. Part of not doing marathon training is NOT having a rigid and structured schedule. The type A personality I have means I DO like structure, but right now, if it's not a key workout- it's nonessential and if there is any time for me to be more relaxed about my training it's on the backside of a 6 marathon run.  Being more flexible makes this period seem more casual & light. I LIKE THAT. ;-)

4. Stronger = Faster. I'm STILL focusing on strength like before. I have been hitting up da barre 3 times a week & getting my Kayla Itsines workouts out. In addition, I've had a glute that is just lazier/weaker and I've been doing some specific strength workouts that target that. More on that to come. I'm looking forward to seeing all this strength I've been doing for awhile to really benefit me. 

5. No expectations, but ALL the hope. This is a beautiful stage where I have no pressing races, but I get to be optimistic and hopeful about my running. I get to have excitement for the half marathons I'm doing later this season- and I know feeling those types of feelings will be loads better for my actual training. 

6. Nutritionnnnnn & portion control. (UGH.) So the allure of distance running is unlimited eating, right?! Or at least that's what I've had myself believe. I've started focusing more on nutrition & not eating SOOOO much. Eating until satiation, not until I've created the 12 month pregnant look. Food and performance and weight are so interconnected and figuring out the best plan for me is something that takes time & experience- but I'm invested in figuring it out. 

I am grateful for these DELICIOUS black bean burgers from Cafe Grat. 

7. #fastertogether. Going with this mantra and tapping into the resources of great friends who are fast & positive and getting on this faster together train. I've been like a hermit running alone for the last year. But I'm excited to start running with some friends and pacing off their speed & getting some of my own.  Part of re-integrating myself back into running with people is getting my confidence back. Overtraining and coming back from it has really done a number on me, but slowly seeing results & that feeds my hope & positivity. 

#squadspeedgoals

I'm already SO hopeful after this first week back. I know that I still have a LOTTTT of work to be where I want to be by goal race Lululemon's Seawheeze Half Marathon (big goals = lotsa work). But the feedback I'm getting from just my toe-in-the-water workouts leave me REALLY excited to do that work and really start seeing results that I have earned. 

The RUNdown of this week's training:

  • Monday: 6 treadmill miles + Kayla workout
  • Tuesday: 6 x 800s (6:21 pace); 8 X 100 (5:21 pace)  + Barre
  • Wednesday: 4 treadmill miles + Kayla Itsines workout
  • Thursday: 6 treadmill miles + Barre class
  • Friday: Kayla Itsines Ab workout
  • Saturday: 1.5 mi warmup, 2 by 2 mile tempo (first set: 7:03, 6:55; second set: 6:52, 6:55) with 1/2 mi rest, 4 mi cool down  (**fastest miles I have seen in too long for a tempo run. EXCITED.)
  • Sunday: Kayla Itsines legs + leg strength workouts

Hope you have a great start to your week & get out and run. ;-)

with some track club babes after their mile race. ;-) Tyler and I came straight from Ventura to this race (like 3 hour drive) and we didn't have time for me to go get my running shoes, so you better believe I was sprinting and cheering along in my rainbows. 

6 Marathons. 23 months.

You read that right. 6 marathons in 23 months. The moment I stepped across the finish line in Tokyo- my thoughts were- GOOD GOD, I'm glad that's over & also- I'm TIRED. Not just tired from this marathon, but tired from everything marathon. I need a break. 

Marathon #1 of 6 in 23 month: MARATONA DI ROMA (absolutely the most scenic race. SO special. also SO SO rainy & cold.)

On further evaluation on where my thoughts & feelings on the marathon were, I thought back to how many marathons I had done since I had taken a year off dealing with my stomach/health issues. I've done 6. In less than 2 years. I think thinking of it in concrete terms with real numbers like that made me realize how INSANE that was. Just too much for one little body. And the fact that 3 of them have been pretty rough- means that emotionally/mentally it's taken an even greater toll. Kinda like being in the ring & taking punch after punch. Only so many knockouts before you're like- hey, ya know what- I need a quick second. 

Marathon #2 of 6: MOUNTAIN 2 BEACH MARATHON- MY FIRST BQ!!!! and truly one of the most magical, perfect 3 hours & 28 minutes of my life. 

So that's what I'm gonna do. Take that quick second- from the marathon. Not from running. ;-) I'm always thinking in terms of marathon training, and when is my next race, and planning my life around these huge events so I already had Chicago Marathon this October on my race calendar. But you know what, I don't think that's such a great idea right now. For whatever reason, I've been having a rough season and I think my body & mind would like a mini-break from early morning 20 milers & from marathon pressure. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE THE MARATHON. It's the best & worst thing to happen to me. Ha. There is something so magical when it all goes right & something so cruel when things go wrong that make it very addictive for me.  It is this elusive crazy goal race that takes everything you have mind, body & spirit to really succeed- and that is so appealing (evidently a little too appealing to me). But in order to give the marathon the best of me (and not the most tired of me), I need a break to come back fresh. To not remember how truly long that race is. (Will any break be long enough to forget how long a marathon really is??!)

Marathon #3 of 6: BIG COTTONWOOD MARATHON- aka learning the hard way how to interpret a course elevation map. BQ #2, my most painful marathon to date, but the most in shape I have ever been in my life (still so grumpy it was wasted on this course!)

I think deciding to opt out of a fall marathon (a tough decision that I have already second guessed like 30 times) and just focusing on half marathons for the remainder of the year actually makes me REALLY excited to get back to running and be relieved of the full marathon pressure for some time. I feel like halves are so much more controlled and there is a lot less that can go wrong in a half. With marathons, anything that goes wrong is cumulative- it all builds on each other in a tragic comedy type of way. Oh your stomach is refusing to cooperate at mile 16 of Berlin- you're not just dealing with major stomach pain- now you've affected your ability to fuel & hydrate for the remainder of the race because who wants to play the "can I keep this down?!" game with 10 miles left of a race. Spoiler alert: you usually lose. Haha. The cumulative craziness of a marathon. ;-)

Marathon #4 of 6: BOSTON MARATHON- finally Boston! ;-) Sadly something I waited for for so long was tougher due to overtraining & tough weather. Oh well. Cannot wait for when I decide to go back. I have a feeling it will be VERY different. 

Marathon #4 of 6: BOSTON MARATHON- finally Boston! ;-) Sadly something I waited for for so long was tougher due to overtraining & tough weather. Oh well. Cannot wait for when I decide to go back. I have a feeling it will be VERY different. 

There are some pro's & coaches out there who actually recommend that you start at shorter distances and eventually work your way up to the marathon. That it's not THE best idea to jump straight into the marathon.  You know, I started running and then 2 months later ran LA Marathon and have pretty much been on the marathon track since. I've never done a half as a goal race.  I used all the other distances as a means to a (marathon) end. I'm gonna switch things up for a bit- and I'm gonna focus on the shorter distances for awhile. Let my brain take a break from the stress/pressure of the marathon. Let my body get some time to recover and recup from the stresses of the distance. 

Marathon #5 of 6: BERLIN MARATHON- I wasn't really in shape for this race coming back from overtraining for Boston- but I gave it my best and slogged through the last 1o miles with stomach issues & a wild blood blister. 

I'm actually really pumped about this. I haven't ever done half marathon specific training - or ever tapered for a half (all of my half PR's are with heavy mileage with a 20 miler done the week before)- so definitely excited to just change things up for a bit. I'm looking forward to hitting up some 5k's and 10k's in the lead up to start getting me into half racing shape. 

Marathon #6 of 6: TOKYOOOOO - too much time change + hills at end + long course= unsatisfying results (but with the knowledge that on a better day things could have been different! ;-)

Since Tokyo Marathon (2/28), I did a full week off, the second week post-race I ran twice (a grand total of 7 miles for the week ;-) and this week (3rd week out), I did 30 miles. I'll probably go to track and probably get a tempo in this week. Or not. I'm willing to play it by ear. But I'm really happy to be getting back after it.

To shorter distances & longer days- things that make my heart really happy right now! Go out & get in a great run today.

 

Tokyo Marathon RECAP [aka surviving 17 hour time difference & a Marathon]

Tokyo Marathon is done. It's a surreal & happy thing to finally get a BREAK. 

We boarded our flight on Wednesday morning in San Diego, super excited. We were on it for awhile before they actually made us deplane because the plane was having technical issues. (I will never be grumpy about having to get off a broken plane. THANK GOD.) The next flight they were moving us to would get us to San Francisco after our flight to Tokyo was supposed to take off. Not good. We called the airlines to reschedule our flight- and the ridiculousness that was coming out of the lady rebooking us was absurd. (How many times do I have to say taking a red eye to Newark only to reboard a flight to Tokyo and going back west - and losing 24 hours that we were supposed to have in Tokyo is NOT ideal for my marathon?!) Majorly frustrating situation and I was really nervous because every option she was giving us was putting us there a full day later (when we were already cutting it pretty close in terms of time to adjust and shake out. After a lot of negotiating, we finally were on a flight that got us in to Tokyo and to our place around midnight- with a 1 am bedtime. Not ideal - especially since I wanted two shakeout runs in Tokyo- but SO much better than any of the alternatives they were giving us. 

Our flight got in after 10 pm and we navigated the metros and found our way to our airbnb. All with Tyler carrying both of our bags. He's an angel. 

We got to our little place in Tokyo- and everything was already sooo different than anything I had experienced. I was excited to do a shakeout run with Tyler and kinda nervous to see what my legs were feeling like off the plane- not terrible. 

Shakeoutttt, baby. (My legs look fresher than they really felt.)

Shakeoutttt, baby. (My legs look fresher than they really felt.)

We headed to the Expo - it's amazing how incredibly helpful the Japanese are. The expo wasn't the most exciting one I've been to and shockingly, there were literally zero options of things that I wanted to buy from the race (a FIRST for me). Asics- y'all need to step up your game with your race clothes. 

Not a lot of race-friendly options here, yall. Unless you count chili shrimp and rice as a race-friendly food. ;-)

So something that was really tough about this race for me was carbloading for it. I'm celiac- so that makes things already annoying in the states- but it made it really difficult in Japan. Luckily rice is gluten-free- but there was concern about sauces/foods. I just didn't feel like I was able to eat enough carbs prior to race. I really tried. There is seriously only so much plain rice you can eat. We ended up eating my pre-race dinner at Outback so that I could have potatoes - which is my favorite pre-race food and mashed potatoes aren't really a thing in Japan- so to American staple Outback we went. 

Heading to the Outback and crossing the world's largest crossing (SHIBUYAAAAA). It was insane how many people were in that crossing- we're in middle of the street crossing in this pic. 

Heading to the Outback and crossing the world's largest crossing (SHIBUYAAAAA). It was insane how many people were in that crossing- we're in middle of the street crossing in this pic. 

We came back to the apartment and we sat down on our mats on the hardwood floors (aka our beds) and were talking and oops- FELL ASLEEP REALLY HARD like at 7:45 pm. We woke up after 2 hours and it felt like I had been hit by a truck- SO tired. I got ready and went to bed- at least thankful that I wouldn't be tossing and turning all night. I woke up at like 4 am or maybe earlier and was wide awake - even though I didn't have to wake up until about 6:30 am. This should have been a warning sign to me that my body was super exhausted and not quite on Japanese schedule yet. 

found a random half a sweet potato on a street. first & last time to ever see a sweet potato cart in my life.

found a random half a sweet potato on a street. first & last time to ever see a sweet potato cart in my life.

We got all ready & headed out to the race. I was bundled up but it wasn't too chilly once we were outside. I was staying pretty calm pre-race. We got to the start and I waited SOOOO long in the line for the bathrooms that I was rushing to get to the start area. Somehow I was Gate 1, Wave B- which meant that my corral was a lot more open than most corrals. When the gun went off they threw these white heart-shaped things into the air and it was the most beautiful thing. I had my moment of reflection & baby tears - thankful for another start line that I had the privilege of being at. And then I went.

just a babe trying to run in asia. 

The first part is slightly downhill for a couple miles- I was just focused on not going out too fast (my usual problem- fly & die.) I was aiming for a pace between 7:40 - 7:50 /mi so when I hit the first mile at 7:45 I was happy that I was right on target - even with the huge throng of people starting out & worrying about being tripped or being slowed up. I cruised through the first couple miles & felt pretty controlled. Thinking back through a marathon is tough- trying to remember all the different feelings you felt. I had arm warmers, hand warmers, & gloves because I had thought it would be so cold. In fact, I had been freaking out prior to race trying to decide whether I should wear a long sleeve. Oh, I'm so glad I didn't. I threw out the hand warmers within 2 miles because I was worried about overheating. Then at 5 miles I threw away my gloves and pushed my arm sleeves down to my wrists (I have huge cotton white bracelets for all race photos. Genius.). The weather felt warmish with the sun beating down on us and most of the race out in the open/not shaded.

There were a LOT of us out there. ;-) let's play FIND THE MEXICAN.

I was on pace for awhile (not long enough, haha, but awhile!) and then it felt like a LOT of effort to keep on track pace-wise. It wasn't easy-breezy. There were a lot of out & backs which made the race drag on & were rough. I saw Tyler around 13 (I think) and just made a face to him. The race already felt like a struggle. 

Tyler cheered me on at around mile 13. 

I had gone into the race feeling pretty confident. All my long runs from December on were done at under 8 minute pace. They were done on tired legs from tough workouts, no fuel or caffeine, & no breakfast. I fully expected that it wouldn't be THAT much of a stretch to do a marathon at my goal pace- just a little bit faster than what my typical long run was run in- especially with rest/taper, fuel, adrenaline, caffeine, race support. Honestly the shock was most mine when during the race, I was just fatiguing. Once I realized I was falling off pace- I just tried to stay engaged and keep pushing. 

The sun was beating down and it just all felt endless (duh, it's a marathon). And then I knew that the worst was still to come (hill bridges- 5 of them over the last 5 miles). I just braced myself and tried to keep pushing. It's all a blur now. Evidently Tyler was on one of those bridges and I didn't even know he was there. Each of the bridges were tough because it was a little climb- and my legs freaked out a bit and were spasming/cramping as they were forced to use different muscle to go uphills. I just tried to not push anything too hard and risk them completely shutting down. The water stations now that we were on the bridges were chaotic and awful. Everyone was either walking through them or standing directly in front of them- not grab and go ease- so I passed most water stations so I wouldn't be forced to stop at this point. 

me & my motley crew in front of my namesake. it seems sacrilegious for such suffering to happen at chanel. 

I kept pushing the last bit and focusing on overall pace, just thinking that it would still be a win to BQ. With a mile to go, I was really excited it was all over- and then I saw the 3k sign. It hit me- what I had kinda been wondering the whole time- but hoping would ultimately correct itself. The course was just THAT off. Nothing to do at this time but just to minimize the damage and keep pushing. I crossed the finish line in 3:38:16, 26.75 miles, 8:09 pace. First thought: I'm NOT doing a fall marathon. I need a break. Second thought: Need water & where is Tyler. I went through the line and got my mini bottle - and chugged it and went back to grab another and they politely informed me that it was 1/person. (26.75 miles deserves at least 2 bottles, right?!) They looped us into this building and through it- for a total of TWO MILES before we even could reach the people we were trying to meet. This part was really tough. I just wanted to be done and sit down and see Tyler. 

THE GOOD STUFFF!

  • The volunteers! Goshhhh! They were so nice. SERIOUSLY. So nice. So supportive. They made the race what it was for me. I was bowing to them as I was taking water from them mid-run. No lie. 
  • Tokyo!!!- how cool is it running by temples & crazy different stuff?! 
  • My boyfriend being on course & at finish line- all I wanted when the race was over was to find him and get a big hug. 

That's the best person I know cheering me on. ;-)

THE ROUGH STUFF! (Gah.)

  • Bridges. In the last 5 miles. Ugh. Do I really need to elaborate more on this?! Who wants the only REAL hills in the race to be at the end. My legs were cramping/spazzing on the bridges cause it was just such a different muscle use. Pretty much these hills were the bane of everyone's existence. I felt it a REAL win to be continuing to run up them. Lots of people walked. Seriously, a guy was laying horizontal across the road on one of the bridges- just over it- not even giving 2 harajuku's that he was in the middle of the race course and not on the median like 3 feet away. 
  • Portapotties. There were SOME portapotties that were labeled "western-style." But when I went to get in line pre-race- I didn't get in one of those lines... so I had to use one that was essentially a hole in the floor. A bit traumatizing for someone who hates portapotties SO much. Haha.
  • Long course. This one probably gets me the most. Ugh. A world marathon major having a course that long- that's embarrassing. I looked back at Boston & Berlin which I did last year and I had 26.4 for both- normal-ish. For Tokyo, I had 26.75. C'mon. Everyone I knew running it/people I connected with on insta were complaining about how long the course was. Pretty big faux-pas. 
  • Out & back course x 2. You don't know things you don't like about the marathon until you essentially experience them and are like- ya know, I don't quite like that. That's how I feel about out & backs. There were two on this course and I disliked them so much. It was a lot of carnage I had to watch on the way back- and mentally I think that was tough to see. It also feels a lot more crowded with just throngs of people around. 

The Real Feel:

So initially when the race was over I felt really disappointed. This was now my 4th race off track- and I had worked SUPER hard to make it a good one and had seen so much positive progress. My tempos and long runs were always consistent and no matter what I had going on- were all really good and in about the same range. It just didn't make sense. I cried a few disappointed tears, ate a meal, and then we went back to our place. And for the first time after a race, I took a nap (usually my adrenaline is going nuts and I can't even fall asleep at night) and I slept on accident for five hours. Woke up at 10 pm. And went right back to sleep.

Because crying, while in race clothes with a race towel around your legs, while eating chile shrimp for a second day in a row at the same restaurant with same waiter in a VERY reserved culture is TOTALLY normal. ;-)

The next day I woke up and I surprisingly was really at peace with it. 1. I knew I worked crazy hard going into it- every week beyond faithful with all of the workouts, strength, massage, stretching, sleep, nutrition. 2. I gave it everything on course and can only work with what I had.

So what went wrong?! 

I mean. WHO KNOWS EXACTLY RIGHT?! Haha. Sometimes things aren't necessarily quantifiable- which makes it that much more difficult to process. But here's what I thing went wrong:

1. DATE LINE IS THE REAL DEAL, yo. I've done international races before. But a Berlin is not a Tokyo. My friend Ben (who also ran Tokyo & had a similar "off" race) broke it down:

Normal jet lag involves shifting your sleep/wake cycle a couple hours in one direction or another, which sucks, but is manageable. Going to Asia means you're actually INVERTING your sleep cycles. I think a graphical display of this is pretty interesting so I drew it out. just imagine the biological functions of a circadian rhythm overlayed on this deformed sinusoidal curve. this is not drawn to scale or meant to be scientifically accurate, but it illustrates the point: moving the curve a couple hours one direction or the other is bad, but not terrible. Your sleep/wake trajectories are generally the same, just lagged a bit. Moving it 17 hours up or back means you're INVERTING your cycles, and is way more destructive. Your trajectories are reversed: when you should be getting more tired you're getting more awake, and vice versa.

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This is what I think REALLY did me in. The rest of the points below are things that didn't HELP the matter - but I think this is really what made my race "off." If you've ever done significant travel- like Asia- or even just long flights- you know how gross and heavy your legs feel post-travel. 

2. Sleep- I was sleeping like I got hit by a truck most of the times. And my naps were just really deep sleeps- waking up from them really confused and exhausted. Here's another something Ben mentioned about sleep:

Quality of sleep is super important, and when you are making these changes your quality of sleep goes south. Even though I was sleeping every night I wasn't waking up well rested, I was still tired, and totally exhausted by 2-3pm. No doubt I was passing out from exhaustion every night, but because my body hadn't adjusted, I was sitting in nrem (stage 1-4) sleep, and not rem sleep which is where the real body healing /restoration process happens.

3. I don't think I had enough time to adjust. Getting there behind schedule meant that I missed one planned shakeout run- so I just had one shakeout run to shake off the effects of the flight and to try and feel normal- and then wham bam, international marathon, ma'am. 

4. Courses can look easier/more stable on paper. Sorry. Just tough to have your only REAL hills/climbs to be 5 spread out over last 5 miles. No matter how good you're feeling. Just tough. 

5. I don't think I got enough carbs in. I really tried- but honestly it was hard just finding things in general that I could eat. I definitely didn't overeat in the days prior to race. 

I actually just looked at my splits now that I'm back in the states. PAINFUL. I only held pace for 10 miles. Is that a joke?! I think seeing that made me realize that there was just something more at play - if I hadn't already realized that before. Literally all of my long runs except for one (8:11 for 20 miles) were faster than my marathon pace. I had zero pep in my step and was working too hard too early on. I was just tired. And I could feel it. It shouldn't feel tough from the start. 

So How AM I feeling?!

I'm surprisingly really, REALLY at peace with this race. Before Tokyo when I had that 20 miler at 8:11 pace that I "bombed" - I had a mini-meltdown. Lots of tears. A full monologue where I told Tyler that I needed SOMETHING. Some glimmer of hope for me to keep going. That with my hope in such a fragile state, I couldn't keep taking any more hits. I repeatedly told him my hope was just very fragile right now. That I couldn't keep working SO hard and not having the results that I felt like I deserved. I didn't think I would be able to remain continually positive about my running if I had another bad race. That it would just be more salt in the wounds. (I mean, these off seasons aren't cause I haven't worked hard. For one reason or another, things haven't clicked and I have been learning very valuable lessons the hard way.) I thought the only cure-all for this fragile state was a good race to rescue me from it. 

But you know what… I'm here to tell you- my hope isn't that fragile. ;-) I'm on the other side of another not too hot race, and ya know- I actually feel more hopeful and more positive about my running than before. Maybe it's because I feel like the race wasn't a real read on where my fitness currently is. Or I knew that there were too many things outside of my control to let it get to me. Or that I know that bad races shouldn't steal my joy or my love for running. Whatever it is though, I feel hopeful & strong. And I think that's a really good place to be. ;-)

Really grateful for the incredible opportunity to visit Japan. Traveling has always been my first love & Tyler and  I truly enjoyed every minute we got to spend there. Can't wait for our next adventure. ;-)


Olympic Trials Marathon RECAP & Giving Life to a Dream

Geez. I am just now surviving and breathing post- Olympic Trials Marathon. It was everything- exciting, nervewracking, hot, devastating, and emotional. I laughed, cried, didn't breathe, and screamed so loud that morning. And then felt emotionally hungover after it was all over. Really. It was sooooo very exciting. But it was also extremely devastating and heavy to watch because I know how hard everyone worked to get here- devoting months if not years to this goal, and to see some have a bad day or just be devastated, murdered me.

The race gods were not gracious to the fastest athletes in the nation and it was set to be a blazing day. We got up early that am- 5 am and were on the road by 5:45 am to make SURE we didn't miss even a second of the race. Guys. Legit, I woke up and arrived earlier to a race that wasn't even mine than I EVER do for my own races. But that is neither here nor there. We got up to LA, parked at the Convention Center, and ran over to the start area and ended up right where all the athletes were coming and checking in and then warming up. It was surreal- that all these great athletes were in one place… and that something we have looked forward to for so long was finally here. 

cheerleaders.

We parked our little non-running selves in the shade on a part of the looped course and got ready to cheer everyone on. It was beyond amazing getting to be there in person and to lend whatever emotional support we could give to each of the runners. But it was so tough that we literally just got snapshots of the race instead of seeing the whole thing as the race unfolded (and I'm still kicking myself that I forgot to record the race. ugh). (Side note- if you know how we can watch, LET ME KNOW.)

The men's race started and it was exciting seeing these guys speed away at ridiculous speeds- and then also thinking- good God- it's hot. How are they going to survive for a whole marathon?! The women went off twenty minutes later (poor girls- really having to run later in this heat!) and it was great that every couple minutes we would get to see either the men's or women's field coming through until halfway through the race and they started intermixing. 

The race was amazing to watch. Everyone knows the outcome, so I'm not here to recap that. But more to speak to the atmosphere there. Cheering Kara on was like priority #1 in being there. She did incredible. She was always up there and didn't try to go out leading but was sticking it out with the leaders and fighting in the heat. Gosh- anytime she ran by we went nuts. She ran with so much heart, guys. SO MUCH HEART. Every loop that she passed I was just so relieved that she was up there and looked strong & was fighting. The last loop when we saw her coming and she was in fourth on her way to the finish line- I was literally dying not sure how it would unfold. It was torture waiting for the results. It was the most heartbreaking thing finding out she came in 4th- but I am so incredibly proud of the woman who put herself to the position where she was able to fight that valiantly for a spot for the Olympics and just barely miss it. She was the athlete that we have known her to be- stronger for going through all of the physical setbacks that have no doubt taken an emotional toll. She fought through all of that and got herself into the shape where she was able to fight that hard for the Team. I am proud of the athlete that was so willing to put herself on the line and be vulnerable in front of a huge audience. She did us proud. And I'm rooting for her going into a pursuit of a 10k spot.

I think what makes her special- and her story that much more impactful is how far she may have been from her previous levels of fitness when she set out the goal for Olympic Trials.  There were injuries, critics, and self-doubt that could easily have persuaded her that MAYBE that was just too tough a goal or too far out of reach. As everyday runners, we deal with that on our own level. Things that ultimately want to snuff out any chance/hope we have at going after big dreams. Maybe it's been years since you've been at your peak fitness, or you are struggling to come back from injury, or you think your goal is just too far out of reach. But you know, if you don't go after them because you have already suffocated them with doubt and fear, you already know the outcome, right?! I think what I love the most is that she had a dream, and she gave it oxygen/life and let it breathe. She breathed life into her dream- and then followed through with ALL of the action everyday to breathe further life into it and make it real. And she did it. She didn't get a spot on the team, but she was right there- competing and legitimately fighting for that spot. So I'm just so proud that she put herself in that place - and then after that- you know, it's up to the day what happens. She is such a role model in inspiring me to do what it takes to make my dreams a reality- in the face of any type of physical or emotional discouragement that I may be facing. She is so brave.

Another athlete that had a tough day that I was so cheering for was Fernando Cabada, with the 8th fastest time going into the race. It wasn't his day and I know the brutal heat didn't help. But he stayed in the race, even when the results weren't what he was hoping for. I just feel like that is so brave & character-building. I have SOOOOO much respect for someone who knows their day has turned a bit ugly, but who fights to the end. Good things & faster days to come for him as well! Regardless- it's a privilege to be in this amazing field- no matter how the day turned out. What an honor to even be able to compete. 

The heat really made this race such a wildcard. We would watch and all of a sudden be like- have you seen this person lately? Did they drop? Just made everything so much more unexpected. To watch these athletes battle fatigue, heat, and the sun in the middle of the day was inspiring. The work that each of these athletes put in to qualify and then to even toe the line is ridiculous. So thankful we had the opportunity to be here and support these guys in their big dreams. Gosh. So so hard to see the day turn out to be so rough/disappointing for so many people. And just a reminder that no one is immune from the heartbreak that running can bring- and it can be oh soooo heartbreaking. But I think the hope for a better day is what makes it all so beautiful too. I've known the disappointing/soul-crushing days- but have also seen how absolutely euphoric it can be when your day is magic- and that's what keeps you at it. ;-) 

I think watching the trials- and seeing the heartbreak- actually helped me release some of my anxiety for Tokyo. Sounds counterintuitive, I know. But hear me out. I guess just seeing that bad days LITERALLY happen to everyone, even when you prepared to the max and did everything possible to make your day great, helped me to release the things out of my control and accept whatever will happen on February 28th. Gosh, I hope it's a good day. I feel like I am overdue for one of those. But you know, if it's not, LIFE GOES ON. My running goes on. I have literally done everything within my power to prepare for a great race. And that, my friends, is all I can do. The rest I leave up to God.

Tokyo is 6 days away...

T-O-K-Y-O-O-O Training RECAP

Testing 1, 2, 3. Is this thing on? After basically not blogging my whole training for Tokyo- and sticking to insta posts, this feels different. ;-)

Running in Santiago, Chile 

So we are within TWO WEEKS of toeing the line in Tokyo. I am thankful to be at this point. Thankful to have survived another marathon buildup, thankful to be injury-free, thankful to have gotten through what has been a tough emotional season with confidence that has taken a beating after 3 bad marathons back 2 back. 

So what HAS this marathon season looked like??? Here's the RUNdown.

1. I stuck to 5 days a week of running/5 runs a week. During Boston I ended up overtraining. Running 80 miles a week for 5 weeks straight- took a toll on me and I showed up at Boston with dead/flat legs and nothing to give. Ever since that, I am cautious about overtraining - KNOWING now the fatigue that comes hand in hand with that. I decided to dial it back and maxed out on 5 days of running a week with no more than 60 miles- manageable for me. It hasn't felt like too much- especially compared to 7 days a week of running with MULTIPLE double days. (I'm sorry - does ANYONE look forward to a 6 miler after a 20 miler in the am??!) 

2. I did my best to keep to my schedule/but was flexible & rolled with what life threw at me. This season hasn't been ideal to say the least. I had to bounce back from Berlin (September 27th) and pretty much take a week off from running and then start running again to get the base to set myself up for a good Tokyo. I had three weddings (that I played a role in) and other commitments during this training season. I was SUPER ill and was in bed for 8 days around Thanksgiving (forget running, I didn't go downstairs in my house during that time). I traveled to South America and was out of routine/couldn't get the hard workouts really done there- so just ran easy. Then I spent Christmas in Tennessee/went to Alisa's wedding in Virginia/went to Jacksonville, Florida to run a workout while Tyler went after his OTQ dream. These are just some of the main events of this season.. but through it all- I really worked to make sure my main workouts were hit. Part of making sure everything could be scheduled in was switching my long runs to Thursday morning (because running 20 miles before work sounds nice). I'm really proud of the fact that despite all of the craziness of my personal schedule/life- that I did my best to get my training in. Life & training is never perfect- and I just did the best I could.

marathon training & wedding season DO go hand in hand (who wants to NOT fit into their bridesmaid dress?!)

3. I tried to eat clean- most of the time. I really have been putting my nutrition as a priority- focusing on cooking and making sure I eat lots of veggies- whether that's in the Vmix or cooking them. I have been inspired from Instagram accounts focusing on nutrition- and just seeing the huge role that nutrition focus has made in Kara Goucher's turnaround in her fitness. And if I lose a pound or two- that wouldn't be the WORST thing ever. HA.

my every morning breakfast drink  ;-) there's spinach, kale, chard, apple, carrots, beets, ginger, & mango in it. Tyler LOVES it when I share some with him. Ha. 

4. I've been faithful to my tempos. Tempos are just the work that needs to be done in order to regain speed for a race. I honestly look forward to them now. Kinda get nervous for them- but I just know that that is really the workout I do that makes the biggest difference. I have done really varied workouts- short segments at a faster pace (for example: 3 by 3 miles), and then the next week longer work at a slower sustained pace (2 by 5 miles or an 8 or 10 mile tempo). I'm happy I'm coming into this race feeling pretty strong- but so ready to keep doing tempos after this and keep making progress.

5. I've got those long runs in. I hit 4- 20 milers, and probably 3-18 milers this season. I don't think I even did 1 -20 miler before Berlin (ugh)- so it makes me feel so much more confident to have done some great long runs- with some pretty quick paces- and some with some fast marathon paced last miles. Long runs are a lot of work - and I'm just proud that I got them in even with how exhausting life can be.

6. I'm taking those quick steps now. So my cadence is something I'm REALLY proud of. To the normal runner, maybe it's not that big of a deal. But being a pretty tall runner with long legs- I tend to lope along. Since we have been dating, Tyler has been telling me my cadence is really low and I need to work on it. I kinda just brushed it aside. Then I did a workout with Kevin McCrarey- and he pulled me aside to tell me that was quite a stride I had- but that my turnover was soft and I needed to work on it. I think nail in coffin of my slow cadence days was seeing myself in Tijuana in the final kick of the half marathon when this girl REALLY thought that she was going to outkick me in the final 200 meters- and then when I realize she is passing me- I kick it into gear and pass her to the finish. Adri recorded a video of me and seeing how long and slow my stride was mortified me. So beginning of August, I made my cadence a priority- even over pace. I made it so that cadence was a top field on my Garmin so I could keep my lil eye on those lazy legs of mine. Prior to working on my cadence all my runs were mid-150s to low 160's on a GOOD day. Every single long run I would look at my cadence- not even looking at pace- and anytime I saw it dropping, I would quicken my steps. For anyone who has low cadence, THERE IS HOPE FOR YOU. But it IS work. In the beginning, it felt ten times harder to run fast & with quick cadence. It just felt like I was working overtime. And it made the tops of my legs really sore. It has all been paying off though. With 6 months of focused work on it, pretty much every workout now is around 179 cadence (180 being ideal). I did a long run last week and told Tyler- my cadence was bad- it was a 177. He was like DO YOU EVEN REALIZE WHAT YOU'RE SAYING? That's when I realized how far I have come. My bad day of 177 cadence literally was an impossibility in my slow cadence days. I know that there is no way that I can reach my dreams of running real fast if I don't get my cadence quicker- so I'm really proud that I have focused SO hard on it and seen such progress. ;-)

7. I do 7 hours of strength training a week. Because I love to workout (no, really!) but can't be running excessive miles (see: Boston Marathon), I like that I can get some energy out doing barre & Kayla Itsines workouts. I do one of those two workouts each day. It keeps me strong & flexible. I am proud of the things I can do now that I wasn't able to do before- whether it is greater flexibility- or actually being able to do a pushup. I'm coming along. I would like to start lifting after this season.. but got to figure out what that would even look like. 

8. I've fought the mental battle. Everyday. Marathon training is hard. Marathon training and getting up for all those runs and workouts is THAT much harder when you have had no positive validation for over a year and a half (it's been that long since my last PR in ANY distance at the Lululemon Seawheeze Half in August 2014). It makes it a very thankless position to be in. I've been disappointed, I've cried, I've been nervous and had tremendous anxiety before big workouts- but through it all, God has been a constant- even when my running hasn't been. I am thankful for amazing people in my life who have reached out and encouraged me during this season. I've needed it all. It's felt very vulnerable and raw to be back at this point where I so desperately want to get back in shape- but my poor little body is still coming out of the fatigue that I threw it into after Boston.  I've worked hard to to stay positive & confident throughout the process of coming back. Getting through this season has only taken probably 1000 pep talks from my amazing bf & some incredible friends. It would have been really hard to keep at it without those. Never underestimate the power of your words to impact the lives of others. ;-)

So what does this all mean for TOKYOOO???

I feel pretty good about where I am going into Tokyo. My tempos have been consistent and strong. My workouts have been where they need to be for me to finally have a marathon PR.  I haven't felt fresh all season (the freshness comes after taper, right??!)- but I have felt strong. Before Boston, I was running so many miles and so tired/fatigued, that I wasn't able to hit any of my paces really for tempos. They were a nightmare. I can be really tired now, but consistently, I've been hitting what I need to hit on tempos, even a day after a 20 miler. That's encouraging. A year and a half ago- going into Big Cottonwood, I was hoping for a 3:15 and going into it with that goal. That course ruined my body (4500 feet descent in 16 miles while at 9500 feet altitude, with flat/uphill for last 10 miles).  I am not aiming for that fast of a race in Tokyo- it's insane how long it takes a body to recover from overtraining and extreme fatigue- but you know, coming away with ANYTHING faster than my PR (3:28) will be such a win for me. I just want to turn this train around and give myself a mental break from having to manage disappointment and turn that into motivation after every single race. With God's help & a strong mind, I hope to come away from Tokyo with a new PR and a little confidence booster. I'm a tougher & wiser runner from going through what I have the last year and a half.

Tokyo is 12 days away...