The Good & The Ugly

I am nearing the end of week 7 of my Boston training. For the most part it has gone well. I’ve been able to run the paces I’m supposed to (or faster really – because who does an easy 17 miler at marathon pace?). I used to dread having to run at tempo pace – okay, I still do before the run starts – but they have become easier and more awesome.

It has not all been fun and games though. Last week (Feb 27th to be exact) I set out for my 15 mile run through Encinitas, Leucadia, and Carlsbad. I was SO EXCITED to run along Coast Highway again, even if it involved marathon pace and tempo miles. It was a little drizzly when I started. No big deal. Had to run through puddles and my shoes and socks were soaked. Annoying, but I can handle it. I made it to about 8 miles and had headed back south towards Encinitas. Cue the nasty head wind. During the tempo portion no less. It was miserable. It started to rain harder. I stopped on the side of the road several times to try to get it together, but ended up crying. I was cold. I was wet. I was lonely. I tried to push on, having to stop every quarter mile it seemed. By mile 12 it really started to pour. That was the end of the line for me. I found some shelter, pulled out my phone, and requested an Uber to take me back to my car in Encinitas. Yeah, it was like that.

I was devastated. The rest of the day I couldn’t stop thinking about how hard and awful that run was. I was so upset that I quit. Thoughts of “WHY AM I EVEN DOING THIS? DO I REALLY WANT TO RUN THIS RACE???” ran rampant through my head. And to think the day before I had an awesome run. Side note: it rained over 3″ that day. I call myself a meteorologist and actually thought it was okay to run in that weather??

The next day, I hit reset. Did my speed work. Everything was okay again. I just had to let that bad run go. You’re not going to kill it every time – that’s why it’s training. Ever since my runs have been incredible. Still hard, no doubt, but I definitely felt better.  That one clusterf***  of a run definitely made me appreciate the successful runs afterwards. I feel more confident in my goals and generally not dying during the race. Now to move on to this Sunday’s 20 miles. The first seven I plan on doing fast-ish, followed by pacing a friend during the San Diego Half Marathon. A medal for my training run? Don’t mind if I do. Short one, out.

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You learn something old every day…

Perhaps it’s me needing to read things thoroughly, or I don’t know, just remember things I’ve read years ago?

At the end of my night shift I was chatting with a friend about our training plans (made by the same person) and how they make us want to die. I mentioned how my next long run was 15 miles – with a 5 mile tempo run in the middle. Of course my reaction when I first saw it was “Are you f&@#ing kidding me?? How is that even possible? This is surely how it all ends. That can’t be right!”.

You see, when I first read through the training guide I saw “tempo” and “30 seconds faster than goal marathon pace”, so on all my tempo runs I have done a ~1 mile warm up (if that, and definitely not at a warm up pace) and then ran at the tempo pace for the remainder of the run.  When I went back and re-read the whole thing, suddenly everything I had once known came rushing back. Oh right, you actually run easy for a solid chunk at the beginning, slowly build up to tempo pace over the next 1/3 of the run or so and hold it for ONE TO TWO MINUTES, then bring it back down for the rest of the run. Just like I read on Runner’s World or whatever 2-3 years ago.

Well. Shoot. I thought when I cut the tempo portion of my run a little short last Thursday that I was a quitter, but it turns out I was quite the over-achiever. Or just stupid. It was supposed to be a 45 minute tempo run. After 36 minutes I was like F. This. and stopped to take a breather before “jogging” the remaining mile home as a cool down. I even logged it as a separate run so it wouldn’t mess up my average pace and make me feel like a loser.

My splits from last Thursday’s run. Serious WTF to mile 2.

Not only was the AVERAGE pace faster than it should’ve been (I was shooting for 7:20), I also held that pace for 34 MINUTES longer than I should have. *Slow clap*

I’m really glad I discovered this before the 55 minute tempo run came at me. That would’ve sucked. No wonder I was doubting myself so much – these runs felt so impossible that I was seriously starting to re-think my race goal. Turns out I was just doing them wrong. So, so wrong.

So there you have it. Reading is imporant and stuff.

I Am Terrible At This

So it’s only been 10 months since my last post. Oops? The truth is my SeaWheeze training was going terrible, I was gaining weight, and aside from the occasional race and November Project I wasn’t really running much.

After a few weeks of not being anywhere near where I should’ve been with my training runs I just flat out gave up. Fast forward to July or so. I was miserable. I hated how “slow” I was getting. I would randomly burst into tears at NP and nearly have a panic attack because I was so upset with myself, my weight, and how hard everything felt. A couple friends were pacing the 1:50 group at SeaWheeze, so in an attempt to put in minimal effort during the race and avoid being disappointed with my time had I actually raced it, I ran with them.

September should’ve been a turning point. I applied for Boston. I got in. I still barely ran. It was torture. I felt like I was dying, would look down at my watch and see my pace, and wanted to quit right there.

By the time October rolled around I was like SHIT. This race is in 6 months. I started to run a little more. A little. It wasn’t really until January when lululemon and Strava had a run challenge, so duh, I could totally run 80 km in 2 weeks for prizes. Nailed it. The week after the challenge was over my marathon training began.

This training plan is hard (thanks Gals Who Run). Really hard. Especially when you’re piling on NP and one or more Group X classes per day on top and your knee has been bugging. Me = not smart. I’m wrapping up the 4th week of training this weekend. My speed is coming back, but for some reason I don’t believe it. I see my pace and think “there is no way I’m running that fast. The GPS must be off.” I upload it and everything looks fine, but I’m still swallowed by self doubt. I’m not really that fast. I’m going to fail at my workout tomorrow. I don’t think I’m going to be able to run a marathon. Why am I even trying to PR? I’ll be lucky if I manage to re-qualify. I’m not going to re-qualify. I’m not good enough.  I’m not skinny enough. I might actually die at this race.

So yeah, I’ll be spending the next 8 weeks stressing the F out because my brain is not nice. That’s where I’m at. I just needed to get it all out because I literally talk to no one about these things. Awesome.

The Boston Marathon

Marathon Monday is just a few days away and my Facebook feed has been blowing up with all things Boston. It’s only natural that I talk about it too.

The Boston Marathon was never something that was on my radar. In fact, the 2013 bombings made me weary of ever signing up for a race. I knew it existed and was kind of a big deal, but other than that I never paid attention to it. I had only been to Boston for one day in my entire life, so it’s not like I had any real connection to the city.

After running my first half marathon I decided to take a big leap and sign up for my first full marathon. I was on a night shift when I pulled the trigger, and I tend to make drastic decisions when I’m tired. The race was over a year away, and I had 5 more halfs, a 10 miler, and a 10K in the meantime. I added Portland to my spreadsheet. Yes, I keep a spreadsheet. It also includes races I want to do. It looks a little something like this:

races

I looked up the Boston qualifications standards, laughed to myself, and added Boston 2017 to my sheet – followed by “lol jk”. Months went by, I ran more races, and I tried to figure out what my time goal should be for Portland. I put in some of my better half times into the ol’ Race Times Predictor. Wait what? My predicted marathon time would qualify me? I decided to sign up for the Surf City Marathon as opposed to the half as a backup qualifier. I wasn’t convinced I could do it, and am forever greatful for the people who believed in me and encouraged me. I ended up qualifying at both, with 6 minutes to spare at Portland. I went to Powell’s on my last day in Portland and while perusing one of the mainy aisles this caught my eye:

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Sold. I sat there with my coffee and began reading it. I had chills. The whole thing sounded EPIC. The energy. The crowds. The vibe of the entire city the weekend of the race. The race itself. No wonder people nearly kill themselves trying to qualify for this thing. I still can’t believe that a year from now I will likely be a part of it all, and I cannot WAIT. Sometimes I want to cry just thinking about it. I know it won’t feel real until I have that “confirmation of acceptance” in my hand. Only 6 more months to go…

Good luck to everyone running on Monday. Enjoy every moment, beccause you are a part of something HUGE.

Running Company

I have always trained alone. Every last run during the training for my first half marathon and most for my first marathon were completed totally alone. While it was awesome that I could just go and do them whenever I had time – because who DOESN’T want to do a 16 miler at 4:30 PM on a Sunday – looking back it kind of sucked.

I never had a problem running alone. It was all I knew. I still don’t mind it, and sometimes prefer it. But once I joined the now-defunct lululemon UTC run club and November Project I began running with others more and sow how much more enjoyable it can be. Not only is it more fun, but there are other benefits:

  • Accountability. Do you think I’d show up at the crack of dawn to do speed work at a track if I knew no one else was going to be there? HELL NO. My alarm would be shut off before Finn Hudson could mutter the first words of Faithfully. Yeah I have GLEE music for my track alarm. JUDGE ME. It also keeps me from ditching a run early.
  • Speed. Alone and tired? Yep, immediately make the run a slow run. Something about running with others automatically makes me go a little faster, especially if I run with fast people. I absolutely crushed every lulu UTC run because I didn’t want to make our #fastAF leader run too slow. Even when we were going up that stupid mother effing Nancy Ridge Road hill. I still don’t know who Nancy is, but I don’t like her.
  • Support. I’m not talking about your friends setting up water and gummy bear stations on the side of the road for you (though that would be suh-weeeet). But having someone you can exchange encouraging words with, motivate you, and take your mind of the fact that you are voluntarily subjecting yourself to hours of torture.

 

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Sunset at the end of lululemon Tuesday Trailblazers 4/5/16

I bring this up because this evening I went to the lululemon Tuesday Trailblazers run club. There were only two of us who wanted to do the 6 mile out-and-back. Listen, if I’m dragging myself all the way to Pacific Beach to run I’m going to make it worth my time. We took off running and dashing around people who insist on taking up the entire sidewalk. I knew we were going fairly fast for what was supposed to be a casual run. My eyes nearly shot out of my head when I looked down at my watch, but I didn’t say anything. We kept going. Near the turn-around we both agreed we should take it down a notch since I’m still sore from Ragnar and she had a swim workout tomorrow. It was teetering on that slightly-uncomfortable pace. Yeah, the slowing down lasted about one-quarter mile. We finished strong and ended up with a 7:39 pace. Huh? Casual run club run turned moderate effort run? Neither of us would’ve run that fast had we been alone, but somehow, without saying a word, we pushed each other. We worked harder than we intended. We really picked up the pace towards the end. We both agreed that it. Was. Awesome. While I have to miss the next few weeks of Tuesday Trailblazers due to work and travel, hopefully I’ll be able to make it back and run with her again!

 

Ragnar So Cal Recap

Over the weekend I was blessed with the amazing opportunity to run Ragnar So Cal with Team Nuun. For those who don’t know what Ragnar Relays entail, it goes something like this:

  • Teams of 12 (or 6 for the Ultra crazy people) runners
  • Two vans with 6 runners each.
  • Each team member takes turns running their legs of the relay. You meet at “exchange points” to drop off the next runner and pick up the person currently running. The first 6 runners in “van 1” run while “van 2” hangs out/sleeps/eats. After the 6th runner vans 1 & 2 meet at the “major exchange” and van 2 starts running. Now it is time for “van 1” to chill.
  • Everyone runs 3 times. Distances vary. Total distance is 200-ish miles.
  • Little (if any) sleep during the event.
  • Lots of snacks.

We all met on Thursday afternoon at our hotel in San Diego. Aside from a little pre-race interaction on Facebook, we were mostly strangers from all over – San Diego, LA, NYC, Chicago, Honolulu, Seattle – we even had two from Canada (Vancouver and Winnipeg)! We decorated our vans with window paint, walked to dinner, and hung out before heading to bed.

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Van 1 looking fly. P.S. a “kill” is when you pass a runner on your leg.

Friday morning we woke up too early for our own good, had breakfast and then went to Better Buzz for some coffee realness. After packing up the cars van 1 headed to Huntington Beach to start the race. Yours truly was Runner #1. After pickup up our bibs and all that it was off to the races with a casual 1 PM start time.

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Starting the race with 5 fast dudes. I beat 2 of them! My first leg was only 2.3 miles.

The unfortunate part about starting so late is you hardly see ANYONE on the course or at the exchanges. It was sad and a little lonely. When we made it to Exchange 6, the first major exchange, there were like…3-4 other teams there? So much for huge party! At least we got some sweet shots and hung out at the Nuun booth.

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Exchange 6 team (minus Tony because he was running) jumping photo.

They took off and we went and had dinner. In-n-Out it was because why not? After that we had the long trek from Orange to Vista for the next exchange. The rest of our team was finishing in San Clemente (there was a gap in the course because Camp Pendleton is in the way and there is literally nowhere to run). After more coffee, hanging out with my NP Hugs & Harmony 2.0 friends, and a short warm up, I began my second leg around 11 PM. This one was only 3.9 miles. We carried on until the wee hours of the morning along dark streets and bike paths. At least at this point we had caught up to some of the other teams. Yay! People! KILLS! We finished up at Exchange 18 where we finally met up with the rest of the team again. We sent them off and heading to Exchange 24 and finally tried to sleep. I might have had 2 hours of sleep max. In the back row of an SUV. Sitting up. Quality napping right there. Around 5 AM I started my final leg. This was the longest of 3 at 7.9 miles. The best part is the second half of my leg was along Coast Highway in Carlsbad. The sky started to light up as I ran along the beach and it was awesome! I passed 57 other teams on the way. Peace, suckas! I made it to the exchange point and just like that I was done running for the day. What? ALREADY? Spent the rest of the gorgeous morning along the coast as van 1 finished up.

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Van 1 minus Winnipeg at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas.

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Van 1 all done running! Taking in the views at the Torrey Pines Gliderport.

Because we are runners the only logical thing to do after we were done was to brunch HARD at Swami’s. We met up with Van 2 at a couple of exchanges to cheer them on and proceeded to the finish area to wait for them. Around 3 PM our final runner was making the turn towards the finish line and we all ran in with her. Woohoo Team Nuun was DONE! After having the obligatory free beer we headed to the hotel to shower – FINALLY A SHOWER – and relax. Pizza by the pool? Yes please.

Overall it was one truly amazing experience. We raced. We ate. We cheered LOUDLY for each other and other random runners. We bonded like crazy. Went in strangers and came out friends. Every last person on my team was positive, funny, fast, supportive, inspirational, and an all-around good time. I couldn’t have asked for a better team. I miss them already. Big shout out to Nuun Hydration for letting me be a part of this epic journey (and keeping me #hydratedAF).

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And the finisher photo! Boom.

Side note: still waiting on official results but we might have placed 1st in our division!

Goals Are Scary…and Awesome!

Goals are scary, but they’re one of the things I like most about running. Perhaps it’s the scientist part of me, but setting concrete goals that are easily measurable are the best. Time goals. Distance goals. Qualifying goals. Place goals. Split goals. You either hit them or you don’t. Meeting or surpassing them is the greatest feeling. Not quite making it sucks. Is it the end of the world? No. Does it mean you’re a complete and utter failure who should just give up? No. I usually go into every race with 2 or 3 goals. The races that I don’t have any goals are the ones where I tend to slack…a lot. I like multiple goals in order to avoid the “I’m a failure and suck at everything” disappointment.

A. Goal is usually a time goal or a place goal (usually place in my Age Group because overall is way too unrealistic for me unless it’s a super small race)

B. Goal is usually a second time goal or qualification goal

C. Goal is usually just finish without dying/injuring myself or getting terrible stomach cramps.

In the end, I only *really* failed if I had to be hauled away in an ambulance and didn’t get my sparkly medal…in which case I have much bigger things to worry about.

Now, my main goal this year is getting #FastAF for SeaWheeze in August. This is the only race this year where I am setting an AGGRESSIVE time goal. My time WILL have a 1:35 in front of it. Or less. My current PR is a 1:37:32 (missed it over a year later by 2 sec because I suck at math while I run, but I didn’t care because I was going for an AG award and nailed it). Yes, it’s only 2 1/2 minutes faster than a time I’ve obtained at two different races. But I feel slower. Heavier. Generally not fast. Like I’m the only one not getting PR after PR. It is going to take a lot of work. I need to find people to push me through my training. I’m already scared that I won’t be able to pull it together in time – but I just need to visualize crossing the finish line with my goal time on the clock. Or remember the feeling beating my goal time and qualifying for Boston at my first marathon. Scary and hard goal? Yes. Worth it? TOTALLY. Besides, it’s SeaWheeze and lululemon magic. You can’t help but being stoked the entire freakin weekend!