Friday, July 31, 2015

July recap

July was a busy month of running (again).  I logged 160.42 miles as I continued my training for the Portland Marathon in October.  I had my first 40 mile week since April and logged my longest run since Colfax in May.

Here are my monthly highlights:

I hit the trails some for my runs.  Axe and I enjoyed exploring new areas and seeing new places.  We enjoyed the challenges of the hills and rocky terrain and are looking forward to more trail runs next month.

On July 4, Melanie and I ran the Gothic to Crested Butte 1/3 Marathon.  It was a fun run and I was excited to earn 2nd in my age group with a time of 1:08:33.  

Speed work, for the second month in a row, didn't kill me.i didn't even hate it by the end of the month.  In fact, I enjoyed the last speed workout which was mile repeats.

Melanie and I had a tough 12 mile run.  It was one of those runs that we both struggled with and didn't enjoy much - but we powered through it and conquored it!

Last weekend we did what I consider the first of the really long runs - 15 miles (plus a cool down mile I added to let Axe run a little too).  I love the way I feel after a good long run, especially a successful one.

My tempo runs were pretty good this month - I'm sustaining a faster pace this marathon training cycle than I did for the last one, so I'm excited about that progress.  I ran 8 miles at a 7:30 pace yesterday including warm up and cool down.  That's stinkin' fast for me and my little legs!

The Portland Marathon emailed me my bib number yesterday.  I guess it's really going to happen!

The best part of my running month wasn't a run, but I'm thinking it may help my running a little bit (or at least help those little niggles and aches and pains). I got a massage this week and it was magic.  I've had more soreness this training cycle.  I think it's due to adding in speed work.  So I got a massage.  I had no soreness after at all and my next run felt amazing.  I think it will become a regular thing.

I also had a great month outside of running.  We did a lot of hiking and exploring.  

I'm hoping August treats us as well as July did - it's the last month of summer here!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

It's not just about the running

Marathon training takes a lot of time.  Right now I'm averaging about 38 miles a week and I'm not even into the meat of training yet.  That's about 5 and a half hours a week of running.  I know it doesn't sound like a ton of time, but it's definitely enough to make an impact on my life.  

Aside from the actual running, though, marathon training affects my daily life a lot.  For example, eating.  If I'm not running and I'm not sleeping (more on that in a bit), chances are I'm eating.  Kelsy even told me that she thought my favorite thing to do is to stand in the kitchen and eat.  She's right.  It takes a lot of fuel to sustain long weekend runs or 8 mile tempo runs.

There's also laundry.  I read somewhere that it's good for the material in sports bras to not wash them too frequently.  It was even recommended to wear them a couple of times between washing a to preserve the elasticity.  Whoever wrote that has obviously never smelled me after a good run.  They get washed after one run.  I think more than half of my laundry is running clothes - that's a lot of extra laundry!

Then there's sleep.  Because Melanie  and I like to get our runs done early, it means I also like to go to bed at a decent time the night before (read: early).  And aside from regular sleep, during a good marathon training cycle, I find myself napping, which is something I honestly hate to do. But I can tell my body needs it, so I do.  I definitely sleep a lot better during training.  I also tend to feel much more refreshed when I wake up.  

Oh and planning.  Derek and I are taking a trip next week and my biggest concern was how I was going to get my long run in while we are gone.  I googled it and have a plan (I'm very excited about that run too - I love running in new places!). I have no idea what else we will do on our little trip, but my runs are planned!  Last weekend we went for a hike and I put a lot of effort into planning what I thought would be a good, fun hike, but one that would leave me with enough left in the tank for the next day's long run.  I feel like so much that I do revolves around how I will fit in that day's run or how I will schedule other things around my runs to make sure I'm creating a balance that works for my family, my runs, and for me.

I think that had I known how much running would affect the non-running aspects of my life, I would have been very hesitant to train for a marathon.  I already worry about making sure that my family and work lives don't suffer from my training schedule, but I would have worried that this was just too much.  But now that I'm experiencing it first-hand, I love it.  I enjoy training even though it's so much more than just running.  I love how much more soundly I sleep at night.  I love eating all day long.  I don't love the extra laundry, but it's worth it. 

I think people tend to think of marathon training as a decent amount of running during the week plus a lot of running on the weekend.  And it is.  But it's so much more than that.  And it's awesome.

Today was rest day.  So I ate, caught up on laundry, and even had a little nap with my little cutie.  I had to prepare my body (and clothes) for tempo day tomorrow!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Not all routes are created equal - trail running

After yesterday's beautiful hike, I decided I really wanted to run that trail.  Today was tempo day, but I decided that with the added elevation (this trail is a little over 9,000 feet) and hills, that I would go for it, knowing I wouldn't be able to maintain my usual tempo run pace.  

The end of the first mile had a huge hill - about a 180 foot rise.  It was a tough hill but I made it!  I was definitely slower than I like, but it gave me some confidence for mile 16 of Portland.  Plus it was only mile one, too early to wimp out.

This was after the huge hill...I didn't get a picture going up, I was too busy trying to stay alive.  Also I'm cheating and using pictures from yesterday.

The rest of the trail had lots of little hills, both up and down.  It also had views for days!  Since our hike was only 4 miles and I needed 7, I also hopped onto a dirt road for a bit.  It was much easier to run, but not nearly as fun.

At the end of our run, Axe and I played in the river.  It was kind of like a mini ice bath and felt SO good!  In case you don't know, Colorado rivers are cold!

You know it was a good run when you look like this at the end!

What I learned today:

1.  Be super careful on mountain terrain.  Rocks will jump out and try to trip you or they will shift at the last second in an attempt to make you twist your ankle.  Rocks are not friends.

2.  Running through puddles (and streams) is fun!

3.  Trails by rivers are great for dogs - Axe was happy to have plenty of water to drink along the way.

4.  Trail maps are your friend.  Be sure you're aware of the area to avoid getting lost (I would be one to do this).

5.  Check the weather!  Colorado is known for its afternoon thunderstorms.  I made sure that the weather was supposed to stay nice so I wouldn't get caught in one.

6.  Watch for bikers.  There are a lot of them and they're fast!  I kept my music off most of the way so that I could enjoy the sounds of nature, but also so a biker wouldn't scare the bejesus out of me if he came up behind me.  Share the trails!

7.  Take extra water and a snack or two.  Just in case you get lost (see #4)

8.  Enjoy!  We have a beautiful planet.  Don't take it for granted - get out there and explore!

It was a great run.  Slow and difficult, but amazing.  I am looking forward to exploring more of these trails that we are so lucky to have here!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Taking the restlessness out of rest days

I used to love rest days.  Now I feel restless and lazy.  I have been trying to use rest days to get active in other ways - kind of like cross training but less intense.  Today the boys and I popped up to Crested Butte with Axe and went for a 4 mile hike before hitting the park for a picnic lunch.  I love getting the boys outside and moving and enjoy sharing the experience with them.  

The wildflowers are on the tail end of their bloom so we chose a spot with plenty of wildflowers, mountain views, and a river.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The early bird gets the run

My alarm goes off at 5:30am.  By 6:00 I'm out the door.  7 miles later, at 7:00, I'm back home.  The kids are still asleep my husband is just getting up.  I fix my coffee and now it's time to start the day.

Do I love getting up at 5:30?  Not one bit.  Some nights I wish I could stay up a little later.  Jimmy Fallon is hilarious and I would like to watch...but I have to be up early.  

As a mom of four, husband of one, worker of a full time job as well as a part time job, and marathoner, these early mornings come with the territory. I definitely don't have the time to train for another marathon.  I make the time.  

It's all about finding the right balance.  I love my family.  I love my job.  I love running.  I'll not sacrifice one for another.  Running is my 'me' time.  It's where I can think uninterrupted...or tune out completely.  It's where I feel my best physically and mentally.  I'm sure you've heard all the cliches about how you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of your kids, but it's true.  I'm a much happier person after my morning run.  

It's a priority of mine to get my daily run in without it negatively impacting the family.  During the week, my runs rarely go longer than an hour.  I go early so that I'm not missing my family time.  I like coming back when everyone is still asleep and knowing that I've already accomplished something great for the day.  I love that they know I've already run - what a great example it sets for them - but that they don't feel like I'm taking up their time to run.  Weekends are a little different - it means the kids get breakfast time with daddy.  I think that's a good thing too. It's all about balance.  

I've already run my 7 miles (including speed work!) this morning.  I've already showered and now I have my coffee and a few minutes to myself before the kids get up and our busy day begins.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.

This morning I met Melanie at the track for a tough speed workout.  We did the pyramid - a 400, 800, 1200, 1600, 1200, and 800 with 400m recovery laps in between.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Running by feel

During training for my last marathon, I became a little obsessed.  It's easy to do.  I had a time goal and reeeeeeaaaaally wanted to achieve it. As I trained, I watched my trusty Garmin very closely, over analyzing every run.  And I realized that running an 8:15 pace required a very different effort every day.  I became so wrapped up in the numbers that I lost sight of how each run was feeling.  I didn't know how to trust my body.

I was looking at different pace bands to try out for the marathon and then it dawned on me.  Worrying so much about pace was making me crazy.  I was so worried about numbers that I forgot to just enjoy the run.  

About a month before the marathon, I made a bold decision.  I was not going to watch my Garmin during the race.  I didn't want to be comparing my time with my pace band every mile and then find myself getting discouraged if I fell behind where I wanted to be. My fear was that if I figured out halfway through that I wouldn't hit my time goal, that the rest of the race would be torturous, so I simply took that option out of the equation.   I even changed the Garmin display to show me only distance - no time, no pace.  

This was scary for me, I am very much a numbers girl.  But running the last month of training by feel only was very freeing.  I still wore my Garmin so that after the run I would have an idea of where I was, but it was so refreshing to not look down every mile to see my pace.  

On marathon day I started questioning this logic, but I had read enough marathon training advice that said not to change any part of your plan on the day of the marathon, so I held firm.  Based on data from my last long run I wasn't sure I would hit my goal, but I was going to enjoy the day and not obsess.  

And guess what.  Running by feel brought me in to the finish NINETEEN minutes UNDER my goal time!  I was thrilled, and more importantly, I felt great. I used up every ounce of energy I had in my tank, but I didn't hit the wall.  Running by feel helped me to keep at a reasonable pace that I could maintain for 26 miles, and I surprised myself with what that pace is.

I haven't worried about pace once since then.  I always wear my Garmin and check it after my run, but with the exception of speed work on the track, I don't check it.  I've noticed that my recovery run pace has stayed about the same, as has my long run pace, but my tempo runs are getting faster.  I'm not sure what that has to do with anything, but it's interesting to note.  

I am still getting the feel of how different paces feel (whoa, that's a lot of the word feel) - I'm not very good at guessing how fast I went after I finish each run, but it's a fun game trying to guess what my pace was before I check.  I'm starting to get a little better at it.  There are days I am disappointed because I ran slower than I thought I should have, and days like today where it's exciting to have run faster.  

I'm enjoying tuning into my body though.  I'm enjoying listening to my breathing and feeling my legs and running accordingly.  I'm still afraid that this may bring me in over my goal time and keep me from qualifying from Boston, but I think I'll enjoy the journey so much more.

Today I did my tempo run - after speed work on Tuesday and a faster-than-usual run yesterday, I wasn't sure how it would go.  I ended up with a pace I was excited about.  Here is my run after a one mile warm up.  

Then I spent the rest of the day snuggling this little guy because he wasn't feeling too hot.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Speedwork - thoughts on running fast

When Melanie and I started putting together a training plan for the Portland Marathon, we decided to incorporate speed work.  I've never added it in before, so I was extremely hesitant.  But I am also wanting to take a few minutes off of my current marathon time, so I figured I probably should take my training up a notch.

The first week was hard.  My body didn't quite know what had hit it.  The workout that week was 400m repeats with 400m recovery in between.  I'm most definitely not a sprinter, but to come in at our target time, I felt like I was all out sprinting and I hated every second of it.  I wasn't sure how I would keep it up for the entire marathon training plan.

Fast forward several weeks and I'm actually starting to enjoy speed work - which is good because the reason I run is that I love to run, and even though I have a new marathon goal I'm aiming for, I don't want it to suck all of the fun out of running.  

Today was 4x1200m with 400m recovery in between.  I think I prefer the longer intervals because even though I have to sustain a harder pace for longer it's a much more manageable pace than it was for 400m or 800m.  Plus only having to do 4 intervals instead of 8 or 12 makes it feel more manageable, even though I end up covering the same distance.

I have also come up with a few mental tricks that are working for me to not see speed work as such a torturous piece of marathon training.

1.  Take it one lap at a time.  Today when I was doing 1200m intervals (3 laps on the track), focusing on each lap at a time was much easier to wrap my head around the how many laps I had to do total and what was still left to do.

2.  Take the recovery laps nice and easy. It's easy for me to want to run my normal happy pace - which is somewhere in the 8:20-8:30 range - for recovery laps, but then I find I'm not quite recovered enough.  I want to take advantage of the training benefits of cumulative fatigue, but not so much that I can't complete the workouts.  Slowing it down a bit for recovery laps helps.

3.  Bring a friend.  I can't quit when Melanie is right beside me.  Plus she's fast!  Trying to keep up with her keeps me on pace and accountable.

4.  Keep in mind that the harder the workout, the greater the benefit.  Those few minutes aren't just going to fall off of my marathon time.  I have to make it happen. I will only get out of this training session and training plan as a whole what I put into it.

5.  Envision something great.  When I'm running the fast intervals I like to pretend that I'm in the last .2 miles of the marathon and am barreling toward the finish.  I pretend all of the excitement of race day is surrounding me.  

6.  Smile.  Smiling makes everything better.  

Each week the speed work is getting better and better for me.  It's not necessarily getting easier, but I'm adapting to it better and feeling stronger.  It's getting to where instead of being something I dread, it's a challenge I'm starting to embrace.  Plus there's a huge satisfaction that comes from completing the workout each week.

Also, who could hate a track workout with this view?

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Celebrating the bad runs

I've had a great week of running:  a good race last weekend, speed work that went smoothly, and a tempo run that was faster than I had anticipated.  I was feeling great about running.

This morning's 12 mile run threatened to ruin all of that.

It really wasn't terrible - nothing horrible, like an injury, happened.  But it was just not a good run.  It was one of those runs that had me questioning my decision to tackle another marathon.  It was just hard.  My legs were tired.  My body was tired.  My mind wasn't into it.  It seemed like the whole thing was uphill.  First I was cold, then I was hot.  I felt like I was moving at turtle speed but my pace was a good 20 seconds slower than an average run of that distance.  I got frustrated.

We've all had these runs.  

It's so easy to let the doubt creep in after a hard run.  Will I be able to maintain my goal pace if I can barely maintain a pace that's this much slower?  Will I be able to complete 26.2 miles if 12 is this hard?

But instead of doubting, when I got home, I celebrated.  Not that it was over, but that I did it.  I finished the run. This is a run I can build off of and learn from.  

When I taper in the weeks before a marathon, one thing I like to do is look back at my training log and celebrate my successes.  Of course this means the days where 18 miles felt great, the tempo runs that were good and fast and easy, and the relaxing runs that I simply enjoyed.  But this also means celebrating the bad runs.  The runs that I didn't think I would make it through.  The runs I didn't want to make it through because throwing in the towel would have been easier.  These are the runs that remind me how strong I really am.  These are the runs where I didn't give up.  Those are the runs where my body and mind proved to me that they can keep going even when they don't want to.  

When I hit mile 23 of that marathon and my legs are tired, my mind is frustrated, and everything starts to hurt, these are the runs that I can reflect on.  I draw strength from knowing I powered through it in training and I can power through it again. 

These are the runs where I prove to myself that I am a good runner.  These are the days I'm proud of my accomplishments.  It's not always supposed to be easy.  It's supposed to hurt sometimes.  If every run was easy, it wouldn't be a challenge, and without a challenge, it wouldn't be an accomplishment.

Celebrating my tough run.  Don't worry, I'll celebrate properly with some wine later on.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

How I spend my days off

Usually I get up early to go for my runs so I can get back before all of the kids are awake.  Today I got up early, but not to run.  And today I dragged the kids out of bed early with me.  We rented a Jeep and took the two big boys (the babies had preschool) up to explore the Alpine Loop.

It was incredibly beautiful.  And cold.  Very cold.  Our jeep had no windows and it was 41 degrees when we left the house.  But we had SO much fun!!!  We drove around, hiked a bit, had a picnic lunch, explored an old ghost town, and threw a few snowballs.

It was bumpy!!

This was right around where we saw a moose.  It was too far away to get any good pictures though 😑

(Don't believe him, I think he actually had fun).  The sign driving down from this point said the elevation was 12,800 feet.

This place reminded us of a hike we did on our honeymoon in Argentina.  So naturally we took a selfie.

Seriously, how lucky are we to get to live so close to all this?