Plus ça change

Running has been a slog lately.

I have been SO tired, and just not feeling it. I am having a hard time getting inspired to run. I am having a hard time looking forward to running. It seems like one more thing I have to check off on my list. And I’m not crazy about this.

I have always had a bit of ebb and flow to my love of running. Sometimes I have a hard time getting back into it after disappointing race performances. Other times, I just get burned out.

Lately, work has been pretty time-instensive and I’ve been finding that I just don’t have the mental energy to throw into a run after work. (I have to be in to work at 8a, and I have to catch the train by 7a so running before work isn’t a great option for me)

I’ve also been dealing with a nagging hip. My right hip is just way more tight and it’s throwing everything off in my right leg. (Tight calves, right foot out of whack)

So my wambulance is in full effect.

I’ve been brainstorming a couple of ideas of how to move forward, and some plus/minuses for each:

do more yoga

plus: help calm my mind, great  for stretching my hip/legs

minus: time, and making sure i can get to classes on time (read: work can get in the way)

downgrade shamrock half marathon to shamrock 8K

plus: less pressure on me, go back to original idea of just running for fun, definitely could PR

minus: i would like to bust my half marathon PR, plus it seems silly to travel for an 8K

run the half marathon and then take a break from chasing PRs

plus: gives me time to explore other workouts (crossfit anyone?), still allows me to run when I want

minus: will I feel too disconnected from my running buddies?

So these are all options I am considering. After April, I am planning on scaling way back on my running. I’d like to clear my plate a bit to handle wedding stuff (oh yes, the struggle of planning a wedding is real) and just to have time to enjoy the company of friends and J.

 

 

 

Goal Setting

So this is the new year, and I don’t feel any different.

Death Cab For Cutie

I have always looked at each new year with mixed emotions. I love the idea of being able to press a reset button, wiping the slate clean, and starting anew.

On the other hand, I find it hard to set lofty goals, make big plans and throw those things out there because I know how resolutions go. The pragmatist in me know the stats on how those goals work out.

I’ve had a hard time setting running goals in the past few years. Part of me has wanted to go big with them:

“I want to qualify for Boston.”

But psychologically, as an athlete (and perhaps as a person) I’ve got a ways to go to get my mental game up to snuff. I still compare myself to just about everyone. (She’s faster. She’s got the build of a runner. She’s got more grit. She’s got amazing determination.) I also have stalled in the PR department. 2013 was a great year of PRs, but since then I have STRUGGLED.

I have been reading a lot of posts from my Oiselle teammates about their goals and I started getting intimidated and anxious. Part of it was the comparison thing I was talking about earlier. Then I remembered the amazingness that was Southern Bird Camp 2015. We were a group of women of varying abilities – from elite to back of the pack runners. We came in all shapes and sizes. We represented all sort of speeds and experience levels. BUT everyone had the same love for the sport. Everyone encouraged one another. We still all keep in touch via social media, and their comments are often my favorites. So, I thought of those women as I thought about my goals.

So here’s what I came up with:

Give yourself the benefit of the doubt: Before I decide you can’t do it, believe that I can. This goes for tough workouts, just as much as a week’s worth of live shows plus reporting and minimal sleep. I might cry, but I won’t die.

Give yourself a break: When a workout, or  work doesn’t go the way I wanted it to go, it’s important to remember that it’s one day out of 365. I’ve got plenty more chances to get it right. Instead of immediately focusing on what didn’t go right, I’m going to ask myself – what did go right?

Do more things with joy: Running is fun, talking to people is fun, spending time with my fiancé is fun. Being present in the moment and taking stock of the good things brings joy into what you’re doing. It’s fine that my piriforimis is sometimes a huge pain in the butt, because this trail is one of the most beautiful places.

Race once a month: This is the only numbers goal. Get out there and have fun once a month. Make those lungs burn. Meet more runners. Show me what you’ve got.

I have this feeling that if I can hold myself to these goals, many of the goals I’d normally have (crush PRs, run XXX miles) will follow naturally.

As I said on one of my instagram posts today, 2016 – EmO gonna getcha.

 

 

 

 

Staycation = cleaning 

This week I have had the benefit of taking a much needed staycation. It’s been amazing for getting things done around the house. 

As often is the case when you are busy things tend to pile up. Our bedroom was really stressing me out. The quilt needed to be washed. My workout clothes were exploding from their allotted space. So I did some reorganizing. My mom was kind enough to come over and keep me company. Moms are great like that. 

 

I still have plenty of #flystyle
 
Here’s my new workout clothes area. Everything is organized. The drawers actually close! I did a lot of paring down. Stuff that was too small went to a sell/donate pile. I only kept my favorite pieces. I learned a lot in this process…mainly that I have an embarrassing amount of workout clothes. I won’t be buying any more for a LONG while. Oiselle, don’t you even try to tempt me with your sales!

I also organized my work clothes and cut down on those clothes a lot too. 

 

I obviously love plaid shirts
  
Pants, jeans, sweaters and fleece
 
Clearing stuff out was not as emotionally taxing as it was in the past. It actually feels amazing to have a super clean bedroom now. I have a little more cleaning to do today. I’d like to tackle our front closet, and also go through some more winter clothes I have in storage. I’d say though that I’m off to a pretty good start!

All November (leading up to Turkey Day) Oiselle is encouraging people to be active for at least 15 mins a day. We’re calling it #chasethebird and I have to say, it’s been so awesome and inspiring to scroll through the hashtag. Some teammates are just coming back from the New York Marathon, or injury so they might do 15 mins of yoga or stretching. Other ladies are killing tempo runs, crushing ab workouts and lifting. I’d encourage you to join in using the hashtag! It’s a great way to motivate yourself to do something active every day, especially as we get closer to Thanksgiving. Feel free to follow my progress on Instagram!

No running for me today. Friday is one of my rest/cross training days. I’m going to go to LavaBarre tonight for a hybrid cycling/TRX class. I’ll try to give y’all a write up for LavaBarre soon. The short review: I love it! I think it’s the perfect compliment to my running and I’m hoping it will get me toned for my wedding next fall! (I probably didn’t mention this, but I got engaged just before Labor Day. I am so excited! J really is my best friend, training partner, #1 supporter and the most awesome partner a gal could ask for. I’m thrilled to take this next step!) 
Back to the remainder of my staycation! 

Do you like staycations? Or do you prefer a “real” vacation? 

Is there one thing you’d like to change around your house if you had a day off to change it? 

Chicago and Everything After

It’s almost been a month since I ran Chicago and I think I’ve had enough time to have some coherent thoughts.

Me, at mile 17 when I was passing the Oiselle Cowbell Corner. My team is the BEST

I PRed, but I didn’t run as well as I wanted. All of the race predictors say I should have run faster. I trained to run faster. I ran faster through a majority of the marathon. It was hot, I had an asthma attack and landed in the medical tent at the end of the race. Race predictions aside, I know that I didn’t run as well as I could have. That killed me for a good two weeks.

I’ve had some distance from the race to actually process what I need to do differently. Mostly, it has to do with my mental game. I sell myself short all the time. I convince myself I can’t do difficult things. I tell myself I’ll be uncomfortable. I tell myself I can’t hold X pace because I don’t know how to pace myself. I tell myself I don’t have the time. I worry about what it will feel like when I fail. This is ridiculous, because it takes all of the fun out of one of the things I love most about running: seeing myself achieve more.

I was watching a football game this weekend and I realized something about quarterbacks. They don’t have a lot of time to make a decision about where to throw a pass. And they don’t always make the right decision. Sometimes the ball gets intercepted. Sometimes they overthrow. Sometimes the guy they thought would be open isn’t. The thing is, they make a decision and stick to it. I want to start doing that with my running. If I’m going to go out there and run X miles at X pace, I want to try my darndest to do it, instead of making excuses for how I can’t do it. I want to start feeling different paces. I want to embrace discomfort, because that’s what you need in the last 10K of a marathon.

I think I took my first step this past weekend. My coach had me running 10 miles – 5 at an easy pace and 5 at marathon pace. I was worried about this, because I hadn’t done a double digit run since the marathon (3 weeks prior). I ended up not being able to hold that pace for my marathon. But I decided I was going to push myself and not talk myself out of it. I did it. It was challenging. But the feeling of finishing that workout was AMAZING.

The turnaround began on Saturday, and I have to keep it going every day. I’ll be running the Shamrock Half Marathon in March. I want to PR, and I am going to keep that in mind every single time I start a workout.

The Thing About 20 Milers…

For me 20 milers have been the big bad wolf of any marathon training cycle.

Prior to this year, I’ve run 20 miles or more about 4 times in my life. I realize that sounds a little crazy, but 2 of those were my 2 prior marathons. And when you think about it, that’s kind of crazy.

Friends ask me a lot if it makes me nervous to only run 20 miles before a marathon. It doesn’t (anymore). Honestly, it makes me nervous just to run 20 miles!

Yesterday was my second 20 mile long run of this training cycle. It went better than I could have possible hoped.

I’ve been working with a coach since March, and I can’t say enough amazing things about Mollie. Not only is she an amazingly accomplished runner, she’s been a great coach for me. She’s encouraging, and she’s built me a plan that has worked well for me (even while I’ve been working 11p-7a for a majority of my marathon training) If you’re in the market for a coach, I highly recommend checking her out!

In the past, running 20 miles has felt like a struggle. I often feel like the last 5 or so miles are a struggle. I can’t find the energy to do anything afterwards. I feel sore and tired immediately. This wasn’t the case with this 20 miler (or the previous 20 miler although that one was run in 80 degree weather with 90% humidity, so the weather had its effects!). I practiced my race fueling strategy – a bagel with butter before my run and one salted caramel gu every 45 minutes with water during my run. That seems to be the PERFECT strategy for me. I never felt my energy level dip and I was able to maintain a 10:03 average pace per mile. That didn’t feel crazy fast. I didn’t feel exhausted after. I have some slight lower back soreness today, but that’s about it!

To say this 20 miler was a huge confidence boost is an understatement. Being able to run 20 miles and feel like I could have run 10 more, is HUGE. The Chicago Marathon is in 3 weeks. I feel like I will be peaking right at the perfect moment to set a PR. I’ve got a new fire in my belly to run this thing, have fun on the course and just see what I can do out there.

Running is weird. It’s weird when you tell friends that you’re running 20 miles over the weekend, for fun. I have found that there is something oddly spiritual about running. You are out on a trail, appreciating the beauty of the world and your ability to surpass your own expectations.

I am SO looking forward to October 11th!

Leesburg 20K race recap

I realized while running the Leesburg 20K that I really enjoy running a majority of this race. If you are in the DC area and have never been out to Leesburg, it’s beautiful – rolling hills, farms, a beautiful little downtown area (with plenty of great places to eat).

Leesburg 20K Map

Leesburg 20K elevation chart

The course is mostly an out and back on the W&OD. As you can see, it’s a gradual uphill on the way out, and downhill on the way back. There is one section (near the middle) with a moderately intense uphill (one way you’re going up a trail corkscrew, the other you’re going over a humpback overpass). Other than that, it’s definitely not the hilliest course I’ve run. But the race is in August – so by the time you finish, it’s getting hot.

I am gleaming with sweat!
I am gleaming with sweat!

Did I do better than last year? Yes. I ran this course in 1:52:13. That’s about 9:03 per mile. To compare, last year I was running about the same mileage (high 30s, low 40s) and I ran this race in 1:56:17 (9:21 per mile).

I'm thinking "Oh thank goodness for this finish line!"
I’m thinking “Oh thank goodness for this finish line!”

THE POSITIVES:

I felt a little more prepared for the race. I knew the course, I knew what to expect,

The first half, I  paced myself really well.

I finished faster than I did last year, and this year I’ve run a bit more mileage wise at this point.

It was hot, but a good part of the race was run in the shade.

The scenery was beautiful.

They had the most delicious chocolate chip cookies at the end of the race. Also the gatorade I drank at the finish line tasted better than any gatorade I’ve ever had.

THE NOT SO POSITIVES:

My stomach felt really unhappy around mile 9

I felt incredibly thirsty at the end.

This was not the pace I had wanted to keep, in fact, it’s a good :30 slower than my half marathon pace.

I also have had a sneaking suspicion that eating gus is becoming harder on my stomach, especially if they contain caffeine. So I might need to do a little more experimenting there.

So the journey to the Chicago Marathon continues. I’ve got a half marathon coming up on September 13th. I’m hoping that will give me another good idea, perhaps with even cooler weather, of what I am capable of for this marathon. That’s another one that has some hills, but I am hoping that all of these hills (aka “speedwork in disguise”) pay off for Chicago!

Trail Time

I didn’t post a summary of last week’s workouts, which is a bummer. To make a long story short – last week turned out to be an off week. I was off my sleep game. I was off my mental game. I was off my running game. On my long run (16 miles) I felt sick, I was tired, I was doubting my abilities, I was questioning whether I had made a huge mistake signing up for another marathon. I dropped a lot of f bombs.

This week? I got over all of that. I turned myself around with a 6 mile run on Tuesday and a gorgeous 5 mile run on Wednesday. J loves to run around Teddy Roosevelt Island in DC. He always talks about doing laps around the island. I didn’t get it for the longest time. Trails make me slower, there are little hills, it felt swampy. 

  
But something clicked with me this year and I’ve been loving this island lately.

 

Teddy Roosevelt
 
  
The loop I ran was beautiful, blissful and it felt effortless. 

  
I did one quick lap and ran back up the hill home and straight to bed. It was perfect.

Last night I had 6 miles plus 10X100m strides. My coach has gotten me into running strides on a weekly basis, and it’s been awesome. Running miles and then pounding out some strides is a total recipe for feeling like a badass. Try it!

Work this week has been a challenge – lots of little things coming up that, when piled together, test my patience. I don’t think I am the most patient person. Running has helped a lot in teaching me to be a more patient person, but I still have my moments. One of the best pieces of advice an old boss ever gave me was “Assume good intent.” It is a real mindset game changer when it comes to some of these things that bug me.

This weekend I’m racing the Leesburg 20K. It’s my second time running it. I’m hoping for a course PR and 20K PR … not because I want to conquer the 20K, but rather because I want to see that the work I’ve put in so far, aimed at my fall marathon, is working. As runners, we crave that validation. We hope that the goals we set are reasonable. We run because we want to be better than we were the last time we raced. I’ll give a full race report soonest!