Up Next (I need your help!)

Now that the Marine Corps Marathon has passed, it’s time to start planning for my next adventures. I spent two weeks after the marathon recovering, I ran twice, 3 miles with friends with breakfast afterwards and 2.25 miles in my neighborhood that I just cut short because I didn’t feel like it.


Met Tricia and Elizabeth for a run plus breakfast. Photo credit to Elizabeth.

Now I’m back to base building, I’m focusing on running 5 days a week (2-4 miles easy and a local 10k) strength training one day a week plus 5 days of my biomechanics exercises. I’m also hoping to do 1-2 days of yoga a week. After this week I’ll start bumping up the week day run distance and long runs and throwing in some speed work.


Got to bring out the cold weather gear this past weekend.

I have a half marathon on the calendar December 13 that will mostly just be a fitness level check and make sure I’ve got my long runs where they need to be for marathon training.

I have two big plans for the spring. The first is returning to the Breast Cancer Marathon, 26.2 with Donna, with my friends. Like last year my friends will run the marathon relay and I’ll run the half marathon. And more importantly I’m fundraising for this event to help Finish Breast Cancer!! I have a goal of $1000 to raise and have raised $170 so far (big thanks to Lisa Petersen, Todd Rubenstein and Becky Walker for being my first three donators!!)


Before the race in February

This cause is so important to me and this organization gives 100% of all proceeds to breast cancer research and to help those who can’t afford their breast cancer treatment. After watching my best friend, KT, go through multiple surgeries, chemo therapy, hormone treatments and more, I really wanted to do something to help. I felt like there wasn’t anything I could do for her but give her my support and love and this is another way I can give support. Fortunately KT is cancer free and I want to fundraise to help others become cancer free. A couple months out from a goal race for KT, she found out she had breast cancer and that she wouldn’t be able to go after her sub 2 goal for a half marathon. She was having a great training cycle for this race and I know she was disappointed (but she never complained). I was so excited to see her crush that goal two Sunday’s ago in her first half marathon post cancer!! She ran a 1:56:42 and I couldn’t be more proud of her!! So please help me finish breast cancer and meet my fundraising goal by donating here. It’s tax deductible and going to important research at the Mayo Clinic.

After that race I’ll be heading to Paris in April to run the Paris Marathon! I feel so terrible about what happened there but I refuse to change my plans due to the terrorist attacks, to me that means the terrorists win. I’m not sure I’m totally ready to start marathon training again but I’m excited to go to Europe for the first time! I’m also pretty excited that Sarah will be coming to run with me and explore Europe and my parents are coming for the first part of the trip (and marathon spectating).

I’m pretty excited for the next training cycle and the goals I have. It should be a fun one! And again if you would like to donate to fundraiser to end breast cancer you can go here: http://donate.breastcancermarathon.com/2016-Marathon/AmyWalker.

Hope you all have a great Thanksgiving! I’m looking forward to some Florida sunshine and fishing!

 

Advertisements

And so it begins…

Well the off season is officially over and marathon training has begun. I think I had a good off season and was able to build up a great base to start this marathon season in a much better place then I did last year. I wanted to instill some habits during the off season that I hope will continue into the marathon training season.

So what did I do differently…

I spent the first 4 weeks doing the Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide but decided that was too much jumping for my sad hip (update on that in a little bit). So instead I decided to go back to my personal trainer once a week and to barre3 once a week. My personal trainer is focusing on upper body and core and barre3 is a great full body workout. I’m already seeing a difference in my arms and shoulders just after a couple weeks, now if my triceps could just make an appearance for the first time ever, that would be great 🙂

I’ve also added yoga to the mix. Infinity Yoga opened a studio not too far from my office and on my commute home. They offer a yoga for athletes class that focuses on areas that runners and cyclists need to stretch and/or strengthen. I LOVE IT! I’ve had 3 different instructors and every class has been different but great. I’ve also been going to the restorative yoga class once a week which I think it my new favorite thing. I even fell asleep during a pose last week. I’ve noticed a change in my flexibility already, especially in the hamstring area and I hope to keep working on that plus my balance with these yoga classes.

I ran, kind of a lot for me (but soon to be not a lot). I maintained 20 mile weeks with long runs from 6 to 10 miles. I raced 4 5ks and had even got a PR. The four 5ks I ran were the Atlanta Track Club Singleton 5k (I love their free races); Girls on the Run 5k; Brookhaven Bolt and the River Run for Hope 5k. I wanted to PR the 5k and 10k during the off season and try to use the speed work I had done in my half training to see where my shorter distance fitness was.

The ATC Singleton 5k was first, I had heard it was a lot flatter than their other races and a good place to attempt a PR. My PR going into it was 28:23 (I think, I’m too lazy to go back and check) and the goal I had in mind was to go under 27 minutes. I know that seems like a big jump, but I was running speed workouts in the 8:25 range so I knew it was possible. Mile 1 I stayed on target pace but quickly realized this course was not what I would consider flat (I live by a very flat trail), although it’s not as hilly as other races. Mile 2 I was just trying to move forward and I was cursing myself for not running enough hillier routes post half marathon. Mile 3 was like just get this over with… and finally it came to an end with a time of 27:53. It wasn’t what I hoped for but it was a PR so no complaints!

  
First 5k with my pace in the 8s!

The next weekend was the Girls on the Run 5k. Since I’m a coach, my goal wasn’t to PR it was just to have fun. Usually most of our girls have someone to run with them, so I can go on my own and help encourage the girls as I go along. This year it rained and the race got pushed back an hour. One of our girls mom’s couldn’t make it due to the weather and such so I ran with one of the girls. I just can’t say enough how great Girls on the Run is and how fun it is to watch the girls change and progress over time. I ran with one of the girls who mostly walked last year and this year we ran almost the entire race. She dropped 13 minutes off of her time from the previous semester and I saw a competitive side of her that I had never seen before. I ended up carrying her jacket and such so she could focus on running and she was super fast up hills (which made for one tired, red faced coach trying to keep up). She didn’t realize we were ahead of everyone else from our team, and she asked me towards the end if I thought we were ahead of most people. I looked at her and said we’re ahead of everyone, you’re doing AWESOME! And that lit a fire under her and she kept moving. I tried not to push too hard, because this is supposed to be fun and I wanted her to enjoy it but when she realized she was ahead of her best friend she kept running. We finished this race in 32 minutes (my garmin time, GOTR doesn’t time their races and everyone wears the same bib number) and I was so proud of her! After our end the year party her mother approached me and thanked me for running with her. That I brought out a good competitiveness in her that her mother had never seen. That she had pushed herself for the first time while running and she was so proud of herself. Honestly, I had been pretty detached from GOTR this past semester, my own training was kicking my butt and we had split the duties among the coaches so I wasn’t there as much, but the race and the kind words from that mother made me realize how important GOTR is and how much it helps the girls.

  
After the GOTR 5k, we went with a Wonder Woman theme 

I don’t even really want to talk about the Brookhaven Bolt, is was MISERABLE. And it has nothing to do with the quality of the race (the shirts were GREAT) but just the hills hills hills and humidity that I wasn’t acclimated to yet. I went out way too fast for as hilly as the course was and I paid for it, I can’t remember the last time I walked during a 5k, but I had to walk in this one. Let’s just say this course ate me for breakfast.

I had one last 5k on the calendar for the off season and if I was going to break 27 minutes, it would be at this one. The course was flat and it’s the area where I run all the time (also where my big break through half marathon was last November) with a small field. The race also had a 10k so I knew the 5k wouldn’t be as crowded. I got there with enough time to do a quick warm up, do some dynamic stretching and watch all the Track Club Elites warm up (they love the flat 5ks). I planned on trying to hang in the 8:20-30s as much as I could. I knew it was a slight incline on the way back and I didn’t want to totally burn out. The first mile went by quickly and I felt decent, mile 2 became more of a mental battle but I could see there were only a 10-15 women ahead of me and not many of them looked to be in my age group (3 days before this race I bumped up to the 30-34 age group). I kept pushing, hit the turnaround point and could see there were plenty of people right behind me so I tried to pick up the pace. I don’t think I was successful in that because the slight inclines started to come into play. I didn’t know exactly where the finish was, but knew it was towards the top of the incline, I turned the corner on the nice downhill to the finish and knew I was going to be under 27 minutes and ended up going 26:50, a big PR and beat my mom’s PR. I hung around for the awards just in case and ended up getting 2nd in my age group! That was the first time I’ve ever placed in my age group. Honestly I never thought I would place in my age group ever, and this was definitely a smaller race, so I was really happy to finally do that.

   
Not bad little prizes for my age group win!

 

So excited for my 2nd place age group finish!  

Now I’m into week 2 of marathon training and I hope to start doing weekly recaps, or at least bi-weekly recaps, so I will be able to look back at this training and know what worked for the next training cycle. I also have some other post ideas, including a recap of my Grand Cayman trip and a review of my apple watch, to work on so this blog actually talks about something outside of running again.

Lost my running mojo

I have about a month left until my next “goal” race but I already reached that goal during this training cycle and now my mind just is in a weird spot.

After most races I take at least a week off and just sleep in, enjoy being lazier (cause you know I’m lazy regularly) and gain 5 pounds because after a hard training cycle you should get to eat cake and French fries. But this time around the goal race happened in the middle of a training cycle. Originally I wasn’t going to push the pace and just enjoy the weekend with my friends but my training had been going well and I was given the green light from Jesica to go for it as long as I was conservative the first 3 miles. And I went for it and I reached my goal of 2:15! 



Jesica sent me the sweetest card after I reached my goal, I love my coach!

Now my mind just doesn’t know what to do. After two days off I jumped right back into running and I’ve been doing every workout and hitting all my paces for speed and tempo work. I even ran 11 miles this morning. Before the race I was just loving running and now I’m still enjoying it but it feels like a chore.



These 11 were not too bad but not that great

I don’t know if it’s just because work has been super busy and I’m just stressed out or if I’m a little burnt out. I also haven’t been able to join the weekly long run get togethers because girls on the run has started back up and I’m back to coaching Saturday mornings. I miss having people there before and after my runs, even if I end up running alone. 

I’m just not sure where my running mojo has gone. And I think I’m just at loss for what my “goal” race is going to mean to me. What goal am I going for? Can I PR again? How much faster can I go? How nuts is this course going to be with the 30+ turns? Where am I going to eat the night before? Is walking 1.5 miles to the start going to cause problems later on?  On a scale of 1 to crazy I’m like a crazy + 20 right now. 

I’m hoping my running mojo comes back soon… The crazy stress of work is slowing slightly and I’m on round two of this runny nose/sneezing situation but I’m hopeful it will be quick and won’t effect my running. 

And in really exciting news… I bought a car!!!! My old car (that I had for almost 10 years!!!) was starting to show signs of the transmission going bad and I thought it would be a couple weeks before anything happened on the buying front. But I set numbers that would work for me and ford did better than I thought they would. And even better I love my new car (Ford Escape) and I’m very happy with this decision! 



My new baby, you’ll see me parking in the back of the lot 

So if you’re looking for me over the next couple weeks I’ll be driving around in my new car looking for my running mojo. If you happen to find it let me know 🙂

An Awesome Weekend (26.2 with Donna Recap)

I just got back from Jacksonville Beach after a great long weekend with some of my favorite people that involved my favorite activity.

So let’s rewind to Friday, Matty and I loaded up my car in the super cold Atlanta weather and made our way south. My parents agreed to watch matty for the weekend at their house in North Florida and we made a plan to meet at the outlet mall in St. Augustine (mainly because I wanted to check out jeans at the Off Saks outlet).

IMG_2127
My Road Trip Partner

IMG_2131
Waiting for my parents to arrive

I handed Matty off to my parents after I scored a new pair of jeans and pried myself away from the amazing purses they had to head up to Jacksonville Beach to meet my friends.

We rented an amazing house half a block from the beach. It was a great size and it was nice to have a house as home base instead of a hotel room with that many people. I was the 2nd to last to arrive and our last arrival came not long after me.

We had a great dinner (I highly recommend Salt Life, the restaurant not the stickers on cars) and headed to Trader Joe’s for supplies, lots of wine and chocolate for my friends and race eve dinner for Saturday night for me.

My friends were running the Run with Donna Marathon Relay and I was running the half marathon on Sunday so we spent Saturday checking out the expo, hitting up target, a short walk on the beach and just relaxing.

IMG_2145
Beach time! A little too cold to lay out but it was a beautiful day.

The race expo was pretty good for the race size. There were a lot of freebies and my friends talked me out of buying a massager device called a bffer that was super expensive but was AWESOME! So if you have one and live in Atlanta invite me over to use it! I did buy a pair of momentum shoe tags so now I have two pairs and can rotate them among my hokas.

Saturday evening was spent doing a little girl talk and making sure I had everything I needed laid out for the race. While my friends went to one of my favorite places, pita pit, I ate the boring chicken and rice.

IMG_2194
My cousin, Kassie, made our shirts. I picked up the shirts at target (c9 is amazing!) and she did the vinyl cutting and pressed it on the shirt. We all loved them and I’m already trying to figure out what type of shirt I can make next 🙂

IMG_2122
My race outfit, I couldn’t resist the new punch color oiselle shorts and arm warmers

Race morning I woke up nice and early, ate my bagel and egg, drank some nuun and felt really good. We were planning on getting there early to get ahead of the road closures since our house was on the race course.

We got there with plenty of time, I checked my bag, my friends got coffee, I hit the portapotty and was ready to go. We hung around for a few more minutes before sending Meg and Alicia to their shuttles and took off a layer and shared with those who be sitting out in the cold until their relay legs.

IMG_2192
Before the race

Ashley (who we call Blaney) was running the first leg of the marathon relay so she agreed to run with me for her 6 mile leg (she was sick so she was okay with going slower than her normal pace). We headed up to start and got ahead of the 2:15 pace group. I didn’t think I’d be that fast but the pace group was doing a run/walk and I didn’t want them starting and stopping all around me.

IMG_2193
At the start ready to go

We started in the 2nd wave and my plan was to be conservative the first 3 miles and try to negative split the race. I was trying to stay in the 10:30s and base the rest of the race off of how that felt.

I really felt great from the start, we worked our way towards the ocean and went along a road with beautiful houses with people outside cheering. It was trying to reign myself in at this point because I definitely wanted to go faster but didn’t. Blaney stayed with me through this part and we passed Jeff Galloway, said hi and kept moving.

Around mile 5 we went past our house and waved to the empty home. Blaney handed off the baton at mile 6 and I kept moving. I turned and realized we were heading to the beach portion of the race, I cursed and the girl next to me said its not too bad and it’s only a mile. I worked my way to the hard packed sand and kept moving. It wasn’t as bad as I thought and I enjoyed the scenery. As I was making my way off the beach Katie was cheering there while waiting for her leg to start (a couple hours later).

This was around mile 7 and I was heading back towards the finish line. I was still feeling pretty good and decided to really start pushing myself and stay in the low 10s.

We were running one street over from before and the crowd support was still great. I was really just enjoying myself and feeling really strong.

We came out of the neighborhood and headed to my least favorite part of the course, the last 3 miles on this kind of high way. There wasn’t much crowd support and we were head on into pretty strong winds. I had to keep my head lowered so my visor wouldn’t fly off. I was still feeling strong and kept moving. I was starting to pass more people at this point, which is something new for me at the end of a race. I could see the one “hill” of the race looming ahead in the form of a bridge and I was staying a little conservative to make sure my legs didn’t die out on the climb over the bridge.

As I was making my way up the bridge the elite men marathoners came running by looking pretty good for mile 25 of their race, I enjoyed cheering for them and distracting myself from the hill. My pace started to slow about half way up but I kept moving as fast as I could and eventually made it to the top where there was a large cheer station.

I just wish the way down on the bridge was as long as the way up. We went off the highway, made a turn and I could see the finish, kind of. I couldn’t actually tell where the finish was and I knew my garmin was off from the beach running. I tried to pick up the pace but my legs were like, ummm nope. I went as fast as I could and realized I was going to be in the 2:15 range (just to refresh your memory that was the goal I wanted to hit by the end of the year).

I crossed the finish line in 2:15:17 (previous PR 2:20:13) and I was so happy about it! I fought back the happy tears (when did I become so emotional??) and saw Blaney cheering for me just past the finish line. I grabbed my medal, had some teenagers attach ice to my hip and made my way out of the finishers area.

IMG_2150
Post race, so happy with my PR!

I met up with Blaney, we grabbed my bag and hit up the dunkin donut tent for munchkins and a bagel + the beer tent because I had to celebrate a 5 min PR! We found a place to sit and hung out waiting for everyone to finish their legs and make their way back to the area.

IMG_2191
After the race

IMG_2189-0
Finishing the post race beers before getting on the shuttle to our car at the start.

IMG_2190
On the shuttle selfie

This was such a fun race! The water stops seemed well stocked, I only grabbed Gatorade at two of them because I carry my own water. The parking was really easy, there was plenty of food pre and post race, the medal was nice and the support along the course was awesome.

IMG_2169
The medal is so cute and looks good on my new medal hanger

You really couldn’t ask for a better race and we couldn’t stop talking about wanting to do it again next year!

IMG_2168
Used my new selfie stick to get a group wrist tattoo pic

I really needed the weekend away. Work has been a little stressful with deadlines and it was great to unplug and spend time with my favorite people. It’s so rare we’re all in the same place and I’m so grateful for the awesome friends in my life.

Can’t wait to do it again!

Looking Back at 2014

A couple weeks ago I went to a fun running bloggers Christmas party and to introduce ourselves during the white elephant we had to say our biggest running accomplishment for 2014.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/9ce/25789559/files/2015/01/img_1949-0.png
Blogger Party Courtesy of Elizabeth’s Instagram

This really was an interesting question for me because I had a really good 2014 and didn’t really know which thing I was most proud of.

Obviously crossing the finish line of my first marathon was huge and something I’m really proud of but in all honesty I’m a much better runner now. I know I can do better at 26.2 and someday I’ll prove that. This was my answer but really I’m more proud of a few other things.

My PR in the half marathon was probably the most surprising accomplishment. Not the fact that I PRed but that I ran as fast as I did. Since I’ve already recapped that I won’t go into too much detail, but taking 25 min off my best time was so amazing! I was thinking maybe a 2:25 half but 2:20 just seemed so far away and then it just happened. I just loved everything about that experience (minus the migraine). I’m also so thankful that my parents were able to be there and cheer me on. I’m sure my mother didn’t love that I beat her PR but I know she’s proud of me and the effort I’ve put into my running this year.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/9ce/25789559/files/2015/01/img_1737.jpg
After my half marathon PR!

I rounded out November by running two more half marathons (Rock N Roll Las Vegas and ATL Thanksgiving Half). I don’t recommend doing that! But I was happy that both of those races were faster than any of my 2012/2013 halfs. I’ve gotten the half marathon tally up to 8! Definitely my favorite distance to race.

My most recent big accomplishment was a 5k PR in December. After the 3rd half I took 10 days off. I ran a couple times the week of the 5k, with a little bit of strides thrown into two 3 mile runs. I ran a small local 5k that started at a middle school and went to the ATL belt line (the beltline is this amazing trail system through Atlanta that will hopefully connect one day and be a 20 mile loop) down a little ways and then back to the school. I picked this race because it would be flat (or so I thought) and its a pretty area of town. My garmin hadn’t been working since thanksgiving (apparently I needed to download software updates) so I ended up running this race pace blind. I basically pushed myself as fast as I could and tried to keep moving. There weren’t mile markers but it was out and back (the finish was slightly different than the start) so I had a general idea where I was. We turned off the belt line and literally went up a steep hill and by this time I was dying! And when I reached the top I was rewarded with a downhill and then realized the finish was up another hill. I just kept trucking along and crossed the finish line in 28:23! My previous PR was from November 2012, 29:41, so this was a big jump for me. I had NO IDEA I was running that fast and I probably wouldn’t have run that fast if I was using my garmin.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/9ce/25789559/files/2015/01/img_1886.jpg
After my 5K PR!

On top of PRing the 5k, 13.1 and 26.2 (by default) I’ve also tried to get my eating habits under control. While I definitely wouldn’t say I eat clean, I am eating better and trying to maintain a balance. And I’m down around 28lbs and only have a few more to go to reach my goal weight. All under 6 months (1/7/15 is my 6 months with weight watchers) and I couldn’t be more proud of how 2014 has turned out for me!

I’m excited to see what 2015 has in store for me! More to come on that soon….

Thank you all for all the support this year, I’m so grateful for all the amazing people in my life!

Area 13.1 Recap (hint hint I PRed)

On November 8th I ran my first half marathon in a year. After running 4 halfs in 2013, I spent the first half of 2014 training for my first marathon. I knew after I finished that I had to make some changes and I wanted to PR a half marathon.

I started working with Jesica again and she really pushed me to step out of what I had been doing and really go for it. And as the training cycle progressed (and my weight continued to go down) my times were getting better and better. Paces that were hard to keep for a 5k became my long run paces. And all that hard work paid off last night.

I picked my goal race based off of a couple things: date, course (flat flat flat) and location. Originally Rock N Roll Vegas was going to be my goal race but when my childhood bestfriend chose the night before as her wedding date I knew that was out (I did however still run in Vegas, just flew in the day of the race). Then I found a race the weekend before Vegas, on the trail/road that I run on all the time about 2 min from my house. It seemed perfect (other than the 5:30 pm start time) and in reality it ended up being perfect.

The race I chose was the Area 13.1, there were definitely some pluses and minuses to this race. Packet pick up was super easy, I was able to grab it the Sunday before from my local Lululemon. The race was fairly small which made race day logistics much easier.

Since the race was at 5:30 I had to sit around all day until it was time to run. My parents came to town with my grandmother to meet the newest member of the family. So luckily my parents were able to spectate and be there for the race. My morning started kind of strangely, I had to eat chicken and rice for breakfast. My nutrition plan for the day was to eat my typical dinner the night before a race for breakfast, so a chicken breast and 2 cups of white rice was breakfast. After that I was on a bagel and hard boiled egg diet until after the race. I ended up eating two bagels and two hard boiled eggs. I ended up with a fun sinus headache but I don’t like how I run when on my migraine medicine so decided to not take anything.

I got to the race later than I anticipated so I didn’t get in my full warm up, but did a couple minutes of jogging and did dynamic stretches until the start. I also took a salted watermelon GU about 30 min before the race.

My head was still hurting pretty good at this point and I was hoping adrenaline would kick in and make it go away. There were no corrals so I lined up towards the middle and was surprised at how many people had on long sleeves and long pants. The weather was perfect high 50s that would drop to the high 40s by the end, which for me that means a tank top and shorts.

IMG_1745.JPG
Right after the start
The first mile was on the road and I was trying to keep myself from going out too fast, I let people pass me because I knew if I went out to hard I would crash. The first 4 miles were pretty congested, around 1.5 you go into a narrower trail into the woods and people were walking and blocking the trail. This was my slowest mile, but after we got out of there around mile 3 I started to pick the pace back up. It was still crowded and the course was really weirdly planned out. There were a lot of random out and backs. The one around mile 3 was really confusing and kind of a mess but not nearly as bad as mile 4 back in Riverside park. They did a bad job directing runners but my parents were at this split and pointed me in the right direction.

By this point I really wanted Gatorade, they said there would be Gatorade at 4 and 7.5 but there was nothing at 4. I waited til 5 to take my gu in case Gatorade magically appeared but it didn’t. At this point I realized I was moving pretty quickly, a lot of my miles were in the high 10s, but I felt really good. My head had stopped hurting and I was just cruising. It was pitch black and I was really happy to have worn my headlamp. Around mile 5.5 the lead guy came running past (and then by me again quickly after that) and he was moving! Between 6 and 7 we hit the two “hills” of the course but they’re not too bad and I’ve run them a bunch in training runs.

I found the elusive Gatorade at mile 7.25 and was glad I did, I was starting to feel a little off and the Gatorade made me feel better within a couple minutes. Again I was cruising and was starting to really pass people. I’m usually getting passed so it was nice to be the person doing the passing. The next few miles felt the longest but my body felt good and I just kept moving. Around mile 10 I realized that I could come in around 2:25 (my garmin was short by 1/4 mile but I didn’t realize it when I was calculating) and I wanted to keep that up. I took another GU here and then kicked it up a notch. I made the final turn around and new I was about 1.9 miles from the finish. Since I run this course often I know the mileages and realized my garmin was off at mile 12. And then I did more math and realized I could beat my mom’s PR if I kept it up. I got a pretty bad shin splint but there was no way I was stopping.

Before the race I had never run longer than 12.4 without stopping, not even during marathon training. I wanted to get over that hump, even if I was running 15 min miles, I was going to keep running. Luckily I ran some faster miles and was cruising to the finish. I got a little caught up on a boardwalk piece of the trail behind a woman who was not happy when I yelled on your left and ran by her. She did the same to me about .1 from the finish but then I sprinted past her because I wasn’t going to let her finish ahead of me. I crossed the finish line at 2:20:13!! Over 25 min PR and over a minute faster than my mom’s PR.

IMG_1737.JPG
After the race

I never really thought this time was possible. 2:30 was my goal, but I thought 2:27ish was possible. I felt great most of this race and didn’t really have any bad miles. Mentally I was much better off than I usually am. I never hit a mental wall like I have in every other race.

I just couldn’t be happier with my performance. I worked really hard to get to this point and I’m really proud of myself for accomplishing multiple goals during this training cycle.

Hopefully my vegas recap isn’t too far off since I just finished that race this past Sunday.

Up next: Atlanta Half Marathon on thanksgiving day!

Timing (Atlanta 10 Miler Recap)

Timing really is everything. And I’m not talking about race times (yet), I’m talking about when things happen in life.

I’ve lived a good life so far and have been fortunate that timing has been on my side for the most part.

I’ve always thought that things happen when they need to and if something you want to happen doesn’t, then it wasn’t meant to happen. I’ve found this to be true in my career especially. I have had a good progression of jobs and the right opportunity always seems to present itself.

With my move to Atlanta from Vegas, it was definitely time for me to move to a different city (I love all my friends there but I needed a fresh start). The right job presented itself and I truly believe I’m at the right company for me. And while I was trying to get other jobs within my current company (after being there a year), I didn’t get certain opportunities I applied for. Then my now current job opened up, I knew it was my dream job (for this stage in my career, let’s be real I want to be a C level exec one day). If I had gotten one of the other positions, I wouldn’t be where I am today in just the right spot for me.

Today I ran a kickass race! (I swear this will tie into the above ramblings, just go with the tangents like you’re talking to me in real life) I had 12 miles on my schedule for today and was signed up for the Atlanta 10 miler. So my plan was to do a 2 mile warm up before the race. My coach wanted me to keep my paces in the high 11s since my goal pace is 11:40 for my half. I ran the warm up just in the 11s and was feeling great. The race was delayed due to traffic so I was a little disappointed I didn’t time the warm up better but nothing I could do about that.

IMG_1693.JPG
After my warm up waiting for the race to start

I couldn’t have asked for a better race. The course was tough, so many hills (but it is Atlanta) and it went through some pretty neighborhoods and the crowd support was great. I started a little conservatively, my plan was to take advantage of all down hills and keep moving up the hills as best as I could. Honestly I’ve never felt stronger running. It felt pretty easy until the 8 mile mark (10 miles for the day) and then I had to get my mental game in check for the rest of the race. I ran into a friend at about 8.5 and we off and on ran together to the finish. I had a 6 min PR from the cherry blossom 10 miler in 2013 and ran 1:51:39.

IMG_1696.JPG
With my co-worker Patrick after the race (photo courtesy of him, thanks Patrick!). He volunteered today and was handing out medals.

So let’s tie this all together, after the race I was texting with my coach (Jesica) and we were discussing how well I’d executed this training cycle and how my weight loss (20 lbs!!!) has really improved my running. I made a comment that I wish I had done this a year ago and her reply was spot on, she told me I wasn’t ready then to make those changes, but that this is just the beginning for me and my running. That really hit home for me, because I wasn’t ready last year and I knew I couldn’t handle the changing of my diet during marathon training. This was the right time for me and I’m ready to have a great race November 8!

And total side note: I highly recommend the Atlanta 10 miler, the course was great, the event was well organized and the swag (long sleeve hoodie with thumb holes + cool medal) is great. The Atlanta Track Club puts on great events and is well worth the membership I’ve had the past 2 years. Hopefully I’ll feel the same after the half on Thanksgiving!

What I learned from Marathon Training

Marathon training was definitely a time of growth for me. I spent a lot of hours alone getting my runs in which leads to a lot of introspection and also time to figure out random things.

So here are some of the things I figured out while marathon training…

1. You potentially will rip holes in your shorts. I wish this was a joke but it’s not! I only had 3 pairs of shorts that I really liked during that time and they were discontinued. This led to me running in them all the time… Which led to multiple holes in each pair. The night before the marathon I went back and forth with Katie about which pair would not rip any further for 26.2 miles. I picked right! And carried a sample size of body glide in my pocket. I’ve now found a couple different shorts that work for me up to 6 miles so let’s hope they can make it 13.1!

2. The brand of body glide you use does matter! I was using the body glide brand since I started running but still always had a little chafing. Then one of my running friends mentioned Run Guard and how it had worked better for her. I switched to that and it’s very rare that I have any chafing!

3. Finding the right running shoe is hard! I envy those of you that can wear a bunch of different shoes and not have any problems. I am not one of those people! It took 4 shoes and orthotics to get there but now I’m in a shoe that seems to be working for me. My calves are also tight so that makes shoes even tougher. I can’t handle much of a drop at all.

IMG_0361.JPG

Shoe #1

IMG_0641.JPG

Shoe #3

shoes4

Shoe #4 = My new favorite! 

4. Being alone for all those hours can make you a little crazy. My longest long run took 5:45 to finish! Let me know the next time you have to run for that amount of time and see how sane you are. I wish I would have gotten into audiotapes or something to get me occupied mentally. Music just wasn’t enough.

5. I needed someone to hold me accountable. I struggled the last year with keeping up with runs, I just slacked and had no plans. Having a running coach really helped keep me in line. I knew she wouldn’t take my excuses of not wanting to get out of bed. It really helped me to get all the workouts in (minus the ones I missed while injured) and it got me to do a little cross training.

6. Not running my best race for the marathon made me want to try again… Just not right away. I really think I have a faster marathon in me so with a stronger base built up before training begins I think I can do a lot better. So expect to see me either at the London marathon next year or a local race (with not as many hills) next spring all depending on lottery for the London marathon (my company also sponsors this marathon so I might be able to finagle a bib this way).

7. There are gels out there that won’t make you burp… so this is a weird one but true. Same running friend as the run guard mentioned Huma gels since she was doing no processed foods for Lent. They’re chia seed based and taste really great! I love the mango and strawberry flavors and used those for the race. They gave me energy when I needed it the most and kept me from getting sick or having any stomach problems. I recently tried the blueberry flavor at the Peachtree Road Race expo and liked that so I will add that into the rotation.

8. You will not lose weight while marathon training… unless you’re some ridiculously disciplined person. Which let’s be real, I am not! I didn’t gain any weight, I maintained, but I was hungry ALL THE TIME! And when you’re always hungry it’s hard to make good decisions… pass the French fries and cookies please. I also couldn’t handle the focus on running with the focus on eating right, my brain couldn’t process doing both at the same time. Now I’m working on the eating better part.

9. You become superstitious about what you eat, outfits, pretty much anything you deem can effect your running performance. I ate the same thing for every long run (both night before and morning of) and was afraid to buy a different brand because I didn’t want to get sick. But this one was so bland and boring, finally I switched and I didn’t get sick so I rolled with this other brand that actually had flavor! And then I only ate that and even cooked it my hotel room the night before the marathon. I also had favorite pieces of running clothes and for race day picked the outfit I had the best long run in.

10. Everything starts to revolve around running, if it didn’t already. Happy hour after work, sorry I have to go run. Chance to go on a trip? Only if there’s a place for you to get your miles in (I ran 14 miles in Aruba, 5 outside in the heat, 9 on a treadmill, not so fun). Want to go to dinner on a Friday night? Nope sorry I have to eat my special superstitious meal for my Saturday morning long run.

IMG_0754.JPG

On the floor of the gym in Aruba after finishing 14 miles

11. You will embrace running in the rain! Unless you live in Vegas where it never rains, you will deal with rain on multiple occasions and have no choice but to run through it. My 18 miler had a 3 mile stretch of running in rain and was probably the fastest and most enjoyable part of that run.

12. You will have a mental break, maybe just one or maybe more. My 18 miler had a lot of tears and a pretty big breakdown around the 12 mile mark. You have to learn how to handle the mental battle. To me that’s the hardest part of a marathon. I struggled with this the most and know I need to work on this for the future.

13. During marathon training is not the best time to get a dog. I got my pup, Matty, the week before marathon training started. I absolutely love him but he completely changed my life and my schedule. I have to either run before work (which he hates) or go after I come home from work and walked him (which he hates). Matty wouldn’t eat if I went in the morning and he would sulk if I went in the evening. This caused a lot of dog mom guilt, which isn’t conducive to getting in all your workouts. He’s slowly getting more adjusted to my workouts and I bribe him with bones and various treats.

IMG_0706.JPG

This is Matty telling me he’d prefer if I didn’t leave him

IMG_1443.JPG

Snuggle time with Matty

14. Marathon training is not the best time to switch jobs. I was interviewing for a promotion on a different team at my company during peak marathon training. I ended up getting the promotion (yayyyy) but the transition to the new job was the week after the marathon and I had a lot of stuff to wrap up in my previous role before I could transition. This led to a lot of stress that I wouldn’t recommend right around your race.

15. Life doesn’t stop when you’re marathon training. As much as you wish you could pause other things so you can focus on your training, stuff still happens. My dad was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor during peak training (and while interviewing for my new position) and not knowing what that meant or what the treatment would be was hard. The thought of losing my dad was really difficult. Thankfully the tumor was benign and the surgery went well and he is almost fully recovered.

IMG_1269.JPG

Holding hands with my dad when was in the ICU post surgery

 

I learned a lot from round 1 of the marathon… Enough to make me want a round 2 sometime next spring. Right now I’m focusing on half marathon #6 and hoping to PR. I’m working with Jesica again and I’m really excited to see what happens with the amount of mileage I’ll be putting in along with the strength training I’ve added. I’ll be working with a personal trainer once a week and taking a Barre3 class each week. I’ll also be dabbling in a little bit of hot yoga too. If you remember a couple years back when Tina was my personal trainer, she’s now a yoga instructor, and I hope to take a few classes with her to help stretch everything out.

IMG_1200.JPG

With Jesica at the Braves Country 5k two weeks post marathon (photo courtesy of Jes)

 

I feel good so far and I’m already down a few pounds so hopefully the downward trend continues as the mileage goes up.

IMG_1423.JPG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My first marathon: Rock N Roll San Diego Recap

I’ve gone back and forth on how I want to write my marathon recap and have just decided to write whatever comes to my mind and basically throw in ALL the pictures. Hey I paid good money to MarathonFoto for them so might as well use them right… and some of them are so bad it’s funny!

On June 1 I ran the Rock N Roll San Diego Marathon. Start time was 6:15 am (so early) at balboa park near the downtown area of SD. I slept pretty well on race eve and woke up at 3:15 to eat my breakfast and start getting ready. Katie came to SD with me and she was so great about making sure I had everything I needed and even drove me to the start. I got there before 5 am to make sure we beat traffic and road closures.

769548-1001-0016s

 Walking up to the race nice and early (and in the dark)

I saved one of those post race blankets from Savannah and brought that to the start to keep me warm and have something to sit on before the race. I actually wasn’t cold (foreshadowing the later half the race) in my race outfit and just used the blanket to sit on. Katie got me a couple blocks from the race start area and my first stop was the brooks VIP bathrooms. Having the VIP bathrooms was great! No lines or very short lines with ac and toilets that flushed. They also had sunscreen (which I had forgotten to apply) so I sprayed on some of that and went to find a seat near to rest. I hung out for a little while before heading to the bathroom one last time and entering my corral. I did some dynamic stretching a few min before the start and was feeling ready to go.

BeforeStart

Before the race in my corral… love the photo bomb from the girl behind me!

The race started in waves (which previously we were told it wouldn’t) so about 10 min after the official start I was on my way. For the first hours the weather was okay, humid but not miserable with cloudy skies. I felt good doing around 12:30-13 min miles and enjoyed winding our way around balboa park and downtown San Diego. There were some hills and a lot of decline during the first 8 miles or so. I got a little nervous around mile 4 when the aid station was out of Gatorade. I’ve had trouble at previous Rock N Roll races where they’re out of water/Gatorade and I end up feeling terrible. Since there wasn’t Gatorade I took a salt/electrolyte tab. This is earlier than I normally would but I knew I needed it.

765967-1033-0047s

I’m assuming this was the first couple miles, super humid before the sun came out

765972-1065-0048s

This is going around Balboa park

Around mile 5 we went through the outfield walkway of Petco Park. I of course tripped (stayed on my feet) and slightly rolled my ankle. Luckily that didn’t bother me, but I was a little worried it would come back to haunt me later.

 

765974-1074-0043s

 

Going through the outfield area of Petco, 30 sec after the ankle rolling

After going through Petco we winded around the downtown area (I passed Harriet, the 91 y/0 running the race)  through Little Italy (where I knew Katie and I would want to check out for dinner one night) and then worked our way north towards Old Town. I really liked the Old Town area and knew it was another place I would like to go back to check out with Katie. I knew after this area (9 miles-ish) I was getting closer to where Katie would be spectating. I was feeling pretty good at this point and sent out a text or two letting my parents and Katie know I was feeling pretty good and moving along. Katie and I misunderstood the map so I didn’t see KT at the 10.5 mile area and as I was turning into Mission Bay Park she let me know she’d be at the spot where we’d come out of the park.

This is where things got REALLY hard for me for the first time. The sun came out and it was really hot. Around the half way point is where I first started walking. I also stopped at a water fountain along the path and splashed my face with water. I knew it was going to be tough from here. I also stopped at one of the park bathrooms, I’d call it a step up from a port a potty and there wasn’t a line. I made it to the half way mark around 3 hours (better than 2 of my 13.1 times) and knew at this point the slow bus wasn’t going to get me. I kept winding through the park trying to find the shade and not ask the random families for a ride to the finish (I really really really wanted to do that).


765975-1132-0034s

Going through Mission Bay Park

After Mission Bay Park we went back over the interstate and I spotted Katie. She made me a great sign, we chatted quickly and we switched water bottles so I would have a full one. This was SO HELPFUL! She gave me some encouraging words and then ran off to meet a mile or two down the road, using a short cut. After seeing her I hit another aid station that also had cold, wet sponges. I used one of these to cool down and just tried to stay running as long as I could. I saw Katie again, used her energy to boost me a little bit and kept trucking.

The next long stretch of miles (16-22) were just hard. The route was boring and it was just hot. I made sure to grab ice cold towels from the aid stations and accidentally grabbed a gatorade with added salt (tasted so gross) but I think that helped me feel decent the rest of the race. I also went through all the misters the had on the course. I  employed a run the downhills/flats and walk the uphills by this point. I had driven this part of the course the day before with Katie and knew that I needed to use the downhills in this stretch to make up some time before the big uphill on the highway.

Right before the big hill I stopped at the aid station for an ice cold towel and refilled my water bottle. I ran the downhill to the uphill and was just so ughhhh about the uphill. I called my mom at this point to have a little entertainment but she was busy and could only talk for a couple minutes. She was encouraging and I just tried to keep moving. The hill is over a mile long on a slanted highway with absolutely NOTHING to look at. They also played music SUPER loud that was terrible (think the music you hated at the roller skating rink as a kid). This felt like an hour and I again ran into Harriet on her world record journey. Towards the top of the hill I asked one of the team in training coaches on the course if we were close to the top. He pointed at the curve ahead that was the end, so I just decided to end my misery and run. I continued running through a downhill stretch that started winding us back towards downtown and turned off towards a residential area.

765980-1171-0005s

So happy to be done with that hill… thinking all the uphills were done

I was told all the uphills were done but that was just not true. After making it into the residential areas and around the 24 mile mark I was just OVER it! Like wanted it to be over, wondering why everyone lied and said it was downhill and where was the slow bus because I wanted a ride. I called my mom again at this point, who was now home with my dad, so I had them both on speaker phone. I pretty much told them I wanted to die and that I wasn’t going to finish and that if there was another uphill I might just die right there… dramatic much? Mentally it was just so hard at this point. I’d been out there over 6 hours, I was hot, sweaty, smelly and probably slightly delirious. My dad said they’d stay on the phone until I finished, but then they went silent and well that just wasn’t going to work for me, I needed my tunes. So I got off the phone with them (rudely too, I’m so mean when I’m cranky, sorry Mom and Dad) and hit a downhill so I ran. I did this off and on with the uphill/downhill and my garmin died around 24.7 miles #slowmarathonrunnerproblems.

765982-1132-0046s

DYING around the 24 mile mark

765985-1249-0028s



765985-1249-0031s

This is what miserable looks like

765981-1169-0022s

The camera man asked me to smile, since I was walking I figured why not, it looks pretty good for 6.5 hours into a marathon

Right after my garmin died I stopped to stretch (my back and hips were KILLING starting around the 18 mile mark) and as I was finishing that up, Harriet was coming to stretch in the same spot. That’s when I decided noooo I can’t be beat by a 91 y/o so let’s get moving. I walked a little bit up an uphill and when I hit the 25 mile mark (the slow bus was going by with all that had jumped on) I started running and was pretty determined to run the rest of the way. I went through the 2nd tunnel of terrible dance music with strobe lights (WHY does Rock N Roll do this??) and saw Katie cheering on the other side. I tossed her my water bottle since it was empty and told her I was running the rest of the way. She told me turn that corner and it’s straight downhill to the finish. FINALLY someone that didn’t lie to me, she was right, I turned the corner and headed toward the finish. You can see how happy I was to know I was that close…


765986-1106-0016s

Just passed Katie

765987-1176-0025s

Turning the last corner


765987-1176-0027s

Starting to pick up the speed (you know the speed you have left at 25 miles)


765988-1186-0017s

Not really sure why my arms are up but let’s just go with delirium

765990-1307-0005s

I certainly wasn’t in first place, so we’ll go with yay my first marathon!

765995-1287-0010sSpotted the finish and was focused!

765998-1320-0007s
So so happy



CrossingFinishLine

I did it!

FinishLineOfficially a marathon finisher!

766018-1021-0024s

And had to take one of these… I promise it wasn’t dark when I finished

This was super long with all the pics but since it took almost 2 months to get this done, I think it’s worth it.

Overall I’m proud of myself for finishing in 6:55:43. I know I can do it closer to the 6 hour range but I just didn’t have it all there mentally and the hot weather didn’t help. I’m already thinking about number 2 next spring, but for now will be focusing on PRing the half and hopefully the 5k.

I’m also working on losing some weight to help get the speed back I had in my first marathon. If you’re actually interested in how I’m going about the weight loss I’d be happy to write a post about it.

And I can’t forget to thank the people that helped me along the way: my parents (especially my mom) who listened to me have multiple breakdowns during this process; my running coach, Jesica, who guided me every step of the way and gave me so much support and encouragement (she also featured me on her blog with more about my marathon experience here); my BFF, Katie, thank you for being my inspiration and my cheerleader/sherpa on race day; and all of you who commented/gave me encouragement through social media/texts/in person. I’m so grateful to have such good people in my life.

Time to get SERIOUS

It’s less than 3 weeks until my next half marathon so I really should have gotten serious two months ago, but better late than never? I’m really going to test the whole crossfit makes you a better runner thing in Chicago.

So lets talk training, the past few months I’ve run very little, maybe once a week, plus the runs in crossfit which is usually around a mile or two a week. The last couple weeks I’ve started upping that, to two or three runs a week plus crossfit 2-3 times a week. I’ve been trying to do a long run (which really aren’t that long) once a week as well. My body really wasn’t feeling the distance but this past weekend I finally had a distance break through and ran 8 miles. It wasn’t perfect but I was mentally strong and was able to push through, I hadn’t done more than 4 miles recently. I really needed this run to go well and it did. I needed the confidence boost and I know I can finish 13.1 in 3 weeks, it won’t be fast and it won’t be pretty! But it will happen even if there is some walking (hopefully no crying). And afterwards I looked really hot…

20130701-212335.jpg

And since I don’t have access to a 7-11 for a slurpee I had to make due with a freezoni or freeztini or whatever it’s called from QuikTrip

20130701-212601.jpg

The next day I went to crossfit and I was happy to see exercises I could do without modifying the movements. That’s rare for me, anything that involves gymnastics or pull ups is a struggle for me (I can’t even do a cartwheel, seriously) and I have to modify. I eventually want to be able to do these movements but I really have to improve my upper body strength.

This week I ran 3 times and went to crossfit 3 times! I’d say I had a successful week and am finally getting serious about training! And one of those runs was with Bart Yasso, but he deserves his own post, which he’ll get but probably not for a week or so.

I hope you all have a great holiday weekend! My parents are coming up to Atlanta, my mom and I are running the Peachtree Road Race on Thursday! Then we head up to Tennessee for zip lining, white water rafting, boating, slip n sliding and relaxing! I CAN NOT WAIT!