New Year, New Goals

I went to an interesting Q and A a couple weeks ago at my favorite local running store, Bosque Running Shop.  The guests were Lauren Fleshman and her ‘Little Wing‘ group of runners she coaches for Oiselle.  The group was in Albuquerque altitude training for a month and agreed to do a short 3m run and Q&A session following with anyone that attended.  It was a great experience running with a bunch of girls that are vying for the 2016 Olympics and to realize they have daily struggles just like every other runner out there.   The girls talked about goal setting and Lauren specifically talked about writing them down as the first step – even those dreams that scare you.  Something that really struck me was when she said something along the lines of, “You may not achieve those huge goals, but you need to enjoy the little steps that happen as you work.”  The type A part of me could not get my head around setting a goal and NOT achieving it, but maybe that is something I need to work on – to be proud of the process and not just the end product.   I bought a copy of Lauren’s Believe Journal, got it autographed by all the girls and started my goal setting process.  The Journal has fantastic tips about goal setting and basic training and I am excited to reflect on my running this year.  I am hoping it helps me see the bigger picture when I get hurt or am not running my best and maybe find clues as to what works best for me.

After much thought, my 2015 goals are:

1. Stay healthy.  Listen to my body.  Take rest days.  Foam roll like crazy.

2. Strength and Core at LEAST 2 days a week.

3. Achieve a 10k PR.  Done….see below!

2. Sub 2 hour 1/2 marathon…and if training goes well, maybe even a PR (sub 1:53) in April.

3. Pull back after the 1/2 in April and continue to build a strong base for San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon May 31st.  Own the marathon.  No walking.

4. Trail Running this summer. La Luz August 2nd.  Ragnar Angel Fire August 28-29th.  Enjoy the mountains.

5. End of year marathon or early 2016 marathon.

I am ready to enjoy the journey.  Enjoy my health.  Be grateful.

SuperBowl 10k Race Report:

I have been training since mid-December for a 10k to try to get back some speed.  After an injury prone year and a half I was finally ready to push myself and not be afraid of injury.  I wanted to run fast again. My fastest 10k to date had been 52:52 set back in 2012.  My training was pointing toward a PR right up until I was taken down with the flu for two weeks.  I missed the hardest training week which was disconcerning to me, but decided to just pick up on the schedule where I was and not try to ‘make up for lost time’.  Once I got back on my feet I had a couple more confidence boosting runs right before race day, so  I decided to push myself and be uncomfortable in the race, push through my mental barriers.  I finished in 50:58 – so close to a 2 minute PR and an 2nd Place AG Award!

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I had a strong race for the first 4 miles, averaging 8:05 miles, but fell off the last 2.2 with 8:25 per mile.   I knew I was going out faster than I should, but am so happy that I pushed myself to the limit.  I used the mottos, “Fly” and “Take Chances” I found on Oiselle’s pinterest boards to push myself through the tough parts.

Take Chances

Take Chances – In my dreams I look just like this when running.

Fly!

Fly!

I wanted to walk during this last two miles, but told myself it was just my mind… my legs still had speed.  I find the hardest part of racing is getting over those little voices in my head telling me to stop or walk ‘just for a minute’, so if there is a bigger victory than the PR I set it is that I was able to quiet those thoughts and hang on.

2459  Next up, maybe a sub 50:00?

A La Luz Finisher!

Yesterday I completed what I consider the hardest race I have ever participated in. The La Luz Trail Race.

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The La Luz Trail is a beautiful trail that runs up to the top of the Sandia Mountains – the mountains that border one side of Albuquerque.  I have long thought of the La Luz Trail Race as a right of passage and something I NEED to do as a runner from Albuquerque. This year, I threw caution to the wind and put my name in the lottery even through I rarely ever run trails and had only hiked the trail once before in the 12 years of living in New Mexico. I was lucky enough to be one of 400 people selected to do the race, and so my ‘training’ ensued. With other race commitments and travel plans this summer, I only made the accent up the trail three more times before race day. I did do some extra hill repeats this summer, but not necessarily at the altitude the race runs at.
Yesterday I got up at 5am to run up a mountain. The race begins on a twisty, turn-y, steep Forest Road that leads to the trail, which I was not excited about but now realize that it is a great way to ‘sort out the runners’ before hitting the single track trail.

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I started near the back of the pack because I knew I was going to have to employ a run/walk approach right from the start and I was so pleased to see others doing the same thing. The first few miles on the trail are a slow incline of switch backs and I found myself sticking with a group for awhile until I had an opportunity to pass and catch up to the next pack of runners. By mile 5 (of 9) of the race I had found ‘my people’ – the group running the pace I could keep up with and that helped me keep pushing forward. At around mile 6 the dreaded ‘rockslide’ starts – 7 or 9 switchbacks across loose boulders that you have no choice by to walk across and the trail gets increasingly more steep from here on out.

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This is where the mental toughness starts to kick in. One foot in front of the other. Hike with purpose. Don’t slow down. Just keep moving. I focused my gaze to the persons shoes in front of me and just tried to keep up. As we neared the final turn off at 8 miles, I was really feeling the altitude effects – light headed and my legs were burning and fatigued. Up to this point I hadn’t stopped once on the trail, but found that I had to catch my breath two times before getting to the finish line. This portion of the trail is the more brutal – steep and a set of stairs that just seem like a cruel joke after what you have already gone through.

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I would say this is the portion of the race that I most regret not being familiar with. I had only run the last mile of the race once before and it would have been nice to be a little more familiar with the twists and turns during this section and to be able to judge how much more of the race was left. The second time I stopped was just about 200 feet from the finish, but I didn’t know that until I rounded the corner after I caught my breath.

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This ‘finisher’ picture should be titled, “EXHAUSTED!”

Every race is a learning experience. This race I learned that I am stronger than I thought. I ran about 1:30/min per mile faster than training runs, and in some portions even faster.

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In trail racing, it is nice to be familiar with the race course – probably more important than road racing because the terrain can very so much. If I do this race again, I will do a lot more training runs covering the whole course.

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The shirt only finishers receive. I think I will wear for a week straight.

Up next: preparation for the Duke City Marathon on October 19th. I have two half marathons that I have committed to – the Rio Grande Half next weekend and the Chips and Salsa Half in September. Both these races fit nicely into my training plan for the full marathon and it will be nice to try out my pace for race day and see how it feels.