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.

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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?

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On the Eve of My Second Marathon

Ok, Ok, technically it is not the eve of the marathon…I have two days until the Duke City but I feel like everything I do from here on out is going to effect my performance on Sunday so let’s take a look at where I am at.

After getting over strep throat four weeks ago, I went out and kicked some serious a$$ on my 20 miler.  I averaged a 9:53 and felt pretty decent when I finished…and by decent I mean completely spent but think I will be able to push for the last 6.2 at something close to that pace.

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Now, I know that running race pace for a long run is frowned upon, but I had such a horrific 19 mile run two weeks before that I really needed a confidence booster.  So I did it.  Race pace on my longest run.  And then I decided to not follow conventional wisdom the next week either – 16 miles at 9:30 pace.

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 Yes – a long run at FASTER than race pace, but it gave me the ego boost I needed and made me feel like I was ready to tackle the race.

Then came speed bump number one: Achilles Tendinitis.

While out on an easy 4 mile run two and a half weeks from race day I was stopped in my tracks by a pull in my calf.  I knew right away it was my achilles and it did not feel good.  I hobbled home and rested for a few days, iced, road my bike like a crazy person around town and yes, perhaps cried, because I was again going to have to DNS another marathon I had signed up for just like last fall.

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Circa 1994 Schwinn Mountain Bike that weighs 1,000+lbs. It gets the job done, though.

I immediately went in for an assessment with a PT and it was recommended I get deep tissue massages, rest, ice and take some time to let it heal.  After all, I was two weeks from the race and my training was done – I wouldn’t gain anything by pushing through long painful runs now.  I had two fabulous massages that loosened both my achilles and my bum hamstring that has been bothering me since March and followed the strict PT directives to take it easy and am feeling so much better.  I also went out and bought a new pair of shoes.  About two weeks before the achilles strain happened I switched to a new pair of Mizunos – a type that I had never worn before because they discontinued my current Mizuno line.  I just had an inkling the switch might have something to do with my injury.  The minute I put on the new Brooks Adreneline I felt almost immediate relief.

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Shoes sent from heaven to save my achilles.

They are much more supportive, and while heavier than the Mizunos, I feel like these shoes are going to get me across the finish line.   If you are a runner you know that I am about to commit one of the cardinal sins of running: switching to a brand new brand of shoes days before the marathon.  I know.  I know.  I have run in them for my short taper runs this week and they just feel so good on my achilles.  I have to do it.  Stay tuned for the race report next week when I am either going to be praising Brooks or posting pictures of my blistered and battered feet.  Lets hope for the former.

Speed bump number two: Sickness (again?!!!)

Our household was hit with another round of sickness within a months time. I started with the kids and then, as most moms do, I came down with it right after they got better.  The dreaded cold with congestion in my head and chest.  It caused me to skip my long run three weeks out from the race and couple other runs and suffer through my last long run of 8 miles with all sorts of walk breaks and nose blowing.   After 10 days of complaining and barely running and taking every supplement I could find, I have turned a corner.  Congestion has cleared, I have slept well and I feel like I have my strength back…JUST IN TIME!

Race day in Sunday.  I am monitoring everything I eat from here on out.  I have the world’s most sensitive stomach so nothing but white bagels, plain chicken, potatoes, and oatmeal for the next two days.  I also have some Immodium tablets in the waiting for Sunday morning.  The weather is calling for low of 49, high of 75 with ‘sun and clouds’.  I am super excited about the ‘clouds’ part of the forecast because we don’t get a lot of cloud cover in the Land of Enchcantment and a little shade will be nice on the trail, which is mostly exposed for about 24 of the 26 miles.  I plan to wear a tank top with my new Oiselle Roga shorts (don’t worry. I have tested these out on a couple long runs.  Wasn’t going to make a second cardinal running mistake by wearing new shorts!) which I absolutely love!  I have a pair of knee socks that I cut the feet off to wear as arm warmers for the first couple miles when it is freezing out and then can toss in the garbage when I feel I don’t need them any longer.  I plan to fuel with GU along the way and will pack one bag of honey stinger chews just in case my stomach can’t take another GU after 20 miles.  I have three salt tabs to take each hour to ward off cramping and will take water and powerade along the race course.  The pace plan is to start slow for the first 3 miles at 10:00/miles and then pick it up at four to race pace of 9:45.  There is a particularly hilly part to the course from mile 10 to 14 that I would like to really hold on to race pace, and then if I am feeling good at 14 I plan to push a little faster on the way back (the course is out and back).  This is all  hypothetical of course, because with my last marathon being a total bust (due to mono) I really don’t know how I am going to perform.

Goals:

A: 9:45 pace for the race.  This would translate to a 4:15 completion time.  This is a big stretch, but maybe if the stars align I can get there.

B: Beat my first marathon time by an hour.  This would be a finish time of 4:39 or a 10:15/mile pace.  This may be the most realistic goal.

C: Not walk.  Have fun.  And remember that this is just the start of my marathoning journey, because I already have my eye on some 2015 races.

Happy racing this weekend everyone!

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#342! If you see me on the course give me a shout out! I am certainly going to need every good vibe I can get!

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.

I suppose it’s time to set some goals…

It’s January 4th already, and I have been debating my 2014 running goals for over a week now.  There are a lot of things I want to accomplish, but let’s start with the most important one:

1.  Heal my shin splints and get completely injury free before I start my next training regimen.  I have mentioned that I am signed up for the Phoenix Rock and Roll Half Marathon in two weeks and have been just pushing through my training, despite pain in my inner-shin on my right leg.  This week I took two days off of running and cross trained on the bike and pool and my pain completely went away, but low and behold, during my 10 miler today it came back.  I need a solid couple weeks of not running post January 19th and then ease back into a new training plan once I am feeling healed.

2.  I saw in interesting challenge on a website I came across on twitter. It’s the Run This Year Challenge. There are three ways to participate: (a) run 2,014 miles in 2014  (b) run 2,014 Kilometers in 2014 or (c ) set your own goal for 2014.   Running 2,014 miles seemed like a little ambitious for me since I only ran 1,060 in 2013, but the 2,014 Kilometers seemed within reach – 1251.4 miles.  I signed up for the challenge and entered my first weeks miles (14!).  Throughout the year they will have giveaways and will have monthly totals of the participants.  I’m looking forward to being part of a community with a similar goal.

3.  My last and most lofty goal: The marathon!  I need to avenge my first marathon and finish strong.  I barely crossed the finish line in 1999, and want a ‘redo’!

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I don’t even know how I was standing for this photo after practically crawling with exhaustion the last six miles of my first marathon.

I really, really, really wanted to tackle this one in 2013, but was derailed by injury mid-training.  I haven’t selected the race yet, but am thinking an early fall race would be nice. It will give me a chance to build my base again through the spring and then add some speed work this summer.   Possible races: Twin Cities Marathon, the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon, or maybe just my hometown race the Duke City Marathon.

What are your goals for 2014?  Are you aiming high?

December Goals

It’s the 1st of December and time to set some goals to get through the holiday season.

1. Back in January I decided I wanted to set an aggressive goal of running 1,000 miles this year.  I had originally considered 1,200  but thought I would give myself some wiggle room for injuries, and thank goodness for that.  Since I’ve logged a few miles in the last few days I thought it was time to see if I was going to make the 1,000 mile mark by the end of December and guess what?!…..

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I’m 44 miles away from making the mark!  So goal #1 for the month – hit the 1,000 mile mark!

2. Stay healthy.  With Phoenix Rock and Roll just a month and a half away, I have some decisions to make.  I’m signed up for the marathon right now and conceivably could run/walk it if I add two miles a week to my long runs over the next 8 weeks, but I’ll have to see how training goes.  Is it the wisest decision to jump back on a marathon plan after a couple months off ?  No.  Is it hard to give up on my dream of taking on my second 26.2? Yes.  I can always drop down to the half marathon if things don’t go well in the next couple of weeks, but I’m going to see how it goes.  The ultimate goal is to stay healthy, though, so I can take part the race, whatever the distance.

3. Run one mile a day from Thanksgiving to New Years.  I love the Runner’s World Holiday Streak.  It keeps me accountable to something over the holiday and that 10 minutes of fresh air a day helps me clear my head.

4. Finish the Run Chat Holiday to Holiday Scavenger Hunt.  I love this idea and they are giving away some fun prizes for the people that participate.  You can follow people participating using the hashtag #runchathunt on twitter.