Long time, no see!

It’s been a while… hasn’t it! I hope everyone has been doing well during my absence. I’ve been reading blogs here and there, but I really haven’t had the urge to write, until now. I don’t know if I am back back, but I am relatively back. A lot has changed since the last time I wrote, so I’ll let you know what’s up.

Last you heard from me, I was fresh off a new half marathon PR and was about to run Chicago. I was prepping a 10K and was gearing up for a marathon PR attempt.

Well, I PRed that 10K! I got an age group win and even my picture in the newspaper!

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I, unfortunately, didn’t run Chicago, though. I know that may come as a surprise. I was certainly ready for the race, and was not injured, but I was just not feeling it. I didn’t have a real passion for the race and I knew that the overall cost of going out there was going to be huge. I just didn’t see the point in heading out to a race that I wasn’t terribly passionate about.

So, what am I doing? A lot of trail running. 

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Hanging out with turkeys on the trail

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Running in the Adirondacks in NY

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Stopping at waterfalls in Colorado

As most of you know, I am hoping to get into the ultra running scene with the intention of one day running the Western States 100. Crazy plans, I know. And up until recently, it’s just been this thing that I talk about (to everyone) and never actually make any moves towards doing it. I became frustrated with that model and started looking up Western States qualifying races. It turns out that you need to run a 50K to sign up for most 100K’s. So, that’s what I am doing. On Oct 23, I will be running the GOATZ 50K in Omaha. Frank will be there to help “crew” me, although I doubt I’ll need much crewing for a 50K. My only goal is to finish the race, which qualifies me for many of the WS qualifying 100K’s. I haven’t picked out a race yet, but I do have a few in mind. Finally, I feel like I can actually say that I have made a step towards running my dream race. I want to make Western States a reality, and I actually feel like I am actually doing it (or at least trying).

As crazy as that sounds, I have more planned. I have been putting a lot of work and training into running a road marathon. I also know that there is a PR in me somewhere, so I am going to go for it. I’ll be headed to Tulsa on Nov. 20 for the Route 66 Marathon. Because I will want to PR and run hard at that race, I will keep GOATZ easy (and try really really hard not to get competitive). To qualify for most 100K’s, you only need to finish a 50K. Needless to say, there will be a lot of walking in Omaha in order to not trash my legs. I already have a few 20-milers under my belt, and I have one more before I start the taper for Route 66. I feel pretty ready to hit the roads to race.

That’s what’s new for me! What’s new with you? Any big races coming up (or just over)?

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Chicago Training Update

I hate writing training recaps, so I am going to make this one short and sweet. Training for Chicago has been really up and down for me. Unlike the near linear progression I had during Colfax, Chicago has been one step forward, two steps back. Although the training has been hard, I did have a breakthrough race last week (more about that in my recap post later).

I’ve really had a hard time finding motivation and inspiration for this race, but I’ve kind of made a decision. I have been trying to fit myself into a new category, a 6-day-per-week runner, and I am simply not that. So, I have basically abandoned the Hanson’s plan and I am going back to what I did for Colfax… because you know what, it worked. Training is about finding what works for you and sticking with it. I know what works for me and I am going back to that.

Well… this week I took things pretty chill. I was recovering from my races and Longs Peak Summit from the week before. I took a few days off and did some nice slow running.

M: Rest

T: Rest – was still really sore

W: 8 Miles Easy

T: Another Rest Day

F: Worst Track Workout Ever (4×800)

S: 10 mile Long Run

S: 6.5 miles easy

Total: 30.7 miles

Not bad for a first week back after a wild and crazy weekend. My track workout was supposed to be 6 x 800, but I just couldn’t finish it. I felt like absolute crap and called it quits. Usually track workouts are a real confidence booster for me, but unfortunately, this one was just a drag. The long run the next day was pretty great, so I guess that made up for it.

This week I am going to step it up a notch. I only have 6 more training weeks before the taper, so I’m gonna make the best of it. Things are shifting over to more marathon specific work, including a lot more time at marathon pace. I’m pretty excited to hone things down a bit and get myself feeling ready for Chicago.

I didn’t take a whole lot of pictures, so here is a pic from our paddle this weekend:

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And of course, here is a pic of the cutest cat in the whole world:

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How was your training? What is your next goal race?

A bump in the road to Chicago

Did anyone watch Olympic trials last night for the women’s 800 m? It was insane! A crazy fall resulted in a wild shake-up and an unlikely champion. If you haven’t seen it, you should watch the video!

So… my training…

A lot has happened this past week and I should probably go back to my Colfax training to describe the whole story.

While I was training for Colfax, I started having a weird pain and weakness on the outside of my right leg. I thought it was IT-band syndrome or maybe a strained muscle, but this just felt different. I continued to run on it and tried to put it out of my mind. It worked! I ended up making it to Colfax feeling good and healthy, and never felt the pain once during the race. I ended up taking some time off to recover and everything seemed to be fine… so I just forgot about the pain and moved forward figuring that it had healed itself.

Fast forward to my first 45-mile week of Chicago training…

I started to feel the pain again, but this time in my left leg (strange, right?). I again, choked it up to some IT band pain, since it ran on the outside of the leg. However, I was concerned that it was switching sides and causing a lot of weakness below my knee. Last week it got so bad that I was having trouble running. I figured it was time to see someone about this. I mentioned it to a friend and she suggested that I see a chiropractor, since it was likely in my back (the whole switching sides thing).

On Friday morning I made a trip to a chiropractor. I described the pain and he agreed, it was likely my back. He felt around, poked me on my spine and SI-joint and used some weird hammer thing to push things back into place. His conclusion: I probably have a herniated disc on the L5 joint. Ugh!! He didn’t think it is a running injury at all, but does think that running brings out the symptoms. Probably if I were not a runner, I would go along with my herniated disc as if nothing were wrong and never even notice it.

So… what now?

Well, I am going to see the chiropractor for a few visits to try to get everything back into place. He said that he felt optimistic that this would be a relatively easy fix and that I wont need to take time off from running. If he can’t make the pain in my legs stop, I need to go get an MRI to see if the herniation is really bad or if there is some stenosis (narrowing of the spinal chord… something I very much don’t want as a 29 year old). He did tell me to cool it a bit with the mileage until we get this under control and to go back to 5 days of running per week instead of 6. Since speed work isn’t typically what hurts, I can still do that, but I need to stop if I am in pain.

What does this mean for Chicago? Well… I am not sure. I am going to take these next few weeks pretty chill, since the most important thing is making my back healthy. I might need to rethink my goals a little, and that’s okay with me. At the moment, nothing is changing, but that doesn’t mean that nothing will change a few weeks from now. I am going to take things day-by-day and hope for the best.

I did some trail running yesterday and didn’t feel the pain at all and I am going to do a nice easy workout tonight. Assuming that the pain is not there, I’ll go ahead and do my track workout tomorrow. I’m not too upset about this, since I am confident that it will be under control in the next few weeks or so. Timing wise, I feel like this isn’t too terrible. I am still many weeks away from Chicago and have plenty of time to train.

Long story short, I have no idea what is going on, but I’ll let you know when I know!

How as your July 4th? Any fun adventures over the weekend? I’ll post about mine soon.

Chicago Marathon Training: Week 3

Alright guys… I have just been a horrible blogger lately. This week, my goal is to remedy that a bit. Despite my lack of blogging about running, I have been running a lot. Maybe even a little too much (IT band made itself known yesterday, so I am backing off). But, even with some squirrelliness in my leg, my runs last week were solid and training is going great. I’ve also made a successful transition to morning running. As soon as the sun comes up, the temps begin to approach 95-110 degrees, so morning running is really the only answer. This means waking up at 5 am (ouch) to be out the door before 6 and off the roads by 8. As my long runs get a little longer, I may have to be out there even earlier. I’ll worry about that when I get there.

I am using the Hanson’s Advanced Marathon Training Plan with a goal time of 3:45. These are my paces:

Goal Marathon Time: 3:45
Goal MP: 8:35
Strength: 8:25
Speed: 7:33 – 7:52
Easy: 9:35 – 10:35
LSD: 9:05 – 10:35

This was my training for the week:

M: 6 miles GMP 4 miles GMP + WU & CD (it was 97 degrees out… give me a break)

T: Easy 6 Miles (9:45/mi)

W: Track Workout – 8 x 600 + 400 Recovery lap + WU & CD (2:34, 2:39, 2:35, 2:35, 2:29, 2:47, 2:40, 2:38)

T: Easy 8 Miles (9:22/mi) – oops…

F: 10 Miles LSD (9:12/mi)

S: Rest (actually, hiking)

S: Easy 6 Miles (9:47/mi)

Total Mileage: 44 Miles

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Beautiful morning for some 600 repeats!

In addition to the running, I also did yoga and body weight strength workouts each day. As you can see, a few of my paces were taken just too fast. I think this lead to my IT band making itself known towards the end of the week. The track workouts were supposed to be between 2:49-2:56, which not a single repeat was. I am having some trouble with not taking track workouts fast. To ward off potential injury, I am taking a week off from track work and taking an extra rest day. I definitely don’t think my IT band is injured, but I could feel it coming on, so I am not going to play around. This needs to be nipped in the bud now.

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I’m seriously not kidding about these temps. 

Last week was also the first back-to-back long run. For the rest of training, my longest easy run is the day before my long run, which contributes to the cumulative fatigue you get through this plan. I gotta say, I liked it! The long run felt natural, but I was definitely more tired than I typically am during a 10 mile run. Also, the long runs are taken quite a bit faster than I am used to. It was nice to go a little faster.

Over the weekend, Frank and I did some hiking and camping with some friends. During the campout, we tried to see if both of us could fit in our friend’s kayak. Success!!

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I think I was trying to wiggle away as he squeezed me a little too hard. 🙂

Next week is going to be a little chiller than usual. I am cutting out a track workout and cutting back the mileage a little to give my IT band a break. I’m going to keep up with my yoga and body weight strength training, but I am going to cut out squats and lunges. During the weekend, I’ll be out in Arkansas with a few friends to climb some routes at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch again. Should be a great time!

I know, I owe you a race recap still…I’ll get that out some time this week.

How was your week? How has your training been going? Any plans for 4th of July weekend?

Chicago Marathon Training

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Today begins the 2nd week of my training for the Chicago Marathon. What happened to the 1st week? Well… due to traveling back from Europe, insane jetlag, and tiredness… I took the entire 1st week off. That may sound like a weird thing to do when training for a marathon, but for me, it was necessary. Injury risk is always at a high when I am exhausted. I also wanted to make sure that I had at least 2 full weeks off from running to be fresh from Colfax and the Liverpool Half Marathon.

For the next 17 weeks, I will be following the Hanson’s Advanced Marathon Plan. This means I will be doing a lot of running, but shorter long runs. I chose this plan after realizing that the 20-miler runs I did for Colfax were probably doing more harm than good. They would leave me tired and burnt out and after having run a marathon less than a month ago, I feel that running super long long runs will only leave me battered and broken.

The other thing I like about the Hanson’s plan is the goal aspect of it. Coming off of a fantastic first marathon experience, I feel more ready than ever to go for a big PR. I ran the Colfax Marathon in 3:57 and my goal is to run Chicago in 3:45, a 7% time decrease. According to the Hanson’s book, this is possible… but I am going to have to work for it. These will be my paces while I train:

Goal Marathon Pace: 8:35/mi
Strength Workouts: 8:25/mi
Speed Workouts: 7:33-7:52/mi
Easy Days: 9:35-10:35/mi
Long Runs: 9:05-10:35/mi

With the Hanson’s Plan, these paces are written in stone. Straying from my easy paces will lead to fatigue, overtraining, and potentially, injury. Seeing that I want to get to Chicago healthy and ready, I will keep to this plan. As of now, that goal marathon pace seems pretty steep, but I hope that over the next 17 weeks, it will seem more realistic and less daunting.

In addition to Chicago, I will be running a few races within the training period. I do have another goal race, the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon, where I am hoping to nab a PR of less than 1:47, the half marathon pace that is equivalent to a 3:45 marathon. Although this race is far from flat, and is at 7,000 feet, it was my PR race until recently and I PRed by over 5 minutes when I ran the race last.

Each week, I will do a loose overview of my training to let you know the ups and downs as I make my way to the starting line. I’m not sure how formal they will be, but I will at least include something, even if they are mostly complaints.

Well, here it goes… Marathon #2. I’m ready to chase down some goals!

Have you tried the Hanson’s Training Plan? How did you like it? What is your next goal race?

Life After Colfax

My race photos are in!!!!

This one is pretty good. I look unbelievably tired, but I think this was taken at like Mile 21 or 22.

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Not the best running form, but still holding up!

Oh, and they caught the high-5 between Dan and I at the end.

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Dan and I at the bottom of the screen high-fiving!

Colfax is done… so what now?

Well, I don’t really have the post-race blues. I didn’t really give myself the chance to. On Saturday I am pacing the Bill Snyder Half Marathon and helping the 2:25 group reach their goals. It’s always fun to pick up your next race packet while you are still sore from your previous race.

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My pacer stick and shirt!! Bringing people to their PR’s!

I am leaving for London with my mom next week and I’ll be pacing her for a 5K in Liverpool and the next day I’ll be running the Rock and Roll Half Marathon. I don’t really know what my goals are for this race, but more than anything, I am just excited to race internationally.

I am kind of taking running not too seriously until I begin training for Chicago in a few weeks. Luckily, the soreness is mostly gone from my legs and I actually feel pretty good. I’ve been sleeping A LOT and trying to stay very hydrated. I’m hoping that I can get back to some relaxed running either today or tomorrow. Elly has also been keeping me company during recovery.

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Elly only lays on her back when she is REALLY passed out. So cute. 

I am likely going to be using the Hanson’s plan for Chicago, which will begin the 2nd week of June. I am going to dedicate an entire post to goals, but I’ll warn you that they are pretty big. Colfax went really well and I never felt like I was pushing myself or reaching my edge. In Chicago, I might push things a little harder. I learned a ton and one thing that I am going to take into racing from now on is to eat a lot more during races. I was always very stingy about gel use, but not anymore. I really believe having a gel every 45 minutes basically saved me from hitting the infamous marathon wall. I’m hoping that I can have a repeat performance at Chicago.

I’m pretty excited about my several weeks of “run whenever I damn well please” instead of running because I have to. It won’t last too long, but I’ll enjoy it while it does.

Do you have a goal race coming up soon? What do you do between training cycles?

Life Update!

Hey everyone!! I have been pretty bad at blogging this week… it’s just cause I’ve been crazy busy. Training is going great though, and I am still marching my way towards the starting line at Denver. The end of this week marks the half way point of this cycle, and although I am feeling like I am getting more fit and ready, anything more than 16 miles still feels daunting and scary.

Last weekend I went backpacking with Frank and our friend, Ben in the Ozarks. It did get in the way of my running a little, but it was amazing to see some of the beautiful sights that the southern Midwest has to offer.

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I did manage to fit in a short run during our trip, but I was just exhausted from the hilliness of the terrain.

We spent two nights in the wilderness in the White Mountain Recreational Area. Since it is winter, I was stuck with a rather huge and heavy backpack to accommodate my 0 degree sleeping bag. Frank and I have been talking about trying fastpacking, where you pack ultralight gear and run/hike to cover higher mileage. Although we’ve had some pretty big mileage days by just hiking, fast packing allows you to get a little deeper into the wilderness and see places that normally take a few days to get to. I think we need to do a few more backpacking trips to train, but we are hoping to try it this summer.

Elly was pretty glad to see me when we got back from the Ozarks. As per usual, she passed out next to me on the couch. I just love this cat so much.

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This is the most perfect animal in the world. 🙂

I am officially signed up for the Chicago Marathon in October. If you remember, I deferred last year after an ankle injury that left me unable to walk. I feel more determined than ever to get to that starting line. Although it isn’t the race that I wanted it to be last year, I am excited to have Chicago be my 2nd marathon and be the first time that I am chasing a marathon PR!!

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This time I am determined to make it!

I was a little worried about burning out after Colfax and not being able to train for Chicago, but I am going to be taking 2 weeks completely off of running and heading to Europe with my mom. I imagine that will help me clear my mind and reset before marathon training begins again.

 Well, that’s basically it for my week. I’ll post next week to let you know how my training has been. I have a 16-miler on Saturday to tackle, so hopefully that goes well.

How was your week? Any fun or exciting plans this weekend?