Goals

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Goals. They can be big, and scary, and impossibly hard. As runners, we often set manageable, small, tiny goals that are reachable. We set goals that we can wrap our heads around. But sometimes, we should be setting goals that are maybe a reach, something that even on a perfect day may not happen. Failure is part of the game, and often times, I set soft goals that I can reach even on an okay day.

More important than choosing the goal is realizing that you are capable of something really really big. When toeing the line of my first marathon, I remember being filled with self-doubt, but as the miles ticked on, I realized that I was a lot stronger than I gave myself credit for. I have been a runner for a long time and lately, I have been feeling ready for something huge. For some reason, self-doubt seems gone and marching forward, I feel like I am capable of something harder than I have done before.

In October, I am running the St. George Marathon, and my goal is to run a Boston Qualifier (3:35).

I signed up for St. George with this goal in mind, but I was debating putting it on the blog at all. St. George is a downhill course that is known for it’s BQs. Yeah, I know a few of you are laughing right now. Given my past times, this is a reach. But I know that my obstacles are not physical. Every time I truly believe that I can be faster, I am. I don’t know where that wall is, and maybe it’s somewhere like 3:40, but by going for that qualifier, I’ll find that wall and I’ll know for sure. My shorter distance (5K and 10K) times reflect that this is within my abilities. St. George gives me the opportunity to find out if that is true.

I am not afraid of failure and I am not afraid of pain. There is no doubt in my mind that going for this goal will be unbelievably painful but that’s fine. I can handle that. And if I fail, I’ll just do it again.

I will be using a training plan by Sage Running. It focuses on making sure that I get the appropriate amount of rest between hard workouts, but it will also be pretty high mileage at it’s peak. Luckily, the plan is easily adjustable if I do run into any over training problems (which I often do because my job is very physical as well). My mantra over the next few months is to trust the training plan. Training officially starts on June 19 and until then I am just base building and getting stronger.

Am I nuts? Yeah, probably, but really, why be afraid of failure? October 7 is going to be a glorious day either way. Maybe this is corny, but all I have to do is believe.

Training Update: Base Building

I feel like my blog has turned into an ode to how much I love Utah.

But seriously, I really love Utah.

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It’s just too pretty here.

Anyways… this is a running blog and I do have some running coming up. As a few of you already know, I am not running the Utah Valley Marathon due to my injury from a few weeks back. I am still coming back from the injury and my mileage is pretty low at the moment. Instead, I am hoping to do the half.

Despite my setbacks so far in 2017, I am hoping to have at least one really good race in the fall. I signed up for the St. George Marathon in October and will be going for a very significant PR there. I know that it seems early to say that I am going for a good time, but St. George is a downhill course that is known for shaving many minutes of marathon times. The race goes through some of the most beautiful parts of southern Utah and generally draws a big crowd.

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Training for St. George will start in June, so I have a few months of base building and strengthening before I start. I want to have my ankle in tip top shape before I start, so I am keeping my mileage pretty low and doing a lot of cross training to make sure that I don’t aggravate it more. I also imagine that some upper body and core strength won’t hurt in making me a faster runner.

That being said, this was my training last week.

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M: 4.3 miles at easy pace + 6 mile hike at Ferguson Canyon

T: 4 miles at marathon pace (8:55/mi) + Climbing at the gym

W: Yoga + Climbing at the gym

T: 6ish miles no watch

F: Yoga + 4 miles on trail 800 ft vert

S: Hiked ~7-8 miles

S: Snowshoed 8 miles

Total: 18 ish miles running + 22 miles hiking

Apparently I hiked a lot more than I ran this week. It might be that way for a little while since walking does not hurt my ankle at all. The snowshoe hike did not feel 100%, but everything else felt good. I’m excited to get my strength back, but I am definitely taking my time getting there. These are my plans for this week:

M: Off

T: 5 miles + climbing + yoga

W: 10 miles + yoga

T: Off

F: 5 miles + Yoga

S: 4 miles + hiking

S: 4-6 miles + hiking

Of course that mileage is all ankle dependent, but we’ll see how it goes. How is your training going? Have you picked out any races for the fall?

Sydney Update: She seems totally fine. She’s been a little needier than usual, but seems to be back to her usual self. I’m still kinda confused about what happened, but she seems much much better.

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Sydney and I were disturbing Frank while he tried to sleep.

 

Why do you run?

Why do you run? I was asked that question after I finished my ultra last week. They had free massages, and of course I took advantage of that! I asked the masseuse if she ran, she said no and asked why I felt the need to run so far. Was it an addiction? I thought for a moment (while she was digging her elbow into my shoulder), it really isn’t an addiction. When I don’t run, I don’t feel like I NEED to run. I mean, I could stop. I don’t want to, but I could. So that just made me think… why do I run?

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The thing is, I feel most confident about myself when I am running. I feel even more confident when I am running far. When I was young, I used to look at my thick thighs and wish they were smaller. Now I look at them and thank them for carrying me 32 miles in less than 6 hours. Like seriously… how could I not be thankful and love my body when it can do something so amazingly cool.

Women have so much pressure to be skinny, or strong, or whatever. We are constantly being bombarded by advertising that is telling us that we need to be something different from what we are. In order to be liked, we have a set of rules to follow and our bodies must fit into a certain set of categories. We also must be able to identify the parts of our body we want to “work on” to make our butts perky, our breasts big, and our bellies flat. That way, we can go to the gym and do targeted workouts to make ourselves fit into society’s definition of perfect.

But many women have tiny breasts, or butts with cellulite, or thighs that jiggle. Whether anyone else notices it, we all have something that makes us self-conscious. In the last few miles of that ultra, I was not self-conscious at all. I was awesome. Every cell in my body… it was f*cking perfect. My poor posture, jiggly thighs, flabby arms and tiny boobs, they were all exactly how I wanted them to be. That body got me 32 miles and I felt amazing for it. When I run, I’m reminded that I have the body I want to have. My body is healthy, strong, and beautiful and I don’t need to work on anything. I just want my body to keep doing what it’s doing.

So, that’s what I answered with. Why do I run? Because it makes me feel confident and really good about my body.

The masseuse answered, “That’s definitely something I can jive with. Maybe I should try running.”

I hope she does.

On the Eve of an Ultra

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If all goes well, by the end of this weekend I will be an ultramarathon runner, a title I’ve thought about for a long time. It’s been years since Western States hasn’t gone through my head nearly daily. I’ve done a lot to bring myself inches closer to that goal, but on Sunday, I will be getting 31.5 miles closer. On Sunday, I am taking the largest step forward I possibly can in making my goal my reality. Normally, I’d assume this would make me nervous… but it’s not. I don’t feel nervous at all. This feels like the natural progression of things, as if this is clearly what needs to happen.

For Colfax, I knew what my goals were, I knew how to play it and what I needed to do to have a great day. This time, things are a little less clear. I have no time goal. I feel like 6-hours is probably a pretty good estimate, but I won’t know much until I get to the trail. The race is made of three 10.5 mile loops, each of which has about 2000 feet of vertical gain. That is a lot more than I am used to covering here in Kansas and I don’t really know what will feel like a comfortable pace. This race is truly a wait and see. My only time goal is to go for a negative split, something I’ve never been able to do in a trail race.

I’ve gotten my gear together, my drop bags, food, and everything that I will need to cover the distance. All that’s left is a few slow miles and two nights of sleep before I toe the line in Omaha. Am I scared? Yeah, a little. But I am not nervous. I know I can do this and every time I think I can’t, I’ll remind myself of why I am here. This is the beginning of my journey to Squaw Valley. However Sunday goes, this is just the first step. I’ve always found that the hardest part of a run is simply getting out the door. Well, here I am, getting out that door.

Rocky Mountain 5K Race Recap

I ran the Rocky Mountain 5K as part of the Elk Challenge, which was to race both the 5K on Friday night and the half marathon on Saturday morning. This is the recap for the 5K, and I’ll post the half marathon recap soon!

I was in wave 1 for both races and lined up at the front for the 5K with the intention of taking things slow and saving my energy for the half the next morning. The race announcer came on speaker to say that if you wanted to be in contention for an overall award, it will be based on your gun time, not your chip time. I looked around to see who was there and to size up my competition (at this point I had no intention of going for an overall award). The women around me looked no faster than I was, so I got arrogant, took a chance, and went to the very front of the starting line. All intentions of taking things slow were going out the window.

I could see that the first mile began with a giant hill. It looked daunting and hard and I figured that if I took things too fast, I’d be very sorry later.

Well, the race started and I took things too fast. I got to the top of the hill at around the half-mile mark and noticed that I was running a sub-7 mile pace. I backed off (a lot) and just cruised on the flats. At this point I was the first place female, but I was running scared. It is not easy to run in the lead and it was really making me feel a little stressed out. I wasn’t sure how far back the 2nd place girl was, but I was inwardly hoping that she would pass me to take the pressure off.

And then just after the 1-mile mark, the 2nd place woman passed me and I felt like the pressure was off. I pulled back a bit and reminded myself that I had a half marathon the next day, which was a target race for me and a potential PR. I kept the 1st place girl in my sights, but really had no intention of going after her. I was already feeling a little tired and was desperately trying not to push myself too hard. Miles 2 and 3 were mentally tough, but I was doing a good job passing some of the men and kept my women’s overall place.

Just before the finish line, there was a female elk chilling out. I was pretty excited, since how often is it that you see an elk during a road race. Just as I was coming into the finish chute, I heard the announcer say my name, hometown, and place. It was pretty exciting coming in to a rather big crowd and party.

My final time was 23:55, not bad for a hilly course at 7,500 feet!

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I think I was most excited about my NPS pass.

After I grabbed some food and water, I was shuffled over to where the awards ceremony would be. After about 20 minutes of waiting, they called the winners up to the podium and gave us our medals and National Parks Passes (yes, a won a National Park pass… pretty much the best thing ever). I’d never stood on a podium at a race before, so this was pretty freaking exciting.

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A beautiful and perfect setting for a 5K.

Frank and I walked around a bit, trying to shake off some of the lactic acid. I was over the moon with my 2nd place, but I knew I had to get to bed soon to be fresh and ready for the half the next morning.

To be continued…

Bill Snyder Highway Half Race Recap

A few months ago, on a whim, I decided to sign up to pace my local half marathon, the Bill Snyder Highway Half. I had heard that it was a good race with an interesting route, but since it was the weekend after Colfax, I decided that it was best if I paced it. After talking to the pacing coordinator, he decided to put me with the 2:25 group, which would keep a pace of about 11:00/mi. Come race day, I was pretty happy to have a nice easy pace since I was still a little sore from the marathon the weekend before.

I woke up around 5:00 am, had some coffee and made it to the parking lot by 5:45 am. Since this was a point-to-point course, they had buses that took you out to the start line way out of town on the Bill Snyder Highway. The buses were very easy and I even found another pacer to chat with on the way out!

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On the bus with a fellow pacer!

Before the race started, I talked to a few friends, hit up the bathrooms and made it to the start line about 15 minutes before the gun. I met my co-pacer, Megan, and we decided that I would lead to bring people in just under out 2:25 goal pace, and she would follow to bring people in a minute or two later. By the time the race started, we had a group of about 20 people following us, chatting and having fun. Several people were running their first half and a few others were looking for a PR. We kept the mood light and it seemed like everyone was having fun. I intended to stay with Megan for a few miles before stepping it up to bring people in just under 2:25.

Unfortunately, at mile 2, I had to make a bathroom stop, and promised to catch back up to the group. I had about 5 people who followed and we figured we’d make up some serious time during the downhill sections later in the race. We ended up back on the course just as the 2:30 group was passing us. We upped the pace, but it took about 2.5 miles for us to catch back up to Megan. We managed to make up time without loosing anyone.

Since I was the lead pacer, I decided to crank down the pace a little and take a group that was ready to go out ahead. By mile 6, we were about a minute behind pace, which we made up during the second half of the course.

By mile 8, the course went from out on the highway leading into Manhattan right into the downtown area (we actually passed my house). The crowds were getting a bit thicker and a lot of the people around me were getting to see their families. I could tell that people we starting to feel the miles, so I talked to them about my cats, Frank, and just anything that seemed light and happy. I reminded people to smile at volunteers since that would help keep the endorphins high.

One of the girls that had been running with me since the beginning, Gabby, was going through a bit of a rough patch. She was starting to slow and I could see that she was hitting a bit of a wall. I reminded her to walk through water stations, drink lots, and try to take in the race atmosphere. I told her that rough patches come and go, and she would soon break through (she did).

Mile 10 clicked on my watch and I told everyone around me that we had just a 5K to run. People were starting to get excited, and a few girls who were feeling good took off to get a faster time. By this point in the race, I was noticing that a lot of people were walking and I tried to convince them to come run with me. A few people looked pretty frustrated to see my pace pass them, but most tried to run with me for at least a little while.

At mile 11, the course got very hilly with a lot of uphill sections left. People were starting to fade and a few of the girls who had taken off at the 5K mark were falling back to my pace because of the hills. I met a girl, Tina, who was on course to PR, but was definitely struggling. We talked a bit about how the race was going and I told her that this was my first time pacing, but that it was a really fun experience. Off in the distance, I saw Frank on his bike. As we passed him, Tina told him that I was “an awesome pacer” and that I was helping her a lot. I gotta say, it was definitely really fun to hear that.

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Almost to the finish line!

As we got closer to the finish line, I could see the crowds and started to convince more people to run it in with me. The course was definitely hard and people seemed like they needed a cheerleader to help up their spirits. A few girls saw me coming and tried to up the pace to go out ahead of me. I caught up to a few more of the girls who had left at the 10-mile mark and they picked up the pace to stay with me.

We rounded the last corner and made it into the final stretch. I had a group of about 8 people with me and we ran it in together with smiles on our faces. I think everyone was happy to see the finish line and get their medals. I ended up coming in at 2:24:31, less than 30 seconds under my assigned pace. A few of the girls hugged and thanked me for helping them get a new PR (YAY!).

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I gotta say, pacing was a hugely rewarding experience. I loved being on the other side, as I have used pacers several times and had used one during Colfax. The energy was fantastic and, for the most part, people are so happy to have you cheer them on and bring them in to the finish line. Pacing is definitely something that I want to do again!

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Very beautiful medal

Have you ever paced a half marathon? Did you find it to be a fun experience?

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?