Week 1: Getting back some consistency!

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Each week I am going to post a short recap of my training as I work towards my goal of PR-ing my marathon time at Colfax in May. In total, we are about 19 weeks out from the big day, and although things are still up in the air, I am assuming that I’ll be toeing that line on May 21.

I began my training last week and kept it light. This was really my first introduction back to real running and I didn’t want to push it and risk injury. I had two key workouts and three easy runs, plus I did a lot of yoga. Lately, my yoga practice has been a lot more about focusing on my meditation than it has been in the past. I’ve always tried to cultivate a strong asana (or postures) practice, but lately, I need yoga as a way to clear my headspace. Yin yoga has been a real refuge as the world around me becomes a bit unstable.

Key Workouts: Tempo Run & 8-mile Long Run

 Monday: Rest – was heading home from my trip

Tuesday: 4 miles easy pace (9:28/mi) + Yin Yoga – I was honestly worried that I didn’t even know how to do this anymore. I had taken a full three weeks completely off running and had been rather inconsistent before that. But I still knew how to run, and it felt good.

Wednesday: 5 miles with 3 miles at tempo (8:42/mi) + Hatha Yoga – I wanted to see if I still had my speed. Well, three miles isn’t much, but it definitely let me see how things were going. I didn’t lose as much fitness as I thought I had. The run felt great.

Thursday: Yin Yoga + Rest

Friday: 8 miles LSD (9:22/mi) + Yin Yoga – I dreaded the long run all week, and was surprised to find that it was actually pretty okay. I’m certainly glad I didn’t go any further, but the 8 miles felt just find.

Saturday: 5 miles easy (9:11/mi) – I kept most of this run pretty chill and then accidentally busted out a mile at 8:30. Oops. Guess I was feeling pretty good!

Sunday: 3 miles easy (9:49/mi) – I ran with Frank and he is a bit slower than me, so we kept it chill. I always like running with him because he forces me to keep a much easier pace.

Total: 25 Miles

Next week I am bumping it up a little with a total of 30 miles and another key tempo workout and 10-mile long run. My goal next week is to really focus on some strength training. Since I herniated a disc in my back, I need to be more diligent about abdominal and lower back strength work. Next week, I’ll be getting to a bit of that along with some stairs.

How were your workouts last week? What is your favorite kind of workouts (I love speed work

Running, Goals, and Some Unknowns

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Hey Everyone!

It’s been a long time since I’ve been running hard and training for anything specific. My last race, the Route 66 Marathon, was a bit of a flop largely because I walked to the starting line severely undertrained and a bit burnt out from my ultra. I am once again back on my feet and I am determined to get to a May marathon with some better training under my belt.

You may notice that I have not really committed to a specific marathon yet. Unfortunately, I will likely be unable to for a while. Frank and I are looking to move from Kansas and we are not really sure where we will be come May, but I am training to run a race on May 21, the day of the Colfax marathon. I will plan to run Colfax if I am still in Kansas, or if I am driving distance from Denver. I want to run a half marathon some time in March, but unfortunately, I am unable to say where or when it will be yet. It’s hard training without specifics, and it’s very hard living with so many unknowns in my future. I feel like I cannot commit to anything beyond about two weeks since we could hear back from somewhere at any time and we would have to be ready to go.

One thing is for sure, we are looking to move out west. I have spent my entire life in the flatlands of the US, and we have been looking to get to the mountains. The western half of the US is huge, so I feel confident (and hopeful) that something will turn up soon.

Looking ahead into the unknown of 2017, I do have a few goals that I believe are attainable.

  • PR my marathon

I honestly don’t care if it’s by 2 freaking seconds, I just want a PR. I will train for a 3:50 time, but come race day, I will be happy with anything that is a PR.

  • Run a sub 1:45 half marathon

Ok, this one is a little more specific. My last half was 1:47 and it was very comfortable. I was in one of my favorite places in the world, Estes Park, and I hope to go back there for that sub-1:45 in August. I definitely think this is within my abilities, but I will need to work for it.

  • Run a 50-miler

Last year I ran a 50K, and I can honestly tell you that it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. However, those last few miles made everything worth it. I ran through the trails of Omaha with a giant smile of my face, so excited to be an ultra runner. Well, my new goal is to run a 50-miler, which I am hoping to do in the fall.

This week I will be getting back to my usual training updates, yoga posts, and random other things that make there way on to my blog. Thanks for being patient and waiting for me to be ready to train hard again.

And of course, here’s a picture of my favorite fur-ball.

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How do you deal with unknowns? Does change stress you out (it stresses me out)?

 

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.

Make Sensations, Not Shapes

I am oddly flexible for a runner. I can get my palms to the ground without bending my knees, do a full splits, and I have a pretty fantastic backbend. So, it probably does not surprise you that when I talk to runners about yoga, the first thing I hear is that they are not flexible enough to do it. Well, guys, I am here to convince you that you are ALWAYS flexible enough to do yoga!

Ever since Yoga Journal Magazine started publishing professional yogis on their covers, the focus of yoga moved to the shape of one’s body in a particular posture. In a forward fold, the focus was on how Sean Corne could get her belly flat on her thighs with a smile on her face. People who had a naturally large range of motion in their hips, hamstrings, and lower backs looked at these photos and knew that they could make the same shape. But what about athletes? What about runners? What about every normal person? What is yoga when you can’t touch your toes and when that shape is just not something your body does?

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Later was the birth of Instagram, where advanced shape-making yogis were able to show off their beautiful bodies in postures that just looked like a wild contortion. This further distanced runners from yoga because in reality, many of those shapes were simply NOT going to happen for them. Running changes your body and makes your muscles stronger and tighter. For many of us, postures like Compass Pose are just out of our natural range of motion.

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So, if you can’t participate in the full version of the yoga postures, what is a runner to do in a yoga class?

Make sensations, not shapes!

 Next time you are at your yoga mat, instead of focusing on getting the palms to the floor with the legs straight in a forward fold, focus on the SENSATION you are feeling in the legs. In a forward fold, notice where you feel the sensation and notice how slight changes in the posture can change the sensation dramatically. It is important to realize that no two people will look the same and feel the same in the same posture. So instead of making that forward fold look like it does on Instagram, make it FEEL right. Make sure that, although your knees are bent in a forward fold, that you have sensation in the hamstring muscle, NOT in the lower back or the back of the knees.

 Next time you are in a yoga class, grab some blocks and straps. USE THEM! Modifications to a posture are not a sign of weakness, they are a sign that we understand that yoga is there to create space and sensation, not to create a picture worthy shape. In reality, modifications are a sign of strength.

And if you have a competitive streak and you really need to be better than the other people in the room at something… remind yourself that it is unlikely any of them can run 10 miles in one day. That is a little bit of ego, but hey, roll with it.

So guys, do this for me: Go to a yoga class and repeat the matra “make sensation, not shapes”. Go in with an open mind and have fun. Once you let go of attachment to particular shapes of postures, suddenly yoga gets a whole lot more fun.

Colfax Marathon Training Week 11: Cutback and Questival

Happy Monday Everyone!!

This week was a bit of a nutty one, although it was a cutback week on my mileage. I gotta say, I wasn’t too sad about not running once I saw a bunch of snow in our forecast. I absolutely hate running in snow. Even though I cut back in mileage this week, I still had a “race” of sorts to do on Friday night/Saturday. I kept the mileage this week low because Frank and I participated in a 24-hour adventure race in Dallas with two of our friends, which included a lot of running. Even though we were out-of-towners (we live in Manhattan, KS which is about 7 hours from Dallas), we still rocked the race. Recap will be coming soon… but trust me, it was pretty weird.

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The Batllama Questival Team – only like 3 hours in and Ben is already asleep.

Monday: 5.5 Miles at Recovery Pace + Yoga

After a long day of work, I did an evening run with a few friends that are training for their first half marathon. We kept it slow and steady, especially since I was recovering from a pretty tough tempo session the day before. My legs felt a little heavy and overused, so I knew that this cutback week was going to serve me well.

Tuesday: 5.1 Miles at Goal Half Marathon Pace + Yoga

I felt good starting on this run, but I started to notice some pretty nasty stomach pain that I was having. I didn’t think too much of it and just kept chugging along. Eventually, it just got too bad and I dipped into the local running store to use their bathroom. Unfortunately, I had my period… Weird for me to be a few days early, but whatevs (sorry for the TMI, but we’re all runners here… and mostly women). I was happy to see that the stomach issues were not actually stomach related. I tried to up the pace and get back to my car ASAP. I did a little yoga in the evening and that made me feel a lot better.

Wednesday: Rest Day

 Thursday: 12 mile Long Run

I guess when you get to the point where you are doing 18 and 20 mile runs, 12 miles just doesn’t seem that far. This run didn’t even feel like a long run. I kept the pace slow, but was surprised by how short 12 miles felt. Like seriously, 12 miles used to be ridiculously long!! Now, it’s just a normal no big deal run. The pace was a little faster than I would have liked. Around mile 6, the KSU men’s cross country team came up from behind me and took off into the distance. My competitive spirit kicked in a little and I upped the pace to keep up (like yeah right)… after about a half mile I tried to slow it way down. It took me another mile or so to get my pacing right and I kept it slow for the rest of the way home.

Friday: Questival Begins

I have no idea how much running I was doing, but we were running from challenge to challenge. We also slept for maybe two hours. I am going to write a full recap of this soon, but this is a short list of some of the more crazy things that happened:

  1. This picture:
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When dragonflies attack?

2. A cop coming to kick us out of a state park after dark – while we were having a peanut butter explosion in the car

3. I sang Bohemian Rhapsody in the middle of down town Dallas with my headphones in as loud as I could and embarrassed my entire team (this was a liberating experience)

4. I ran 1 mile on a trail in one of my nicest dresses

5. We cheered on a random baseball team with signs and everything at a city park

I’ll give you that much for now… more to come in the recap, but we did like over 50 things.

Saturday: Questival Ends (7 pm), 3.5 mile run at easy pace + 1 mile trail run (in a dress)

After running in a dress, I understand why running clothing companies make their clothes the way they do. After only one mile, I felt sticky and incredibly gross. Frank and I also ran 3.5 miles on the KATY trail through downtown Dallas. This is a beautiful trail and if you are ever in Dallas, you should check it out.

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Team Batllama getting up close and personal with a statue of Mark Twain

Sunday: Hiked and Drove Home

After a long day, we camped in a state park in Oklahoma and went hiking the next morning. Pretty uneventful.

Total Miles: 27 + running around for Questival

Overall, it was a nice and easy week of running. I think I got my sleep schedule back on track, so this week will be back up to high mileage. I have my first 20-miler on Friday. I am a little nervous because this week and the next one are pretty intense on the mileage. If I make it through this… I am basically there. I’ll only have one recovery and one last tough week before starting the taper. Seriously… this whole Marathon thing is getting very real!!

How was your week? Did you race this weekend? How do you usually feel at peak marathon training?

The Friday 5: My 5 Favorite Balancing Poses

Hey everyone! For today’s Friday Five I am going to talk about my five favorite leg strengtheners. This post was inspired by Judy’s post on the importance of single leg stability. It’s super important for runners to have strong legs, but also have stabilizing muscles in our legs for balance. So these five yoga postures (and movements) not only help gain stabilizing muscles in your legs and hips, but also a lot of strength and flexibility. Remember to do each posture on both sides!! Also, Sydney (my cat) is featured in all of the photos. 🙂

Standing Splits

We’ll just start with a posture that I find incredibly challenging. It requires extremely flexible hamstrings and hips, which not all of us have. Start with your feet together in a forward fold. Then shift your weight to one side and lift the opposite leg as high as you can. Once the leg is lifted, draw the hip of the lifted leg down very slightly. As a modification, you can use blocks or books beneath the hands or bend the standing leg.

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Standing Splits – For me this is one of the most challenging poses

Standing Stick to Knee to chest

This is a movement, not just a single posture. Start in standing and reach your arms up over head. Shift your weight to one side and hinge forward at the hips while lifting the opposite leg. Stop wherever you start to lose balance. Eventually you may get to the point you that you can create a “T” with your torso and legs. This is called Standing Stick. Hold for one breath, and then begin to lift back up, bend the lifted leg and once you are upright, pull the lifted leg in towards your chest. Return back to standing sticks. Make sure to draw your hips in towards center so that one hip isn’t popping out. Repeat 4 times and do both sides.

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Standing Sticks

 

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Standing Knee to Chest

 Standing hand to big toe pose

This is another very challenging pose that requires a lot of flexibility. Start in standing. Shift your weight to the left and draw the right knee towards chest. Then, draw that knee up a little higher than you think you need to using your right hand hand. Take the index and middle finger of your right hand around your right big toe. Begin to draw the leg forward and then out towards the side. The leg does not need to be straight, and as with any standing posture, feel free to lean up against a wall. Make sure that your left hip is not popping out and try and draw it in towards center. Repeat on the other side.

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Hand to Big Toe Pose

Eagle Pose to Standing Stick

This is a bit of a strange posture. Start in standing by taking your right arm over your left arm and see if you can bring your palms together (if not, that’s ok. Just get it as close as you can). Make sure your feet are together and then bend the knees and drop your seating bones back (like there is a chair behind you). Take your left leg over your right (just like your arms are but the legs and arms are opposite). You can try to wrap your right ankle around your left leg, if not, just let the foot stick out. This is Eagle Pose. Hold for a breath or two.

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Eagle Pose

Then, unravel the right leg away from the left leg (keep the arms the way they are) and start to kick that leg straight back. Now you are in standing stick again, with the arms in a different variation. Take a breath and then slowly come back into eagle pose. Repeat 4x and do both sides.

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Standing Sticks with Eagle Arms

 Half Moon Pose

Most people benefit from a block or pile of books for this pose (or chair as well). Take the block and place it out in front of your feet. Come to standing and hinge forward at the hips for a forward fold. Place your right hand on the block and make sure your wrist is stacked under the shoulder. Shift your weight to your right foot, take your left hand to your left hip and begin to lift the left leg up. Keep the foot flexed and take your left hip above your right hip so your left toes are facing towards the left. Maybe lift that left hand.

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Half Moon Pose

Thanks everyone for checking this out and thanks to Mar on the Run, Eat Pray Run, and You Signed Up for What?! for hosting the linkup.

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What is your favorite balancing posture? Do you work on single leg stabilization?

A1A Half Marathon Race Recap!!

Wow… it has been a long time since I raced. I was hurt in September last year, which put an early end to my fall season. Luckily I am back, healthy, and back racing! On Sunday, I ran the A1A Half Marathon in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I had intended to PR and was even shooting for my first sub-1:50. Unfortunately, it was not my day, and that is not how the race went. It was a grueling 13.1, but I learned a lot and I feel more confident heading into the 6th week of my full-marathon training.

Saturday

I went to the expo in the morning to pick up my bib. A1A always has a large expo with a lot of freebies and deals. I walked around, picked up some free food, and then went out to lunch with Kristina and Ali. It was great to meet them, and it kind of felt like I was meeting a celebrity or something! My mom had come with me to the expo and hung out with us at lunch as we discussed the pros and cons of Ali running the full marathon (and she did! She even PRed!).

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Kristina, Ali, me, and my mom all enjoyed some good pizza (and snacks) at Pizza Fusion!

After lunch, my mom and I made it home and we watched the Marathon Olympic Qualifiers. I gotta say… I need a friend like Amy Cragg. It was incredible how she pulled Shalane Flanagan through the end of the race and even caught her at the finish line. Seriously, Amy needs to be my training buddy!

For dinner, my parents and I went to a local Italian restaurant. This is probably where I screwed up my race. I typically eat a plant based diet and mostly keep to a vegan diet. I occasionally eat eggs, and very occasionally will eat something milk based. I decided to order pasta with a crème-based sauce, since it sounded really good. I can’t think of a worse thing to eat for someone who rarely (if ever) eats crème-based foods. And so it was not to my surprise when I woke up in the middle of the night with terrible stomach cramps. I told myself that they would subside, went back to sleep, and woke up at 3:30 am to get ready to race.

Race Day!!

I knew that my stomach did not feel right, but I figured it would probably go away after a few miles. I took a few trips to the port-a-john (which helped, for sure), and then got to my starting spot. I saw Ali as she was heading over to the corrals and tried to calm my nerves while talking to my parents.

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Ali and I hanging out at the start line. I was pretty nervous here!

Miles 1-5

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At promptly 6:00 am, the race began and I walked my way up to the starting line and took off. I wanted to hold just over an 8:30 pace for the first 5 miles, and then my plan was to take a few seconds per mile off for the rest of the race in order to PR. The only problem was, over an 8:30 pace felt labored and hard. I tried to hold it for the first three miles, but my stomach cramps kept getting worse. I pulled the pace back a bit for miles 4 and 5 in hopes to work out whatever was going on.

Miles 6-10

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By the 10K mark, I knew that I was not going to PR, so then I just told myself that I wanted a course PR. Despite the cramps, I held it together, but couldn’t stop thinking about how hard this pace seemed for me. Mile 10 was just over a 9-minute pace, which is normally a pretty chill pace for me. It did not feel chill at all. I had gotten to the out and back portion and kept telling myself that if I saw Ali or Kristina on the other side, I would take a 10-second walk break. I never saw them, but instead stopped at each water break. I usually run through the water stops, but I couldn’t keep myself from walking. By mile 10, I was starting to get worried that the 2-hour pacer would catch up to me.

Miles 11-13.1

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The last 5k of the race is along the beach with some beautiful views. I kept at it, pushing myself to get my course PR. I turned up my headphones, hoping that I could drown out my own thoughts (which were seriously telling me to just walk to last three miles).

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Even though I wasn’t feeling like I could run really fast, I did enjoy the scenery!

I looked at my watch and figured I could maybe eek out a very small PR if I busted my butt for the last three miles. I’m not actually sure if that is true. On a good day, maybe I could squeeze out a few 7:30 miles… I did at Rocky Mountain, but I was not going to manage that here. I told myself to just keep it comfortable-ish and finish. During the final mile, I saw my PR come and go. I didn’t care too much, and I was focused on just finishing. I saw my parents, Frank, and his parents by the end, and I barely had the energy to wave. I just gritted through and finished. After crossing the finish line, I doubled over hoping that would give my stomach some relief. It was definitely my most labored race finish ever.

My official finish time was 1:54:24, less than 3 minutes off my PR.

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Happy to be done!

 Post Race

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My whole family was there at the finish line. Even though I was tired, we managed to get this cute shot!

I got my medal, grabbed some Gatorade and found my family. I’ve gotta say, there is nothing like a whole lot of suffering to appreciate a race medal. I ate a little bit, hung around the finish line and even got to see Kristina finish!!

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I was glad to see Kristina cross the finish line!

Overall, I had a fun race, even though things did not go as planned. I’ll have other chances at PRing in the half marathon. For now, I am focusing on Colfax. I have a few tune-up races in between, but none of those will be PR attempts. I am concentrating on slower longer mileage and making sure that I do as well as I can out at Colfax. I think this race was a good lesson and if nothing else, was an opportunity to run a little faster and hang out with my family!