El Paso Half & Week 2 of 50K Training

Subtitle: The last race I will run alone for awhile on the last weekend I’ll be alone for awhile.

Let me just start by saying I am beat. I just woke up from a nap where I napped really hard.. and man, I’m sore and thirsty and still hungry.. and I didn’t even run the full.

Today’s race originally started out for me as the marathon. Then I dropped down to the half after it was clear that I was not in the mindset for training for the full. I was even thinking about not going today.. but glad I did.

Going to races alone is weird. I know plenty of people who did the race, even the half, but I still ended up just going there on my own and getting it done. I’ve been to enough races (alone and with people) that I’m kind of desensitized to the whole experience. A couple years ago I never would have gotten in line to use the portajohn 10 minutes before the start. Today I did. A couple years ago I never would have not taken pictures along the route. Today I didn’t. People, I was busy running. 😉

Anyway. About the half. The weather was pretty nice for this time of year.. it wasn’t too cold and it wasn’t windy for most of the run. I still prefer to start in the dark because by the time I turned the corner towards the end the sun was like, RIGHT THERE. And even in February that sun’ll getcha.

I started out slow, around 11:00 pace. I was not planning on PR’ing because I had just run 8 miles on Friday and did not recover like I should have for a race. I ate well last night, but I sure didn’t drink enough water or foam roll like I normally would. However, a competitive (masochistic?) spirit rose up in me around mile 4 because I felt great. I pushed it right along through the hills and mile 9. Every time I saw a hill, I smiled to myself. I know what those are. I know what form I need to get to the top without exhausting myself. I got it done. Then mile 9 hit and I just lost steam. Mile 12 was my slowest at 12:05. The bottoms of my feet hurt, which I attribute to tying my shoes too tight. My whole body was just sore and stiff, my upper body and hips especially. I fought some big side stitches. (I have to figure out fueling during the run!)

I knew at that point that I wasn’t going to PR (I would have had to beat 2:19:17, set at the Ft. Bliss Half in 2012, a race I also wasn’t prepared for) so I let myself just sink into slowing down and riding it out until the end. I crossed the line at 2:22:51, only three minutes slower than Transmountain in October. Still a respectable time.

A problem with me going to races alone is that I get disoriented easily. I know El Paso’s downtown well enough to not wander into Mexico, but I couldn’t remember where the parking garage was. And when I got there, I wandered around looking for my car. It’s old enough that there’s no key fob to help me find its little chirp, so I have to rely on my memory. Hard thing, that is. 😉 I am so blonde sometimes it scares me.

Overall I’m happy with my performance. I pushed too hard in the middle for a race I wasn’t prepared for. But I knew I wasn’t prepared for it. I’m happy that I got my Sunday long run in, and with 2,000 of my closest friends to boot. 🙂

So, 50K training for the week looks like this:

Total miles: 29, not shabby!

Monday: 4 miles

Wednesday: 4 miles

Friday: 8 miles that felt AWESOME. Man it was a fantastic run. I got up feeling sick and tired and achy but it turned out to be the best run in awhile.

Sunday: 13 miles

I skipped the hill run.. still not ready to add the 5th run in there. This training is only two weeks along and I was doubting. Doubting myself and how in the world I’m going to be able to run 31 miles on trails in the mountains and not get lost, much less run at a decent pace. It’s a trippy feeling for sure, but I remember feeling the same way while training for the marathon in 2011.

You have to trust the training and even when you don’t want to run, do it anyway. I am here to say that you’ll never regret a run. Ever. I realized that the only thing (barring injury) stopping me from becoming an ultrarunner is myself.

Run When: Transmountain Challenge recap.

Run when you haven’t trained in awhile.

When I signed up for the Transmountain training group, I was more hopeful than nervous that it would help push me over the mountain. Aaron had just left and I needed something to keep me accountable, especially for long runs. Every long run was hilly except for when I went to Colorado. I’ve always hated hills, but I ran anyway.

Run when it’s hot and dry.

Desert heat is no joke. 95* and 12% humidity will can make for a slow, frustrating and dehydrating run. But I pushed through and ran anyway.

Run when you’re sad.

My husband’s been gone five months now, and I’ve missed him.. a lot. I’ve been wanting to share this whole experience with him, and he ran his first marathon this month. And I’m sick of sharing experiences with him secondhand. But running is something we have in common (and we’re both ultra-hopeful in 2014), and I ran anyway.

Run when you’re sick.

There were a couple times I was sick and still did the long run, and they were both eight-milers. For one I had been feeling sick to my stomach for a couple days and had only a few hours of sleep the night before. I seriously considered skipping the run, but I woke up on Sunday at 5:15 anyway. I figured since I was up, I might as well run. The other time I was coming down with an upper respiratory infection and at the top of the first hill I had a coughing fit. But I knew the next day I’d get some antibiotics and rest,, so I decided I would run anyway.

Run when you’re on vacation.

I went to Colorado in August and was soooo excited to run at lovely pre-autumn temps at 8,000 feet among trees and mountains and rivers. So of course I ran anyway.

Run when you’re busy.

I was busy with a class and work this summer, and now that the fall has started I am working on, but not limited to: grad classes, thesis, teaching a college class, preparing my teaching portfolio for a competition, and submitting research to conferences. Whew. But I made my mental and physical fitness a priority, got up early, and ran anyway.

Run when you have to start early(er).

There were two Sundays where I had to start at 5:45, and that meant getting out of my house at 5:15. That’s eaaarrrllllyyyy. Even the dog thought I was crazy. But I ran anyway.

Run when you have to do the long run alone.

September 15 I did the Color Run with some girls, which was a Sunday, so I did the long run the day before… a 13-miler on my own. That was more of a mental battle than anything. I finished with a 12-minute pace, and was pretty sure that was a good indicator about how I’d do on the half. I ran anyway.

Run when you feel good.

The last month of my training, I really hit it hard. I kept on top of my mileage, scoring 90 miles in August and 100 in September. I did all my speed workouts at the gym, up to 6.5 miles on a treadmill. I’m not a huge fan of the treadmill, but I ran anyway.

Run when you’re thankful.

Running encourages my relationship with God. It gives me perspective, helps me focus, and reminds me of how our bodies are created for such amazing feats. It gives me time to meditate, think, pray, and take in nature, so of course I ran anyway!

Run when you’re ready.

Sunday morning I woke up with a conservative 2:30 goal in mind. That’s roughly an 11:27 mile. My first half was in January 2012, and it was extremely flat and I finished with a time of 2:19:17. I knew I’d trained way more for this race than I did for that one, but I had a huge 6-7 mile climb in my way this time. But then I thought, my last two long runs were great — the 14-miler (10:51 pace) and the 6-miler (10:12 pace) — so I knew I was more than ready.

transmtn

We started at 7 AM with cloudy skies (thank you El Paso!) and in the low 60’s. Miles 1-4 were up a steady but slight incline. Mile 4 was pretty flat, and then miles 5-6.5 were TOUGH. However, by the time I hit mile 4, I knew I had this whole race in the bag. By the time reached the top (5280 ft) I resisted the urge to lean over the guardrail and scream. I was so excited that I had run to the top without stopping to walk. On virtually every long run, I walked a small portion of the inclines.

miles 1-6

At mile 7, we started the descent. Oh man, people, THIS is the reward I’d worked for for 15 weeks. I FLEW down that mountain and I felt AWESOME the whole way. The mountain really does look different when you’re not zooming past it at 60 mph. During the descent, I picked up a couple PRs along the way: 10K (58:26) and 5K (26:56).

miles 7-13

Mile 13 was HARD. The descent on a paved road through desert scenery had turned into a flat concrete road, and I really challenged myself to run fast. I was doing the math in my head, and knew I had blown the 2:30 goal out of the water, and probably the unsaid 2:25 goal as well. I predicted I’d finish somewhere between 2:15 and 2:20. I crossed the finish line at 2:19:58! I had put that mountain under my feet and finished a race on my bucket list. BAM. DONE. All the training was 100% worth it. Besides the Illinois Marathon in 2011, this was my favorite race so far. Our bodies can do so much more than we think they can. The battle is in the mind.

Run when you have bigger goals in mind.

What’s next? I signed up for the Turkey Trot 5K with hopes to PR. The first week of November I start marathon training for the El Paso Marathon in February. I’m going to add in more strength training, yoga, clean eating, and trail running this time around, and in 2014 I want to run my first 50k or 50mi with my husband. Now, go get you some!

Ready to roll

A 15-week training plan sounded like a long time, but here we are, two weeks away from putting that mountain under our feet, literally. Today we had the last really long run (14 miles) before we do one more “normal” week, run 8 next Sunday, and then we have one week of taper.

Just in the past few weeks, I’ve really been ramping up my training, following our printout of all the runs to the T… and guess what? It’s starting to show. My running was consistent during the summer, but it was hot and I hadn’t trained for a race in a long time. I was happy with just getting the miles in. Now, I’m hitting paces that make me proud and really feeling good on the runs.

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It was a chilly 53* when we started. I’ve become such a pansy to cool/cold weather since moving here. But what can I say, it just makes me fit in with El Pasoans more. 😉 I wore a long-sleeve shirt which was a good idea; I encountered my running high a few times during the run and it always gives me goosebumps.

I felt strong going up the inclines; there were three big hills. Going back over Scenic after I’d already come over the other side AND run to the edge of the canyon (Alabama is straight and uphill) I still felt strong. When I hit mile 7, I knew I had this run in the bag. I didn’t have negative splits like last week, but I was smiling from ear to ear when I reached the top of Scenic on the way back over and hadn’t stopped to walk. I felt like a rock star.

I bypassed the last water stop at mile 11-ish because I had my Camelbak and I was rocking a good pace (around 10:00), so I just kept on runnin’. Around mile 12 my legs started burning, but it was just a sign that I was almost done and I was gonna make it!

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I mean, look how consistent those last four miles were! That’s what I want when I race in two weeks.

I confess that when I completed this run, I almost started crying. I’m like Kristen Bell that way: “If I’m not between a 3 and a 7 on the emotional scale, I’m crying. I’m crying if I’m too sad, and I’m crying if I’m too happy.” I just couldn’t believe that I’d come to El Paso HATING running, I mean… HATING it. It was too much elevation, too much like an oven… and now I feel like I’m back to where I was mentally before the Illinois Marathon in 2011.

The other fantastic thing about today was that I felt comfortably vulnerable during church today. When I get there, my body and mind are spent – I’m tired, sore, and still HUNGRY (but caffeinated with a venti extra hot extra vanilla nonfat caramel macchiato), but the transition from runner’s high and to the presence of God is pretty great. I love worship and I really gave Him my all today. I was in a place of complete surrender.

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Moral of the story: I’m not gonna be upset. All that’s left to do for today is take a nap, foam roll the heck out of my legs, and feel satisfied because while y’all were sleeping, I was running. Go get you some.

Absence of Running

I’ll let you in on a little secret..

I’m not one of those people who just can’t wait to get up at the wee hours before dawn and run.

Most of the time on my runs, I count the miles I have left.

I run to eat.

I eat to run.

I’m not fast.

Running in the desert heat has been a huge struggle for me.

BUT. I can feel a change in my body and mood when I don’t run. I become lazy and start teetering on the brink of depression. I’m anxious. I mentally count every calorie and feel guilty about things I shouldn’t be eating.  I start comparing myself in a negative way with other runners/athletes I follow on Facebook and Instagram.

I took a couple days off because I had an “upper respiratory infection”. I’m not even going to lie; I didn’t mind having a reason not to run. I ran long on Sunday, begrudgingly, and even more so because I had to start earlier than normal. It was okay… not great, not defeating. Just.. a run. So for the past couple days, I slept, a LOT, and didn’t actually miss the getting out to run part that much.

This morning I Skyped with my husband, which is a usual thing on Wednesdays, so I decided to run this afternoon. It was 79*, HUMID (67%), and super sweaty, but it was good. My pace was “slow”, but since I got the run done I really didn’t care.

During a run like I said I’m usually counting down the miles if Nike+ isn’t doing it for me. I’m trying to control my breathing and my stride. I love it when I run early and can see my shadow on walls or my reflection in windows… I look strong, fit, unstoppable. I’m usually the only person running when I’m out and I own it.

When I get home from a run, I’m so glad it’s over. But I love that I have a good reason to take a hot shower, to eat some food and stretch. I don’t know about you, but it feels weird to stretch when I haven’t done anything! If the run is less than 6-7 miles, I feel energized. I feel proud that I can post proof of my run. It feels good that I got through the mental battles of “Should I run or not?” and “This part of El Paso is not pretty at all, and it stinks like dog crap.”

I wish I could be one of those runners

that just can’t wait to get out there,

that gets crazy taper madness (I so look forward to resting more in those weeks before a long race!),

that goes crazy during “zero week” (I enjoy every single minute of it!!),

that has energy to cross-train after running or on rest days….

but in a very strange way, the absence of running does make my heart grow fonder.

 

 

A mild setback

So, I kinda sorta thought I would run the New Mexico Texas Challenge Half or Full.. I think it’s gonna be the half. I ran a couple times this week, but as soon as I stepped off to run yesterday morning, my right knee was hurting. Not a 10 on the infamous “pain scale”, but enough that I couldn’t run on it. I walked back to the house, feeling utterly defeated. It’s like the world heard my proclamation on the interwebz that I WAS GONNA RUN A LOT, MAYBE AN ULTRA, AND ALL ELSE BE DAMNED. But that’s okay, it just means that I need to stretch, maybe slow down, and not run too many miles all at once. Derp.

Of course, this would happen on the same day I get my bee-you-tee-ful new NB Minimus in the mail… srsly. They are gorgggg. (Just kidding, I don’t say gorggg.)

This is unrelated, but I’ve had a revelation about social networking. I’m DONE with following or responding to negativity online. I get enough of that just by being a human on  Planet Earth; why in the world would I subject myself to it of my own accord?? I’m going to be pruning down my newsfeed(s) for sure.

Streaking!

…or, as others would call it, the Runner’s World Holiday Run Streak. I did another run streak in the summer which spanned 38 days from Memorial Day to 4th of July. I was successful in running 36 out of the 38 days, 83 miles in total (average of 2.3 miles per day). This one is 41 days long, beginning on Thanksgiving and going through New Year’s Day.

This means that we have to run on all the holidays, in Illinois and in Fort Worth when we’re there for the World Missions Summit. When I was home in June I ran every day, so there’s no reason why I can’t do the same thing over Christmas.

I have to say, running and I haven’t really been the best of friends recently, but I get up in the mornings to take Missy for a pre-dawn walk so what’s the big deal in putting on my running shoes instead?

On Thursday we’re doing the El Paso YMCA Turkey Trot downtown, with the parade to follow afterward. I think I should sign up for another 5K shortly after the run streak is over; I PR’d the last day of the summer running streak with a 5K time of 27:08. Can I do it again? We’ll see… Who knows, maybe this will motivate me enough to sign up for the El Paso Half Marathon…

Work Out Wednesday and Adjusting Goals

I had a great workout today. My body was thanking me as my fat cells were crying for dear life. We’re down to one car right now (maybe even semi-permanently) but it’s not all bad. I reluctantly had the day off today, but Aaron worked a half day. So, I took him to work and then headed over to the gym for a 1:30 workout. I haven’t had one that long since I did my 8.6-mile run a couple weeks ago. At least, I think it was a couple weeks…

I started by running/walking on the treadmill. I go to the cardiologist on Friday. My internist said no runs over 2 miles… heh. Whoops. I say, Screw that! I probably should heed his advice. BUT. But. I have a half marathon that’s paid for coming up in two weeks. Even if I don’t race it, at the very least I can run it… ANYWAY. I got this little idea in my head that I’d run 6 miles on the treadmill. I got 2.5 miles in and saw that there was a spin class about to go down. So I hopped off that thing and into the spin room.

With Computer Keiser M3 Indoor Cycle Stationary Indoor Trainer Exercise Bike
We get to ride on these.

It was an amazing workout. I sweat like I pig but I didn’t care. It was worth it. If the display is in miles, I “rode” 17-18. WOW. About five people left during the class and you can tell the instructor looked amused and confused. But I stayed the course and rode my little heart out.

I’ve been pondering taking a break from really long distances (14+ miles). I guess my heart thing kind of made me start thinking about it. I weighed myself at the gym, which is usually a more accurate scale, and it said 165. That’s definitely at the TOP of my personal “acceptable” range. I weighed in on the same kind of scale at 152 back in January. That means a weight gain of 13 pounds. Now, it’s no where near what I used to weigh, but it’s still an increase and I can tell some of my clothes, specifically pants, fit tighter.

I think one of the culprits is the mental part of long distance running. I have a hard time balancing my nutrition when running 14, 18, 20 miles. I think, Oh, I just burned 2500 calories on a run so now I can eat whatever I want. Ehhh. Not so much.

After the half in January, I want to focus on more short-distance races, like an 8K (4.97 mi) or 15K (9.3 mi). I love those distances; just enough to challenge me but also training for them doesn’t take soooo many long runs. I also want to have time to focus more on weight  lifting. Yes, real weights, not the machines. I just have to take the plunge into the male-macho-dominated weight room.

Since I’ll be taking Aaron to work, on Tuesday and Thursday when I work in the afternoons I can go to the gym straight away after dropping him off. I’ll be able to get a good workout in, and maybe even do a group fitness class if the schedules coincide.

So…. barring what the doc says on Friday, Aaron and I are planning an 11-miler for the weekend. Uphill. Both ways. In a blizzard. Haha, kidding about the last two parts, but maybe uphill. Snow? Heck no. It’s gonna be in the 60’s!

McKelligon Canyon, I will again make you bow to me.