Running update.

I haven’t posted here about my running in a really long time. I’ve posted about running getting me through infertility, but I think this was the last real post about training. We (my husband and I) had signed up for the IMS Arizona Marathon because it was super cheap, and relatively close to where we used to live. Well, Valentine’s Day weekend came and went without us running that race, mostly because we live in Maryland now. So there’s that.

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View from a neighborhood run

I decided after the move that I needed to get back into training. For my body, for my mind, for fun. I don’t want this to be a post about infertility because honestly I’m sick of talking and thinking about it, but I gained 25 lbs in the past two years due to stress, taking time off of hard workouts, overeating, etc. I was starting to wallow… anyone who’s dealt with depression/anxiety knows how this works… and I was close to signing up for therapy again.

But, I’m happy to report that I’m out of my funk, thanks to running and a change of life circumstances, and God. Aaron’s no longer leaving for months on end, or working unexpected nights or 24-hour CQ shifts because now he has a ‘regular’ job. It’s fantastic. And amazing. And I’m so glad we got through the past 6.5 years with the Army for him to have this opportunity. I’m also working, but part time, and really enjoying the time it allows me to have to clean, cook, take care of things, but also to use my ESOL expertise. At first, moving to Maryland in the middle of the academic year was not my first choice, but it’s turned out to be a wonderful decision.

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Trails at Susquehanna State Park

So, with all that said, I’m running the Maryland Half Marathon in May. Not officially, as I haven’t signed up yet, but it’s on my calendar. Last week was week 3 of training, I think, and I ran 15 miles total. A Yasso 800’s workout, just a plain old run, and a long run of 6 miles. We bought new shoes this weekend so hopefully that’ll help some of the stiffness I’ve had in the first couple miles of my runs. Overall, I’ve been happy with my paces and my motivation to do each run. And the endorphins, you can’t forget the endorphins!

After the half, I’d like to train for a fall marathon, and then set my sights on a spring 50K. I’ve had this goal for most of my 20’s to do a 31-mile (50K) race before my 31st birthday, which will be next April. Barring injury or other crazy life circumstances, I don’t see why that can’t happen. And the Mid-Atlantic area is full of wonderful races to choose from.

1,503 Feet of Confidence

I’m hesitant to say I’m back in the saddle of doing this 50K… but this morning’s run gave me a sorely needed confidence booster.

Monday’s run was a major bonk. We headed to the gym one day this week and I completed a 3-mile hill workout on the ‘mill. I was nervous because on Monday my right knee started to bother me. I think it was the shoes I was wearing, so back to the trusty Brooks Ghost I went. They have 300+ miles on them, but I don’t have issues like with the Mizunos.

I did some other cross-training this week, including yoga and a little weight lifting. We got weight set for our house including a 45-lb barbell and bench, so I’m excited to be able to come home from a run and get my lifting on right away.

We decided to try a 17-mile run from our house and up the mountain. For the Transmountain Challenge 13.1, I ran from the other side. But this side is actually steeper. We started out at 5:42 this morning, and ran in the darkness for quite a while. I actually like it better that way, to get started before your body realizes what’s going on. Early morning Sunday running really jives with my spirit, even if my body was tired from being up on the hour last night for whatever reason.

We both took house keys in case I decided to bow out. But as we pushed up the mountain, I felt the same strength as when I ran Transmountain. 8.5 miles would be the halfway point, but as we ran we realized we’d have to go a little past the crest of the road onto the west side of the mountain. The wind was awful. I mean, this is the windy season in El Paso, but it was cold. After we turned around and got a couple more miles under our feet, we were then running into the sun which felt amazing.

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Up and over juuuuust a little bit

I couldn’t believe that just days earlier I had totally bonked on a mostly flat run, and today I ran up up up without complaining or feeling really fatigued, even with just water and two gels and nothing to eat before hand. The sweetest reward for running up is then coming down. Some runners hate it because it tears up their quads or something, but I welcome the pain. Sick, I know. In some way it feels good. The last 2-3 miles were the worst as they were on concrete and completely flat, and there were plenty of stoplights and irresponsible drivers to contend with.

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Mile high club 😉

We got it done, and we both needed the confidence booster. I really really really want to do this 50K, even if I’m hobbling by the end, even if I’m the last one. In ultrarunning, being the last one is actually celebrated. We have 10 weeks to complete this training… and I think we can do it.

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.

Jemez Mtn 50K Training: Week 1

Welcome to my chronicles of 50K training, the craziest and longest race I will run so far. I wrote weekly updates when I ran the Illinois Marathon in 2011 (three years already?!) and it gave me something to look back at and see how I was progressing more than just looking at my Nike+ app.

This week was hard. I took about two weeks off of scheduled, ordered running. I gave blood at the beginning of January, and I knew that it would take me weeks to feel good running again. I won’t give again until this race is over. I’ve kept up my fitness for the most part, and so I can still run 10+ miles without any major issues.

The training schedule, which is mostly time-based, calls for 5 runs during the week:

-45-60 min easy run

-hill run (either just time on a hilly route or hill repeats)

-1:15-1:30 easy run

-long run

-60:00 easy run the day after the long run.

Whew. That’s a lot. I’m still trying to figure out when to do all my runs. I really enjoy doing a long run on Sunday before church. I got in the habit while training for Transmountain.The streets are quieter, and I have to get up on Sunday anyway so I might as well do that and then sleep in on Saturday. I’m also trying to think about what it’ll be like when I get to train with my husband (yay!!!). Some of the super long runs we’ll have to do on Saturday, unless we start a 26-miler super super early on Sunday.

Okay, so this week I ran a total of 25 miles out of a total 40 miles for February.

Monday 4 miles with Elizabeth. We kept a pretty good pace. It felt great. I went to gym and had “leg day,” which for me right now is some squats and lunges. I’m still getting used to the weight room, and I didn’t go heavy at all. I’m still using dumbbells. Not sure how heavy I’ll be able to go so that I can still run all these miles.

TuesdayRest. I take my rest days seriously.

Wednesday 4 miles in the canyon. I got my weeks mixed up, so I ended up doing hill repeats. It called for 3x600m hill repeats, which means you find a hill approximately .37 miles long, run up it at a fast pace (yeah right!) and then jog or walk down. Um, if I work my butt off to run up a hill, I sure ain’t walkin’ down it. My hill ended up being .25 mi and it was HARD. By the second and third time, I was just focused on getting up the hill without stopping and with good form, bringing back memories from running over Transmountain. These hills were sandwiched in between a 1.25 mi warm up and cool down.

Thursday – Rest. I probably could have done some yoga or something, but meh. I was still kind of sore from weights on Monday and my glutes hurt from those hills. When I say a workout kicked my butt, I mean that literally.

Friday7 miles. Technically anywhere between 1:15-1:30 is okay, but I just did an even 7. I took Missy with me for the first 4 miles because she doesn’t get out nearly enough, and then I did 3 more. They were slow. And arduous. And kinda sucky. But I got them done. How’s that for fasted cardio, eh?

Saturday Rest. Ehh. I fell while cleaning up the yard and knocked my head into none other than a huge trash can. That gave me a nice mark on my forehead and also messed up my neck and shoulders. All around I feel better today but dang. I sure am klutzy.

Sunday 10 miles. I. Got. It. Done!!! I tried to make up excuses to not go, as I usually do. It’s too late (I woke up at 6:15, not too late). My neck hurts from yesterday. I can do it tomorrow. I should just sleep more. It’s only Week 1! Lies, lies, lies. I got up, ate a cheesestick and a couple dried apricots and headed out the door. I immediately regretted not getting up earlier; I love meeting the sunrise. The weather was perfect: sunny (of course), not too warm (49*) and hardly any wind. I started out slow and had a lot of negative splits as I went. I hardly checked my pace.. I was just concerned with covering the miles.

If I can just take it week by week and trust the training, I’m going to be fine. Where I get all messed up in my head is when I think, “Man, my pace is slow and I’m hurting at mile 8… how am I going to run 31 miles? This isn’t even a third of what I need to do on race day…” I’ve been through this process before. That’s what training is for; I wouldn’t need a 16-week training plan if I could do it already!

The running will come; I’m not concerned about that. My current issue is nutrition. I can’t eat much before a long run, nor can I eat a full meal afterward. I just feel sick. I try to drink water on my run in little sips, and take a couple of GUs. I haven’t figured out if these cause me issues or if it’s something else. But I still have a whole box so I’m using them up. After my runs I try to get protein right away, usually in a protein coffee drink (almond milk, protein powder, coffee, creamer, ice) or in a smoothie. But then later in the morning I’m starving sitting in church. So I need to figure something out, especially when I couple that with being stressed. My appetite is the first thing to go when I’m stressed. Right now the runs aren’t so long so I don’t have much to worry about, but when they start getting past about 14-15 miles, I need to have a better plan for nutrition before and after the run.

Hydration is also another issue, especially as it starts to warm up over the next couple of months. I’ve had some heart palpitations recently, which could be related to so many factors.. but I’m willing to bet hydration is one of them.

Here’s to a new week of training beginning tomorrow (no day of rest after the long run!) and only a couple weeks until my man is back on US soil.

Back from running sabbatical

I ran a total of 42.2 miles in January. After some high-mileage months (for me) with 80, 90, even 100 miles, I really needed a break. I was mentally exhausted from training and final exams and just stuff, and realized that “sleeping in” (ahem, 7:30 am) and enjoying coffee in the morning was all it was cracked up to be. Amazing. Folgers or Starbucks, it really didn’t matter. I don’t know if I put on any pudge during my “sabbatical”… if I can call it that. I only took a true and complete break from running for nine days. Nueve. I’ve also been relishing in the fact that although this is my last semester of grad school, it’s way less demanding than others. And we’re also down to the last little bit of deployment, so it’s been a nice break over all. Thank God.

This week I ran 15 miles, which is 15 more than I ran last week. I meet up with my twin Elizabeth and we ran twice in what is left of winter in the desert. This morning I really didn’t want to get up and run, but 50K (!!!!!) training starts next week and I wanted to have something going into it.

50ktrainingplan

Shoot. This is gonna be intense. However, I am loving the timed runs. My goal is to finish the 31 miles. To get up and over those mountains. Most likely during the week I’ll run out the door having a mileage goal, but the time guidelines put it all in perspective.

I think the differences of this training plan versus a novice-intermediate marathon plan are that I have an hour-long run the day AFTER the long run. Usually the day after a long run is like FREEDOM!! and rolling, icing, whatever. The other difference is that the long runs go up to a marathon. I have no doubt that these differences are for making your body get used to running on tired legs. I like the hill workout in the middle of the week; I can easily incorporate that into my schedule by hitting up McKelligon Canyon or other choice locations on the other side of town. Heck, even the treadmill will get ‘er done.

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Jemez Mtn Trail 50K Map

The hands-down greatest thing about this race is that my husband and I are training (mostly) together. Not sure about runs during the week, but long runs will be attacked in full force by the W’s. It’ll be great. I’m excited to show him some of the routes I’ve been running around town, and share in chasing down the sunrise. We’ll also be able to hit the trails on a regular basis; I tend not to go out there on my own. We are already planning on a couple of training weekends in the mountains of Ruidoso. 🙂

2013 was a great year for running, just downright fantastic. Probably my best yet. I was at the peak of my physical running fitness at the Turkey Trot 5K. It felt so good to be at that point after months of training and pushing myself out the door before the sunrise. But I undoubtedly needed a break from the rise-and-grind.

Consequently, I dropped down to the half from the full (coming up on February 23), and with 50K training starting this week, I’ll use the race as a training run. My 13.1 PR is 2:19:17, which was achieved after doing about the same amount of “training”, so we’ll see what happens. I can’t really compare the El Paso Half to the Transmountain Half… I won’t be running over any mountains this time.

I never ever thought that when I started my running journey four years ago that I’d really be able to run an ultra before I turned 30. It was a goal that was so crazy but here we are, two years before 30 (I’ll be 28 in April) and it looks like I’ll be able to cross this off the list! I’m gonna take it day by day and not get down on myself about pace. I’m just gonna trust the training and then enjoy the results of my labor.

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.

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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!

Tail end of summer

This summer flew by so fast. Tomorrow is three months down in this deployment, and that couldn’t make me happier.

I set out in the middle of May to kick butt in my class (check), do well with my research assistantship (check) and lesson plan for the fall (nope!). In May Leah and Benjamin came to visit and I just could not get enough sweet baby snuggles.

June brought lots and lots of 12-hour days because I had work in the morning for a few hours, and then I had class in the afternoon for two hours a day. I will never ever ever take another summer class again. My assistantship has gone so well. I basically got paid to learn how to do corpus-based research and start on my thesis. This week is the last week of the 10-week appointment, so I’ll be submitting my thesis proposal to the department and also to the IRB for approval. This fall I’ll be taking two online classes, working on the data collection/analysis part of my thesis and teaching one ESOL class, and intermediate level class. My schedule will be wide open for the most part, which seems to happen when Aaron’s gone. Rawr.

At the end of June I also started training for a half marathon, the Transmountain Challenge, which goes from the west side of the Franklins to the east side on Transmountain Road. I drive this road all the time so I am well aware of the bends and turns and gain in elevation. Training has gone really well so far. In July I ran 73 miles, and to date I’ve run 32 this month. I missed two of my runs last week because of stress and feeling sick. I’m not sure if it was all the junk I ate the weekend before, or a bug, but it took me several days to feel 100% again. I’m glad I rested because yesterday I had a fantastic run, 10 miles up and over Scenic Drive and back again. It was deliciously cool, only 66 degrees at 6 am, and at one point there was a strong headwind. But I powered through it and finished the run breaking an 11:00 pace. It. Was. Awesome.

Last week I took the plunge and signed up for the El Paso Marathon, which is February 23. It’ll be my second marathon, and I’m so excited. It starts at the top of the road I’ll be running on in October, so the elevation goes down down down for 26.2 miles. When Aaron gets back, we want to run an ultra together. Living in the Southwest gives us a lot of awesome options in NM, TX, AZ for ultras. Yes, we are crazy. And yes, Aaron has a blog! Check it out at The Ultra Road!

I think I’m slightly crazy  to do my thesis, finish up my grad coursework (I’ll graduate in May!!), and train for a half and full marathon while having a deployed husband. Running keeps me sane, though.. it forces me to be accountable, pumps up my self-confidence, and allows me to not feel guilty about eating ice cream.

My next post will talk about running in beautiful cool COLORADO! Heading up there later this week to visit a dear friend. It’ll be Missy’s first road trip, so pray for us. Haha.