Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Tucson 5000 Recap

This past weekend I raced the Tucson 5000. Going into this one, I wasn’t totally sure how it’d play out. I only started adding back in some speed work about a month ago.  I took a break from anything too structured after the Phoenix Marathon, and getting back into faster workouts has felt amazing (correction: getting back into speed work HURTS, then once your body adjusts it still hurts, but the workouts leave you with such a runners high).  The past week I’d been struggling with some hip issues. I truly think it’s muscular in nature, but nonetheless it’s been affecting my running.  Each run this week has felt a bit better than the day before, so I wasn’t too too concerned.

I got to the race bright and early, around 5:30 (which is early for a Sunday!!).  The race didn’t start until 7am, but I had to pick up my race bib, and leave myself plenty of time to warm up.  I ended up running about 2 miles pre-race, and felt ready to go.  I seeded myself somewhat toward the front, since I didn’t want to do too much weaving once the race started. The course is a flat rectangle, perfect for PR attempts. A few minutes before the race started, people were still warming up in the starting shoot, and I could tell they were out to race.

For the first half mile of the race, I couldn’t get my iPod to work.  Panic mode set in, and I braced myself for a hard effort workout with no music. Doable for sure, just not my first choice.  Thankfully I finally pushed the right button, and the Body Attack remix of Ghost started playing. I found my stride and felt good.  I ran mile 1 in 6:44 and felt strong.

There was one water station along the course.  They had said it would be around the halfway mark, but it was pretty much at mile 1.  I kept running.  My hip felt okay, and I had hit a good stride and didn’t want to mess it up.

I hit mile 2 in 6:38, still feeling good, and actually feeling like the race was going by really fast.  I am a distance junkie and very rarely run races shorter than half marathons (for no reason other than I truly just love the longer distances).  This was flying by.

Between miles 2-3 I picked it up a bit, still feeling strong, but starting to feel the struggle. I passed a lot of people during this mile, and it felt more like a competition than any other races I’ve run. At one point, I was approaching a group of 3 who were running together. One of the guys looked behind at me, and they all spread out to take up the entire width of the course. Out of frustration at that point, I picked it up and dodged my way around them, running around a 6:20 pace. I ran mile 3 in 6:33, my fastest mile of the race. Mentally, once I reached that “under 1 mile left” point, I knew it was time to hit the gas. Every race, I have some sort of a “go to” phrase that I tell myself that helps keep me going.  This time it was “hang onto it.” It seemed to work. It’s not how you start the race that matters, it’s how you finish, and I wanted to finish with a good kick. I finished with a chip time of 20:34 with a pace of 6:37. 

After the race I ran another mile and a half-ish to cool down. I placed 3rd in my age group, and had some time to kill before the awards, so naturally I used the time to run. I would absolutely run this race again. 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

....because I want to run forever

I am as stubborn as they come, so besides being injured (which thankfully right now I'm not), tapering for a marathon and recovering after a marathon are challenging, especially when I’m feeling good.  It’s one week post-marathon, and I did take 4 days off of running (close to what I planned), and have felt good on the days I’ve ran and cross trained. Every person is different in how quickly they take to recover from a marathon, but THIS article talks a lot about the science-y reasons behind what running a marathon does to your body, and why we need to be taking it easy after a race and protecting these bodies we train so hard.

It’s obvious to me like 10 seconds after starting to run post-race, whether or not my legs are ready to run.  There’s this specific type of soreness and tiredness that only ever happens after a full marathon, and if I start running too soon, those muscles tense up and fatigue quickly.  I ran 3 days this week, and each day my legs felt better.  Today they felt totally completely normal, and it was a huge struggle not to pick up the pace.  I haven’t worn my Garmin, and won’t wear it for at least another week or so, but man it’s tempting.  As long as all systems still feel good, I’m looking forward to adding a bit more mileage next week J

 I personally want to be like this yoga instructor into my old age (except with running instead of yoga), and the only way to do that is to run and recover smart...

Random closing thoughts…

Does anyone else think it’s fun that it’s National Cereal Day?  Kroger generic for Life cereal is my favorite, and I personally think it serves as a better snack. Side note: I never actually eat cereal for breakfast, but it’s a favorite for a snack.

Chewing gum while running: yes or no? I ALWAYS chew gum when I run, and I keep the same piece for an entire marathon.  I’m told that’s kind of weird.  Gum-chewers feel free to chime in!!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Phoenix Marathon and back to blogging

I was planning on starting to blog again, and figured I’d wait until post-race to start. That way I don’t feel like I need to “catch up” over the past couple of months and write a post that takes a week to read!! :)….it’s a good starting point.  

Saturday was the Phoenix Marathon, and it was a painful one for me.  Somehow I pulled off a PR and finished in 3:31:46, a 3 min 14 second BQ, and honestly even though the course itself wasn't an overly challenging course, it was my toughest race yet. 

The morning started off a bit complicated.  Since most of the roads right around my hotel were closed off for the race, I opted to take the shuttle provided by the hotel.  We were shuttled to the finish line area, where all runners board buses to their start lines.  The half marathon and full marathon buses were located in different spots, and our driver (who was already running late) dropped everyone off right near the finish line and the half marathon buses. We all got off, in the dark, not sure exactly where we were, but had 15 minutes to find our buses (the last buses to the start left at 5 am and it was now 4:45). Most of the people on the shuttle were running the half, except for myself and about 7 other people.  Slightly panicked, we started heading to where all the people were, only to realize that was the half marathon busing area and we were told the buses for the full were almost a mile away, across the street.  No one wanted to be running yet, but we BOOKED it, because what a NIGHTMARE it would be to miss the last bus.  More stimulation than I wanted pre-race, but at least we made it :)

The day was windy, much more windy than I would have liked, and it picked up as the morning went on, but I crossed the start line and the finish line, so I’m calling it a success :)  This was a really really really hard race for me! (did I say that already??)  Most of the wind was a headwind, and it definitely made an impact.  At the half, I was right on pace to break the 3:30 I trained for (I averaged a  pace of 7:57)….exactly where I wanted to be, but the effort level to maintain that pace was harder than it normally is.   I knew all week that it was going to be windy, but I kept my fingers crossed that the “incoming weather” would change.  No such luck…except that it did not rain!! 
My quads started hurting (really just tightness) around mile 10, which freaked me out because that should not happen until MUCH later.  A lot of that I think is because I had been so paranoid all week about fixing my irritated IT band/hamstring, that I neglected to stretch and roll my quads enough.  I tried telling myself that they would loosen up later on in the race, but who are we kidding?? When does that ever happen??  I did forget about them for awhile though, and they weren’t as bad as I was afraid they would be.

After about mile 22, I had to pull back the pace a lot-the extra wasted energy started taking it’s toll, and I held pace until I absolutely couldn’t any longer.  I knew that a 3:30 was not going to happen, but I still knew I could PR, and the feet kept moving. My entire body was done, and I don’t think I’ve ever had to motivate myself so much to keep going.  When I crossed the finish line, all I could remember was one of the notes on our envelope that our bib came in saying that if you pause your Garmin at the finish, make sure to not block your bib number…so I held my arms up pretty much to my face level to stop it.  I’m surprised I remembered it, to be honest.  I then almost left the finish area without my medal…which would have been terrible!!! I was just about out of the finish chute when one of the volunteers asked me if I got mine, which I hadn’t, so he gave me one.  My brain was done, and my legs were done.

Once I got back to the hotel and showered, my legs loosened up a lot and I felt a lot better.

 The medal this year is pretty cool, and starting next year they are doing this cool “earn the bird” series where you can collect one each year, and I want all of them! Next year I’ll probably run the half, since it will be well into Boston training.

The race shirts were cool as well-a racing tank that I will actually wear!! I only have a few race shirts that I ever wear, so it was cool to get one like this!!

Post-marathon I know it's important to get something into your body, but  I just can’t stomach real food for awhile, so the muscle milk they gave out at the expo did the trick.  I took the extras home with me.

Now that the race is over, I generally take 4-5 days off from any running, even once my legs feel recovered.  The muscle breakdown during a marathon takes time to heal and return to full strength, and after completing multiple training cycles injury-free, I want to keep that streak going!  THIS article has some good tips for post-race recovery. It’s a little bit different for everyone, so find what works best for you!! 

Anybody else race this weekend?

How long do you wait to run again after a race?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Update, training time, and happy holidays!!

So…I’ve clearly been slacking on the blog posts lately…life gets busier = Jen is a bad blogger J  I’m well overdue for an update, and to anyone who reads this-I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I CAN’T believe it’s December 1st!  This year flew by (even though I pretty much say that every year).

The past couple of months I’ve been enjoying just running, without training for anything specific.  I ran the Gilbert Half Marathon a couple weeks ago and ran a PR of 1:39:21.  I wasn’t shooting for a PR that race, since my calf had still been acting up some…but I felt good most of the race and just went for it.  I have a really really really hard time entering a race to “just run for fun” without getting competitive with myself.  Something I’m working on J

Last weekend I FINALLY registered for the Phoenix Marathon, which is 13 weeks from last Saturday.  Pretty sure it’s time to start training J…so I finalized a training plan over the weekend, and officially began today.  Running just for the sake of running is fun, but I was starting to crave more structure again.  I’m keeping my plan pretty similar to what I did to train for St. George, with a few tweaks.  I also plan on continuing with my cross training in the same way that I did last time, if things go according to plan J

Monday morning is still reserved for speed work, so I kicked off my training with some treadmill mile repeats after a few miles outside to warm up.  I love love love the adrenaline rush of speed work.  No other workout makes me sweat as much, and that feeling at the end of that last interval is just awesome.  Ohh how I missed thee.  Feeling awesome after a good run...

This time through, I AM going to give a lot more attention to yoga.  It’s generally been more of a once-in-awhile-when-I-feel-like-it kind of thing, but I’m going to start incorporating it weekly into my routine. 
I’ve done some of THESE videos before from Runner’s World, and they are great because they are not too long, but they make me feel all stretched and relaxed after.

This time of year, people start to get worried about not gaining weight over the holidays.  One of the best ways to stay on track…train for a marathon over the holidays!! (kidding….J )  Seriously though, in my opinion it doesn’t need to be a big deal.  These are the things I think about when faced with tons and tons of food choices during this season:

1. Eat the foods that you enjoy, that are specific to the season.  No need to deprive yourself of all fun treats-just try and choose ones that aren’t available all year round.  Just because the M&M’s are in a plastic candy cane, or the cookies have green frosting doesn’t mean they are any different than the M&M’s or cookies available year-round.  Those special treats that you just love…eat them and enjoy them.  Eat them slowly and really taste them.  If you eat it quickly and in a distracted way, it’s defeating the purpose of enjoying it in the first place! 

2. Plan your workouts.  As we (myself included) get busier, planning is so much more important.  Schedule times when you know you can work out and commit to them.  Sometimes that sweat session is all you need to re energize.

3. Don’t go to parties or events hungry.  No need  to “save calories” for big events…because then you lose touch with what your body needs and just go into it starving and likely to overeat and feel sick.

4. The holidays are about family and friends and memories, not about obsessing over food choices or trying to do it perfectly.  Life is already too short.  If you want the pie, eat the pie, just maybe not the entire pie J  It all comes down to balance…don’t deprive yourself.

(and other holidays)

Are you training for any upcoming races??

What is your favorite holiday food??

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Why I love Sundays

Happy Sunday everyone!  Sunday is the one day of the week that I always take off from working out (unless of course it’s a race day).  I usually just go for a walk, but once in awhile I’ll take a class at the gym. Usually though, it’s a rest day, and I try hard to make it a priority. I used to HATE rest days, like HAAAATE them to the point where it felt like punishment, and I was in a cycle of pushing  my body way too hard.  Once I “gave it a chance,” I realized how much better I feel when my body has a chance to recover.  My Monday workouts started feeling fresh, and I didn't feel burnt out and obligated all the time.  THIS article from ACE gives a good summary of why rest days are so important :) 

Reasons why I love Sundays (in no particular order) :

1. Besides it just being a rest day, it’s the only day I actually eat a “real” breakfast.  I always eat in the mornings, but it’s structured around my workouts, so although I do eat good foods to fuel the start of my day and my activity, it’s spaced out and
not a technical sit-down breakfast. 
My favorite Sunday morning breakfast is 3 of my favorite foods…Greek yogurt and a banana with peanut butter...

I usually make “brunch for lunch” which ends up being more of a “linner.”  No picture from today, but I make scrambled eggs full of veggies, with an apple, and a whole wheat English muffin.  I look forward to this every week….maybe because I’m on no time agenda and can kind of just kick back and enjoy at leisure :)

2.  If I don’t make it to church, having the option to watch it from home on my laptop…on the couch, in my pj’s.    

3. A clean house.  I just love that feeling of accomplishment once everything is cleaned, the laundry done, the floors mopped….like a gateway into a new fresh week!

4.  Family.  Weekends in general are full of family time since we all have time off.  Kicking back with the people you love is also an awesome feeling.

5. The Sunday paper.  As the holidays come closer, I just really love flipping through the ads over a cup of coffee.

6. Getting ready for the week.  I feel SOOO much better going into a new week feeling prepared for it.  As the week goes on and gets busier, organization tends to get put to the side, so come Sunday when I can plan out what needs to be planned, prep food for the week, organize myself, etc, etc, I feel so much better!!  If you set yourself up for success, it’s much easier to succeed for sure!

On another note…

Running on the treadmill has never really been my favorite thing, but lately I’ve been craving a good treadmill run.  I did a lot of speed training on the treadmill last training cycle, but since then it’s been only outside running, and I’m starting to feel the itch.  Tomorrow I think I’ll add in a treadmill session J  I found THIS article about different treadmill workout ideas…could be fun ;)

What is your favorite treadmill workout?
Did you do anything fun this weekend?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Fun Running Questions

Okay, I am way overdue for a post.  Time just sort of got away from me!  I love to write and I really should be more on top of that J

As runners, we often get asked questions about running, so for tonight, a quick post about questions I’ve been asked lately, because, for whatever reason, these questions have been asked a lot!! 

What are you training for now?
            A lot of times people think that if I am regularly running, then I’m training for something, which is NOT the case :)    Right now, I’m not training for anything…just trying to maintain my base.  I won’t train again until it’s time to get ready for the Phoenix Marathon.

Did you win your race?
            No…but also yes.  I’m pretty certain that I will never win a marathon, and I am 100% okay with that.  Finishing a race is a win though.  First or last, if you set out to cross that finish line, you win when you cross.

How far was that marathon?
            26.2.  They are all 26.2.  I realize that for someone who is not well versed in the running world, this may not be common knowledge…but they are all 26.2….except in San Diego where I ran closer to 26.8 because clearly I did not do a great job with running the tangents ;)

How many miles a day do you run?
            Depends on the day.  It’s never the same day to day. Some days maybe only 5, some days maybe 20…it’s easier to answer by saying that I run 50-ish a week when not training, give or take a few miles.

Don’t you get bored?
            Usually no.  I try to mix up my workouts often, and listen to good music…that helps a lot.  Sometimes though, it’s just one of those days and the run feels long and boring, but completing it feels much better than staying in bed and dragging all day.

Right now my goals are to pretty much maintain my running base while playing around with some training workouts to keep things fresh, not get hurt, continue cross training (including weight training 3-4 times/week), break 20 minutes in the 5K for a new PR, and make more of an effort to try new recipes.

What are your favorite fall recipes?

What kinds of running questions do you get asked??

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Random realizations and my new favorite drink

You can learn a lot about yourself when you stop going through the motions and pay more attention to what you're doing (something I've been working on lately)

I recently discovered that I get bored too easily while running without my Garmin. Does anyone else have this problem? Post-marathon I ran without it for a couple weeks, and really did no race-specific workouts. It was a welcomed break, but then I started to get bored.   I honestly thought that after this last race that I would want (and need) a little break from any sort of training.  Even though I'm not technically training for anything right now, turns out I DO need some race-specific workouts in my life.  I'm actually looking forward to doing more speed work soon (never thought I'd say THAT!) 

I have also recently discovered that I actually do love RPM and spinning.  Any friends who know me well know that was NOT always the case. I love jumping and moving, and I really do love plyometrics.  When I'm on a bike, I have a hard time motivating myself, so if I try and get a workout by myself on a stationary bike, it's a BIG struggle.  I need to work on that.  However, in a class setting, with awesome instructors, I actually really really really like the bike.  I'm not sure what clicked, but I guess I just decided to embrace it and I really love being able to get a hardcore cardio workout without any impact.  My ankles love that :)


Have you ever mixed hot chocolate and coffee?? Seriously, you need to try this.  My new favorite combo!!!!

This article (not a new realization, I just think it's really important)-10 Reasons Why Runners Should Include Weight Training.  I like the explanations it gives, and I'm all for anything that helps me run faster and prevent injuries :) Although weight training has not always been my favorite activity, I've learned to "love" it over the years, and it's just part of my weekly workouts.  I weight train 3-4 times a week (both Body Pump and weight room weight training) and do core training 3 times/week.  Since our core is the foundation for all our body movements, it just makes sense that having a strong core will help us hold good form as we get tired.  

This thought to leave you with....:)

What is your favorite to do for weight training?
Favorite fall recipes?-I need some new ones!!