Middlebury Maple Run

Well, hello.

It has been awhile since I’ve written. Between work becoming even busier than I ever thought possible, school finals, and training for races all while trying to stay sane, I needed to drop some things from my life to power through the days.

What’s been happening since we last talked, aside from what was mentioned above? I had a birthday, went to Acadia to relax in nature, training like crazy for upcoming races, and conquered another half marathon. Phew. That’s a lot.

I’ll be talking about all of that on the blog in the upcoming posts, but today I want to talk about my half marathon I ran yesterday. Was it hilly and windy or what! I signed up for this race thinking there were a few rolling hills, but then a flat last half. Well, I soon discovered that it was crazy hills the entire race (along with an intense headwind) so once I accepted that fact, I moved on to powering through it. I started out fast – sub 7 minute pace per mile fast and that definitely wore me down (note to self: starting out at 6:20 is not smart). I leveled out at 7:20-7:35 for the next several miles until the hills drained my energy. Then I was going anywhere from sub 7 on the downhills to a 9 minute pace on some of the uphill. I really had to dig deep throughout this entire race to stay focused and on pace.

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The things that helped me the most – my wonderful partner stationed himself at the start, halfway point, and the end. When I was struggling at mile 5, I knew he would be right up head soon. When I was struggling at mile 10, I knew it was just 3 miles and he’d be cheering me on.

Another thing that helped was not letting myself turn thoughts negative. I used to mentally shut down in races and my pace would suffer. Instead, I told myself you can do this. You ARE doing this. You ARE perfectly capable of running this pace. The hills and wind from mile 10-13 got me good though and physically and mentally my body just wanted to quit so I kept repeating something I learned from my partner’s tae kwon do class. One of the tenets of tae kwon do is perseverance. I just kept repeating “persevere” over and over and over again. It helped significantly.

I didn’t have stomach issues this time! I cut out the peanut butter on my toast before the race and added a banana about 90 minutes before the start. I had gummies with me and they never have given me a stomach ache on long runs, but I didn’t want to chance it. Instead I took in gatoraid at every aid station – mostly just a couple of sips, but it was enough to get me through.

I was 5th in my age group. The top 10 percent of female runners and top 20 percent of all runners. I finished in 1:43:34 just a few seconds shy of my PR, but given the difficulty of this course with nonstop hills and headwind, I think this was an incredibly successful race. Next one is 3 weeks out!!!

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Taper Week!

It is taper week! Crazy. Wasn’t it just yesterday that my race was 7 weeks away?! I’m feeling nervous and excited about the race. I haven’t run a race since August as a knee injury took me down pretty hard in the fall so it has been a little while – yesterday I had a lot of nervous energy all day. I had a decent 9 mile run yesterday at a faster pace than I expected and I felt like I had energy left to spare so hopefully Saturday will go smoothly!

During taper week I try to focus more on the things I probably should be doing regularly, but let’s be real… busy schedules get in the way. So this week my focus will be on:

1.) Hydration, hydration, and more hydration. I perform better when I’m hydrated and feel better too. Even if I get busy, I will be trying my hardest to remember to stay hydrated throughout the day.

2.) Getting enough sleep. This is easier said than done with a 4am wake-up call and a lot of travel for work this week. Even if it means I put other stuff aside this week and have to be in bed by 8, I will be trying to be well rested.

3.) Eating enough calories. Getting proper nutrition is so important for racing well so I will be focusing on not only eating enough, but making sure I’m getting all the nutrients I need too.

4.) Picking up my packet early. This isn’t always possible, but for this race I’ll be able to pick up my race bib on Thursday so that will make race day go a little more smoothly.

5.) Allowing myself to be nervous, but know that I can’t control the weather or how I will feel on race day. I know I’m capable of running the distance so I will be going into race day feeling confident that my body can do it.

6.) Confidence is key. I’ve had mental blocks in the past with racing, but I’m learning how to push through them. I am more comfortable with feeling uncomfortable during races. The pain and difficulty of running fast races is temporary and it’s okay to feel uncomfortable for that short amount of time! Accepting that has helped me tremendously.

As for this week, here’s the running plan!

Sunday: 9 miles (unintended, but I ran close to race pace)

Monday: 4-6 miles easy

Tuesday: 4 miles

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: 5 miles

Friday: Rest

Saturday: RACE DAY! HALF MARATHON!

I Miss Summer

I miss summer.  I had a request for Katrick Photography to submit  summer photos for a magazine. Looking through all the crazy fun adventures my partner and I had brings the biggest smile to my face and makes me miss the warm summer days and crazy weekend plans we’d make.

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Soon enough, summer will return, right? Even though there’s snow in the forecast for this weekend?!

Training this week has been going well. My next half marathon is a week and a half a way, but it will be a training run for me as I have two races in  May that I’m looking to run well in and hopefully will be better prepared once the negative temperatures, ice, and snow disappears!

This week’s training:

Saturday: 14 miles

Sunday: 7 miles

Monday: Rest day

Tuesday: 6 miles

Wednesday: 5 miles, row, and strength train

Thursday: 8 miles

Friday: Row, strength train, yoga

Saturday: 9 miles, yoga

I’m not really tapering this race all too much although I will cut back on mileage and intensity next week. I’m trying to come up with a solid training plan for the next few races coming up so stay tuned!

My goal for the next week and a half is to work on my hydration and adequate nutrition throughout the day. Work has been so busy that sometimes I forget to even take a sip of water until mid-day – not good at all! So that will be my focus. Hydroflask to the rescue!

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Sub-8’s

This weather has been brutal. As a Vermonter, I know that we are not truly past winter until the end of April. However as a runner that’s kind of over the icy, snowy, negative temperatures, I’m disappointed every time I look at the weather forecast. It hasn’t been pretty lately… Okay so maybe it has been visually pretty, but really unappealing for running.

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We had a tease of 50-70 degree days and then it went back to snowstorms, ice, and negative temperatures. So, it has been a matter of accepting it and just trying to work around what winter is throwing at me. I try to run 5 days a week and sometimes only get in 3-4, but I make sure those runs count. I include speed work, a long run, interval/hill training, and 1 easy pace day on the weeks I can’t make it outside 5 times.

I’m happy to say though the speed is finally coming back. I finally did two entire runs this last week at a sub-8 minute pace. One was a 10 miler and the other was an 8 miler. The 8 miler I got closer to an average of 7:30 while the 10 miler was closer to 7:55.

I haven’t been able to do that since my knee injury in October, but I’ve been signing up for races and training, so it was time to get out there and get closer to the pace that I want to race at. Despite the fact my training has been allllll over the place for this first race, I’m feeling like I’ll run a decent time. Maybe not a PR, but we’ll see on race day! It’s less than 4 weeks out so I’m trying to make the next 2.5 weeks count before tapering.

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Here’s the plan for this week! We’re supposed to get hit hard Tuesday/Wednesday with a snowstorm, but I’m hoping to get out early in the morning on Tuesday and then late in the evening on Wednesday. Then we’re supposed to get more snow Saturday and Sunday (winter please stoooooop…please). I need to get that 14 miler in though so hopefully it’s not too brutal.

Dear Vermont, Finn would like it to be summer already too. How can you say no to that face?

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To Work or Play

Can we all just agree that adulting is a little ridiculous sometimes…most of the time? I’m constantly in go-go-go mode so it’s really hard to break free from that. I accept that because of all the extra things I’ve taken on in my life, I will be busy more often than not, but that doesn’t mean I can’t and shouldn’t designate time for fun.

So when Tuesday was a holiday off from work, I knew that it needed to be fun day despite the rainy gloominess. I started off with a relaxing morning drinking coffee in my pajamas before taking Finn pup for a looooooooooong walk. He had a blast running around and wore himself out – so proud of this pup for working on his off-leash skills. We weren’t sure he’d ever get to this point when we first rescued him, but as always – he surprised us with his mad skillz.

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He also has mad napping skillz.

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Then after stopping quickly at my friend’s apartment to take care of her plants, I did a long yoga session.  I generally just have time for 10 minutes of yoga here and there, but it felt so good to take an hour and a half to really stretch out and then do some meditation on top of that.

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After spending some time signing up for two of three certifications I’m working toward this year, it was time for a run in the rain. It actually was kind of nice despite the crazy wind and rain along the lake.

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After that, Finn pup was up and ready for another walk so we headed out again for a second hike. I’m so lucky to live in such an incredibly beautiful place.

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I decided to relax a little under an electric blanket while I ate a chocolate peanut butter smoothie bowl with homemade granola on top and worked on school work.

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And then after a couple hours, I made dinner (Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai).

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Unfortunately on Tuesdays, I don’t see Damir until 9 at night so I put his dinner in the fridge, packed my breakfast/lunch/snacks for tomorrow, and cuddled up on the couch with the pup while doing some more school work. Then when Damir got home we all cuddled up together until I crashed into bed. The perfect way to end an active, relaxing, and fun day.

It’s so easy to get caught up in everything we “have” to do. Both my work and home to-do lists are miles long and never-ending, but that makes it even more important to take time to yourself. Sunday is designated as fun day in our house and sometimes no-phone Sunday which is incredible. Then when I have a random holiday or day off from work, I often just work through it, but taking the time to just enjoy the day was the right call. I highly recommend it!

Happy Wednesday!

 

Being Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable

Remember how I threw out my running plan last week? Yeah I still don’t have one and I’m okay with that. This Vermont winter has been unforgiving with the snow, ice, and negative temperatures and while I run in it as much as possible, I also recognize when it’s not safe for my health to be out for extended periods of time. This has meant it’s been really hard to follow the running plan I designed for this first race of the year.

My training has been all over the place, but that’s okay. It’s the first race of the year and the first race helps you get back in the swing of things and remember what’s it like to race 13.1 rather than just run it leisurely.

Once the warm weather hits, it’s going to feel great to train again. Until then, I have a solid base of mileage that I’ve been maintaining. This week will be a 45 mile week! Crazy! Here’s the plan for the week that I literally decided two minutes ago (I had to move last Saturday’s 14 miler to the beginning of the week due to a wind chill advisory over the weekend).

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Sure, I’m going to want a PR in this first race of the year, but let’s be real… If you want to race at a certain time you have to train at that time too and I have not been until the past couple weeks. Recently, I pushed myself for about 5-6 miles of an 8 mile run to go at a fast pace I haven’t done since last year before my knee injury. It DRAINED me (shh don’t tell the fast people in my running group that… because you know… runner’s ego).

It felt great at the same time though. I miss speed work and pushing beyond my comfort zone with my running. The greatest lesson I’ve ever learned with running is to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. As soon as I embraced that (and it took me quite awhile to embrace it), my times started dropping considerably. If you don’t push yourself to that point, you’ll never know what you’re capable of in a race.

Of course, that being said. You should never push yourself through injury, sickness, or if something just doesn’t feel right. There are limitations and taking care of yourself is more important than a PR.

Happy happy Monday!

I Threw Out My Training Plan

Well I didn’t physically throw out the training plan as it’s on my computer, but I deleted it. A year ago, I would have never done something like this – I’m someone that will follow a training plan exactly after I make it, but this plan just wasn’t working for me. I found myself unmotivated, having to add rest days because of snow and ice or my knee, I often had to change the days of the week I could do my runs, etc. The plan just wasn’t working and I had to step back from it. And, you know what? It’s totally okay to do that…even if your stubborn runner’s brain is telling you otherwise.

I do have a race in about 5 weeks, so it seems like a weird time to reinvent a plan, but that’s what I’m doing! I’m also using this first race of the year as a stepping stone for the several other races. It will be a way to just get my body and mind used to racing again as the first race of the year always feels a little rusty.

Anyway, here’s the plan for the week. I’ll be making a plan for the rest of this cycle before my race later this week. Until then, I’m just going with the flow!

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Happy Monday!

Just Do the Best You Can

I had every intention of getting up at 4 am to run, strength train, and do some yoga before work yesterday. I even got myself to bed before 9 pm. Then life happened. Our rescue pup decided he didn’t want to sleep through the night or sleep in his crate and he let it be known. So when that 4 am alarm went off, it was mostly definitely shut off. Let’s just say I got to work without those happy running endorphins and looking almost as lost and confused as Finn does during the 5 am hour.

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Mornings are rough.

 

The point of this story is that life happens and sometimes plans needs to change. If I got upset over every time my schedule didn’t play out according to plan, that would be crazy because it happens several times a week. Instead, I just get creative with it and do the best I can.

Did strength training and yoga happen today? Absolutely not. Did I throw my running gear in my bag and do speed work during lunch? Yes. So I’m going to call that a win.

Some days yoga and strength training happen in 5-10 minute increments. Some days I sleep 5 hours instead of 7 or 8 and skip morning workouts.Some days my running clothes are the most ridiculously mismatched colors because I put the outfit together at 4 am (Green, teal, neon running shoes, and purple polka dot socks totally go together, right?). Some days I get so busy at work trying to help others that I forget to hydrate, eat, and take care of myself. I accept those moments, try to figure out a solution to the situation, and alter my plan accordingly.

 

If you’re not a professional athlete who can dedicate their life to training, then don’t beat yourself up that you can’t pull out the same mileage or fitness routine as them. Do the best you can.

Happy Wednesday!

Winter Running: Getting Out the Door

It is SNOWING! What a fun snowstorm! 🙂 My partner and I ran around in the snow and walked down to the lake late last night. No one else was outside and the snow just kept falling and falling. It was so much fun. We had the best intentions to bring our cameras out early this morning, but sometimes the electric blanket wins. 🙂

As an all season runner living in Vermont, I know it can be a struggle to get out the door and get your mileage in during the winter. There have definitely been days where I procrastinated until the last possible second. Here are some tips that make it easier to get out the door:

1.) Have everything ready to go. If my running clothes are ready, my watch is charged, etc then it makes it that much easier to get out the door.

2.) Sign up for a spring race. I’m running a race at the beginning of April. Winter seems to last through April in Vermont so I have no choice, but to train in the winter.

3.) Make an AWESOME playlist. I rarely listen to music when I run, but sometimes the only thing that can get me out the door is knowing I can space out and listen to music. So I made an awesome playlist and have it ready for those days I’m struggling.

4.) HAND WARMERS. Oh my goodness! I went too many years without hand warmers, but in the last couple years they have made winter running so much more tolerable. I hate when my hands are cold on a run.

5.) Run your routes differently or drive some place new. Winter running sometimes bums me out. I can’t be out on the trails and my routes are VERY limited. So when I’m getting insanely bored, I run my route differently. Or I pick a main street and turn down different roads during my run and see where it leads me. Sometimes just a little change can make it that much easier!

6.) Warm up first. I have a rowing machine, some strength training equipment, and a yoga mat so on days where it just seems too cold, I do a quick warm up before I head outside.

7.) Wear proper layers. It definitely is a lot of trial and error about what works for you, but wearing the proper amount of layers is key to winter running.

8.) Have fun with it. Running with snowflakes falling around you and hearing the crunchiness under your feet can be pretty magical! Enjoy it! 🙂

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After a long run on Saturday, I was unable to get out yesterday due to the snow. I used to run in any conditions, but am finding running in snow and ice really hurts my knee. I’ll try to get out there today so I can stick to my plan, but we’ll have to see what the weather does. I might just have to switch Friday and Monday up.

My plan for this week is as follows:

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How do you get out the door during the winter?!

No Phone. Just Breathe.

Last weekend, we took off for a snowy beautiful winter hike with the pup. As photographers we were pretty excited to immerse ourselves in the beautiful Vermont winter and as dog owners we were excited to let the pup run off a ton of energy.

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It was pretty special for us, because we decided to not be attached to our phones during this hike. It was a few hours of nothing, but the beautiful sounds in nature. You could hear the snow crunching beneath our boots and the wind blowing through the trees. I was able to breathe in the crisp mountain air. There were no sounds of traffic. My to-do list was long forgotten at home. I had this beautiful opportunity to just feel connected to nature, enjoy time with my wonderful partner, and watch our rescue pup turn into the most playful silly dog in the snow.

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I got back home and it had me thinking… Why not turn off my phone for part of a day every week and purposely cut myself off from the hustle and bustle of life to truly be present in the moment? The more I thought about it the more I liked that idea so I’ve made a rule in my life where there will be at least part of a day every weekend where I don’t feel attached to technology. This time is me time and I get to disconnect from the stress of work, to-do lists, being an adult, responsibilities, etc. I just get to focus on things that are relaxing and that I want to do.

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I highly recommend you try disconnecting for awhile. Take the time to recenter, refocus, relieve tension and stress, and just take the time for you! It’s so so SO important.

Happy Wednesday folks!