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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The “Less Is More” Running Plan

Happy happy Wednesday! We’ve been finally getting warmer temperatures in Vermont and we’re loving it.

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Post race I wasn’t feeling great. My legs were alright by Tuesday morning and my appetite finally came back Tuesday afternoon. I think I may have either pushed it really hard or was a bit under the weather with something going around, but either way I’m still off to run 7 miles of hills tonight and feeling back to my normal self! The race over the weekend has left me feeling confident and ready to tackle more training, however I’m going to be taking a different approach for my upcoming races.

When it comes to running, it can be hard to get out of the mindset that more mileage is better, but sometimes less can be more when it comes to training. The key to a “less is more” training plan is having very intentional running and cross training workouts. After talking with my physical therapist for my final follow-up appointment, we tossed some ideas back and forth about how less running clearly works better for my body so I have decided to try training differently for my upcoming races.

I’ve developed a new plan with very intentional workouts, but less of the crazy high mileage weeks. I’ll be running 4 days a week (1 easy pace run, 1 hill workout, 1 speed workout, and 1 long run) and cross training 2 days a week (rowing, yoga, and strength training). 4 day running weeks seem to work best for my body so I’m going to see how it goes over my next couple races, but I have good feelings about it.

Finn on the other hand is still skeptical of the concept of running.

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A New PR! Race Recap!

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Wow! What a race. I had a lot of firsts with this race even though I’ve done countless half marathons, this one was full of surprises with the pace I was able to hold and also with how my body reacted and felt. I finished in 1:43 a new PR that I’m so happy about! With the way I was racing before some stomach issues at mile 9, I think I could have had a 1:40 finish, which gives me a lot of hope and excitement for this year’s racing season.

The race had a later start (9am) due to the chilly weather lingering here in Vermont. I took a bus to the start and arrived about 20 minutes before the start time. That gave me just enough time to get myself sorted, say hi to some friends, and mentally prep for the task ahead without too much time to overthink things.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect or what I was capable of at this point as far as time since my training really hasn’t been steady over the winter months due to snow and ice, a knee injury, and I had only done a few runs at race pace. I decided that morning though that I was going to push it as hard as I could and see what happened.

I, of course, started out too fast like I always do and was doing 7 minute miles which I gradually increased to 7:15-7:30. Since the first few miles were in neighborhoods, there was a lot of crowd support and my race excitement fueled a faster pace. By mile 4 though I knew I needed to be careful with the energy I was expending in the first miles and slowed it down between 7:30-7:40.

My biggest struggles were with miles 4.5-6.5 and then 9-11. Generally mile 9 or 10 is my rough point in races, but this time it wasn’t because I was running on empty. It was because my stomach started hurting. It was bothering me starting around mile 7, but I could work through it. Right past the mile 9 marker I couldn’t push through it anymore – I thought I was going to be sick my stomach hurt so bad. So I had to stop on the side of the bike path and lost a couple of minutes of time. I was crushed because I was on pace to hit a 1:40 until that point. I practiced deep breathing and soon felt okay enough to push through. Mentally I refused to let it get me down. Sure, a 1:40 would have been awesome, but I wanted to get under 1:45 which was still a very real possibility. My next mile was slower, but then I picked up the pace again around mile 10.5-11. I knew that it was all or nothing at this point and decided to go for it.

Mile 12 had a couple of hills that are a struggle at the end of a race! Once I saw the mile 12 marker though I just pushed it as hard as I possibly could knowing that I can handle anything for one mile no matter how much it hurts. As soon as I turned the corner and saw the finish I bolted as fast as I could. When I saw the race clock was almost at 1:43, pure happiness and excitement filled me. I think I had the biggest goofiest smile on my face and just felt all this hard work I’ve been doing for over a year to break 1:45 had finally paid off. It’s a pretty incredible feeling. There’s nothing  like the feeling of accomplishing something you’ve been putting so much work in for. That’s probably one of the reasons I love running races – it let’s me push myself to extremes and gives me so much confidence.

I will say though that even though it was well worth it, every mile of this race hurt. I didn’t have one moment where I thought I had extra energy to spare and it makes the finish that much more worth it. I tried to distract myself with the “well…what doesn’t currently hurt” game, but all I could think of was my fingers so that quickly ended that game. Instead, my method to mentally get through was just accepting that it was uncomfortable and that’s okay!

Sunday left me feeling less than stellar as my body was just feeling a little worse for the wear between sore muscles and my stomach not feeling great. I’ve actually never had a race where I’ve encountered so many stomach issues the day of and after so I’m trying to pinpoint what’s going on with that so there’s not a repeat of that in the future.

I am so excited though and ready to dive back into training with sunshine and warmer temps predicted as spring makes an appearance here. The next half marathon is in a month! I have my eyes set on a certain time, but I’m going to keep that to myself for now and see how training goes for the next month!

And with all this being said, here’s my training plan for the week!

Weekly Fitness Plan

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!