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.

IMG_8903

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!!!

IMG_8901 - Copy

 

The “Less Is More” Running Plan

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

IMG_8709

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.

IMG_8698

 

A New PR! Race Recap!

IMG_8664

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!

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.

Robin Katrick Photography Willoughby1Robin Katrick Photography - LakeChamplain2

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!

Hydroflask1

 

Healthy Maple Granola

This granola makes for a great snack or breakfast. Sprinkle some on top of yogurt for an added crunch, replace your cereal for a serving of this and some almond milk, or sprinkle some on top of an apple slice with peanut butter (yum!).

granola

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup raw nuts (I used pecans and walnuts)
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dried fruit (I used cranberries, raisins, and chopped dates)
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or raw honey (or a combination of both)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Add everything together in a bowl and mix until well combined.
  3. Spread out the mixture on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 20-24 minutes or until golden brown. Make sure to stir about halfway through.
  4. Let the granola cool completely and store in an airtight container.
  5. For an added treat you can add a few dark chocolate chips to this!

Enjoy!

 

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.

14

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.

Capture

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?

img_7873

 

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.

IMG_8413.JPG

He also has mad napping skillz.

IMG_8329.JPG

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.

IMG_8436

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.

IMG_8432

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.

IMG_8433.JPG

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.

IMG_8434

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

IMG_8435

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).

3-5

 

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!

feb-27

Happy Monday!