20 Miles

In my last post, I talked about feeling burnt out, etc. I took a short break from running, which didn’t help. I still felt like crap and didn’t want to run. My solution? I haven’t been running very much. Which makes total sense when you’re a few weeks away from a marathon..

Instead of running, I’ve spent the last few weeks debating what I should do re: CIM. For a few days, I would be 100% sure that I was running it. Then I would go for a run, it would suck, and I’d be out. In the last month, I have changed my mind about CIM at least 10 times.

To add a little context, three weeks ago I was laid off. It was super unexpected and has added a new layer of stress to my life. On the bright side, I am convinced that I will get a better job and it will work out in the end. But right now? Right now I’m in what they call a “transition” period, and it’s pretty tough for the control freak in me.

Back to running. My heart has not been in it, but I think I may be turning the corner.

Monday morning, I was applying for jobs and had the New York City Marathon playing in the background (I already watched it the day of the race, but for whatever reason I saved it on the DVR). Watching it, I remembered why I run marathons and realized that I want to run CIM. I knew I needed one more 20 miler (my only 20 mile run was more than two months ago), so I checked the weather forecast and decided on Wednesday.

Wednesday morning, I woke up earlyish (early for an unemployed person = 7 a.m.) and ran 20 miles. I won’t sugar coat it: The last few miles really hurt. My hips and legs ached, but my heart was happy.

I didn’t worry about pace at all; I ran completely by feel and just tried to keep it comfortable. Around mile 12, I started naturally running a little faster, and I ended up negative splitting the run. When my watch read 20, it felt so satisfying.

Even though I’m nowhere near PR shape, I’m really excited for CIM. I have two simple goals for the race: To finish, and to be grateful that I’m healthy and able to run 26.2 miles. It’s going to be awesome. 16 days!

I hit the wall

In my last post I mentioned that I’ve hit a rough patch, but I was optimistic and ready to take on the rest of my training.

Well, less than 48 hours after posting that, I ran a half marathon. And it sucked big time. By mile 2, I was sucking wind and had a side ache. By mile 4, I was contemplating a DNF. And by mile 6, I started walking. A lot.

Screen Shot 2014-10-30 at 11.16.55 AMNeedless to say, I was super frustrated. I’ve put in a lot of miles (averaging 150 miles/month for the last three months, which is a lot for me) and yet I am getting slower and slower.

WTF?

At first I chalked it up to the fact that I’ve lost speed. That may be the case, but I don’t think it’s the only problem.

When I looked back at my training log, I realized that my running has been pretty rocky this entire month. The first bad run was on October 5 (18 mile long run). My long run pace is pretty slow (75 seconds slower than goal marathon pace), so I generally have to pull back to hit this slow pace. Not this run. I struggled a lot, walked quite a bit, and almost cut the run short.

Since then, running in general has just felt harder than normal. Paces that should feel easy or comfortably hard have felt tough. I have dreaded my runs and have absolutely no competitive drive.

As an example of my lack of competitive drive and my “I don’t give a shit” attitude, Christina and I stopped to take pictures of cows during last week’s half marathon. Yeah, we are a little odd…

photo-43Originally I thought my burnout was just mental, but now I think there is a physical component as well. I’ve been training for a long time, and I think my body is tired and a little over-trained.

So I’ve decided to take a week off from running. No cross training either. I might do a little yoga, but my priority for the next seven days is to get lots of rest and re-charge for this last bit of training.

Taking time off this close to the race isn’t ideal, but at this point I don’t think I have a choice. If I show up to CIM in the same state I showed up to my half marathon, I won’t make it to the finish line.

Last year I had to take four days off from running about a month before CIM to deal with my shin splints. The break did wonders not only for my shin splits but also for my attitude: I went on to finish up my training and run a really solid marathon.

Fingers crossed this helps.

Also, my dad is having surgery tomorrow to repair his torn meniscus. Please send healing thoughts his way!

July Recap and August Goals

July was a really good month. In fact, it was the best month of running I’ve had in a long time. It started out a little rocky, as I was dealing with post RNR Half confidence issues and struggling to believe that sub 3:55 was a realistic goal for Portland.

So I made the decision (with the help of my coach) to move my goal race to CIM, giving me an extra eight weeks to train.

A few days later, I participated in Ragnar, my first relay and an incredible experience. I ran better than I expected, and I left feeling re-charged and excited for CIM.Ragnar Northwest Passage Continue reading

Change in Plans and the Shortest Ragnar Recap Ever

I ran Ragnar Northwest Passage (my first relay) two weekends ago. Never heard of Ragnar or a relay? Here’s the short version: 12 runners pile into two vans and take turns running. Each person runs three times, and by the end of it, the team runs a total of 200 miles.

Relay recaps tend to get pretty lengthy, so I’m going to give you the quick and dirty version: IT WAS AWESOME.

The key to having fun during a relay is having good people in your van. When you’re sleep deprived and having GI issues (oh man, my stomach was a hot mess!), you don’t want to be in a van with high-maintenance drama queens. Thankfully, my van was pretty darn awesome. No drama, just lots of laughter, singing along to 90s pop, and encouragement.

Ragnar Northwest Passage Continue reading

Rock N Roll Seattle Half Marathon Race Recap

Yesterday I ran the RNR Seattle half. My race strategy, per my coach’s instructions, was to not look at my Garmin and run by feel. Warm up for the first three miles and then shift into half marathon pace.

Going into the race, I had no expectations of PR’ing, but I did hope to be able to run goal marathon pace (9:00). Spoiler alert: didn’t quite work out.

I was a little scattered on race morning. Due to a stupid long porta potty line, I started the race farther back than normal (corral 17 when I should have been in 10-12). And my head was just a mess. I’ve been really enjoying my easy-paced runs, and I was scared of how much the end of the race would hurt. This was the first race I’ve “raced” in more than six months, and I was scared and lacked confidence. In many ways, it was deja vu of Eugene Marathon.

The race started and I tried to find a reasonable pace. I tapered more for this race than I have any other recent half marathon, so I was surprised my legs didn’t feel quite as springy and light as I expected. This only added to the crazy thoughts circling my not so stable brain.

I felt like I was going at a decent pace, but my was head was just not in it. I questioned whether I was going too slow/too fast. Would I blow up at mile 10? Was I going too slow and wish I had done more?

I had pretty much assumed that I would break 2 hours, so when I looked at my cumulative time around 12.5, I was shocked when I realized I would be finishing in 2+ hours.

I finished in 2:03:44, and I’ll be honest:I was pissed when I crossed the finish line.

But now that I’ve had 24 hours to decompress and I emailed with my coach, I’m over being pissed. RNR was not a goal race, and I’d rather have a bad day now rather than on October 5. Time to move on and use this disappointment as motivation for the next 15 weeks.

hatefireAnd, on the bright side, there were a ton of photographers on the course. Here are a few gems. Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 4.03.46 PM

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 4.03.27 PM

Hooray! Finally a normal picture!

Hooray! Finally a normal picture!

Here are my splits, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Rock N Roll Seattle Half Marathon Splits

17 Weeks Out

I’m now five weeks through base building, and I’m less than two weeks out from the Rock N Roll Half and 17 weeks out from Portland (!).

Overall, base building has been going really well. Last week I had some tightness that was causing significant discomfort in my lower left leg (same leg I had shin splints), so per my coach’s instructions, I skipped two runs and shortened my long run. As much as I hate missing scheduled runs when training is going so well, it was the right call.

Here’s how the last five weeks looked:

Week one: 5 runs totaling 21 miles (long run: 8 miles)
Week two: 5 runs totaling 24 miles (long run: 10 miles)
Week three: 5 runs totaling 26 miles (long run: 12 miles)
Week four: 5 runs totaling 21 miles (long run: 7 miles)
Week five: 3 runs totaling 13 miles (long run: 8 miles) <— skipped two runs due to leg issues, and my long run was supposed to be 14 miles.

In addition to rest, I saw my chiropractor for ART (ART hurts but I love it; if I were rich and/or my insurance didn’t limit the amount of treatments, I would go in once a week) and I’m working with my coach to improve my cadence, to hopefully avoid future issues.

The nice thing about base building is that it’s gently easing me into marathon training. In the past, I often went from taking a break in training to going balls to the wall. On several occasions, I fell into the “too much too soon” trap, got burnt out, and then either rallied to finish a good training cycle (like I did for Eugene) or totally gave up (like I did for both my Portland cycles).

It’s also been a good lesson in balancing running with life. Things are settling down now, but the last two months have been pretty busy. Here’s a quick rundown:

We went to Hawaii.

10294313_10102983166088148_1975648116986883301_n

Maui VacationWe updated/gently remodeled our kitchen. Woohoo! The under mount sink and touch faucet are life-changing. Well, not really, but they are pretty sweet.

Kitchen before (taken right before we moved in)

Kitchen before (taken at the appraisal shortly before we bought the house)

Kitchen after!

Kitchen after!

I went to my friend’s bachelorette party in Vancouver.

bachelorette partyThe following weekend, we went to her wedding.

photo 5

WeddingWeddingI turned 29. This shouldn’t count since my birthday was super relaxed (just hung out in Seattle with my dad, nephew and John), but I’m including it. Plus, I love this picture of Ryder going down the slide on his tummy. I’m not a kid person, but man I love this little guy. He is a total goofball.

photo 3Last but certainly not least, my girlfriends and I saw the Backstreet Boys in concert. It was pretty darn amazing.

backstreet boys

The last two months have been great, but I know all of these activities played a part in my leg acting up. Specifically, for several weeks straight, I averaged less sleep each night than normal, I drank a lot more than I normally do (especially the weekends with the bachelorette party and wedding), and my diet kinda went to crap.

My goal for the next 17 weeks is to achieve a better balance: keep the fun but lose the excessive booze and unhealthy food. And sleep more. Training for a marathon requires sacrifices, but it doesn’t mean I need to forgo all the fun in my life. It just means I need to have fun, only have one glass of wine, and then be in bed by 10 p.m. :)

 

Training Update

In my last post, over a month ago (opps!), I had decided to not run the Mercer Island Half Marathon. I also promised to update you on my goals and plans for this year.

Well, I changed my mind and decided to run the half marathon. When I wrote that post, I had decided that running it would be foolish, especially considering my longest run was only seven miles. But come race week, I realized that although I was certainly not PR-ready, I was capable of covering 13.1 miles.

I was terribly nervous for the race; I hadn’t run a race this under-trained in a long time. My strategy for the race was to take it mile by mile and let my lungs and legs (not my Garmin) set the pace.

Based on recent training runs, I figured I’d finish right around 2:10, and if everything went right, maybe I could squeak in under 2:05. Given my fitness level, I had a great race and ran even splits; I finished in 2:03 and was truly ecstatic with this time.

2:03 is about ten minutes slower than my PR, and a year ago I would have beat myself up over this time. My head would have been swirling with thoughts like: Ugh, Megan. You’re so slow. Why did you take so much time after CIM and get so out of shape? How the hell are you going to finish sub 4 at Portland? You suck at running.

Thankfully, I’m starting to move away from this way of thinking. Being so critical of myself is not healthy, and it’s a bad habit I’m working hard to break – both in running and life in general.

Throughout the race and when I crossed the finish line, there was absolutely no negative self-talk. I was genuinely happy and proud when I crossed the finish line of my 17th half marathon.

Now let’s talk about my plans for 2014 and my approach to training.

I’ve been running consistently since February, and my general approach has been quite simple: Don’t be an idiot. I’ve gradually built up my weekly mileage to 20-25 miles/week, and I’ve paid close attention to my left shin. In the past, if my shin hurt, I sucked it up and ran through it. Super smart, I know. Now, if it feels a little off, I’ll take the day off or do an easy run on a soft surface.

My shin is doing much better, but it still isn’t 100 percent. Since I haven’t been able to rehab this injury on my own, I decided to reach out for help (something I struggle with) and started seeing a sports chiropractor.

I’ve only had two sessions so I can’t speak to the treatment’s effectiveness, but it gives me peace of mind to have an official diagnosis and a treatment plan. He also told me that my gluts are very weak, which is causing my other muscles to pick up the slack and puts me at risk of more injuries. So I’ll be working on that as well.

Reaching out for help makes me uncomfortable. But after six marathons and three failed sub 4 attempts, I’ve accepted that I need professional help to reach my goals and take my running to the next level.

So I’m excited to announce that I hired a running coach!

I’ve thought about hiring a coach for several months, but I was always too nervous to pull the trigger. Now that I’ve coached myself through six marathons and stressed out countless trying to figure out the best way to train, I am thrilled to hand over the control and let someone more knowledgeable and experienced guide my training.

I only have one goal this year: To finish with a 3 on the clock at the Portland Marathon. Ideally, Dad and I would both finish sub 3:55 so he can get his BQ and I would get an eight-minute PR.

Portland is an awesome race and has a lot of sentimental value, which is why Dad and I decided made it our goal race. Dad ran his first marathon at Portland 15ish years ago, and this will be his 11th Portland Marathon.

Training begins May 5; I can’t wait!