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!

Catching Up

Yes, I’m still alive. Last time we talked, I had signed up for the Mercer Island Half Marathon because I needed to light a fire under my ass and get running again. The good news is the fire trick worked: I’ve been running consistently for the last six weeks and things are starting to click. My stride is starting to feel less clunky. My muscles are working in harmony. My pace is starting to drop. And running has actually been pretty darn fun.

Here’s how base building has looked:

Week one: 3 runs, 12.9 miles
Week two: 4 runs, 18.2 miles
Week three: 4 runs, 17 miles
Week four: 3 runs, 14.1 miles
Week four: 5 runs, 15 miles
Week five: 4 runs, 21 miles
Week six: 5 runs, 25 miles

The not so good news is that although things in the running department are progressing nicely, I’ve decided to not run the half marathon, which is in two weeks. I’ve been super cautious and haven’t logged as many miles as I originally hoped (I’ve learned my lesson that too much too soon = shin splints and mental burnout), and I’m not even close to half marathon shape.

Sure, I’m physically capable of running a half, but the big lesson I learned last year is that just because I physically can do something doesn’t mean I should. Kinda like Fat Amy in my favorite movie Pitch Perfect.

tumblr_me2ipiBn581r4an4bo1_500I have another week and a half of easy running/base building and then I’ll start layering in tempo runs and speed work as I prepare for my first goal race of the year: the RNR Seattle Half.

In my next post, I’ll talk about my goals and changes I’m making to my training approach. Happy Wednesday!

What’s Next?

It’s been almost two months since CIM, and I’m finally crawling out of the post-marathon slump. I took more time off than I normally would to help my stupid shin splints heal, but the good news is that for the first time in months, I am running pain-free.

In the last two months, I’ve done a lot of yoga, not much running and very little cross training. I should have cross trained more to retain some of my fitness, but honestly I just didn’t care. Mentally and physically, I needed the lazy down-time.

Last week I decided I was ready to put an end to this off-season. So I registered for the Mercer Island Half Marathon, which is seven weeks from this Sunday.

I chose this race primarily due to timing. It is soon enough to light the much needed fire under my out-of-shape flabby ass, but far enough way to give me a little time to train so this isn’t a huge suffer-fest.

The day I registered (Thursday), I ran for the first time in two weeks. I only ran 3ish miles (I think my Garmin is finally dead, so I just used my stop watch) and was SORE the next day. I ran again Saturday and Sunday. Sunday I was able to run on the trails, and it felt lovely. It made me realize how much I’ve missed training and running, and for the first time since CIM, I felt like the old Megan. A less fit slower version of myself, but I’ll take it.

My main goal in the next two months is to do lots of easy runs and build a decent base so my body is ready to handle running for 2ish hours on March 23 (my main goal is just to finish, but I’d ideally like to be under 2:05).

I’m in strict base-building mode until April, which is when I’ll start sprinkling in speed work and focusing on getting faster in preparation for my first goal race of the year: the Seattle Rock N Roll Half. I really want to finish sub 1:50.

I don’t have anything on the schedule after this half, but I have some ideas brewing. And my ideas all revolve around PR’ing in the marathon. Dad and I are talking about doing the Light at the End of the Tunnel Lite in September, but we haven’t made any final decisions. Portland is also a possibility. Or I guess CIM, although I really don’t want to wait that long!

Last year I made a ton of mistakes with my training (I increased mileage and intensity simultaneously, which resulted in inconsistent training and shin splints). Even though I have lost fitness and have a long road ahead of me just to get where I was, I’m really excited to apply what I’ve learned and make 2014 my best year of running yet.