Monday, March 2, 2015

Weekend Update and February Wrap-Up

Good morning and Happy Monday!  I have to admit it, I'm one of those annoyingly cheerful people who look forward to Mondays.  While I certainly enjoy being lazy and sitting on the couch all afternoon on Sundays, I also really crave the routine of weekdays.  I like getting up at a certain time and having a list of tasks to complete.  It makes me feel productive, even if the list is peppered with items like "Take a shower."  (Yes, that seriously goes on the list.  Some days it is actually a challenge to get that crossed off!)


WEEKEND UPDATE

Let me just put it out here right up front that the weekend did NOT include a certain long-distance race and it was NOT my fault.  We got an email Saturday morning that my 50K (and UltraIronHubs' marathon) was canceled, due to unforeseen circumstances.  What a huge disappointment!!  Obviously, on a scale of 1 - Actual Tragedy, this was still in the low single digits, but it left us both in a weird limbo of having tapered for a non-event.  We both ended up with extremely low mileage for the week, and mixed feelings about whether or not we should try to pick up another race on short notice.  As it turned out, the RD emailed again within a few hours, rescheduling the race for this coming Sunday, the 8th.  Not ideal from an extra-long taper point of view, but we are going to make it work.

On a much more exciting note, my weekend DID include my kiddos' first track meet of the season!  They were both pretty nervous, but ended up having a really good day.  This was Little Boy's first high school track meet and I was so anxious to see how he would do.  Both boys competed in the Distance Medley Relay (DMR), which is a team of four kids and each kid runs a different distance - 400, 800, 1200, and 1600 meters.  Little Boy ran the 1200 (three times around the track) for the Frosh/Soph team and Big Boy ran the 1200 for the Varsity team.

Lining up for the start of the DMR.  My kid is wearing bib #15, second from left.  The distances aren't run in order, so this is sort of a confusing event for spectators.  The 1200 meter runner goes first, then the 400, then 800, then 1600.

Little Boy did what Little Boy does - he went out WAY too hard, then ran positive splits.  Lol!  His team ended up in fifth place out of seven teams.

Big Boy is on the far right, #14.

Oddly, Big Boy ran almost the exact same split as Little Boy - going out too hard, then petering out.  His team also ended up in fifth place.  I love this photo, though, because he looks like he is flying.
I was a little concerned that their mediocre performance at the DMR would lead to a bobble at their other event, but I shouldn't have worried.  Both boys also competed at the 3200 meters (2 miles), going head-to-head in the Varsity event (there wasn't a Frosh/Soph 3200, so Little Boy stepped up to the big leagues).

35 boys at the starting line!  And only one other freshman in the lot, who Little Boy managed to beat.  Not that I trolled the results for that or anything.

The first 50 meters make me so nervous!  All those feet!  I was holding my breath, waiting for somebody to get tripped, but both boys got a really good start.  Big Boy went out with the lead pack and Little Boy (whose one and only goal for this race was to keep up with his brother) was right on his back pocket.

You can't really see Little Boy in this photo, but he's right behind his teammates.  I love this shot of Big Boy - he totally had the Eye of the Tiger going on.  This was one of the best 3200s I've ever seen him run.  His splits were right on the money, nice and steady.  And every time they came around, Little Boy was still hanging with them - I couldn't believe it!

The final sprint, giving it everything he had!  Big Boy ran a brilliant 3200, coming in 4th place overall and earning a 3-second PR over his best time last year - 10:38!!  In this photo, you can see Little Boy in the background, coming around the curve.

Sprinting to the finish!  Little Boy stunned me with his tenacity at this race - running a 1-mile PR on his way to a 2-mile PR over his best cross country time (this was his first time running a 3200 meter on a track)!!  10:54, 12th place overall!!
It does a mama's heart good when her kids run well.  We came home and celebrated with showers, drinking lots of water, and foam rollering.  And I even stayed up a little late because I didn't have a race the next day.  I know, we get wild around here on a Saturday night!

Sunday morning, I headed out for a long run of indeterminate length.  I really didn't know what to do with this extra week of training - I didn't want to go too long and I didn't want to go too short.  So I ran twelve miles and just called it a recovery week.  C'est la vie.

Sunrise in my glasses and spring blossoms at my back.

It was a really spectacular morning.

FEBRUARY WRAP-UP

February was a really nice month of training with only a few hiccups, so I'm calling it a winner.  Here's how the numbers shook out:

Miles Run:  144
Races:  1, the fantastic Davis Stampede
Successful Long Runs:  2
Crappy Long Runs: 1
Runs with Clients:  18
Runs by Myself:  10 (yes, there were quite a few days of doubles)
Days Off:  6
Speedwork Sessions:  1

LOOKING FORWARD TO MARCH

This month is looking like March Madness, for sure.  This week, the boys have a distance meet (meaning only distance events, no sprints or field events) on Friday afternoon.  Then I have a 7K race on Saturday morning (part of the NorCal Tour de Fit series), AND a 50K on Sunday.  Oh my!  We have a track meet every weekend this month and I have one more race on the 29th.  This is likely going to be a big mileage month for me and my car.  Ha!

How was your weekend?  Your month?  Have you ever had a big race get canceled or postponed??

I'm linking up with my girl Tara over at Running 'n Reading for the Weekend Update!!


Friday, February 27, 2015

Runfessions!

The alternate title here should be, How the Hell is it the End of February Already?  I swear I was just runfessing for January the other day.  Feel free to join my girl Marcia with your runfessions on the last Friday of the month - it's good for your soles!


The alternate alternate title for today's runfessions is, Stupid Stuff that Worries Me, Even Though it's Stupid.

Runfession #1 - I've been running a lot of miles with clients lately (I've told you about that), and the thing that bothers me about it is that I never have anything to post on Instagram.  Seriously.  It bugs me.  And maybe it's because I'm a teeny, tiny bit jealous of all the people I follow who seem to post sweaty selfies every day.  I wanna post sweaty selfies every day! {stomps foot and pouts}



Runfession #2 - I didn't blog this week.  This one has been weighing on my other soul.  I've got a lot of balls in the air right now and made the conscious choice to let this one drop for a few days, but I don't like it.  I enjoy blogging!  So.  I'm taking a look at the other balls and seeing which other one I might leave on the floor for the time being.



Runfession #3 - You know what else I didn't do this week?  Sleep.  And let me be clear, I'm only telling you this story so you can judge me and feel a whole lot better about the state of your mental health.  You're welcome.  On Tuesday evening, I was very nearly done with the dinner dishes when I felt a rushing of water at my feet.  I opened up the cabinet to find a mini flood - yikes!  Something had gone kerplooey with the pipes or hoses or something under there.  And that is the extent of my knowledge of plumbing.  I pulled everything out and sopped up the mess with towels and left it there for UltraIronHubs to deal with in the morning, because I was pretty much tapped out in the "what do I do now" department.  I went to bed because I had to, but those dirty dishes and all the junk from under the sink were haunting me.  I couldn't rest.  Wednesday morning dawned, and the task of fixing the sink was thankfully within the scope of UIH's ability, but not the amount of time he had available.  So the dirty dishes SAT. THERE.  Mocking me.  I was a complete neurotic mess.  I couldn't sleep.  I didn't want to eat.  I couldn't even go into the kitchen.  Thank goodness UIH had the time on Thursday to do the repairs.  Needless to say, I spent the rest of the day scrubbing.  I don't really think of myself as a clean freak, but at least the "freak" part has now been confirmed.



Runfession #4 - I am running a 50K on Sunday.  I don't feel particularly well-trained for this race, but that's not new for me, so I'm still pretty chill.  But you know what I am nervous about?  My kids have a track meet tomorrow and I am giddy with excitement and nerves about it!  I hope they do well.  They're winding themselves up about it, so I'm trying really hard to at least sound relaxed when we're talking about their events or the times that they're hoping for.  I think I'm pulling it off.


I feel so much better now that I've runfessed!  How about you, what are your runfessions??

Saturday, February 21, 2015

M.O.M. Time

A few weeks ago, I came up with the phrase M.O.M. time - okay, obviously, I'm not the first person in the world to say I'm taking some "Mom Time."  Duh.  But M.O.M. in this case means My Own Miles, and I was referring very specifically to running alone.

Back before I became a running coach and fitness, uhhh, "guru," I never gave a second thought to running by myself.  I always ran by myself, with maybe the super occasional couple of miles with friends or UltraIronHubs or the kids like three times a year.  But now, as a personal trainer, I run with clients pretty frequently.  So often, in fact, that almost half of my weekly mileage includes company.

And maybe if I was running with friends instead of clients, I wouldn't get to the end of the week feeling the way I do.  Don't get me wrong, I love running with clients - I mean, hello, I get paid to run.  There is no downside!  But it's still different than regular running.  I'm paying attention in a different way, listening to their breathing, thinking about their pace and their goals, thinking about them.  Yes, I guess that does make me sound awfully selfish and self-involved, but there you have it.

Do you remember that episode of Seinfeld where both Elaine and George were abstinent, and George got really smart and Elaine got really dumb?  That's how I feel when I don't get to run alone - like Elaine.  A little foggy and kind of stupid.  And Jerry's theory was that for women, sex (or in my case, running) is like taking out the garbage.  A necessary daily chore that keeps things from piling up.  Apparently, if I don't get that M.O.M. time, my brain gets all cluttered with junk.

Of course this is from a different episode, but I couldn't resist the "full body dry heave."  This show was so freaking funny!  My sister and I often remark that there's no situation in life that can't be summed up with a Seinfeld reference.  Or Friends.  Or, because we're in our late 40s, the occasional Brady Bunch quote.
So, what was so important that I needed to run a few miles and think it out?  Well...nothing, to be honest.  I spent this morning's really lovely almost four miles thinking about ducks and rap music and loose dogs and hobos and shopping and next week's 50K.  Nothing earth-shattering or ground-breaking or even interesting enough to tell you about.  But damn, do I feel better! Thank goodness for running my own miles.

What's your favorite Seinfeld episode??  Do you prefer running with friends or running alone?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Weightlifting Wednesday - Dumbbell Exercises for Runners

Like so many important decisions in my life, I have to tell you that I don't remember the exact moment I decided to film workout videos and post them on YouTube.  I vaguely recall having some extra time on my hands - if only I had appreciated it at the time! - back when I first started doing personal training.  It seems to me like I had a smart little idea to post a video on Facebook, showing potential clients how I exercise and offering suggestions for workouts they could build themselves.  And then I'm pretty sure that FB at the time had an upper limit for how long of a video you could upload, so I had to put it on YouTube and then share the link.

I went back and looked it up.  I posted this on Facebook on July 8, 2012 with the comment, "Today was a strength training day! Free weight presses, curls and deadlifts. But then when I was done with that, I filmed this week's W.o.W. (Workout of the Week), which was like a whole 'nuther workout! Here's a little glimpse 'behind the scenes.'"  This was before I owned a tripod, obviously.  Lol!
Little did I know how much that decision would change my life, particularly my workout life.  Back in the day, I really only ran.  And maybe did the occasional balance ball core workout.  When I got my training certification, it really opened my eyes to a whole new world of exercise that I wasn't previously aware of.  Sure, I'd been a gym rat in my early 20s, but that was mostly me sitting on the machines and pretending I knew what I was doing.  Free weights were so outside of my comfort zone that there's not even a metaphor for it.

Fast forward to now and not only do I have 178 workout videos on my (now-thriving as its own second business) YouTube channel, but I have gained a huge appreciation for the benefits of regular strength training!  I can't say that it's made me a faster runner, but it has absolutely made me a stronger runner and I don't think it's a coincidence that I've been uninjured these three years.

Here are four of my favorite dumbbell strength-training moves.  This is not an exhaustive list of the "best" exercises for runners, but these are the ones I come back to again and again because they offer a lot of bang for your buck (they're complex moves that work a lot of muscles) and I sort of feel like a badass when I do them.

Side Plank Press Ups




How to Do:  Start from a side plank position (top photo is the harder version balancing on one hand on the sides of feet, bottom is an easier modification on an elbow and a knee).  Keep the dumbbell close to your body as you raise it from the ground into a full extension and then lower it back to the ground.
Why it's Awesome:  This exercise uses so many stabilizer muscles it's ridiculous!  You're balancing your bodyweight from shoulder to toe (or knee), which strengthens your entire shoulder joint, your obliques and abs, as well as your glutes and outer thighs.  Plus the lifting arm is using your biceps and triceps and getting you ready for tank top season.
Use Caution if:  You have any sort of shoulder stability issues.

Single Leg Deadlift Plus Row


How to Do:  This one requires a lot of concentration and balance.  If balance isn't your thing, focus on the single leg deadlift and leave out the rows for the time being.  Stand up super straight with a dumbbell in each hand and squeeze the glute of the leg you are going to lift behind you.  As you pull that leg up, let your torso lean forward at the exact same rate.  Don't bend forward!  Your leg/butt is doing all the work here.  Keep your hips facing forward, rather than letting your leg swing open.  If you have tight hamstrings - and let's face it, we all do! - you might not get very far forward.  That's okay.  When you get yourself balanced, pull the dumbbells up to your armpits and then gently lower them back to the starting position.  As you stand up, squeeze the glute of the leg you're standing on to raise your torso.  Try really, really hard not to just fall out of the position!
Why it's Awesome:  Like the Side Plank Press Up, this exercise uses a bajillion muscles to execute properly.  You've got your hamstrings and glutes firing independently and balancing your whole body, which also calls on your calves, your feet and ankles, and your abs to do well.  The row is a nice little bonus move that asks your upper back muscles to move a load, which we don't do very often.  Every inch of you is working for this one!
Use Caution if:  You have a hard time firing your glutes properly.  It takes a fair amount of mental work to make your butt do its job, and if it's being lazy, your lower back will often take over.

Curtsy Lunges


How to Do:  Hold the (optional) dumbbell like a baby at your chest, then step your right foot as far back and to the left as you can comfortably go.  You don't need to get your knee all the way to the ground as shown here.  You want to be able to get back up without struggling.  As you stand up, focus on keeping that left foot flat on the ground - if you come up on your toes, your calves are doing the work rather than your glutes, and this is supposed to be glute and hip work!  Repeat on the other side.
Why it's Awesome:  This one is particularly fabulous for runners because of all the work you're doing on the sides of your hips, plus your glutes, hamstrings and quads.  And working on your balance is never a bad idea.
Use Caution if:  You have trouble with your ankles or knees in a lateral (side to side) motion.  We so frequently train in a forward and backward motion that some joints really have a hard time with this exercise.

Single Leg Squat and Press 


How to Do:  With a dumbbell in each hand, balance on your left foot.  Push your hips back and bend your knee into a squat, taking extra care not to let your knee come forward over your toes.  You probably won't be able to squat as low as you can on two feet and this will take far more concentration!  Reach your right hand toward the ground in front of your left foot - don't worry if you don't touch the ground, that's not really the point of this exercise.  As you stand up, lift your right hand to your shoulder and then press the dumbell up into a full extension over your head.  Do all reps on one leg before switching to the other.
Why it's Awesome:  This is another power balance move, something we runners can seriously never get enough of.  Your feet and ankles are working to provide balance while your quads and glutes are working on that squat.  The cross-body motion means your abs and obliques are firing and the press-up is like the cherry on top, working your arms and shoulders.  Boom!  Full body workout in one exercise.
Use Caution if:  You have a hard time executing regular squats.  That knee-behind-the-toe thing isn't just a suggestion!  Use a mirror or ask somebody to watch you if you're unsure about your form to protect your knees from injury.

By the way, I'm wearing different clothes in each of these photos because they're screen shots from different workouts I've filmed.  I didn't want you to think I changed outfits.  Although I'm not really sure if that's worse than having hundreds of photos of myself working out to choose from for this post.

What are your go-to cross training exercises?  Do you enjoy lifting weights??

Monday, February 16, 2015

Call Me Oedipus

And not because I've got Daddy issues.

Here's what I remember about my 9th grade English class:  My teacher's name was Ms. Bradley, with a heavy emphasis on the Mizzzzzzzzzzzz.  It was 1984 and feminism was still something of an oddity, especially among 14-year olds.  She was one of the toughest teachers I'd ever had, which means that I also learned a lot from her.  We wrote so many essays that year, I was never afraid of writing again.  I don't remember all of the books we read, but I do remember reading (and watching the movie) Oedipus Rex.  What I remember very specifically about that book was not necessarily the plot, but rather the concept of Greek heroes and how they frequently suffered from hubris (excessive pride or self-confidence), which inevitably led to their downfall.

I was thinking about that word a lot on yesterday's "long" run, which I ended up cutting short and doing more than a fair amount of walking.

Stalling the start of my run by taking a selfie in the window of my car.
I should have known before I even started that it wasn't going to be a great run, but damn if my pride would let me admit that I didn't have a 20-miler in me.  I mean, I have a race in just a few weeks and I gotta get in those miles, right?  Can't rearrange that training plan.  Can't re-think and re-assess when things aren't working.  Gotta power through.

Or, you know.  Not.

I actually spent all of last week arguing with myself.  On the plan, it was another build week.  Of course, on the plan, last weekend was "just" a half marathon that I hadn't intended to race as fast as I did.  So Rational Brain knew that I should have been in recovery mode, but Hubris Head was all, "Run more, run harder!"  As a result, my week was neither recovery nor build.  Not slow enough to recuperate and not hard enough to make gains.  Too many miles for cutback, too few to seem like a strong week.

Blech!

Add to that a busy day on Saturday with traveling and fun (we did a little tour of CSU San Francisco and since we were in the City, we "had to" hunt down a ridiculously expensive t-shirt in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.  Because why wouldn't I drive around for an hour to go less than three miles?) but way too little water, and what do we have?  A recipe for disaster, that's what!

I'm going to say it again:  I should have known.  I have a long history of crapping out on runs when I'm dehydrated.  I have a long history of psyching myself out, too.  So chances were pretty good that yesterday was going to go south.

To distract myself from the misery of walking, I snapped a few shadow selfies.
But here's the good news about me not being a Greek hero:  the damage isn't permanent.  My ego is a little bruised, of course, but I will pick myself up and carry on with it.  No need to hang myself or gouge my eyes out from the tragedy of a bad run.  This week is the beginning of taper, and even though I didn't quite hit peak mileage, I would always rather go into a race slightly undertrained (or, you know, completely undertrained) than over-stressed.

Did you read Greek tragedies in high school?  How do you deal with a run that feels like a tragedy??

Friday, February 13, 2015

Four Non-Thematic Things on Friday

I wanted to have a really awesome post today, with a theme or at least a central idea.  Possibly some coherent thoughts.  Maybe I could even pull myself together enough to link up somewhere.  But no.  My brain is like scrambled eggs today, so you're getting some bullets with a little bit of verbal (written?) diarrhea.  You're so welcome for that.

Also?  You should be really, really careful when you Google anything with the word "diarrhea."  Just.  Throwing that out there.
Thing One:  I managed to skip the post-race blues after last weekend's amazing half marathon by slamming straight into "Holy crap I'm running a 50K in two weeks" mode.  Not familiar with that feeling?  It's very similar to panic.  With a side dish of "What the Hell was I thinking?"

I love that Friends is on Netflix now.  The boys and I have been obsessively watching since the first of the year and I'm a little sad that we're almost done.
Thing Two:  Sometimes being in business for yourself is a little overwhelming.  This week, in particular, because I'm trying some new marketing ideas and my learning curve for "new things" is apparently very steep.  Between the boot camp that I run, being a YouTube fitness star (Ha!  That cracks me up every time.  But I'm going to keep saying it.), my regular mom stuff, and my running, I feel like I've got a lot of balls in the air and there's a very strong possibility that they are going to fall on my head.

OMG, even LEGO clowns are scary!
Thing Three:  Speaking of mom stuff, this week has been a little rough around the edges there, too.  The Prom is coming up, and...  well, let's just say that hopes have been dashed and hearts have been broken about a certain girl.  You seriously couldn't pay me to be a teenager again!  And if I think I have a busy schedule with three races on the calendar for March, then I'm really glad I'm not my kid who has four track meets, the SAT, the Prom (hopefully), and his driver's test.

The road is full of crazy drivers.
Thing Four:  This deserves its very own blog post (in fact, I'm trying to convince him to start his own blog so all of his adventures get their own post!), but somehow that did not happen this week, so let me take this opportunity to brag about my amazing husband.  Last Saturday, he ran a HUGE (trail) 50K PR, shaving 37 minutes off his previous best time!  The course was muddy and treacherous after all the rain we got on Friday, but he ran it like a boss, coming in at 5:24:51, 8th place OA and 4th in his AG.  There was about 5,400 feet of climbing over the course of the 31 miles and yet somehow he ran it at a 10:15 pace.  Which is like top speed on flat ground for me.  I'm so stinkin' proud of him!

It takes a lot of coordination to run and take selfies at the same time!

One of the many difficult-to-navigate water crossings.

Pretty (muddy) trail.

The climbing is tough, but the views are worth it, even on a cloudy day.

My favorite post-race photo.  He ran out of fuel around Mile 28 and the last three miles are all uphill.  Once he got something to eat and drink, he was fine, I promise!

How was your week?  Do you have anything crazy coming up?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

What Exercises Do You Really NEED?

I follow a lot of running and fitness accounts on social media and I've noticed that the language of a lot of posts is very...  demanding.  Specifically where nutrition and cross-training are concerned, there seem to be a lot of titles of articles like, "8 Foods You Should NEVER Eat," or "The 6 BEST Exercises for Runners."  (Emphasis is mine)

I'm guilty of it, too.  One of my YouTube core strengthening videos has the word "essential" in the title to convey the idea that you might be missing something important if you don't do these exercises.  FOMO is real, people.

I totally get why we feel the need to throw around these words - there's a LOT of information on the internet, and in order to make your article or video or product stand out, sometimes we go a little overboard with our own importance.


Yes, there probably are a few exercises for your hips that would be a good idea for you to do.  And you're right, doing some core work certainly isn't going to hurt your running.

But I'm here to tell you, as a fitness professional and a (non-professional) runner:  You're doing fine.

When I first started filming workout videos, I spent a lot of time trying to work around my running plans and using a lot of exercises that were supposed to be good for runners.  I kept my (filmed) workouts pretty short because I didn't want to be too tired to run.

After a while, though, I realized that it sort of didn't matter.

I filmed a cardio tabata the same day I ran eight miles.  I made a "heavy lifting" workout on a day that I was supposed to be resting.  And once I - and this was actually an accident - did a medicine ball workout that left me sore for four days just two days before I ran a marathon.  Oops!  But I survived.

Unless you're actively rehabbing an injury, I feel like anything that you're doing to be healthy and fit is a really good idea.  You do you.

But, in case you're worried, here's a vital and extraordinarily important quiz to determine if you are, in fact, doing the right workouts:

  1. Do you enjoy what you're doing? (Yes = 10 points, No = 0)
  2. Are you probably going to continue doing it?  (Yes = 10 points, No = 0)
  3. Is it causing you or anybody else bodily harm?  (No = 10 points, Yes = 0)

You probably just scored a 30, didn't you?  Alrighty then.

Do you ever get information overload, or FOMO?? 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Davis Stampede Half Marathon 2015 - Race Report!

Good morning and happy Monday!  This race report is being brought to you from Cloud Nine, where I expect to reside for at least a couple more days.  You!  Guys!  This was one of the best races I've ever run and I just can't stop being happy about it!

As you well know, I went into this race with very low expectations.  My training had been fine, but definitely nothing spectacular.  The weather was looking gloomy at best, and the course is not exactly a favorite.  There was nothing about this day that indicated I was going to have a good race, but there it was anyway!


Pre-race selfie.  My client who is a doctor asked me to send her a pic, and I wanted to show her that I was being a good girl and taking my Albuterol.  Asthma can kiss my ass.
So what was the secret sauce that made everything in this race go so well?  Honestly, if I knew, I would rein it in, bottle it up, mass produce it, share it with you and still keep a huge stockpile for myself.  But I don't have a clue.  I stood at the starting line feeling exactly like I always do:  nervous, excited, worried, vaguely confident, cold, irritated at that one girl who I swear is at every starting line laughing a little too shrilly, and a teeny tiny bit like I'm about to poop my pants.  (Side note, the race director still didn't have enough port-o-potties.  I stood in line for 12 minutes and finally decided that if I had to choose between emptying my bladder or warming up, that I should do my dynamic stretching.  Thankfully, that was the right choice.  It really could have gone either way.)

And yet, the minute I started running, I knew that I was going to have a great day.

I had accidentally lined up way, way, waaaaaaaaaaay too far back and spent the first "slow" mile (9:21 pace - pretty much the fastest mile I've run recently, and yet it was the slowest of the day!), weaving my way through the crowd.  My legs felt fantastic and I could tell that my breathing wasn't going to be an issue.  I felt good.  I felt strong.

The first few miles passed quickly.  I made my way through the 2:30 pace group (yes, I was that far off the starting line) and on up the line until I found myself behind the 2:05 group about three miles into the day.  I had a moment of hesitation.  2:05 was way faster than my realistic time goal for this race, but I was definitely moving faster than them.  In fact, if it hadn't been a narrow stretch of sidewalk, I would have blown past them at my current pace, but instead had to squeeze through them one by one.  I was half-debating if I should just tuck in when I heard my sons' cross country/track coach hollering at me in my head, "Just because the person in front of you is running that pace doesn't mean you want to run that pace."  I don't know if she's ever actually said that to anybody, but I took heed and ran my own pace.  Faster.

About four miles in, I suspected that I had gone out too hard, but no sooner did that thought cross my mind then that famous quote from Steve Prefontaine popped into my head:  "The only good pace is a suicide pace and today is a good day to die."  I found quite a few of those little gems rattling around in there over the course of the race, actually.  I didn't know I had been paying that much attention to the Positive Moti-Quote accounts I follow on Instagram and Twitter, but at various times while I was running I found myself thinking things like, "FOCUS:  Follow One Course Until Successful," and "I don't stop when I'm tired, I stop when I'm done."

I heard my kids' coach a lot, too.  She kept telling me to "Move up!  Move up!"  That one was particularly helpful.  I spent the entire race passing people.  I mean, yeah, I started off way in the back, but at some point I really expected to settle into a pace and not pass anybody else.  Nope.  I reeled in two more bibs after passing the 13-Mile marker.  Move up!

Don't get me wrong, there were doubtful thoughts thrown in there, too.  It's me.  But my Inner Badass was having none of it.  During one very long stretch of gravel roadway where the puddles were everywhere and ankle deep, the rain was super heavy and we turned into the wind, I wanted to slow down.  I wanted to hide behind the big guy running in front of me, but IB was there, shouting in my ear, "Don't be such a fucking baby!  Splash through!  You're already wet and if you slow down now I will kick! your! ass!"  (My Inner Badass swears a lot.)

By Mile 8, I had to start playing mind games with myself.  Actually, they were sort of drinking games.  I was getting tired, so I knew that staying fueled was going to make the difference between finishing strong and fizzling out.  So every time I saw somebody else walking, I took a drink of my Gatorade.  Every time I was on an incline (I can't even call them hills, this is a very friendly course with just one tall overcrossing, but lots and lots of gentle undulations) - drink!  Pass somebody wearing tights - DRINK!  (So many people were so overdressed for the weather - ha!  That's a mistake I won't make at this race ever again, thank you very much.)

Every time I came to a mile marker, I immediately started thinking about the next mile marker, reminding myself, like I did at the Davis MOO-nlight, that "Any fool can run four miles!"  I thought a lot about the two other times I have run this course.  I remembered feeling awful the whole time the first year, so I didn't linger on that.  I had no use for bad memories.  But I also thought about the year I ran my PR.  I went out so hard and very nearly fell apart at the end.  I walked through all the water stations after the halfway point and mentally struggled after ten miles.  It was a nice comparison to how I felt yesterday.  Even though I knew I was running slower than a PR time, I felt so very, very strong mentally.

Until Mile 11.5, when I hit the wall.  Hard.  It was unexpected and honestly, it pissed me off.  I had been running so strong and feeling so positive, but all of a sudden, the voice in my head started saying, "I can't do this anymore."  But you know what was super cool?  Inner Badass fought back, and if you thought she had a potty mouth before, then you will want to skip the next paragraph.

I wanted to walk through the water stations, I did.  But Inner Badass was all, "You're not walking now, bitch!"  I wanted to slow down, but she told me to get my ass in gear.  I didn't think I could hold my pace, I didn't think I could reach the new-and-improved time goal I had set for myself when I passed the 2:05 pace group, but she kept chanting, "Sub-two!  Sub-two!  Mother fucking sub-two!"

I could see the 2-hour pace group.  I was whittling down their lead an inch at a time.  I suspected I wasn't ever going to catch up, let alone pass them.  But I wanted it sooooo bad.  I also had the tiny thought in my head that maybe I didn't even need to catch them, because I had started so far back.

Finally, at Mile 12.5, I let myself look at my Garmin for the very first time all day and I had to choke back happy tears at what I saw.  I only had six more minutes to suffer this pain, and I was going to come in at a time that started with a 1.  I had hit the tangents so poorly and done so much weaving through the other runners that my distance was more than a tenth of a mile off, but I was still going to make it in time.  I just had to push a little harder.


The clock says 2, but my watch (and the official results) said 1!
Looking a little bit dazed and a lot like a drowned rat at the finish line.  Also?  Say hello to Yellow Shirt #3, you're going to be seeing a lot of this guy in the future.

Official Finish Time - 1:59:02
14/57 AG
309/818 OA


I am SO, SO, SO happy with this race!  I can't think of another race where I have run this well.  Yes, obviously I have run faster, but this was different.  My head was in the game the whole race.  I stayed strong and I pushed myself harder than I think I have ever pushed before.  Even though it wasn't a PR, I almost feel like I can cross off my resolution, because this race was that good!

Some things that totally could have screwed up my day, but ended up not being a factor at all:

  • The weather.  Holy crap, it was raining hard.  And the winds were somewhere in the 15-20 mph range.  But other than that one time where I swear to god the rain actually went UP my nose, I didn't even really notice it.  Sort of related, and the thing that I did notice, was that my glasses were foggy almost the whole time I was running.  That was unfortunate, since they were also very wet from the rain, so I was sort of running blind.  The only time it really made a difference was when I was running in the tunnels, which were thankfully very short, because in the darkness, I really couldn't see anything at all.
  • My clothing choice.  When I left the house, I was wearing a lot more, but I thought long and hard about how this race is always warmer than I think it's going to be.  I took off everything but my tank top, my skirt and my super lightweight gloves before I started the race.  And the gloves came off by Mile 5.  I was never cold, and I was gloriously never hot either.  Hashtag winning.
  • My stupid headphones.  UltraIronHubs gave me the, "You're going to wear your iPod in the rain?" face when I was packing up my gear to leave.  I have sent so many iPods to electronics heaven that he has told me I don't get to buy any more, but I knew I wanted music to get me through the day.  I tucked my iPod under my shirt and into my bra, so I felt good about it staying dry-ish and it didn't die, so yay!  But the headphones.  Ugh!  They would not stay in my ears at all.  I fiddled with them the entire 13 miles, and then, at the very end when I yanked them out so I could hear my name at the finish line, I watched one of the ear pods go flinging across the street and into the gutter towards the storm drain.  Nooooooooooooooooo!  But there was no way in hell I was stopping at that point.

And, finally, the burning question I know you're asking:  Am I going to do this race again next year???  Well, there's a darn good chance.  I think even after the glow wears off, I'm going to have a nice soft place for this race in my heart.  Plus?  Check out the honkin' medals they gave out this year!  Pretty sure it's worth it just for the bling!

2015 on the left, 2010 on the right.  Dang!

Did you race this weekend?  Do the voices in your head swear a lot or do they talk nicely to you??

Friday, February 6, 2015

It's Friday - Five Years of the Davis Stampede

On Sunday, I'm toeing the line at the Davis Stampede for the fourth time (I've also been a spectator for UltraIronHubs, which is how I'm squeezing a fifth year into this post).  I have to be honest, this is not my favorite race, but I'm still getting excited about starting off my 2015 racing year!  Here's a little retrospective of my times at this race:

2008

I was still a pretty new runner with just a handful of races under my belt and only one previous half marathon, but I had high hopes and big dreams for crossing this finish line under two hours.  A few days before the race, I started getting sick and the night before the race was terribly stormy.  This bad combination led to a sleepless night of coughing and worrying, which led to a really craptacular race.

Pre-race selfie.  You can see on my face that this is not going to be my day.  Also?  You can see from my smooth forehead that this was seven years ago.  Sigh.
I was overdressed (the day dawned sunny and gorgeous, though still chilly) and miserable.  I struggled from the get-go, but felt something in my ankle go ker-plooie a little before Mile 5.  I was a walking and crying mess at the finish line, recording a Personal Worst by 20 minutes.  I over-dramatically went to the ER later that afternoon, certain that I had a broken ankle and pneumonia, but it was a sprain and a particularly congested cold.  Though I seem to recall that I milked that agony for several days.

I didn't actually come in last place, though the barren streets would lead you to believe that I did.

2009


Determined to get faster, I set the Davis Stampede 2009 as my 5K goal race and started doing speedwork, aiming for a sub-25.  If you read my post from a few weeks ago, you already know how that turned out for me.  Hint:  not good.

OMG, Big Boy and Little Boy were so tiny!

The thing I remember most about this outfit was that the tights were not actually tight at all.  By the time I got to this final corner, they were all saggy in the crotch and driving me bananas!
Once again, I was painfully overdressed for a remarkably lovely but cold day, which is something I seemed to do a lot back then.  Now I would rather freeze.  I remember going into the race feeling really good and confident, but regretting my outfit choice almost immediately.  I also remember that there was a full-on hairpin turn about halfway through the course that really pissed me off.  I mean, there's no way to keep your speed while you're running around a cone.  I crossed the finish line at 25:00.43 and was so disappointed!  Yeah, it was a 20-second PR, but it was still short of my goal time.

2010

I'm a slow learner, I admit it.  But eventually, I do (mostly) figure things out.  My third year at the Stampede was definitely the charm.  I had three and a half years of running experience and a year's worth of speed and tempo work.  I had run quite a few races in 2009, including some triathlon.  I was fit.  I was ready.  And I wore a tank top.

"It starts with a ONE!!"
I'm going to pretend like I included this photo to show you how cute my kids and niece and nephew were, cheering at the finish line, but let's be honest.  My ass was pretty spectacular back then.  I miss my five-years-ago butt almost as much as my seven-years-ago face.
I ran an 8 minute PR that day, not just squeaking in under two hours, but cruising in at 1:53:05, faster than my wildest dreams.  It was a really, really good day.  So good, in fact, that I didn't run another half marathon again until last year, because I knew I couldn't beat that time!  So what makes me think that this year is time to aim for a half PR?  No clue.

2011


After several years of spectating for me, UIH decided to tackle the Stampede in 2011.  And I, thankfully, recorded my thoughts for all posterity by blogging about it! 

Speeding to the finish!

Still one of my favorite photos of him, but really, aren't they all?  I'm a lucky girl being married to this guy!

2015

And that brings us to now.  After skipping the last few years in favor of the far more badass Jed Smith 50K, which is usually held the same weekend or nearabouts, I'm back at the Stampede.  This year's medals look much, much better than previous ones and I feel good about them having enough port-o-potties.  The weather is sketchy at best, but since I'm not even remotely aiming for a PR this weekend, that's not a huge concern.  I do have some goals, though:

  • Don't drown.  It's pretty rainy here today and supposed to be wet all weekend, so I think this is just prudent.
  • Dress appropriately.  No tights, no baggy long-sleeved shirts.  Even if it's cold, it's never really cold when you're me.
  • Have fun.  This covers a lot of ground and leaves me wide open for attaining the goal.  Time is definitely not of the essence on Sunday, so I'm planning on enjoying my music and crossing the finish line with a smile on my face.

Have you ever gone back (again and again) to a race you don't really like??

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Managing My Expectations

I had a really nice four mile run this morning and I'm going to tell you more about it in a minute, but first let me start with the dog:

There I was, running along, listening to my music way too loud, when I saw a woman with a medium-sized poodle-looking dog on a leash walking toward me.  Super cute, fluffy dog.  I watched as she pulled the leash a little closer to her, which, as a runner, I totally appreciate more than the dog-walkers who let their dogs roam about on long leashes designed to clothesline me at the ankles.  As I got closer, I smiled and said good morning to her, and I was just looking down at the cute puppy dog and about to use my high squeaky voice to say hello when that fucker lunged at me.

I mean luuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnnged.  Teeth bared.  Little body on high alert, ready to eat me.  She had to use both hands on the leash to keep him under "control."  And it was funny because I was already thinking about today's post when it happened, but there it was, the perfect illustration of what I wanted to talk about:

Sometimes shit doesn't go down the way you expect it to.

Me.  Every time.
Lately I'm having a serious disconnect between the reality of where my fitness is and my expectation of where I think it should be.  I mean, I totally get that I took a lot of time off last year.  Except that I didn't really take time off, so much as just cut way, way back.  And, yes, I understand that my mileage was very low for a very long time, but prior to that cutback I had been averaging 50 mile weeks for months.  I used to train long and hard, but nowadays training long just feels hard.  As in difficult.

When I plotted out this year's races, knowing that I had put anemia behind me, I felt like I wanted to be cautious, of course, but I was also ready to start putting the hammer down a little, ya know?  But now that I am actually trying to even find the hammer, let alone put it down, I'm discovering that my hiatus cost me a lot more than I realized.

I sort of feel like I'm starting from scratch.

My expectation is that running double digits will be an effort, but not outside of my reach, because the last several years have included such high mileage while training for ultras that I was pretty much always in marathon shape (please note, not speedy marathon shape, but rather, "capable of running a marathon" shape).  My expectation is that running 9-minute miles should still feel like a comfortable pace, because I used to run 8s regularly.  My expectation is that because I feel mentally rarin' to go and ready to race, my body ought to get with the program.

The reality, as you've no doubt guessed by now, is a sad distance from these expectations.

There were so many of these, and they were all funny.  Google "expectations vs. reality."
Running long is hard.  Running fast is hard.  And having a race on my calendar this weekend didn't magically make me ready for running both long and fast.  Weird, right??

So, this week I'm giving myself a little reality check and managing my expectations.  While it's true that I'm not where I expected or wanted to be with my fitness, that doesn't have to be bad news.  I am feeling better.  I am training much harder than I was even a few months ago, and I will continue to improve from here.  I just need to be patient.  You know, my favorite thing in the world.

I reminded myself of these things and more as I was stepping outside for today's run.  I decided not to be critical of myself for the pace I was running and not to compare myself to a girl I used to be.  And to not think so hard about the girl I want to be in the future.  But to just be.  And once I let go of the expectations, it turned out to be a really, really wonderful run.

Minus the dog.

Do you get caught up in your own expectations??