Colfax Marathon Training Week 14

Thanks everyone who listened to my complaining last week and gave me encouraging words as I was heading into a race week. I spent a lot of my training unsure if maybe something was wrong with my legs or if I was on the verge of an injury. I am still having the extreme soreness, but I think it’s getting better. I’ve been making a gentle yoga practice a real priority while also trying to cut back on my mileage a bit to give my legs a rest. I am under four weeks out from my first marathon and this next week is my peak mileage week.

This was my week:

M: Total Rest Day – did a lot of whining though

T: 6 miles – easy pace + yoga

W: 8 miles – 5 at goal MP tempo + strength training

T: 6 miles – easy pace + yoga

F: yoga

S: 13.1 trail race + biking

S: 10 miles hiking

Total Running: 33 miles + 10 hiking

Last week started with a lot of nervousness and hesitation. I was having a nerve-like pain going down the outside of both of my legs causing weakness that felt almost like my legs were going to buckle out. It was very strange and not anything I’d ever felt before. I was supposed to hit some pretty high mileage last week, but since I had a race, and this weird pain, I decided to cool it and air on the side of caution.

As usual, my easy days were a struggle and my tempo run was fantastic (why is easy so hard?!). Even though I was having the weird feeling in my legs, I still held the pace fine and without too much effort on my lungs. This gave me a lot of confidence that a 9:00/mi pace will be okay at Colfax. I started to wonder if this feeling in my legs is just mental (I’m still not entirely sure that it’s not).

On Thursday I went for my sports massage. I gotta say, that was an incredible experience. The massage therapist tortured my legs for a while, but at the end asked me if I knew that I tend to kick my right foot out to the side while I run (he could tell by the “imbalances” in my muscles on that leg). Of course, I did know all about this. I’ve seen it in pictures and video of my running. Basically, he made a total believer in me of sports massage and of his knowledge of anatomy. It definitely helped the weakness and pain in my legs a lot, but it didn’t take it completely away. While practicing yoga, I came out of a handstand a little funny and felt it again, so it’s not gone, but it certainly got better.

I took a day off heading into my race on Saturday and was feeling reasonably refreshed. The race was AWESOME and those of you who follow me on twitter already know what happened. I’ll save the story for my race recap. But I will leave you with this photo:

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So… that happened. 😉

Frank and I went biking after the race for a few hours and then camped at a state park close to the race. The next day I woke up pretty sore, so instead of running, we just hiked about 10 miles through some of the hilly grassland prairie.

This week is the peak of my training. I’ll see how many miles I get in, it really depends on how I am feeling and holding up. I’m getting very excited about the taper, but the last 20-miler is definitely sitting heavy on my mind. My goal is to make it through with healthy legs so I can taper and be ready for Colfax in less than 4 weeks (really?!?).

Congrats to everyone that ran Boston yesterday! I hope you had a great time!

How do you mentally prepare for really high mileage weeks? Do you look forward to the taper?

Heading West!

By the time you read this, I’ll be on my way to Utah!

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I promise to take pictures!

Lows throughout the week are in the teens, and since we are camping, I’m kinda expecting to spend my nights pretty cold. We should be in Moab by the end of the day Saturday and then the exploring begins!

My birthday is this coming Tuesday (Nov 24), but I celebrated it with my friends here in Manhattan a few nights ago. We went to my favorite hibachi place in town, where I knew they would throw a big celebration for my birthday. It was crazy fun and I even got this gift:

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Sometimes it’s kinda bad…

I thought this was the perfect coffee cup given my feelings about Kansas.

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All of us at the Hibachi Restaurant! I don’t really know all that many people here yet. 🙂

In less fun news, Frank fell off his bike and landed himself in the emergency room with a few stitches. He hit a curb, flew off his handlebars and landed right on his chin. The doctor said that the cut extended all the way to the bone. Honestly, just looking at the cut makes me kinda queasy (I am going to spare you any photos). He’s been taking it like a champ, though. He says it doesn’t hurt, but I’m really not sure that I believe him. He’s a little beat up on his left arm and leg. We’re just hoping he heals fast and that this doesn’t slow him down in Utah.

I am going to do my best to stay on top of blogging while I’m out in the desert, however, I don’t expect to always have internet access. So, if I kinda disappear for the week, have a great Thanksgiving! 

Rocky Mountain Half Marathon Race Recap

I tend to underestimate myself. I go into a race and I often limit what I can do, not because of my training or physical capabilities, but because of my mind. So, when I looked at the 1:52:01 half marathon cutoff for the first wave corrals at Chicago, I figured there was no way I could ever run that time. I mean… that’s 8:30/mi for 13 miles! I figured that there was just no way, especially at 7,500 feet. Well, I’m going to just cut to the chase.

I ran the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon in 1:51:44. That was a huge PR and I am now in the first wave at Chicago!

Pre-Race

We drove out to Boulder on Thursday evening and made it in time for me to get a quick run in and some dinner. The next morning, Frank and I woke up at 4 am to get to the national park and reserve a campsite for the next few days. We did a little bit of hiking and went to Estes Park to pick up my packet. We hiked a lot more and drove around for a while.

Cold before the race!
Cold before the race!

So, I did all the pre-race stuff wrong. I walked A LOT on Friday, I camped on the hard floor, I probably didn’t eat or sleep enough. I had to wake up at 4 am, and I woke up like 4-5 times during the night. I tried to scarf down some food at our campsite, but my stomach was giving me some trouble. We got to the race around 5:00 am and hung out at the starting line until the race started.

The elevation profile for the race. This was not exactly an easy course.
The elevation profile for the race. This was not exactly an easy course.

Miles 1-4

The gun went off at almost exactly 6 am. The race had a few thousand people, but they did a good job keeping the corral small so that we didn’t have to dodge around people once we were off the starting line. The first few miles were pretty chill, although I took them fast because I knew that miles 5-8 had a huge hill. I felt pretty comfortable averaging around an 8:30 mile on the rolling terrain and was surprised at how quick the miles were going by. I just kept telling myself that I am a lot faster than I think I am, and that seemed to work pretty well. I had a pretty good feeling by mile 4 that I was had a shot at a PR but I tried to hold myself back. I knew the hills in the race would eventually wear on me.

Splits for miles 1-4
Splits for miles 1-4

Miles 5-8

Mile 5 was the start of a pretty substantial hill. I knew it was coming, so I decided to play a little game with myself to pass the time. Each time I passed someone on the uphill, I gave myself a point and each time I was passed by a runner, I lost a point. So, I just started reeling people in. I’d get my eyes on a runner who looked kinda tired and just started creeping up on them. By the end of the uphill I had passed 22 people and had only been passed by 1 (that’s 21 points!!!). I managed to keep around a 9:00/mi pace. At the top of the hill I looked at my watch and was pretty amazed at how fast I had gone. I think I knew by this point that I was going to PR for sure.

Splits for miles 5-8
Splits for miles 5-8

Miles 9-13.1

At the top of the hill I could see the finish line and I knew that it was all downhill from here (ok… there were a few surprise hills, but nothing too terrible). I just coasted on down and even squeezed in a 7:34 minute mile in there. I figured that if I could keep an average of 8:00/mi, I would have a shot at getting under the 1:52:01 cutoff for the first wave at Chicago. I knew by this point that I was going to PR… but now I really wanted to be in that first wave. So, I pushed a little harder. The end of the race was close to a beautiful lake in the middle of Estes Park. As I got closer I started to hear the announcer call out names of people as they crossed the finish line. I kept pushing and eventually heard my name as I crossed. Frank was not even there because he wasn’t expecting me to finish for another 10 minutes.

The downhill miles!
The downhill miles! Check out that 7:34 minute mile!!!!

My official time was 1:51:44 and I placed 7th in my age group out of 137… which is pretty freaking good. There was close to 1000 feet of elevation gain throughout the race… so this wasn’t even an easy course. Honestly, I’m still in shock that I ran that well.

A well deserved medel. I was pretty exhausted after this race.
A well deserved medel. I was pretty exhausted after this race.

I learned a lot running this race. My biggest problem as a runner is that I set goals that are not outside of my comfort zone. I don’t let myself think that I can do something really crazy because I don’t want to be disappointed. From here on out, that’s gonna change.

Immediately after the race, Frank and I went back into Rocky Mountain National Park, picked up our friends and climbed up Hallett Peak. This was a 10-mile hike up a 12,713-foot mountain. Doing this hike got me 50% off entry into the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon for 2016… so the soreness was worth it. I am officially in the Continental Divide Club!

My friends and I at the top of Hallett Peak!
My friends and I at the top of Hallett Peak!

The race (and hike) was a huge success. But… now the Chicago Marathon countdown really begins.