Colfax Training Week 13: Not the best week

Well… not all weeks are great and that’s ok! And this week was super NOT great. I was tired, I struggled to hit my paces and mileages, and I was just feeling a little over trained. So, I did what you do when your body is saying “I’ve had enough”. I backed off. I cut my mileage and intensity back and tried to give my body a much needed rest. I am learning that in order to make it to the starting line of a marathon HEALTHY, sometimes you need to back off and not hit your weekly goals. Unfortunately, I am still feeling a little over trained. I don’t know how to explain it, but I am sore… even on rest days and even after rest days. I just feel… off and my legs hurt like all the time. So, I’ve decided to do what the elites do… I am getting a sports massage. I made the appointment for Thursday and after talking to a few local runners, it sounds like it is going to help me a lot. Right now I am just in maintenance mode and hoping to not loose any fitness heading into the marathon. Despite the fact that I am in the highest mileage weeks I’ve ever run, I am going to take it easy, sleep more, eat better and hope to make it to the starting line in one piece.

Last Week

Monday: Went out for 9 – did 3 – easy pace

Tuesday: Went out for 8 – did 6 – easy pace

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday: 8 miles Goal MP Tempo (actually went fast)

Friday: 7 miles easy pace on trail

Saturday: Rest

Sunday: Went out for 16 – did 11 – LSD

Total: 35 miles …Ugh!

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Friday was just a beautiful day for a trail run.

What a poopy week. I felt great for my tempo runs (tempo runs are always my favorite), but everything else just felt off. I took things slow and tried so hard to hit my mileages. I just couldn’t. Now, I have a sneaking suspicion that this might be due to anemia, but I can’t make it to the doctor this week, so I’ll have to wait to get a confirmation. In the mean time, I’ve been eating lots of spinach, iron and vitamin C supplements, and (gross) tomatoes to up my iron and vitamin C with non-animal sources. Unfortunately, iron deficiency isn’t going to just go away in a day, so I’ll have to keep at it to make it to the starting line feeling fresh.

That’s basically it… I’m desperately trying to make myself feel normal again, not weak, achy and tired. If you have any suggestions, feel free to shout them out. I am 5 weeks out from Colfax and just two more weeks until the taper begins. I am so close that I can feel it. I just need to keep my body healthy and ready to run on May 15th.

This Saturday I do have a trail half marathon. It will be the furthest I’ve ever run on trail and should be a ton of fun. I’m going to take it easy and chill. My goal for this race is to have a personal worst in the half marathon. Weird goal, right? Well, all of my halves have been on road, which is always MUCH easier than trail. If I push myself to get below a 2 hour half, I think I will pay for it heading into my peak week. So the goal is to have fun and run the slowest half I’ve ever run! I think it’s a great goal!

Here’s a pic of Elly sleeping:

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She is the most beautiful creature on this planet.

Have you ever dealt with Anemia? How do you keep your iron levels normal? Have you ever dabbled in vegetarianism?

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Running Nutrition Review

As you all have heard, I am running my first half marathon on Feb. 15 (wow…that is so soon). When I first started my training, I was really unsure about using gels and if they’d work for me in the race. So, I started trying a bunch of stuff out. I typically have a very weak stomach. I get sick from really sugary things like soda and candy, which was one reason I was so hesitant about the gels. During my long runs, I would try something new and see how I liked it. I probably shouldn’t have tried so much stuff, but you know, new things are fun. But, I have settled on a winner, and I’ll let you know how it does in the race in my recap. For now, I’m going to go ahead and tell you what I’ve learned, what I liked and what I didn’t about each product.

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 Citrus Flavored Cliff Shot BlocksI really like gummy bears, so I figured that I’d really like gummy blocks. I picked them up at my local running store, and they were a little on the pricey side. I assumed I could use the pack for two uses, so that didn’t bother me too much. I took them on a 7 mile trail run, and honestly, I wasn’t too into them. I took them at around mile 3 to try them out, but I didn’t feel any more energized. They were really just OK. The chewy-ness was a little difficult while I was on the run, and I noticed that they really stuck to my teeth. Needless to say, they were not my favs. The citrus taste was pretty good though, even if I wasn’t a fan of the consistency. I think they are good for backpackers or long hikes, but I didn’t like them for my runs.

Rating (1-5): 3

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Citrus Flavored Clif Shot GelAs I was saying before, I liked the citrus taste of the Clif Blocks, so I figured I’d like the taste of the citrus Clif Gels. I was also looking for something with caffeine, since I do get a really big boost from coffee before my runs. I took this gel on an 8 mile trail run and I definitely felt the boost after eating it. However, I was not really a big fan of the taste. It was really overly sweet and tasted almost like icing, which made me gag a little while I ran. I drank a ton of water with it (after a running partner warned me that I could get stomach cramps with the gels if I don’t drink enough water), but really, I needed the water to wash out the taste. I thought the gel worked great and did exactly what it was supposed to do. I just needed something a little less sweet.

Rating (1-5): 4

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Albanese Gummi Bears: I really do like gummy bears a lot. So much so that my husband brought me to a gummy bear factory for my birthday. My roommate took these with her when running the Dawn of the Dunes Marathon (this is her race recap for that) and they seemed to work. I decided to try them out. I took them on a 7 mile run. I figured they would be fine since I sometimes eat a hand full of them before I leave for a run. The results were not too good. These really upset my stomach a lot and kinda derailed my run a little. They are also rather big and bulky. They taste really really good though!!

Rating (1-5): 2

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Gu Salted Watermelon GelYou know, I never would have thought to pair salt and watermelon, but the good people at GU seriously know where it’s at. This flavor rocked. When I’m on a long run, I generally feel like I need some salt and I crave it. Because of this, the sugary flavors tend to taste a little over-the-top to me. However, I doubt I would actually want a gu that tasted super salty. This one had the perfect amount of both. I took it on a 9 mile run and had it at the half way point with some water. I certainly felt the effects of the carbs on my way back home and I was less hungry than usual when I got there (I don’t know about you, but I get crazy hungry on long runs). I was pretty happy with this flavor and have decided to stick with this for my race.

Rating (1-5): 5

So I have settled on a winner. I’ll be bringing a pack of salted watermelon for my race on Feb. 15. Before the race I’ll also be eating a luna bar, which are my go to energy bar.

What are your go to race foods? Have you tried this awesome salted watermelon? 

Race Recap: Muddy Monk 10K

The race on Sunday wasn’t quite what I expected. The Muddy Monk 10k was less of a trail run and more of a mud run. Although I was not really ready for that, I still had a ton of fun. Did I hit my goal time? Nope. I ran it in 1:01:20, so I guess if I had done one of the six river crossings a bit faster and maybe didn’t get my shoe stuck in the mud so many times, I would have hit my time. Oh well though. It was pretty freaking fun, regardless.

The day was beautiful with blue skies and crisp 40 F air. We got there quite a bit early to pick up our bibs and chill out a bit before the race. People were dressed in tutus and santa gear, which gave the race a bit of a relaxed feel. I had a cup of coffee and a Luna energy bar for breakfast and was ready to go. My stomach felt good. I was pumped. I was ready. I figured I finally got my race day meal right and might not have to deal with mid-run stomach problems. However, as we were standing at the starting corral, the announcer warned us of river crossings and climbs where we would need to use our hands. My stomach started to flip and I had trouble until about mile 4.

Kelly and I before the race. We were ready for some serious trails to run and boy did we get it. We were pretty covered in mud by the end.
Kelly and I before the race. We were ready for some serious trails to run and boy did we get it. We were pretty covered in mud by the end.

After the race had begun, it didn’t take me more than two minutes to realize that my stomach cramps would plague me in this race too. So far, in every race I have run, my stomach has cramped up on me and I can’t quite take full breaths. It slows me down a lot, and I race about a minute slower per mile than I expect to run based on my training. My intention for this race was to finally beat it so I could confidently go into the A1A Half Marathon, knowing that I could get through a race without the cramps. I guess I’ll just have to wing it and hope it doesn’t happen again.

The race was pretty muddy from the start. My shoes were covered and I had quite a few river crossings (six total, I think) to contend with. The course was an out and back, so as I ran through the mud on the way out, I knew I would be seeing a worse version of it on the way back. For the first few rivers, people hesitantly jumped across. By the end of the race, people were just running through, full blast. It was pretty great to see people getting so dirty. Some seemed to be enjoying it and others… well not so much.

Rivers and downed trees were no strangers to this course.
Rivers and downed trees were no strangers to this course.

The course eventually lead to a long paved path out into a field. I was starting to see the fastest runners coming back, so I figured the turn around was close. At the end there was just a single dude standing there with a beer telling people to turn around. Like I said before, the race was pretty chill. The way back was nice, and I was hoping to run negative splits, but my stomach wouldn’t really give me a break. The course was muddier, just as I had suspected, but I cared much less about mud and water, since I knew the end was near.

There I am, jumping across a river like a real champ. This part was probably the most fun.
There I am, jumping across a river like a real champ. This part was probably the most fun.

This was my trail run before the A1A Half in February and it didn’t quite go to plan. I was pretty disappointed about my stomach problems and time. I had not followed through on either goal, but that’s ok. I am going to continue to train after eating what I plan to at the A1A Half Marathon, in hopes that I can figure it out before then. After the race, I got my vegan hotdog (what do you think is in a vegan hotdog? I have no idea.) and we took off to hike a bit and get some more food. Overall, I had a great day and a fun race, even if things didn’t really go as planned.

Post race vegan hotdog!
Post race vegan hotdog!

Race Week Training Update!

We are now 68 days away from the A1A Half Marathon and I couldn’t feel better about that! Last week was great! I ran my long run (7 miles) with the Fleet Feet Trail Runners, which was awesome and the rest of my runs went pretty well, too. I did my long run on trail in a local county park to prepare me a little for my trail race next Saturday. This next week brings more snow and a busy schedule as the semester ends, so I’ll be squeezing my runs between tons of work.

The trail running group from this morning. We all had an awesome time!
The trail running group from this morning. We all had an awesome time! Photo was taken by one of the other runners named Erin.

In the past, I have had a considerable amount of trouble with my race day routine. My stomach will start to bother me, I don’t sleep well the night before or I feel compelled to drink way too much water (as if aid stations don’t exist). My goals for this race are to nail down a good morning race routine and to (hopefully) break one hour. My plan is to eat a piece of bread, an Luna energy bar, some coffee and some cliff gummies for breakfast. I’ll have to remind myself not to fill up too much on liquids.

Training this week:

Monday: 4 miles (nice and slow)

Tuesday: Yoga

Wednesday: Yoga + 5 miles (3 miles at half marathon pace)

Thursday: Yoga + 4 miles

Friday: Lots and lots of rest!!

Saturday: 6.2 Race!

Sunday: 2-3 mile slow recovery run

Total: 21 miles

So there you have it, another week in the books. Hopefully my training next week goes as well as this past week. Wish me luck on my race saturday, and as always, feel free to give any advice for race day nutrition. I’ll post an update after the race to let you know how I did!

Happy Late Thanksgiving!!!

How was your Thanksgiving? Mine was AWESOME! For the first time in my life, I did a rather untraditional Thanksgiving Day. Instead of eating tons of Turkey (I’m vegetarian, so tofurkey in my case), I spent my day hiking through the backcountry of Great Smokey Mountains National Park with my husband and favorite hiking partner. In total for the holiday weekend, we hiked over 50 miles through rolling hills and difficult terrain. I’m pretty sure my legs were ready to fall off, but you know, that comes with the territory. Our animal count was a live turkey (on Thanksgiving Day), a bobcat, a wolf (we also heard them too while we were hiking back to our car) and an armadillo. Pretty good for late fall.

My view on Thanksgiving Day. Jealous much? :)
My view on Thanksgiving Day. Jealous much? 🙂

So now that I’m back to town, it is back to my training. I am 76 days from the A1A Half Marathon! It sounds like a lot, but that time is going to fly by. I also have a 10k trail run in 2 weeks and I am looking for a 5k in Florida to run when I am home for Christmas.

Training for the week:

Monday: 5 miles slow and easy – yoga afterwards

Tuesday: Yoga

Wednesday: 4 miles with running group + yoga

Thursday: 4 miles + yoga

Friday: REST!

Saturday: 7 mile long run pace (try strawberry cliff energy gel + race day breakfast)

Sunday: yoga

Total: 20 miles

These next few weeks I am going to be trying out my race nutrition strategies. I have a rather sensitive stomach, so I am a little worried about what will happen during my half marathon. I usually have to be careful about what I eat before I run and I am new to energy gels. Honestly, I haven’t really decided if I want to use them for my race. Any thoughts? I’d love to hear what works for you.