Training Update: Well… not the best of weeks…

I know, I know… I still have not posted my race recap from last week. Things have been very stressful and I’ve been going through some ups and downs in my personal life. Actually, my personal life has been all ups. My work life has really been the downs. I think the stress of these last few weeks has really gotten to me and my training. Last week just didn’t feel right. I was hesitant to get out the door to go for my runs and when I did, I was having trouble keeping the paces I was trying to hit. Stress in one aspect of my life has a way of seeping into all of the other parts.

Also, yesterday, this happened:

Uh.... I thought it was spring. Where did this snow come from?
Uh…. I thought it was spring. Where did this snow come from?

Anyways, I am only 4 days out from the Holy Half… last week was peak training, but I don’t think my body got the memo on that.

Monday: Rest + Yoga
Felt pretty good and was excited for some speed work the next day. I was feeling fresh after my race during the weekend and was ready to run.

Tuesday: Speed work… only did 2.25 miles + yoga
I went out to do some intervals and was feeling pretty great. I had my headphones in and after I had finished with my 10 minute warm up, Frank called me to tell me that he had gotten a job with NEON (National Ecological Observatory Network). His current job runs out of funding soon (being a scientist sucks… our lives are based on government funding cycles). He had been applying for stuff all over for a while and he had finally gotten one. I tried to continue running, but I had a ton of questions, so I just went home.

Wednesday: 5ish miles
My run group meets on wednesdays to do a 5k, but I decided to get a few extra miles in. I left the house, but my Garmin was acting up. It didn’t connect until I was at least a half mile into the run, and even then, it was telling me I was going 11 minute miles, which I was most certainly not. I think I ran about 5 miles…

Thursday: 0 miles… unintentional rest day
I was just really unmotivated. I was anxious about telling my boss about Frank’s job, since it means relocation for us. I was supposed to do yoga and core work. I did nothing.

Friday: Another unintentional rest day + yoga
This unmotivated day, I was supposed to do a Tempo run. I just didn’t. At least I did some yoga…

Saturday: 4.5 miles Tempo
I did a 10 minute warm up, then ran 20 minutes at tempo, which felt pretty terrible, and then a 10 minute warm down. I kept getting a persistent stomach cramps. I felt pretty discouraged after this run and hoped for a better long run the next day.

I always love my long runs. The city is just so much prettier when you are on foot.
I always love my long runs. The city is just so much prettier when you are on foot.

Sunday: 12 miles long run + Yoga
My long run went much better. I had some trouble getting out the door, but once out, I was good. I listened to podcasts and kinda cleared my mind a bit. I kept a 9:35 pace, which felt really comfortable and good. I was pretty happy that I hadn’t talked myself out of the run once I was out.

Total milage: 23.75 – not really what I was hoping for…

Oh well. I guess bad weeks happen. I just don’t like that it happened the week before a race. I’m hoping that I can refocus and have a good taper week, although things have been pretty stressful around here thus far. ūüė¶

The good news is that Frank got a really awesome permanent job, which means no grant cycles, no feverishly looking for a job because the last one is about to run out. He can keep this one for as long as he wants to. We will be moving to Manhattan, KS (The Little Apple) in May. I’ll be coming back and forth a lot as I finish my PhD, but home base will be there. Kansas wasn’t really where I dreamed of moving, but it’s actually really pretty.

This is the Konza prairie, which is only 10 miles south of town.
This is the Konza prairie, which is only 10 miles south of town.

And it’s only 7 hours from the Rocky Mountains. I can feel some serious trail running in my future!

How do you run when you’re stressed out? Have you ever had a terrible week in the peak of your training? How do you stop stress from taking over?

Training Update: Great week with some PR’s and wins!

Sorry that I’m late on the post, I’ve just had a crazy weekend and Monday! I had a great week, with a PR on my virtual 10k and an age group win for a 15k. This next week is my last full week of training for the Holy Half, and I’m pretty excited to see how it all goes.

Monday: Rest + some yoga!
I did an hour of vinyasa on my own at home, but I took it pretty easy. It was nice to have a day off, especially the day before attempting to PR on my 10k for Kristina’s Virtual Race!

Tuesday: 6.2 Virtual Race + Yoga
I had a great time running the Race for Paws 10k! I went out a little too fast for my first mile, so I certainly did some serious suffering. However, I managed to finish in 51:28, which was a pretty big PR for me (my previous PR was set during the A1A Half Marathon, so I knew I had it in me to push). I did some hot yoga afterwards to stretch the body out, and generally felt pretty great.

Wednesday: Easy 3.5 with run group! + Yoga
I went out for my weekly run with the Fleet Feet run group. They changed the start location, which is only a half mile from my house. Now I can just run there! I ran 3 miles with the group and then we all stayed for some food. It was a pretty easy pace, which was nice, especially since I had pushed myself the day before. My pace was 9:52.

Obligatory group run photo. Yeah, we are a nerdy group.
Obligatory group run photo. Yeah, we are a nerdy group.

Thursday: Intervals! (4.5 miles)
I had a great time doing my intervals. I did a warm up mile and then ran timed intervals on Notre Dame’s campus. It was nice to do a few minutes of all out intermixed with some easy running. I felt great after the run and had pretty good runner’s high. Overall pace was 8:53, including warm up and cool down.

Friday: Rest… for real!¬†
I took Friday to chill, since I had a race the next day! Frank and I checked out the trail conditions before the race though…

Is that a trail or a creek?
Is that a trail or a creek?

Saturday: 15K Trail race! + hiking
So… it had been raining for two days by the time I got to the trails and it was MUDDY! Like… foot stuck in the mud, muddy. I’m going to write a race review on this, so, I’ll tell you more then. It was slow going and hard to run, but I finished 4th for women and 1st in my age group, despite crossing the finish line with only one shoe on (more on that later). We did some hiking afterwards, but tried to stay away from the super muddy trails (which was like, most of them).

Uh...yeah. I am definitely running through the finish line with my shoe in my hand. Priceless.
Uh…yeah. I am definitely running through the finish line with my shoe in my hand. Priceless.

Sunday: 3.4 recovery run + hiking
I camped Saturday night at the park that held the race, and woke up to beautiful sun and warm temps. I just couldn’t resist, so I went for a short recovery run through the park. (9:02 pace)

I couldn't resist to go out on such a beautiful day!
I couldn’t resist to go out on such a beautiful day!

This was a pretty great week and I am starting to feel ready to run the Holy Half in a little over a week. I’m not sure what to expect from that race, but we’ll see.

How did your training go this week? Were you surprised that Ryan Hall didn’t finish LA? Also, Lizzy totally kicked LA’s (and Ryan Hall’s) butt at the marathon on sunday!¬†

A1A Half Marathon Race Recap: I crushed it!

Some days you go out and they are perfect. Perfect weather, perfect energy, perfect race. The A1A Half Marathon was just that and I killed it. My goal was really just to finish, and in the back of my head, I wanted a sub 2-hour half, which I thought was impossible.

My time was 1:56:48.

The race was in Fort Lauderdale, Fl, which is a solid 3 hour drive and a 2.5 hour plane ride from South Bend. With delays, I was traveling for close to 12 hours before I made it into bed on Friday night. The next morning, my mom and I headed over to the expo, picked up my bib and some free stuff, and then took off to teach a guest yoga class.

Pre-race yoga with my mom. Also, we got my personalized bib!
Pre-race yoga with my mom. Also, we got my personalized bib!

I got to bed pretty early Saturday night for a 3:45 am wake up. I slept ok, but not great, since I still had a ton of anxiety about even finishing. I had never run that distance before, and I figured I would struggle. My breakfast was an a luna bar and a banana, which did not go down too well. My stomach was doing flips and I was nervous. My parents and I hopped into the car and headed to the start line at the Broward Museum of Discover and Science and there were TONS of people. Like I have never seen so many people up at 5 am in one place in my life.

My dad and I chillin' before the race. It was COLD (for Florida). Perfect race day weather.
My dad and I chillin’ before the race. It was COLD (for Florida). Perfect race day weather.

Standing at the start line, I still had no idea what my strategy or my pace would be. I was considering going with the 2:00 pacer or the 2:15 pacer… but I was also thinking about doing it alone. I felt good, and as they started the race, I walked up towards the starting line, looked behind me, saw the 2:00 pacer and made a last minute decision¬†to commit to running with her.

Hanging by the start with anticipation and a little anxiety.
Hanging by the start with anticipation and a little anxiety.

The start was still pretty dark, and I was running with a rather large group of runners. We were trying to get through the crowds of people and set our pace comfortably just over a 9 minute mile. The pacer was really nice and we chatted a bit about Notre Dame and the weather up there. I talked to some of the other people in the group and they were all pretty excited that it was my first Half Marathon. My plan was to run with the pacer and at the half way point if I was still feeling good, I’d stick with her.

The course was beautiful¬†and took us down Las Olas Blvd (which, honestly, I don’t even remember running on), then north on A1A to Birch State Park and finally up to the Galt Ocean Mile before taking us south to South Beach Park in downtown Fort Lauderdale. There were ocean views and a pretty rockin’ sunrise.


At Birch State Park, we started to see the potential winners of the half marathon heading back to the finish line, and they looked awesome. I was still feeling good and was really enjoying being with a pacer. Giving up control of the race to someone who can definitely run it is actually pretty wonderful. I felt like my usual mental battles were being fought by someone else and all I had to do was follow that person.

However, just after mile 8, I went to a water stop and lost the pacer. I knew I was ahead of her, and as I was about to head into the Galt Ocean Mile, I looked behind me and couldn’t see her carrying the sign. I figured I’d just run and if she caught up, I’d know that was the 2 hour mark.

I looked at my watch and noticed that I was running at 8:42, and I just kept going. And then I ran another 8:42, and another. And before long, I knew I was minutes ahead of the 2 hour pacer.

Negative splits... like a boss.
Negative splits… like a boss.

Suddenly, mid-race, my goals were changing. I was not only looking to break 2 hours, I was looking to crush 2 hours. I have never run (before today) a race at a negative splits. Usually, I go out too fast and get really tired. I knew that in order to reach my new goal, I’d have to dig deep and do it.

And then mile 13 happened. I got there and was dying. I was looking to the crowd for help and I was really thinking I was gonna have to walk or something. I kept taking water at the stations, but nothing was helping. An older guy came up from behind me and said “you’re doing great” and I told him that it was my first Half Marathon, that we were way past the furthest I’d ever run and that I was really struggling. He looked out in front of us, saw an overpass in the distance¬†and said “that overpass is your goal, just make it to there”.

So I ran to the overpass with him.

He then spotted another landmark ahead, told me to run to that… I continued with him. Suddenly we were a half mile from the end, I was dying, but he just kept talking me through it.

Then I saw my mom, who didn’t think I’d be coming in that early, so she wasn’t paying attention to the racers. I ran over to her, grabbed her and yelled “I’m about to break 2 hours!” …and then I sprinted and gave it my all. I passed the finish line, looked at my watch and saw 1:56:45. I couldn’t believe it. My reach goal was just to break 2 hours… I broke it by over 3 minutes. I had never run negative splits, and my 2nd half was close to 4 minutes faster than my first.

photo 2

Running with the pacer was the best decision I could have made. Even though I eventually took off ahead of her, she really helped me remain on time and stable. Usually my mind does a lot of fighting in races, and there was none of that (until the last mile). This race could not have gone better.

At the finish line my parents, cousin, and in laws were there to cheer me on. We walked around the vendors and watched the marathoners and half marathoners come in. I even saw Kristina from cross the finish line. She looked awesome!

Thanks to everyone who helped me get through my training and overshoot my goals. I had a blast and I can’t wait to do it again.

The Holy Half Marathon is in 41 days. Now I have a time to chase.

Training Update: Heading home to sunny South Florida!

I am going home! I have been looking forward to this for weeks and I head out tomorrow. I couldn’t be more excited. There will be sun and heat and more yoga than I could shake a stick at. I’ll get to see my whole family, plus my husband’s family. It really doesn’t get better than this. I do have a job for the next 11 days in South Florida. Training. Training. Training. This will be my last opportunity to run in the environment that I will be racing in come February. The race day switch from freezing temperatures to Florida heat and humidity has been making me a little concerned. Over the next two weeks, my job is run while it’s hot and get used to doing it. Along with that, I’ll be doing tons of yoga and hanging with the fam. This is going to be a pretty awesome vacation.

So, I got the coolest Christmas present, a bike trainer! My mom sent it to me because she didn’t want me to get stuck with it on a plane. Now, I can cross train whenever I want. I can go for a ride, regardless of the weather outside. This is so so so great! I was incredibly thankful, and it is going to be incorporated into my training when I get back.

This is the trainer! It works great and is really pretty quiet. If you live in a cold place... you should totally get one. I'm convinced that it is the best gift ever.
This is the trainer! It works great and is really pretty quiet. If you live in a cold place… you should totally get one. I’m convinced that it is the best gift ever.

Training this week:
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 5 miles easy
Wednesday (GO HOME!): 4 miles
Thursday: Yoga
Friday: 6 miles with negative splits + yoga
Saturday: yoga
Sunday: 8 miles long run + yoga
Total: 23 miles

Have a great week before Christmas and don’t forget to train!¬†ūüôā

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!