Colfax Marathon Week 2: Kickin’ Butt!!

Week two of my Colfax Marathon training cycle is over, and I only have 110 days to get myself ready! I know that sounds like a long time… but it’s not. However, it will be more than enough time if every week goes as well as this week did. Basically, mostly everything went right. I had a few weather snafus that stopped me from hitting my paces, but the effort was there, even if the clock didn’t say so.

Monday: 8 miles LSD – Long run pushed off from week before due to weather

I wrote about this run here. It was a pretty good long run, but was pushed off to this week due to arctic temperatures in Kansas.

Tuesday: 3 miles easy pace on treadmill + Yoga

It was still bitterly cold out on Tuesday, and I had kinda lost feeling in my legs by the end of my 8-mile long run, so I decided to take this one inside. I hate the treadmill, and even though it was an easy paced run, mentally, this run was pretty tough. I have such a hard time keeping my mind occupied while running indoors.

Wednesday: 3 miles in snowstorm + Yoga

I went out for a run during a rather nasty snowstorm. I figured that since the temps weren’t too bad, that I could take the snow. I was hoping to hit close to marathon pace, but couldn’t stop my feet from slipping on the snow, so I just did put a medium amount of effort into the run. I was pretty glad to get home and dry off a bit.

This is what Elly was up to when I got back from my run. It was apparently too cold to be awake.

Thursday: 3 miles easy pace on treadmill + Yoga

Kansas doesn’t believe in plows and salt… so I ended up taking my run inside… again. By the end of it, I was ready to swear off the treadmill forever. I did some yoga after, and that made me feel better about being cooped up indoors.

Friday: 5 miles Marathon Pace… but not really + Yoga

I intended for this run to be at marathon pace. Frank and two of our friends came out for the run (although Frank only did 3 miles). It was icy and cold, which slowed us down a lot. Dodging the ice and snow made for an interesting run that almost felt like trail running. We kept it about 30 seconds per mile slower than MP, although the effort seemed pretty tough.

The reads and sidewalks were caked in ice… and it really only got worse as we went along.
Obligatory post-run selfie. Frank had already run inside to get away from the cold.

Saturday: Rest Day – Went to see the largest ball of twine in the world… and yes, that is in Kansas!

Artsy shot of the twine. Kansas is a strange place…

Sunday: 10 miles LSD + Yoga

I went to a yoga class in the AM and ran in the afternoon. One of Frank’s co-workers expressed interest in training for a half marathon, so I took him along for 7 miles of the run… and he did great! This was the first long run that has actually felt like a long run in a while. It was a real milestone to hit double digits. I actually don’t think I have done that since my Chicago Marathon training back in October. It was a great run, and I even got to explore a new route. Frank joined me for the last three miles and really pushed the pace. I ran a negative split with the last mile well below marathon pace (Thanks Frank). I had intended to keep this run pretty slow, but with the ice gone and fresh legs, I felt too good to slow down.

Zeb is learning how fun running can really be!!

Total Mileage: 32.4

Overall, this was a great week. I needed it too! With the A1A Half Marathon coming up, I think I needed a few confident long runs under my belt into order to go for a PR in Fort Lauderdale. Also, the higher mileage felt good on my legs, so I’m pretty glad to be back! This week, Frank and I will be heading to Boulder on Thursday night, so I’ll be doing a few runs at altitude!

This week:

M: Rest

T: 3 miles easy

W: 6 miles MP

Th: 3 miles easy

F: 6 miles

S: Hiking in Colorado!

S: 12 miles LSD through Boulder

How was your week? Anyone hit by bad weather? Also, I know Kristina and Ali are doing the A1A Marathon/Half Marathon. Is anyone else gonna be there?

Colfax Training Week 1: Strong Start

I finished my first week of training for the Colfax Marathon, and things went great, despite the rather frigid temperatures and icy conditions. I took it slow, but getting back to higher mileage feels good. A few of my friends in Manhattan have been training with me and holding me accountable to my mileage as I start to get my fitness back. I began the week kinda feeling like I had lost a lot of fitness by taking time off, but I ended the week with a few solid runs and a bunch more confidence.


Tuesday: Yoga + 3.1 miles at easy pace

I went out with the local running group in the afternoon for an easy paced run. I was definitely suffering more than I should at the pace we went, but that may have been the cold. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to do well in cold temperatures. I did some gentle yoga on my own but added a little core work at the end with inversions.

Wednesday: Yoga + 4.0 miles with fast finish

I started the day with a pretty basic vinyasa practice on my own before going out to teach at Meadowlark Hills where I teach yoga and fitness to people with Parkinson’s Disease. It’s pretty much the most fun job! In an afternoon class, one of my favorite students walked for the first time in 3 years (Go Jo!). We were both crazy excited, and we’ll be trying that out again this week. In the afternoon, I went for a run and finished with the last mile at half marathon pace. It felt good to go a little faster.

Thursday: Yoga + 5.0 miles at marathon pace

I took a morning yoga class and in the evening a few friends came over to go running. We kept it just under 9:00/mi, which I think is close to my marathon pace. This run went perfect! We ran each mile a little faster than the one before and finished with lots more gas in the tank. It’s great to have runs like these to bring up my confidence.

Friday: Yoga + 4.1 at easy pace

I took another morning yoga class that left me feeling a little sore for the rest of the day. Since I had been running for 4 days in a row, and doing tons of yoga, I figured an easy run was in order. Frank came out with me on his bike and we went around looking at houses that are up for rent (we are looking for a new place).

Saturday: Hiked 15 miles at Tallgrass Prairie

A group of us went out for a long hike at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve. It’s a beautiful place with about 40 miles of trails. We wanted to make sure we hit some of the harder to get to spots of the park, so we embarked on a 15 mile hike in 6 degree weather (at least the sun came out). I got a blister on my foot, but besides that it was crazy awesome!

The grass and hills go on forever!

Sunday: Long run got pushed back until next day due to ice and below 0 temps (do you blame me?). Kansas doesn’t salt the sidewalks or roads, so the conditions were rather treacherous. I did go to Ikea, though!

Monday: 8.1 LSD with last mile at MP

This run went as every long run should. I started slow and finished strong. Frank and Zeb came out to do 5 miles with me and I finished 3 more. It was cold out, but I stayed steady and strong. Let’s hope all of my long runs this cycle go this well! After my run, Elly was being super affectionate, so I snapped this little gem:

Elly is perfect.

This was a solid week, and I needed it to kick off my training for Colfax. I do have A1A coming up in a few weeks, and I feel a lot more prepared for that than I thought I was. I’m super excited to up my mileage this week and keep on with this momentum.

This week:

T: 3 miles easy

W: 5 miles with hill work

Th: 3 miles easy

F: 5 miles @ MP

S: Rest

S: 10 miles LSD

How has your training been? Have the temps been cold by you? If they are, hopefully your state is better at salting and plowing than Kansas.

Training (or something like it) Update

I’m not sure that I’d go as far as to call last week training. I only ran a little over 6 miles but I did tons of yoga. I was exhausted from all of the yoga and travel during the conference and couldn’t really muster the energy (or time) to go for a run. I gotta say though, 6 hours of yoga a day for two days can make you pretty freaking sore.

On Tuesday, I ran with the Manhattan Running Company run group, where we did a route up one of the biggest hills in town. I ran with a few girls while we complained on the uphill and cruised the downhill. It was a pretty fun night! On Wednesday, I went for a pretty easy run around town. However, it turned out to be kinda nuts. There were 60 mph winds and a parade going through downtown. Running head on into the wind was a rather humbling experience for sure.

Veterans Day Parade heading through town. I caught this while I was out for a run. 

South Florida was pretty awesome. My dad and I went kayaking through the Loxahatchee watershed in the Everglades where we saw tons of birds and a few gators. It was incredibly peaceful. We saw no one else out there besides a few motorboats on a canal and it was crazy quiet. We’ve already been talking about going back when I come home for Christmas.

My dad and I out in the Everglades.

Saturday and Sunday were both conference days. My mom is a yoga teacher as well, so we usually go to this conference together and attend all of the same workshops. We had classes with world-renowned teachers including Jason Crandell, Sean Corne, and Rodney Yee. Jason has always been my favorite teacher and any time I have a chance to take workshops or classes with him, I do. At the conference, he offered two workshops that we attended, Backbending and Inversions. Backbends have always been some of my least favorite postures. I’m not bad at them, but I always feel like I’m going to explode when I get out of them. He had some really good tips that didn’t really fix the explosion problem, but did make me feel like I could tolerate the postures a little better. I plan on writing up a little guide to backbends and include some of his tips in it.

My mom caught this shot during the workshop. We did Wheel Pose about 10 times in the class. 

My favorite workshop was on inversions. Jason went through some basic warm ups to help prep the body for more challenging inversions such as handstand and forearm stand. He had me demonstrate the postures for the group (which was one of the most nerve wracking experiences of my life) and he talked a lot of the importance of learning to balance with your fingers, which I have a hard time with. Overall, the workshops were a thrilling and eye opening experience. I really feel like these teachers inspired and furthered my practice.

This was a crazy awesome assist that Claire Missingham gave me during her workshop. 

This week I’ll be heading out to Utah for the week of my Birthday and Thanksgiving. I’m hoping to see Lizzy (Run Hare Run) on Friday when I drive through Denver and then it’s out to all of the National Parks Frank and I can get to in a week. I’ll take lots of pictures and blog from there!

Are you traveling for Thanksgiving? Where are you going? Ever been to Utah?

First Time Pacer

I had a ton of fun this weekend down in Fort Lauderdale at the Yoga Journal Conference! I always feel like these conferences really push my practice to the next level and inspire my yoga teaching. I’ll post more about it later.

I hate backbends, but I took a workshop on them that really helped me tolerate them.

I have some pretty cool news!

I am pacing the Bill Snyder Half Marathon in May 2016! I just received the email of our assignments, so it’s official. I will be pacing the 2:25 group. I am super excited and feel that it will be a really great experience.

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If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably read about when I ran my first half marathon at the A1A Half. I used a pacer to get me to a sub-2 hour finish. Honestly, without them I would have gone out too quick and not run the smart race that I did. I really wanted to pay it forward and get people to the time they want.

I’ll be back to post more later, but I was super excited and wanted to let everyone know!

Have you ever paced a race or used a pacer in a race? Any tips for a newbie pacer? 

Practice Running Fast Through Yoga

I have taught a lot runners and triathletes yoga. So, when I ask those students why they do yoga, I get a list of reasons including stretching, strengthening, relaxation, etc. Rarely, do I hear people say that they practice yoga to run faster or push harder. It seems counter intuitive. I know that in order to run faster, you need to train for it… you have to be strong and you have to be running at that speed in training. However, I think yoga has another benefit that makes us faster.

It teaches us about suffering.

Hard postures can teach us about suffering through hard races.
Hard postures can teach us a thing or two about suffering through hard races.

I don’t mean the suffering that you get from an injury. This suffering is the slight discomfort you get from holding a pose for a little longer than is comfortable. If you want to feel it, go into plank for about 30 seconds, and I promise you will suffer… just a little. Poses like extended side angle, boat, half moon, and many others, can teach us a lot about our minds and how we react to suffering. There are days when you will find that quiet place within yourself, but there are other days when you just can’t shut the mind off. When you start a yoga practice, more often than not, you can’t turn your mind off.

So… what does this have to do with running fast?

When I was running in the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon last weekend, I allowed myself to push a little harder than normal, to a place where I was just beginning to feel that same suffering that I get in more difficult yoga postures. Holding that level of suffering for 13.1 miles is not easy. It takes practice. But most of my running, lately, has been very slow. I didn’t push to that level of suffering in my running… I did it in my yoga practice. And trust me… no yogi ever enjoys holding hard postures. More than any other part of yoga, holding postures takes a lot of practice.

So, we don’t always have to push our minds only in our running. We can do it by practicing simple, but challenging, yoga postures. Sometimes we can practice by remaining seated and quiet. Create PR’s for how long you can hold a chair pose and you’ll see how quickly your mind is able to adapt to running just a little harder. I am certainly not the first person to think of this. Scott Jurek uses matras from his yoga classes when running long distance. It creates a quiet place in his mind when the going gets tough. He just repeats the mantra over and over and reminds himself why he is doing what he is doing. He uses his mind as his super power.

Many of us have the physical capabilities to run faster, but what stops us is that little voice in our heads that says that we have had enough! It takes a lot of practice to push past that voice and continue moving, even though moving isn’t exactly comfortable… even when moving makes us suffer. The simple act of sitting still and quiet can teach us that discipline. We all have this untapped mental power that only requires a little bit of practice.

Some moving, some training, and lots of pictures!

Guess what! I have a furnished apartment! I have a desk, a table, futon, bed… I am a real person with a real place and I love it! I live in a historic building that was a hotel in the 1920’s. My apartment is pretty tiny, but it suits Frank and I (and our two fuzzy animals pretty well).

So what does having an apartment mean? Well, it means that I am going to get back to being a person again, who writes on here more than once a week. I’ve been struggling trying to even fit in time to run, no less blog, so things have been kinda tricky.

This week went pretty well, and I really enjoyed running in lots of new places. I must say, the hills here are a bit of a change, and will help my running immensely. However, it does have me rethinking my goals a bit for my next half marathon on June 6.

Monday: Ran 4 miles at 8:55 + morning yoga

This was a slow and sluggish run. We had moved in our stuff the day before, and I was exhausted from all the driving. Frank had his first day at work, so I figured that I HAD to get out the door to go for a run. I only went 4 miles and my legs felt tired. It was a pretty run and I was excited by all the new scenery. I took a yoga class in the morning, which was awesome.

Beautiful river views.
Beautiful river views.

Tuesday: 3.2 with running group + morning yoga

They have a running club here in town, so I went out with them for their weekly run. There are three routes that they cycle through, and this week was the “hilly” route. I am sure to all of you from more mountainous areas, this would have been a piece of cake, but for me and my Indiana/Florida legs, this was a pretty substantial task. I managed to keep an 8:40 min/mi overall pace, but I felt pretty beat at the top of the hill. I guess this will get me ready for Hospital Hill.

So, that's a hill there. Us Floridians never see those... neither do the people from Indiana.
So, that’s a hill there. Us Floridians never see those… neither do the people from Indiana.

Wednesday: 4.5 at Konza Prairie + morning yoga

This run was probably the highlight of my week. I drove down to a preserve just south of town and expected it to be a pretty leisurely run. It was not. The prairie is in the heart of the Flint Hills, and they were pretty crazy. I had about 350 ft of elevation gain and I ended up taking a few breaks to take in the scenery and to text/complain to Lizzy about the hills (she didn’t know that I was in the middle of a run while I was texting her). Anyways, I was pretty spent afterwards, but it was a pretty awesome run.


Thursday: Morning Yoga

I did yoga. It was awesome, as yoga always is.

Friday: More morning yoga

I did more yoga. I was supposed to run, but a thunderstorm rolled in and I pushed it back, since I don’t have anywhere to run inside.

Saturday: Hiked 6 miles + Ran 4 miles

I made some new friends and we went hiking! It was super fun. We went to a state park just north of town and hiked about 6 miles along a network of hilly and forested trails. After I got home I slipped on my running shoes and went out for what I was hoping would be a 5-mile run. However, towards the end of mile 2, I saw lightening strike pretty close and decided to cut my run short. I haven’t quite gotten used to the unpredictability of the weather here.

Running during a thunderstorm!
Running during a thunderstorm!

Sunday: Biked 16 miles + hiked 6 miles + ran 8 pathetic miles

So I did too much and paid for it on my long run. Frank and I woke up early to bike out to the prairie about 8 miles from town. We hiked a 6-mile loop (and saw a bunch of wildlife) and then biked the 8 miles back. I was pretty tired, but we went to check out the Flint Hills Discovery Center for a talk about Prairie Chickens, an endangered bird found in this region. A few hours later I went on my long run. This was hands-down the absolute worst long run I’ve ever done. My legs felt like lead, I was sunburned from the bike ride earlier, so I felt a little dehydrated, and I just generally felt unmotivated. I was supposed to go 10 miles, but at 8 miles, I felt like my legs could go no further. I kept a 9:20 pace, but had to walk a few times. It was just bad…

Pretty new running trails. Too bad I felt too unmotivated to enjoy them.
Pretty new running trails. Too bad I felt too unmotivated to enjoy them.

I think I may have over trained a little this week. I did a ton of yoga and hiking, and I just think my body wasn’t quite ready for that much activity. Unfortunately, next week probably wont be much better because I am going to Rocky Mountain National Park for Memorial Day. I am going to try to get better sleep, and now that I’m all moved in, I wont be spending my free time moving stuff to a third floor apartment. The good news is that I feel totally injury free, no aches or pains, just general tiredness.

How was your week? Have you ever just had a TERRIBLE run?

Pose of the Month: Some deep hip opening!

So, I kinda fell off the bandwagon in April for Pose of the Month. I figured in celebration of my marathon training, I would start it up again.

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I picked out a pose for May that I think everyone could benefit from. I have been plagued with unbelievably tight hips. This can lead to pain in my lower back and even leave me open to some pretty nasty injuries (ITBS, runner’s knee, etc.). As runner’s I know a lot of us suffer from tightness in these areas.

This month’s posture: Fire Log Pose!

I never look that happy in this posture.
I never look that happy in this posture.

To get into this posture, start in a seated position facing the front of your mat. Take your right shin and draw it parallel with the front of your mat (your right foot is by your left knee) and then stack your left shin on top of your right so that your left ankle is on top of your right knee. Now, if your knees are up by your ears, STOP! There are a few modifications you can do to fix that (this is also a good resource for modifications in this posture).

  1. Sit on a block or stack of books to elevate the hips
  2. Take your left foot in front of the right knee and place it on a block or stack of books
  3. Place a block, pillow, or stack of books under each knee to stop hyper-extension

If you have a bit more mobility in your hips you can begin to hinge forward at the hips into a forward fold.

When you are done, switch sides!

So how do I look in this posture?

photo 1 (8)

Yeah, I am not exactly picture perfect here, but THAT’S OK! I teach this posture all the time in my classes and without shame, even though I am typically the least flexible in the room.

So, practice with me for this month. Let’s do this posture every day and see where we are at in a few weeks. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Do you have tight hips? Do you have any other areas of the body that you struggle with flexibility?