Week 1: Getting back some consistency!

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Each week I am going to post a short recap of my training as I work towards my goal of PR-ing my marathon time at Colfax in May. In total, we are about 19 weeks out from the big day, and although things are still up in the air, I am assuming that I’ll be toeing that line on May 21.

I began my training last week and kept it light. This was really my first introduction back to real running and I didn’t want to push it and risk injury. I had two key workouts and three easy runs, plus I did a lot of yoga. Lately, my yoga practice has been a lot more about focusing on my meditation than it has been in the past. I’ve always tried to cultivate a strong asana (or postures) practice, but lately, I need yoga as a way to clear my headspace. Yin yoga has been a real refuge as the world around me becomes a bit unstable.

Key Workouts: Tempo Run & 8-mile Long Run

 Monday: Rest – was heading home from my trip

Tuesday: 4 miles easy pace (9:28/mi) + Yin Yoga – I was honestly worried that I didn’t even know how to do this anymore. I had taken a full three weeks completely off running and had been rather inconsistent before that. But I still knew how to run, and it felt good.

Wednesday: 5 miles with 3 miles at tempo (8:42/mi) + Hatha Yoga – I wanted to see if I still had my speed. Well, three miles isn’t much, but it definitely let me see how things were going. I didn’t lose as much fitness as I thought I had. The run felt great.

Thursday: Yin Yoga + Rest

Friday: 8 miles LSD (9:22/mi) + Yin Yoga – I dreaded the long run all week, and was surprised to find that it was actually pretty okay. I’m certainly glad I didn’t go any further, but the 8 miles felt just find.

Saturday: 5 miles easy (9:11/mi) – I kept most of this run pretty chill and then accidentally busted out a mile at 8:30. Oops. Guess I was feeling pretty good!

Sunday: 3 miles easy (9:49/mi) – I ran with Frank and he is a bit slower than me, so we kept it chill. I always like running with him because he forces me to keep a much easier pace.

Total: 25 Miles

Next week I am bumping it up a little with a total of 30 miles and another key tempo workout and 10-mile long run. My goal next week is to really focus on some strength training. Since I herniated a disc in my back, I need to be more diligent about abdominal and lower back strength work. Next week, I’ll be getting to a bit of that along with some stairs.

How were your workouts last week? What is your favorite kind of workouts (I love speed work

Running, Goals, and Some Unknowns

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Hey Everyone!

It’s been a long time since I’ve been running hard and training for anything specific. My last race, the Route 66 Marathon, was a bit of a flop largely because I walked to the starting line severely undertrained and a bit burnt out from my ultra. I am once again back on my feet and I am determined to get to a May marathon with some better training under my belt.

You may notice that I have not really committed to a specific marathon yet. Unfortunately, I will likely be unable to for a while. Frank and I are looking to move from Kansas and we are not really sure where we will be come May, but I am training to run a race on May 21, the day of the Colfax marathon. I will plan to run Colfax if I am still in Kansas, or if I am driving distance from Denver. I want to run a half marathon some time in March, but unfortunately, I am unable to say where or when it will be yet. It’s hard training without specifics, and it’s very hard living with so many unknowns in my future. I feel like I cannot commit to anything beyond about two weeks since we could hear back from somewhere at any time and we would have to be ready to go.

One thing is for sure, we are looking to move out west. I have spent my entire life in the flatlands of the US, and we have been looking to get to the mountains. The western half of the US is huge, so I feel confident (and hopeful) that something will turn up soon.

Looking ahead into the unknown of 2017, I do have a few goals that I believe are attainable.

  • PR my marathon

I honestly don’t care if it’s by 2 freaking seconds, I just want a PR. I will train for a 3:50 time, but come race day, I will be happy with anything that is a PR.

  • Run a sub 1:45 half marathon

Ok, this one is a little more specific. My last half was 1:47 and it was very comfortable. I was in one of my favorite places in the world, Estes Park, and I hope to go back there for that sub-1:45 in August. I definitely think this is within my abilities, but I will need to work for it.

  • Run a 50-miler

Last year I ran a 50K, and I can honestly tell you that it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. However, those last few miles made everything worth it. I ran through the trails of Omaha with a giant smile of my face, so excited to be an ultra runner. Well, my new goal is to run a 50-miler, which I am hoping to do in the fall.

This week I will be getting back to my usual training updates, yoga posts, and random other things that make there way on to my blog. Thanks for being patient and waiting for me to be ready to train hard again.

And of course, here’s a picture of my favorite fur-ball.

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How do you deal with unknowns? Does change stress you out (it stresses me out)?

 

Let’s talk about science

This is a running blog, but today, we’re gonna talk about science.

The scientific method is a process of asking questions and answering those questions with evidence collected by the observer. As humans, we are very good at recognizing patterns, but sometimes our preconceptions get in the way of that recognition which causes us to see things that are not really there (or not see things that are). The scientific method is our way around it. It is strict, rigid and requires analysis of the evidence we collected.

The history of science goes back as long has humans have, and although versions of the scientific method have always been in use, it’s beginnings are generally attributed to Aristotle. There are two things that set the scientific method apart from just general data collection; (1) that you ask the question with a hypothesis BEFORE you collect the data, and (2) that you do not PROVE anything, you just disprove your hypothesis.

Example:

If I am curious about climate change and it’s causes, I do not start collecting data about CO2 levels in the atmosphere until I have a hypothesis.

Hypothesis: The temperature of the planet is rising because of rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

 Observation: I collect data on the CO2 levels in the atmosphere along with temperatures of the planet through soil cores, which allows me to know what those temperatures and CO2 levels were in the past. I collect data that tells me what the temperatures and CO2 levels have been for the past 200 years. (don’t worry, I’m just skipping over methods, but assume I have good ones, which climate scientists do)

What did I find? CO2 levels and temperatures both are going up at about the same rate since the industrial revolution, while they remain largely stable before that.

Conclusions (this is important): I cannot disprove the hypothesis that CO2 levels cause a rise in the overall global temperature.

Ok… so why was the conclusion so important? The real power of the scientific method comes from disproving a hypothesis, NOT proving it. It might seem like weird rhetoric, but it is unbelievably important. My experiment to test the hypothesis that CO2 levels are causing a rise in the global temperature did not prove anything at all. CO2 levels and temperature could be rising at the same time due to some outside factor. All I can say after my experiment is that I cannot reject my hypothesis that rising CO2 levels are causing a rise in the global temperature.

So… now that we got how the scientific method works down, lets talk about science a little.

Science has always been rejected by the general public, even when the evidence for a particular theory was overwhelming. We need only look to Galileo, who tested the idea of heliocentrism (that the sun is the center of the solar system). His ideas, although supported by evidence-based science, were fought by the church because they went against the perception that the Earth was the center. Now, going back to the scientific method, a lot of that resistance to Galileo’s ideas has to do with how the science was framed. Galileo did not PROVE that the sun was the center, he simply DISPROVED that the Earth was and could not disprove heliocentrism. There could have been an entirely different explanation. But all Galileo could do was disprove his hypothesis.

It turned out he was right.

Galileo was the most famous case of science denial in history, but this same thing happened again and again. We still, as a country, are resistant to Charles Darwin’s findings about evolution, despite the evidence that is on his side.

Let’s go back to climate change.

The evidence for human caused global warming is unbelievably overwhelming. The trajectory of our climate is a scary one. Scientists predict a potential 6 C rise in the global temperature over the next 100 years. THIS IS SOMETHING THAT MUST BE TALKED ABOUT. However, Donald Trump instituted a gag-order over all science produced by the EPA, National Park Service, USDA, etc. His administration has even gone so far as to force scientists to run their science by him and his politicians before they can release their findings to the public. That means that we have added a new step to the scientific method in America. After your conclusions, you must make sure that it is approved by Trump.

THIS IS NOT SCIENCE.

Due to the real power of the scientific method, science always has a way of coming out… and it always wins. Unfortunately, our science right now suggests that if we continue on the path we are on, the global temperature will cause for unlivable conditions on this planet. Yeah, science is right and will prevail, but we may not.

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The X-axis is year, Y-axis on right is average global temperature, and Y-axis on the left is CO2 in parts per million in the atmosphere. This shows the correlation between temperature and CO2 levels.

I don’t mean to sound like an alarmist, but this stuff is real. This is our reality right now. No alternative facts, just truth. Climate change is the big issue of our time and how we act right now will have effects on generations to come.

Don’t be scared. Be vigilant. Call your congressperson, senators, the white house, etc. Call your policy makers and remind them of the real power of the scientific method. Remind them that science is real and that it is going nowhere. Climate change is not a conspiracy theory. The evidence is there. We just have to listen.

My Wild Patagonian Adventure

I’m back! After about a month running around the world, I have finally landed back in Kansas. Frank and I had a fantastic time in Patagonia. We spent our time hiking through several Chilean and Argentine National Parks, checking out some of the towns in the region, and of course, seeing penguins. Here are just some of the pictures from our adventures. I have thousands…

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Although the trip was incredibly fun, Patagonia is a very touristy place. I was expecting to be out there and find no one but a few really dedicated hikers and mountaineers, but in reality, it was covered in European, Israeli, and British tourists. It was also a lot more expensive than I expected. I am certainly glad that we went, but if I had known what Patagonia would be like, I likely would have gone somewhere else.

To be completely honest, I have yet to find a National Park system in the world that can compete with the US in maintenance and cost. While in Patagonia, I longed for the solace of Canyonlands and Glacier National Park. In the US, you really only have to hike a few miles into the backcountry to find yourself completely alone. That was not the case in Patagonia. No matter how far I went, I always found crowds and tons of people (and garbage). I did leave with an extreme appreciation for our National Park Service.

Now that I have returned, I will be getting back to consistent blogging. I am putting together a training program to run Colfax again in May. I will be blogging my training progress as I prepare for the race. I will also have a few other races on my calendar, which I’ll leave for another post.

I hope you all had a great month, and I am looking forward to getting back in touch.

What is your favorite National Park? Do you have any races coming up soon?

Heading to Patagonia 

I am leaving on a jet plane!!!

Tomorrow Frank and I are heading to Patagonia for three weeks of crazy traveling through one of the most beautiful areas in the world. Patagonia is a large piece of land in southern Chile and Argentina that is filled with mountains, fjords, and penguins. We have a few friends meeting us down there and I expect this to be a wild and crazy adventure. Those of you who have been following me for a while know that I have been talking about this trip for a very long time. Well… it’s finally here! 

It’s penguins and mountains! What more could I ask for?!

I hope to run a little while I’m out there, but if I do end up with a long break, it won’t hurt. I’ve been having another flare up of sciatica from my herniated disc and it’s causing a lot of leg pain. When I get back, I’m going to address it with back strengthening exercises, but for now, I am just going to push through. My plan is to begin training for colfax again, but incorporate a lot more cross training into my program.

I’ve been in Florida for the past week, spending time with family for the holidays. My dad and I even managed to get some cool pictures of this owl. 

He’s pretty adorable, right?!

It’s been great to get away from the cold weather and be with family. I’ll be back in Florida for a few days on my way back to Kansas. 

I will try to post while I’m away, but if I don’t, I’ll see you when I return! 

How not to run a marathon: My Route 66 Marathon Recap

On November 20, I ran the Route 66 Marathon and to say that it was a disaster is an understatement. I made a lot of mistakes, both in my control and out of my control, that lead to a bad race. Here, I am going to tell you how NOT to run a marathon. It’ll serve as my race recap, and by the end, you’ll have a pretty good feel for what happened during my race. If you want to run a really good race, don’t do these six things.

Step 1: Run a 50K four weeks before your goal marathon

Exactly 4 weeks before Route 66, I ran my first ultramarathon. It was a pretty amazing experience, but it was not one that set me up for a good marathon in the weeks to come. Although I did bounce back rather quickly, the “fast” was zapped right out of my legs. I didn’t feel sore or injured, but I just couldn’t get myself moving at the paces I could before the race. I continued to push and gave myself only a two week taper heading into Route 66 after weeks of 45 and 50 miles per week (following the ultra). I remained positive and figured this wouldn’t hurt me too bad.

Step 2: Get super depressed that Donald Trump was elected president and just stop running

I had a lot of stressors heading into the race. There was a flood in my apartment, which booted Frank and I (and Elly and Sydney) out of our apartment for about a week. I didn’t have access to my stuff and felt generally unsettled. THEN TRUMP WAS ELECTED. I was depressed and couldn’t find the will to run. In fact, given what the world was coming to, I didn’t feel like running was all that important. So, I just stopped. I ran a total of 8 miles heading into the last two weeks before the race. This caused me to lose a lot of fitness and be in the wrong headspace for Route 66.

Step 3: Get your period the day before the race

This was totally out of my control. Unfortunately, with my period, I also get some mild intestinal distress. This time, it wasn’t so mild. I couldn’t eat too well, I was having trouble with liquids (they would go right through me, TMI, I know). I probably spent the day pretty dehydrated, but there really wasn’t much I could do. Note: I did know this was going to happen, but it usually doesn’t affect me this much.

Step 4: Run hard even though you are not really feeling it

I knew at the starting line that things were not looking bright for a PR. I thought about maybe just trying to run even splits for a 4:00 marathon. I figured that would be within my reach, and I still think it was. This would allow me to feel good and not be defeated by the distance. Instead, I ran at the pace I had decided weeks before the race and go for a sub 3:50 marathon (even though I realistically knew that was not going to happen). So, for the first 18 miles, that was the pace I ran at.

Step 5: Don’t slow down when your body is saying “this is too much”

I saw Frank at mile 14, and he jumped out on the course and ran with me for about a half mile. He gave me some water and asked how I was feeling. I thought about it for a moment and said “Tired. I am too tired for mile 14 right now”. I knew it at this point that I was headed for a massive disaster. Instead of slowing down, I thought maybe I should try to catch up to the 3:50 pace group. I figured they could help me through some rough patches. Frank told me that they were just a little ahead of me, so I pushed harder. I tried to ignore the tired and the sick feeling in my stomach and push forward. I never did catch up with them.

Step 6: Stop at EVERY port-a-potty from mile 18 to the end of the race

At mile 18, everything caught up with me. I didn’t hit the usual glucose wall, I hit the poop wall. My stomach flipped out. I stopped visualizing the end of the race, but was instead just looking forward to bathrooms. I ended up at every single port-a-potty until the end of the race. When I ran, I was keeping about an 8:45-8:50 pace, but I was spending 5 minutes at a time in the bathroom, so my 8:50/mi pace slowed to 10/mi and then 11/mi and eventually to 13/mi. I felt like crap (pun intended).

So, if you are running a marathon, don’t do what I did. I think I learned a lot during the race, but it was an overall disappointing performance. My final time (with pooping episodes) was 4:06:37, almost 10 minutes slower than Colfax. I felt pretty bad about it, and took 2 full weeks off from anything running related. Even after returning back, I was having trouble. I wasn’t feeling the usual burn or push. Then, last night, after a short 3-mile run, I came home and was talking all about PRing my half and running Colfax again this year. For the first time since the race, I was feeling like myself again, loving running, the process and all of the ups and downs. In reality, not every race can be a Colfax. Sometimes, they are a poop/bonk fest. Those races are important too.

There are no photos of the race, because I was very sad and crying, so I guess Frank didn’t feel compelled to record that. So, instead here is a photo of Sydney (my cat) sitting on her favorite window sill.

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She’s very cute.

Important Note: I did make it to the port-a-potty every time, so I did succeed in not pooping my pants in a race. Go me!

What’s your worst race? Have you ever had stomach problems on a race course?

 

Why do you run?

Why do you run? I was asked that question after I finished my ultra last week. They had free massages, and of course I took advantage of that! I asked the masseuse if she ran, she said no and asked why I felt the need to run so far. Was it an addiction? I thought for a moment (while she was digging her elbow into my shoulder), it really isn’t an addiction. When I don’t run, I don’t feel like I NEED to run. I mean, I could stop. I don’t want to, but I could. So that just made me think… why do I run?

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The thing is, I feel most confident about myself when I am running. I feel even more confident when I am running far. When I was young, I used to look at my thick thighs and wish they were smaller. Now I look at them and thank them for carrying me 32 miles in less than 6 hours. Like seriously… how could I not be thankful and love my body when it can do something so amazingly cool.

Women have so much pressure to be skinny, or strong, or whatever. We are constantly being bombarded by advertising that is telling us that we need to be something different from what we are. In order to be liked, we have a set of rules to follow and our bodies must fit into a certain set of categories. We also must be able to identify the parts of our body we want to “work on” to make our butts perky, our breasts big, and our bellies flat. That way, we can go to the gym and do targeted workouts to make ourselves fit into society’s definition of perfect.

But many women have tiny breasts, or butts with cellulite, or thighs that jiggle. Whether anyone else notices it, we all have something that makes us self-conscious. In the last few miles of that ultra, I was not self-conscious at all. I was awesome. Every cell in my body… it was f*cking perfect. My poor posture, jiggly thighs, flabby arms and tiny boobs, they were all exactly how I wanted them to be. That body got me 32 miles and I felt amazing for it. When I run, I’m reminded that I have the body I want to have. My body is healthy, strong, and beautiful and I don’t need to work on anything. I just want my body to keep doing what it’s doing.

So, that’s what I answered with. Why do I run? Because it makes me feel confident and really good about my body.

The masseuse answered, “That’s definitely something I can jive with. Maybe I should try running.”

I hope she does.

I am an Ultramarathon Runner!

Yesterday was the day after my first ultramarathon, and I kind of felt like I got hit by a bus. Seriously, even my arms were hurting, which is pretty amazing given that I ran on my legs. I guess that’s to be expected. I did run nearly 32 miles. There were certainly moments that made finishing feel impossible, but I pushed through those and finished the race 25 minutes faster than my goal time. Honestly, towards the end I was only running because I wanted it to be done sooner. But the great thing about trails is that today, I am actually not sore. Like at all. The pounding on the legs is much less and the recovery is so much faster than a road race.

Oh and I got these sweet medals!

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I’m gonna be honest here, ultramarathons are hard… like crazy impossibly hard. I had rough patches that lasted miles, cramps that never seemed to end, and pain just about everywhere. This race made Colfax seem like a nice stroll through Denver. There is something crazy about seeing the marathon mark go by on your watch and know that you still have six miles to go. But it’s over and now I can officially say that I am an ultramarathon runner. I did it.

Once the race pictures are posted I will write a full recap of the race, but for now, I am basking in the glory of finishing such a big goal. I did some active recovery yesterday and went for a long walk with Frank around our neighborhood. Fall has fully set in, so we had some beautiful trees to gaze at.

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My goal walking into GOATZ was to finish the race, but not beat up my legs too bad, and I really feel like I achieved that. Today I am going to do an easy run and some yoga. I am less than a month out from Route 66, so I’m working on a quick recovery.

On the Eve of an Ultra

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If all goes well, by the end of this weekend I will be an ultramarathon runner, a title I’ve thought about for a long time. It’s been years since Western States hasn’t gone through my head nearly daily. I’ve done a lot to bring myself inches closer to that goal, but on Sunday, I will be getting 31.5 miles closer. On Sunday, I am taking the largest step forward I possibly can in making my goal my reality. Normally, I’d assume this would make me nervous… but it’s not. I don’t feel nervous at all. This feels like the natural progression of things, as if this is clearly what needs to happen.

For Colfax, I knew what my goals were, I knew how to play it and what I needed to do to have a great day. This time, things are a little less clear. I have no time goal. I feel like 6-hours is probably a pretty good estimate, but I won’t know much until I get to the trail. The race is made of three 10.5 mile loops, each of which has about 2000 feet of vertical gain. That is a lot more than I am used to covering here in Kansas and I don’t really know what will feel like a comfortable pace. This race is truly a wait and see. My only time goal is to go for a negative split, something I’ve never been able to do in a trail race.

I’ve gotten my gear together, my drop bags, food, and everything that I will need to cover the distance. All that’s left is a few slow miles and two nights of sleep before I toe the line in Omaha. Am I scared? Yeah, a little. But I am not nervous. I know I can do this and every time I think I can’t, I’ll remind myself of why I am here. This is the beginning of my journey to Squaw Valley. However Sunday goes, this is just the first step. I’ve always found that the hardest part of a run is simply getting out the door. Well, here I am, getting out that door.

Getting Ready to go Ultra

Thanks everyone for all of the supportive comments last week after my update. I am in the final week before my race, and to say that I am nervous is an understatement. Running 31.5 miles wont be easy or pretty, but I think I can get it done. I still have some last minute details to get through, and I am not entirely sure what I am going to eat on the course (I know, a little late, right?). Most things I’ve tried, besides GU packets, bother my stomach and I really don’t see myself being able to down GU for 6+ hours.

Last week, my iPod shuffle kicked the bucket on a run. It’s been my running partner for some time now and I was quite devastated when I realized that my sweat had killed it. Fortunately for me, AudioFlood makes an awesome waterproof version of the shuffle. It came in yesterday, just in time to have some music during my race! I’ve been downloading music from the library and itunes to make sure that I have plenty to listen to for the many hours that I will be running in Omaha this weekend.

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So, now I’m pretty feeling ready! At least as ready as one feels before they take on their first ultra marathon…

And since you haven’t seen how Elly is doing for a while, here’s a beautiful pic of her from yesterday.

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Do you run with music? What player do you use? Any song suggestions for my race?