Goals

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Goals. They can be big, and scary, and impossibly hard. As runners, we often set manageable, small, tiny goals that are reachable. We set goals that we can wrap our heads around. But sometimes, we should be setting goals that are maybe a reach, something that even on a perfect day may not happen. Failure is part of the game, and often times, I set soft goals that I can reach even on an okay day.

More important than choosing the goal is realizing that you are capable of something really really big. When toeing the line of my first marathon, I remember being filled with self-doubt, but as the miles ticked on, I realized that I was a lot stronger than I gave myself credit for. I have been a runner for a long time and lately, I have been feeling ready for something huge. For some reason, self-doubt seems gone and marching forward, I feel like I am capable of something harder than I have done before.

In October, I am running the St. George Marathon, and my goal is to run a Boston Qualifier (3:35).

I signed up for St. George with this goal in mind, but I was debating putting it on the blog at all. St. George is a downhill course that is known for it’s BQs. Yeah, I know a few of you are laughing right now. Given my past times, this is a reach. But I know that my obstacles are not physical. Every time I truly believe that I can be faster, I am. I don’t know where that wall is, and maybe it’s somewhere like 3:40, but by going for that qualifier, I’ll find that wall and I’ll know for sure. My shorter distance (5K and 10K) times reflect that this is within my abilities. St. George gives me the opportunity to find out if that is true.

I am not afraid of failure and I am not afraid of pain. There is no doubt in my mind that going for this goal will be unbelievably painful but that’s fine. I can handle that. And if I fail, I’ll just do it again.

I will be using a training plan by Sage Running. It focuses on making sure that I get the appropriate amount of rest between hard workouts, but it will also be pretty high mileage at it’s peak. Luckily, the plan is easily adjustable if I do run into any over training problems (which I often do because my job is very physical as well). My mantra over the next few months is to trust the training plan. Training officially starts on June 19 and until then I am just base building and getting stronger.

Am I nuts? Yeah, probably, but really, why be afraid of failure? October 7 is going to be a glorious day either way. Maybe this is corny, but all I have to do is believe.

Training Update: Base Building

I feel like my blog has turned into an ode to how much I love Utah.

But seriously, I really love Utah.

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It’s just too pretty here.

Anyways… this is a running blog and I do have some running coming up. As a few of you already know, I am not running the Utah Valley Marathon due to my injury from a few weeks back. I am still coming back from the injury and my mileage is pretty low at the moment. Instead, I am hoping to do the half.

Despite my setbacks so far in 2017, I am hoping to have at least one really good race in the fall. I signed up for the St. George Marathon in October and will be going for a very significant PR there. I know that it seems early to say that I am going for a good time, but St. George is a downhill course that is known for shaving many minutes of marathon times. The race goes through some of the most beautiful parts of southern Utah and generally draws a big crowd.

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Training for St. George will start in June, so I have a few months of base building and strengthening before I start. I want to have my ankle in tip top shape before I start, so I am keeping my mileage pretty low and doing a lot of cross training to make sure that I don’t aggravate it more. I also imagine that some upper body and core strength won’t hurt in making me a faster runner.

That being said, this was my training last week.

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M: 4.3 miles at easy pace + 6 mile hike at Ferguson Canyon

T: 4 miles at marathon pace (8:55/mi) + Climbing at the gym

W: Yoga + Climbing at the gym

T: 6ish miles no watch

F: Yoga + 4 miles on trail 800 ft vert

S: Hiked ~7-8 miles

S: Snowshoed 8 miles

Total: 18 ish miles running + 22 miles hiking

Apparently I hiked a lot more than I ran this week. It might be that way for a little while since walking does not hurt my ankle at all. The snowshoe hike did not feel 100%, but everything else felt good. I’m excited to get my strength back, but I am definitely taking my time getting there. These are my plans for this week:

M: Off

T: 5 miles + climbing + yoga

W: 10 miles + yoga

T: Off

F: 5 miles + Yoga

S: 4 miles + hiking

S: 4-6 miles + hiking

Of course that mileage is all ankle dependent, but we’ll see how it goes. How is your training going? Have you picked out any races for the fall?

Sydney Update: She seems totally fine. She’s been a little needier than usual, but seems to be back to her usual self. I’m still kinda confused about what happened, but she seems much much better.

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Sydney and I were disturbing Frank while he tried to sleep.

 

A Dream Come True

I’ve spent my whole life loving and admiring the mountains, but always being a plane or long car ride away. It hurt to watch the Rocky Mountains disappear from my rearview mirror each time that I came home from Denver. The drive back into Kansas is long and monotonous, and more than anything, I wanted to live in the mountains. Not visit once in a while, but have a bit of ownership to them. I’ve talked about living somewhere in the Rocky’s since I was in the 4th grade and it always seemed like a dream that would never come true.

It has been a long long wait, but my dream finally became reality. On March 3rd, I am leaving Kansas to live in Salt Lake City, Utah. Suddenly, my running pictures are going to be a lot prettier.

This is so much more than a simple move for me. It is me, finally being in the place I’ve always wanted to live. It’s me, doing what I always said I was going to do. This means the world to me, in every way.

I’m glad to say that I won’t be running Colfax, because there is a marathon much closer. On May 20th, I’ll run the Ogden Marathon, less than an hour from Salt Lake. I loved Colfax, but I want to run my city! I want to run Salt Lake!

So, there you have it. No more uncertainty (except that I have no idea where I’m living, but we’ll get that under control), no more waiting for my big day. The dream finally came true.

Utah… Here I come!saltlake.jpg

Chicago Training Update

I hate writing training recaps, so I am going to make this one short and sweet. Training for Chicago has been really up and down for me. Unlike the near linear progression I had during Colfax, Chicago has been one step forward, two steps back. Although the training has been hard, I did have a breakthrough race last week (more about that in my recap post later).

I’ve really had a hard time finding motivation and inspiration for this race, but I’ve kind of made a decision. I have been trying to fit myself into a new category, a 6-day-per-week runner, and I am simply not that. So, I have basically abandoned the Hanson’s plan and I am going back to what I did for Colfax… because you know what, it worked. Training is about finding what works for you and sticking with it. I know what works for me and I am going back to that.

Well… this week I took things pretty chill. I was recovering from my races and Longs Peak Summit from the week before. I took a few days off and did some nice slow running.

M: Rest

T: Rest – was still really sore

W: 8 Miles Easy

T: Another Rest Day

F: Worst Track Workout Ever (4×800)

S: 10 mile Long Run

S: 6.5 miles easy

Total: 30.7 miles

Not bad for a first week back after a wild and crazy weekend. My track workout was supposed to be 6 x 800, but I just couldn’t finish it. I felt like absolute crap and called it quits. Usually track workouts are a real confidence booster for me, but unfortunately, this one was just a drag. The long run the next day was pretty great, so I guess that made up for it.

This week I am going to step it up a notch. I only have 6 more training weeks before the taper, so I’m gonna make the best of it. Things are shifting over to more marathon specific work, including a lot more time at marathon pace. I’m pretty excited to hone things down a bit and get myself feeling ready for Chicago.

I didn’t take a whole lot of pictures, so here is a pic from our paddle this weekend:

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And of course, here is a pic of the cutest cat in the whole world:

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How was your training? What is your next goal race?

A bump in the road to Chicago

Did anyone watch Olympic trials last night for the women’s 800 m? It was insane! A crazy fall resulted in a wild shake-up and an unlikely champion. If you haven’t seen it, you should watch the video!

So… my training…

A lot has happened this past week and I should probably go back to my Colfax training to describe the whole story.

While I was training for Colfax, I started having a weird pain and weakness on the outside of my right leg. I thought it was IT-band syndrome or maybe a strained muscle, but this just felt different. I continued to run on it and tried to put it out of my mind. It worked! I ended up making it to Colfax feeling good and healthy, and never felt the pain once during the race. I ended up taking some time off to recover and everything seemed to be fine… so I just forgot about the pain and moved forward figuring that it had healed itself.

Fast forward to my first 45-mile week of Chicago training…

I started to feel the pain again, but this time in my left leg (strange, right?). I again, choked it up to some IT band pain, since it ran on the outside of the leg. However, I was concerned that it was switching sides and causing a lot of weakness below my knee. Last week it got so bad that I was having trouble running. I figured it was time to see someone about this. I mentioned it to a friend and she suggested that I see a chiropractor, since it was likely in my back (the whole switching sides thing).

On Friday morning I made a trip to a chiropractor. I described the pain and he agreed, it was likely my back. He felt around, poked me on my spine and SI-joint and used some weird hammer thing to push things back into place. His conclusion: I probably have a herniated disc on the L5 joint. Ugh!! He didn’t think it is a running injury at all, but does think that running brings out the symptoms. Probably if I were not a runner, I would go along with my herniated disc as if nothing were wrong and never even notice it.

So… what now?

Well, I am going to see the chiropractor for a few visits to try to get everything back into place. He said that he felt optimistic that this would be a relatively easy fix and that I wont need to take time off from running. If he can’t make the pain in my legs stop, I need to go get an MRI to see if the herniation is really bad or if there is some stenosis (narrowing of the spinal chord… something I very much don’t want as a 29 year old). He did tell me to cool it a bit with the mileage until we get this under control and to go back to 5 days of running per week instead of 6. Since speed work isn’t typically what hurts, I can still do that, but I need to stop if I am in pain.

What does this mean for Chicago? Well… I am not sure. I am going to take these next few weeks pretty chill, since the most important thing is making my back healthy. I might need to rethink my goals a little, and that’s okay with me. At the moment, nothing is changing, but that doesn’t mean that nothing will change a few weeks from now. I am going to take things day-by-day and hope for the best.

I did some trail running yesterday and didn’t feel the pain at all and I am going to do a nice easy workout tonight. Assuming that the pain is not there, I’ll go ahead and do my track workout tomorrow. I’m not too upset about this, since I am confident that it will be under control in the next few weeks or so. Timing wise, I feel like this isn’t too terrible. I am still many weeks away from Chicago and have plenty of time to train.

Long story short, I have no idea what is going on, but I’ll let you know when I know!

How as your July 4th? Any fun adventures over the weekend? I’ll post about mine soon.

When Mountains Call

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I was sitting on the side of Grand Teton, with a heavy pack, hurt knee, and a generally tired body when a thin, wiry blonde woman ran by me at record speed. She had a tiny pack with only water and food and she made getting up that mountain look effortless. I had been a competitive runner in another life, but was then just another hiker, defeated by a mountain I would not climb. The girl bounced away and all I could think about was how I wanted that to be me… that one day, I would run the trails, up the mountains, with that same ease.

This was my first introduction to trail running, and distance running in general. I had always been a sprinter and had confined myself to the 400 & 800 m distances. After high school, I had stopped running and it would be years before I would return. In reality, I only made it back because climbing mountains is hard and you need to be in wildly good shape to do it.

I returned home from my failure on Grand Teton and read all that I could about trail running. I read Born to Run, and Eat and Run and was convinced. Eventually… one day… no matter how long it would take me… I vowed to run trails and ultras. For years, I followed the ultra running scene, never partaking, but just as an idle spectator. As I watched, I would run further and further. The evolution from sprinter to marathoner happens slowly and I took my time. I would sign up for trail runs here or there and usually do really well. My heart was in it and it was where I really felt free. As I ran my first trail half marathon, for the first time I felt like that girl, bouncing down the trails, light on her feet without a care in the world.

I ran my first marathon and walked away feeling great. I loved everything about it… the lifetime’s worth of emotions in less than four hours, the real ownership of the race, the fact that it was not easy and I had to work hard to get there. Road marathons are fun, exciting, exhausting, and so many other things… but really, they are not enough. There is something truly special about running through the woods, over hills, while pushing your body as far as you possibly can and maybe even a little further. Trail runs are so solitary, yet you feel so completely connected to nature. That is exactly where I should be.

Four years ago, sitting on the side of Grand Teton, I knew that I could run high and far… but I also knew that it would take time. I have been patient, slowly upping my mileage and base and pushing myself to my edge, never passing it. But I will be an idle watcher no more. I have finally decided to put that fire beneath my feet.

If the world could go exactly as I want it to, this post would be the beginning of an eventual quest towards the Western States 100, the granddaddy of ultramarathons. I can’t tell you that it will go that way, since they have a lottery process that is tough and I may never get picked. Also, it is 100 miles and I don’t know that I could train up to that. I will tell you that this post will be the beginning of a quest towards a 50K and maybe even a 50-miler. After Chicago, I will transition towards running on trail and on hills. I’ve finally grown tired of watching from the sidelines.

So, there it is. I have put it out into the universe. A goal. A dream. It’s a scary one to speak, but really, would it be worth doing if I weren’t scared?

Probably not.

Chicago Marathon Training: Week 3

Alright guys… I have just been a horrible blogger lately. This week, my goal is to remedy that a bit. Despite my lack of blogging about running, I have been running a lot. Maybe even a little too much (IT band made itself known yesterday, so I am backing off). But, even with some squirrelliness in my leg, my runs last week were solid and training is going great. I’ve also made a successful transition to morning running. As soon as the sun comes up, the temps begin to approach 95-110 degrees, so morning running is really the only answer. This means waking up at 5 am (ouch) to be out the door before 6 and off the roads by 8. As my long runs get a little longer, I may have to be out there even earlier. I’ll worry about that when I get there.

I am using the Hanson’s Advanced Marathon Training Plan with a goal time of 3:45. These are my paces:

Goal Marathon Time: 3:45
Goal MP: 8:35
Strength: 8:25
Speed: 7:33 – 7:52
Easy: 9:35 – 10:35
LSD: 9:05 – 10:35

This was my training for the week:

M: 6 miles GMP 4 miles GMP + WU & CD (it was 97 degrees out… give me a break)

T: Easy 6 Miles (9:45/mi)

W: Track Workout – 8 x 600 + 400 Recovery lap + WU & CD (2:34, 2:39, 2:35, 2:35, 2:29, 2:47, 2:40, 2:38)

T: Easy 8 Miles (9:22/mi) – oops…

F: 10 Miles LSD (9:12/mi)

S: Rest (actually, hiking)

S: Easy 6 Miles (9:47/mi)

Total Mileage: 44 Miles

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Beautiful morning for some 600 repeats!

In addition to the running, I also did yoga and body weight strength workouts each day. As you can see, a few of my paces were taken just too fast. I think this lead to my IT band making itself known towards the end of the week. The track workouts were supposed to be between 2:49-2:56, which not a single repeat was. I am having some trouble with not taking track workouts fast. To ward off potential injury, I am taking a week off from track work and taking an extra rest day. I definitely don’t think my IT band is injured, but I could feel it coming on, so I am not going to play around. This needs to be nipped in the bud now.

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I’m seriously not kidding about these temps. 

Last week was also the first back-to-back long run. For the rest of training, my longest easy run is the day before my long run, which contributes to the cumulative fatigue you get through this plan. I gotta say, I liked it! The long run felt natural, but I was definitely more tired than I typically am during a 10 mile run. Also, the long runs are taken quite a bit faster than I am used to. It was nice to go a little faster.

Over the weekend, Frank and I did some hiking and camping with some friends. During the campout, we tried to see if both of us could fit in our friend’s kayak. Success!!

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I think I was trying to wiggle away as he squeezed me a little too hard. 🙂

Next week is going to be a little chiller than usual. I am cutting out a track workout and cutting back the mileage a little to give my IT band a break. I’m going to keep up with my yoga and body weight strength training, but I am going to cut out squats and lunges. During the weekend, I’ll be out in Arkansas with a few friends to climb some routes at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch again. Should be a great time!

I know, I owe you a race recap still…I’ll get that out some time this week.

How was your week? How has your training been going? Any plans for 4th of July weekend?

Chicago Marathon Training

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Today begins the 2nd week of my training for the Chicago Marathon. What happened to the 1st week? Well… due to traveling back from Europe, insane jetlag, and tiredness… I took the entire 1st week off. That may sound like a weird thing to do when training for a marathon, but for me, it was necessary. Injury risk is always at a high when I am exhausted. I also wanted to make sure that I had at least 2 full weeks off from running to be fresh from Colfax and the Liverpool Half Marathon.

For the next 17 weeks, I will be following the Hanson’s Advanced Marathon Plan. This means I will be doing a lot of running, but shorter long runs. I chose this plan after realizing that the 20-miler runs I did for Colfax were probably doing more harm than good. They would leave me tired and burnt out and after having run a marathon less than a month ago, I feel that running super long long runs will only leave me battered and broken.

The other thing I like about the Hanson’s plan is the goal aspect of it. Coming off of a fantastic first marathon experience, I feel more ready than ever to go for a big PR. I ran the Colfax Marathon in 3:57 and my goal is to run Chicago in 3:45, a 7% time decrease. According to the Hanson’s book, this is possible… but I am going to have to work for it. These will be my paces while I train:

Goal Marathon Pace: 8:35/mi
Strength Workouts: 8:25/mi
Speed Workouts: 7:33-7:52/mi
Easy Days: 9:35-10:35/mi
Long Runs: 9:05-10:35/mi

With the Hanson’s Plan, these paces are written in stone. Straying from my easy paces will lead to fatigue, overtraining, and potentially, injury. Seeing that I want to get to Chicago healthy and ready, I will keep to this plan. As of now, that goal marathon pace seems pretty steep, but I hope that over the next 17 weeks, it will seem more realistic and less daunting.

In addition to Chicago, I will be running a few races within the training period. I do have another goal race, the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon, where I am hoping to nab a PR of less than 1:47, the half marathon pace that is equivalent to a 3:45 marathon. Although this race is far from flat, and is at 7,000 feet, it was my PR race until recently and I PRed by over 5 minutes when I ran the race last.

Each week, I will do a loose overview of my training to let you know the ups and downs as I make my way to the starting line. I’m not sure how formal they will be, but I will at least include something, even if they are mostly complaints.

Well, here it goes… Marathon #2. I’m ready to chase down some goals!

Have you tried the Hanson’s Training Plan? How did you like it? What is your next goal race?

I’m Back!!!!

I’m back!!! After two epic weeks in Europe, and a whole lot of flights, I am finally back in Manhattan, KS and slowing returning to my normal life. I look forward to catching up on all of your blogs and training, but I am still exhausted and it may take me some time to get back to the grind.

In Europe, my mom and I went to London, Liverpool, Krakow (Poland), and Paris. It was a ton of fun AND I even nabbed a tiny new half marathon PR in Liverpool (post about that to come). Here is a few photos of all of our fun:

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Thai food in London
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Post half marathon nap
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The streets of Krakow
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In front of the Arc de Triumph
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Big Ben

What’s next? I start training for Chicago… like now! I took a few weeks to run slow and infrequently as I recovered from my several weeks of wild running. However, the break is over and it’s time to get back into marathon training. I’ll be posting soon about my training plan and goals.

Hope you all had a great few weeks! How is your training going? Are you traveling this summer?

Rocky Mountain High!

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Last run in Manhattan!!!

Alright!! So here it is, I am leaving today for Denver!! Frank and I will be staying with our good friend, Scott, in Boulder, which is about 40 minutes away from the starting line. I am definitely excited to go… although I don’t think Elly shares that excitement.

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I did my last few runs, including my last time seeing the Linear Trail before the race. Seriously, I couldn’t stop smiling the entire run.

I am all packed up and ready. Oh… and this is my raceday outfit:

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I’ll be wearing my Roga Shorts and a Flyte Tank from Oiselle. I’ll have a lot of Gu packs on me, so luckily my Roga Shorts have enough pockets to accommodate that.

I still don’t know my bib number, but you can still check athlete tracking using my name. The race starts at 6:00 am MT… pretty early unless you are an east coaster.

Thanks for all of the advice and support you all gave me and for signing up for runner tracking. I might be the most tracked runner at that race. Haha! I am so excited to get on the road and get this thing done!!!

Only 3 days until the race! See ya’ll when I get back!!!