Sunday, January 14, 2018

Boston training week 2: the one with the huge and epic rain deluge

The weather around here is pretty drunk.

The week started out as one would expect for January, Monday was decent enough coming in at 15 degrees or so. Later in the week, the temps spiked to 50 and the world turned to slime!

On Monday, I was looking for an easy run, and since easy runs are boring I decided to go on a run/hike/snow leap adventure. This was a really good choice (and was still easy.) I ran to hawk mountain and broke a trail to the top, sometimes in knee deep snow which required some bounding. I saw a lot of tracks, but zero animals. On the way back down the hill I ran super fast, leaping into the deep snow and pretending that I was skiing or something. It was the kind of fun that you just can't have unless you commit to a properly good mountain adventure!
I do need some gaiters though. I collected quite a bit of snow!

We had some really good weather mid week. As mentioned, the temps got up to 50 at one point, which had all of us in short sleeves and sunglasses!

Unfortunately, on the day I had a workout planned it was really dark by the time I finished up work, so to the treadmill I went. I completed 6x800 @6:59. I can't remember the last time I did repeats on the treadmill at a sub 7 pace. Oh don't worry, it was not an easy jog by any means! But, I completed the workout with no issues and felt good about it.
I don't always mind running in the dark, in fact, it is a fairly regular part of my fall running. I tend to think that when there is a ton of snow it isn't the greatest idea, and it is especially hard to run decent speed work when trying to avoid ice and death in the dark.
The good news, we have gained close to 20 minutes of evening daylight. YAY!

I took an extra rest day on Friday. I wasn't feeling my best, which is unusual for me, but since I was really dragging I decided that catching up on household chores after work was a better use of my time (it ended up being PMS a couple days early- I'm not really a big "PMS" person (#soblessed) so when it sneaks up on me I rarely know what I am dealing with. (and yes, I am lucky.)
Also, on Friday it was pouring BUCKETS AND BUCKETS AND BUCKETS OF RAIN. Yeah, we got well over 2 inches, most of the snow melted, things flooded (nothing here thank heavens) and it was just a terrific mess!

Raining. Snow melting. 
Saturday was long run/pub run day, and I was doubly lucky. It was a WHOPPING 26 degrees, which was a god damned Christmas miracle. AND Eric continued the streak of pub runs, and came along for the ride.
We ran a great route which showed off all the out of control streams and rivers. The huge rain and snowmelt had tuned the typically babbling brooks into raging rivers of death! I was extremely excited about this, as one should be, and stopped to take a picture.

Normally a little babbling brook
We had a good run, although there was an occasional fierce headwind. We had a few miles of dirt road that were basically ice, and since we had left the yak tracks at home (for the first time in at least 2 weeks) we proceeded with caution. Eric ended up with 15 miles, and I ran a couple extra and ended up at 17 and change. It was a solid workout with no bullshit.
We celebrated with beers and my dad, and cheese and the pub dog Winston, and it was a delightful time (as always, pub runs should be on everyones agenda.)

The pub run people 
The only annoying thing about this run was that I needed to stop and pee TWICE. That's what happens though, when you have an 11cm Big Fun Fibroid! (especially when I have sneaky PMS I have to pee a LOT, and there is no choice about it! Today ladytime showed up a couple days early and explained my crappy Friday feeling, and my out of control Saturday peeing. So fun.) At this point, I still choose excessive peeing over medium major abdominal surgery.

Sunday was downhill repeat day, outdoors in completely decent 14 degree weather, on mostly dry roads (there was one patch of death ice- where a stream had run over the road and frozen into hideous tundra. It was very exciting!) The dry roads are AMAZING after a couple weeks of yak trak running, on really icy snowy roads.

I really enjoy my downhill repeats when done outdoors because the hill is enormous and I pretend I am riding my bike down it, blazing along at 40 MPH. I am hoping this workout helps me to feel less like an asshole at Boston. (Boston, historically, makes me feel like an undertrained noob.)
However, if this particular workout ends up helping me not at all, it is ok because it is really fun.

So there we are, week two done and done.

Miles Run: 39.8 which is kind of annoyingly close to 40

Elevation this week: 2,108

Lowest low temp: -6 (lowest high was close to 15)

Highest temp- 50 which was a miracle

Total snowfall: None, but a shit ton of rain

Coldest day that I ran outdoors: It was somewhere between 12-15 when I ran on Monday.

Random fact: While running, Eric and I have some good conversations, and our finances/financial goals come up fairly often. Almost any time we decide we are "doing ok" and make a plan to toss some extra cash at the mortgage, it is a guarantee that the next day our fridge will die, a dog will get sick, or out heating system will have mysterious and costly issues. We plan to eliminate financial planning from our running conversations!!!


Monday, January 8, 2018

Boston Training week 1: the one with the freezepocalypse

It was really cold last week. The kind of cold we haven't seen in such abundance in years.

Maybe we got it out of the way?

I kicked the week off on Tuesday, with an easy 5 miler in 10 degree temps. It should be noted that 10 degrees may be my coldest run of 2018, but I ran right before the New Year on a day that went down to 1, so that's my all time record.

Goggles are key
I have been asked quite a bit recently about my opinion on running in horrible weather. Here's the deal.
If you want to, and have the outfit for it, and are excited by the thought of it, go right ahead.
If you don't want to, or don't have a sub zero kit, or hate the idea, then don't.
You are not going to get extra points for suffering through it, nor should people who are comfortable in icky conditions be called "insane"(hey, they are only hurting themselves!), and you are NOT a wimp for cross training or hitting the treadmill. Not at all.

So maybe not a great answer, but do what you want. Basically in all areas of life, haha. #choices

We got a huge snow storm and since I don't actually want to die on the roads, I took speed work indoors (see, common sense!)
I did 6x1200 at 7:09 pace.

The snow was falling hard
Friday and Saturday were the coldest days of winter. It was 1 degree on Friday and 0 on Saturday, with windchills close to 60 below WTF?

A rare warm moment

So... I ran indoors both days and THEN AGAIN on Sunday. GAH!
I think I did 6 easy, then 12, then 7ish with downhill repeats which were lame.

I finished the week with 38.6 miles and all was well.
Unlike last year, I avoided the ER during week one of training. I very much hope to keep the NO ER streak alive, thanks. Jesus.

I usually finish my training recaps with some bullet point highlights, and I can't remember what I did last year. I'll just do a couple basic ones this week and then try to get bit more clever next week.

Miles- 38.6
Coldest high temp- 0 (-58 windchill...) And the high temp of last week was 24, for about an hour. (coldest low temp was -15, and it was -28 just around the corner. no thanks.)
Coldest day that I ran outdoors- 10
Largest snowfall- 10"
Random fact- Should This be a running fact? A random fact about general issues? Or me specifically? Today's random fact is that I did not think this one through, but I feel that it has potential.


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

OMG It's Boston marathon training time!!!!

Since I finally got around to some semblance of a 2017 recap, we can now begin the yearly series that everyone reads my blog for!

(and now back track and read my recap post, just to start the year off right!)

Last year I went into training in the worst shape I had ever been in since my running career began. Gross.

That is not the case this year. I am in perfectly fine shape. Weird. There go all my excuses!

The fact of the matter is, I did not run a fall marathon (possibly blowing my chances at Boston 2019 in the process. I'm not a summer runner so without the fall marathon early qualification nailed down, my chances are looking bleak.)  However, since I did not run fall marathon I had no reason to lie about, all tragic and burnt out during the early winter.

I haven't exactly been "training" but I have been doing some shit here and there, like running to the pub.

We really love Bear Bones Beer (also, this was a month ago and it was clearly warm!!) 
Why I did not think of running to the pub about 5 years ago, I do not know. It kills many birds with one stone (that is an awful saying.) You get in your run. You finish at the pub. You have beer. The end. BRILLIANT. Oh, and you have your Dad come and pick you up. You buy him a beer or two for his troubles, and all is well. Thanks Lee!!

I have also spent quality time running up mountains in the snow which is wicked fun.

I have also spent time running in the coldest of cold. But the prettiest of the pretty.

I have also decided that brutal downhill repeats are going to be a thing this year, and since they are weirdly fun I don't mind! (my legs did yesterday though!)

Logically speaking, I believe I am officially in week one of training. I would hazard a guess that I have been doing some kind of structured work for about 6 weeks, so have a fairly reasonable base.

What are my goals for this training cycle?
I want to have fun adventures in horrible weather (because it is inevitable)
I want to crack down on the speed work, I lost a TON of speed last year.
I simply will not allow it to suck. The end.

And my goals for Boston?
4 out of the 5 years I have participated, temps on race day have been unseasonably warm (with 3 of those years requiring major changes in my race plan, or simply having horrible races.)
Perhaps it is not the ideal "big goal" race, if you happen to be doing the majority of your training in 15 degree weather.
(maybe that's just me, if you thrive in heat you'll be amazing!)
I am not putting all of my eggs into my Boston basket this year. (and I don't have any back up 2019 BQ plan either, I'm simply not worrying about it.)
But does this mean I'm already cashing in my chips? Hell no.
I want to have a fun race. I want to enjoy being there, because I have not run a BQ time since October of 2016, and who knows if I will again. If this is it, I'm going to make it the best day.

AND, I want to train better, and smarter, and more creatively, and funner and beer-ier, and with friends or people who shame me into being better than I would like to be!
Having fun for the 15 or so weeks that you train, is key. If it all comes together on race day, fantastic. I'm going to train like things could be perfect. I have already learned that perfect training might never equal a perfect marathon (hard lesson...) But! I'm going to be lining upon Hopkinton this year in better shape that last year. Take THAT, stupid Maine winter that is trying to slow me down! (it won't!)

My final week of "no training" came in at 38 or so miles. A 13 mile run in 4 degree weather, 1200 repeats faster than I have seen in December ever, and brutal, super fun, quad busting mile-plus downhill reps. All in the snow and ice and ridiculous chaos that comes with a Maine winter.

I'm ready, I'm excited, I'm going to go with the flow as usual, and I hope that all of you enjoy the process of getting me from here, to Boston, in just a few short months!


Monday, January 1, 2018

It is 2018! Here's a 2017 recap.

2017... What a weird year.

What were the highlights (or lowlights?) of my competitive racing season? And life? Read on....

While training was SERIOUS:
2017 started off with a BANG (to the head) which sent me straight to the ER. This set the tone for the whole year, to be real. Lots of time in the Dr's office (but not, thankfully, for my poor head!!)

I started Boston training in early January in by FAR the worst shape I had been in in ages. I was completely burned out from a very tough summer/fall marathon training plan, and was experiencing a lot of weird symptoms from what turned out to be my fibroid. Yucky.

February sent me off to the Mid Winter Classic, which I used as a long training run. While WELL off my 10 mile PR, I had a solid day of running (and probably my best winter/spring race.)

February was also a MESS in the weather department. And so was March. Just a boat load of snow, multiple feet at a time, and it just would not quit.

March had me shivering in 6 degree weather at the Hampton Half (FYI- as of this moment 6 sounds pretty fabulous. This Maine winter is COLD..)
Hampton was a much more difficult race than it should have been. At the time, I blamed the cold wind, but in later weeks began to question if I was as fit as I thought I was (spoiler: I was not.)
Late in March I ran the Eastern states 20. I wasn't feeling super, and had an adequate race but not one that was particularly confidence building given the flat nature of the course. I was keenly aware that I was fit enough to run distance, but not fit enough to run distance at a PR pace, or even close. I was hopeful to find my legs feeling more zippy after taper, and to be able to pull of an 8:30 pace at Boston.

April. Freezing. And then, the day before the Marathon, 90.
Yes, 90.
What a shit show.

Yeah, it was only 70-75 or so on race day but I had only trained in temps as warm as 40. I was barely fit enough to handle "goal" MP under ideal conditions, and the conditions were so far from ideal that it was offensive.

I finished with a solid personal worst, after having a truly miserable second half of the race. Luckily, I had gone out slowly enough to avoid being totally sick and dehydrated, but it was just a miserable awful time.

A few weeks later, I ran Providence. More as a good way to visit my cousin in her new home, and to check another state off the marathon list than to get redemption. I'm not going to lie though, I was hoping to be able to have a race that I could feel good about.

UGH, and while it was better than Boston it was still a literal shit show, with something like 3 bathroom stops before the first half was over. What a mess.
The second half of the race was remarkably better, but I finished dehydrated and terribly sick for several hours. It was truly awful, and I was like "never again...."

And then I quit running. 
Which is not entirely true. But close.

My fibroid had finally, officially been diagnosed and with that a lot of (unnecessary) fear became a daily part of my life. My Doctor at the time was not blessed with the most pleasant bedside manner and when she said to me "it's unlikely that it is cancer, but you never know with a tumor that large. And if it is cancer, you only have a 5% chance of survival and I would not wish it upon my worst enemy..." When I heard that, a big part of my brain dedicated itself to attempting not to be completely an utterly terrified, which was exhausting. And sadly, this went on for months until I got some much more conclusive and uplifting answers (Thank heavens......) I think that, when presented with potentially life changing information getting more opinions, from imaging, testing, and doctors who are more used to such conditions, is CRITICAL. I have a wonderful new doctor, a solid plan, and confidence that I am completely healthy and simply carrying around a little creepy friend for my uterus. Gross. I feel very lucky. To say that I appreciate my day to day life more now is completely true, and I feel so fortunate to have a positive diagnosis.

So all summer. I dealt with my extremely anxious state of mind by taking up both trail running and cycling which I LOVE, WHO KNEW???
I wasn't feeling in any mood to train for anything specific, as everything felt really uncertain and up in the air to me.
But I sure as hell wasn't going to sit around and drive myself bonkers.
It was time to get moving!

This is where "part two" of 2017 begins. The part where, for the first time in a while I ran purely for enjoyment (and for a while, to keep my anxiety at bay...)

I "raced" two of the Bradbury mountain trail races, which were the most incredible experiences. I have not had so much fun in years. So much fun with friends trying to avoid falling and breaking bones!

Eric and I took to the trails of Bradbury almost every weekend. There is something about trail running that completely clears the mind- it's probably because one wrong step results in copious amounts of BLOOD!

 I hate to be corny, but being out in the beautiful woods, in the complete quiet, looking at nature and running hard was better than any kind of meds.

We had trail adventures on the local mountains with friends and family. Where I was running, and who I was running with felt so much more enjoyable than simply trying to meet a mileage goal.

Biking was stupid fun too. I began cycling in early August and went out once or twice a week until it got too damn cold. It is not something that I want to do daily, (because my butt would hurt too much) but it was a great addition to the outdoor fun, and something that I will absolutely resume as soon as the snow melts. My confidence grew and my fear of getting left far, far behind the other cyclists in my group meant that I gained speed more quickly than I expected.
That being said. I am still far from as fast as Eric.

I had a few late summer races that were just "fun" Including a really great Beach To Beacon (usually my least favorite race.) Again, it was a day of enjoying the scenery, the company, and the pitcher of mimosas and plates of bacon we indulged in post race.

Starting in August, and continuing into Early November I seemed to be in a Doctors office, or an MRI machine, or dealing with medical stuff every other week. Pretty easy compared to what many people must cope with. A tough adjustment for me though, as I have never needed more than a yearly check up. I was basically living life without ever daring to plan more than 2 weeks ahead, which was strange but I became used to it. There was a lot of question about the speed of growth, and I was shuffled through a series of specialists, and off to imaging, and here and there, all to see if the beast needed to be removed ASAP.
On December 15th I had a consultation with my (very good) ob/gyn. Since the fibroid had not shown signs of growth since August, we decided to leave it alone for the time being and not even think about it again until May. She had also consulted with my radiologist, who had told her that he thought it looked like a "very normal" so, non cancerous tumor. Believe me. I feel lucky. Every day. My issues this year were upsetting and scary for me, but in the grand scheme of things, basically a series of little speed bumps and discomfort.
That being said, it is ok to feel bad when life throws you junk. I certainly came to realize that even "minor" medical issues are so incredibly costly, that I can see how people go completely broke dealing with them (and yes, I have insurance.) The medical system also moves at a truly glacial pace and the weeks of waiting were very stressful.

But. At the end of the day, all is well. And I am getting used to planning for a future that is longer than two weeks away yet again.
I celebrated my 38th birthday with Eric and my Sister, hiking in the snow and in the woods, searching for ice covered waterfalls, and drinking beer. It was a good day to spend charging up a mountain, as Eric and I had just lost our dog to a sudden illness...
Despite our sadness, it was a beautiful way to close out the year.

I would never change what I did with my recreational time this summer and fall, because I re-remembered why I like running. It is simple, I love playing outdoors and looking at things. We live in a beautiful world and being able to run around and enjoy it, how it looks and feels and smells, is a gift.


Monday, December 4, 2017

Early winter recap

It was a Fall of highs and lows. 
Per the norm, I have had a lengthy blog absence but I hope to be able to regain some level of consistency from here on out. 

Quick recap, mostly in pictures. 

In early October my cousin Evan came back for a weekend of constant athletics.
We biked in the rain, climbed mountains, ran the Bethel trail race and spent an afternoon trail running at Bradbury. It was certainly one of the most fantastic weekends of the fall and one that ended too soon!!

Sunset on Hawk Mountain, early October

New babayyyy!
The same weekend that Evan visited, my new pony arrived! I bought him in July and he finally arrived (from Germany!) in October. He is better than anything I ever could have hoped for, and I am so incredibly excited to see what we can do together.
(and no, this is not a horse blog. but believe it or not, a horse blog is coming soon. Details TBA)

Last Bradbury outing 

Amazing weather
Eric and I enjoyed one final Bradbury day late in the season. Both of us enjoyed our dirtbag status so much this year, and I haven't enjoyed running so much in a while! Apparently, the fear of tripping and falling down a mountain is fun to me....??

In early November, our youngest dog became severely and suddenly ill (complete renal failure). We chose to hospitalize him for the best treatment, but it quickly became apparent that he could not be saved. Heartbroken, we brought him home for hospice care.
We had him with us for several days before we knew it was his time.
This was a really hard time for us. I have struggled to find peace with his sudden passing and have only recently been able to become more at ease with what happened.

Running away from the feelings....
Eric and I both needed time to clear our heads after his passing, and found that hitting the road for some quiet runs helped. It was tough.

Birthday hike!
A couple weeks later my birthday weekend arrived, as it seems to every year. It's nice that despite this, I never ever age.

Eric, Kate and I went off of a wintery hike, fueled by peppermint mochas and coconut lattes.  (#fueledbynomad) (and beer by Norway Brewing!)

It was a chilly day, but we went 6 miles waterfall hunting, (gnome hunting too, but you had to be there!)

Birthday beer!!

 And then winter came, or at least the daylight hours became much fewer.

After our trail running days came to a close, we weren't really sure what we would do for fun.
It's hard to beat running up and down mountains and drinking beers in the back of the truck afterwards....

Being the geniuses that we are in the Bradlowski household, we decided that all Saturday runs would end at the pub.

YOU GUYS. What a stroke of pure brilliance! Nothing makes a double digit run more fun than knowing that beer is waiting at the end! (and so is Lee, to pick us up!)

So that's pretty much it, in the fewest words possible.

Bear Bones Brewing, our current favorite.