Monday, December 15, 2014

The story of how I met my new true love... Hoka's!!

It is finally time for the *much* anticipated post about how I broke up with my Mizuno's.

When I met my first pair of Mizuno Wave 16's, it was love at first sight. I slapped those bad boys on my feet and never looked back. (and this was after 2 pairs of Precisions, 3 pairs of Enigma's (one of which I hated) a pair of Wave 15's, and a fleeting moment with some Sayonara's... So, Mizuno was my middle name.)

I loved you, Wave Rider 16's, I loved you very much. I literally put thousands of miles on you (well. a few of you. I get around.) I overlooked some model inconsistency that would periodically give me black toenails.... Because in the end, I loved you! You loved me! I got a solid 450-550 miler per pair not to mention that I never, ever paid full price for you!!
But then you changed.... You suddenly wanted to be called 17 and it was like you were an entirely different shoe. We no longer saw eye to eye on anything! I was able to keep my torrid affair with the 16's going thanks to my acceptance of retiring colors which were possibly no longer hip on fitfluential. Awwwwwww.
But in my heart I knew the end was near....
I laced up my final pair of Mizuno 16's for the last time in late October, weeping tears of sadness and loss.

A woman scorned....
OK. So that is not exactly how it played out. My final pair of 16's were notorious for giving me massive blisters so I basically threw them in the hopper.

But what to do then?

I cruised over to Maine Running to check out some other brands. While I did pick up a temporary pair of kicks to get me by, absolutely nothing was feeling that great to my picky feet and rapidly aging hips. CRISIS MODE!

I had been aware of Hoka's for a while, not necessarily in a positive way.
I thought they looked absurd, like Skechers Shape Up's, or maybe like something your Nana would wear to work out in at Curves. Not exactly the kind of shoe that had me frothing at the mouth to obtain it.

Over the summer I did notice that they were streamlining the shoes a bit- instead of looking like Ronald McDonald shoes they looked like gigantic mattresses that I would surely trip over repeatedly. Quite trim, obviously....
I made the assumption that they, like Newtons, must be a specialty shoe because they certainly had a specialty price tag. I had taken note that "on the internet" it was mostly trail runners in them. I did see them here and there at road races but I still categorized them with the Newtons- shoes for people with a very specific gait, a gait that I do not have. (I am a Forrest Gump style runner. Specialized shoes for "front foot gait" basically get a big failing grade from me!)

Then, suddenly my friend Danielle was running in Hoka's. I literally, was like "WHAT??"
And she was swearing by them.
Being that she is a real person, who clearly has the same exact gait as myself, and does the same kind of running that I do, I began to perk up and take notice.

SAME gait. We are awesome.
I found the Kailua's on sale for 50% off in late October. I also had a coupon code so about 2 days and $60 later I was in possession of my first pair of Skechers Shape up's!!
I kid, I kid.
To be honest, when I whipped them out of the box the first thing I said was "Well, these almost look normal!!"
I walked around in them a bit and they felt funny but not in the way I had expected.
They were firm but cushiony at the same time, I found that there was plenty of room for my toes to cohabitate, they did not feel ungainly at all. Still, I did not particularly enjoy walking about in them. (they are NOT walking shoes.)
Furthermore, I was very concerned about the "quick lace" system- I did not think I would find them adjustable enough and I was SURE that the little tabs would click and clack around and drive me bat shit crazy.
Neither of those things happened.

Once I started running, as much as it irked me to admit it I could see what the hype was all about.
I was like an amazing stealth-ninja, literally prancing at top fucking speed along a cloud of pavement.

Except that the right shoe pissed off my ankle bone to no end.What started as an occasional little ow rapidly transitioned into full blown "Oh HOLY HELL OUCH!!!"
If I had paid full price for them I simply would have sent them back! And forver have regretted that decision....
After putting a few miles on them (25 or so) I concluded that the ankle issue was simply unacceptable but that I would take matter into my own, capable hands.
Armed with a utility knife and a terrifying pair of ultra sharp scissors I basically hacked the crap out of my poor shoe until it was deemed comfortable.

Mess with me? I WILL CUT YOU!!!!!
And DUDES, what a good choice!!!
They are now PERFECT.

I love them. I have completely forsaken my previous involvement with Mizuno in favor of a stable, comfortable relationship with my new favorite Hoka's! (fickle woman that I am....)
Happy feet, happy hips, fast recovery, you guys- it almost feels like cheating, running in these things.

The current model that I have is pretty awesome for winter running, it is the warmest thing I have ever slapped on my foot and it chugs thru snow with magical 4WD skills.
Obviously, it would not be my favorite summer shoe so I'll have to make some changes prior to hot weather.

So. The moral of the story. can find love again.....!!!!!

Oh Jeez..
But really, don't judge a book by its cover. While they might look a little funny they run like a normal shoe, they are not too soft AT ALL even for picky me, you do NOT feel like you are running on high heels, and you don't even notice them after a few runs.

I believe that there is a good shoe out there for everyone, and while *my* favorite might not be yours I feel that I can recommend the Hoka's with no reservations.
I'm actually getting all giddy looking at the 2015 models, so clearly I have defected!  


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

2014 Year In Review

I was in the contemplation stage of my 2014 Year in Review post when I saw that Miss Zippy (one of my favorite bloggers) was having a Year In Running link up.
Perfect timing.

Thanks Miss Zippy, without you my year end review would have been in March.

Best Race Experience: I must confess that 2014 was not the year of races that felt fabulous and easy. I worked really hard for every fast finish, often with lingering unpleasantness of the GI sort once the race was over. Not my favorite.
I really enjoyed the Pineland "50K" 30 miler :-) I felt like I ran a well executed race and I finished feeling good and healthy. After the utter collapse that was Boston I really needed to finish feeling decent and I did.
Pineland Stupidity. I mean awesomeness.
Despite finishing with no gas left in the tank- I have to pat myself on the back a bit for managing a decent marathon at LOCO this past October.

At LOCO, where I managed to run the whole entire race. #miracle
I spent some time questioning my abilities this year and after a confidence building race there, I feel a renewed sense of  relative competence. I'm extremely excited for Boston 2016- if anything is going to be a giant motivator for the next year and a half it's knowing that this will be THE year at Boston! This has little to do with me and lots to do with my friends who have qualified or will qualify in the Spring. It will be the party of the Century!
(and I am already "in" for Boston 2015- the excitement that is '16 continues to overshadow that, whoops!)

Best Run: I had a lot of good runs this year, once I was able to get off the treadmill after the winter of death last season.
I was injury free in 2014 which is a big deal, and I'm very thankful for that and it certainly makes my running that much more enjoyable.
I had a really amazing final long run pre-Boston (which makes me verrrrrry suspicious of future good long runs: believe it!!!!) It was a damn good 21 miles of perfect chilly weather, no issues at all, it was FUN and the kind of run where you just want to have a little dance after.

I did.
And THEN once I was home and clean and in compression pants we totally had a taper party and ate all of my mom's olives and cheese and almonds. Sorry Mom.


 I'm adding one... WORST RACE (or run)
I had a terrible terrible Boston.
I was happy to be there, happy to see my wonderful family and enjoy time both before and after the race with them. And it's BOSTON!!! Totally the best!
Honestly though, I had a lousy day. Really terrible.

Shit show right here.
The badness that was Boston made me question all of my running life choices for a while. I seriously considered pulling back from the marathon distance. At mile 22 of Boston I most definitely said "never again, I do not need to do this to myself!" (I legit stopped and said this to a human, who kindly offered me a beer, gotta love those college kids.)
Usually within an hour of the race finishing I can get over those feelings but I was pretty wrung out...
I got right back to running but in the back of my mind was doubt. "I'm just not made to do this.. I'm not good enough to be better than I have been... I don't want to feel that awful again.... Why work so hard and give up so much and spend all the money for complete and total suffering???"
I realized, over the course of the summer that I DO NOT have to marathon.
But I want to. I want to be better, I want to feel stronger, I want to finish feeling confident.
So basically, in 2015 (despite a confidence building Fall race) I'm running away from 2014's confidence crushing issues and running towards a stronger, better and possibly slightly more pissed off me. Don't fuck with me marathon, I will crush you!! (or.. I'll actually drink that beer at mile 22)

Best new piece of gear: That's easy. I snagged a super discounted pair of Hoka Kailua's back in
October and haven't looked back. I had to modify them a bit but that is how I roll my friends.
This merits a post all of its own, which is coming soon!

Best piece of running advice received: 
"Please just run fast and BQ but don't vomit" -Eric
"Hard work never, ever, EVER pays off" -My mom, said with a straight face and a lot of sarcasm.

 Most inspirational runner: Without a shadow of a doubt the winner this year is Danielle.  She worked her butt off this year, PR'd at every distance and snagged a BQ for 2016 in the process! I'm so excited for her and happy that her incredibly hard work has paid off! She is a new Mom, has a busy life and job and still manages to run a ton of miles and be a complete badass. And if that's not inspirational than I don't know what is.  She also gets up at like 3AM to run which is completely insane and something that I can not imagine. (I also have a feeling that she is going to PR the marathon distance again soon... Like this winter. I'll put money on it!)

Danielle!!! The toughest lady ever!
 If I could sum up the year in a couple of words, what would they be?
This was a year of change, growth and learning.
What? That is such an adult answer, I'm vomiting in my mouth a little right now.
OK. So it was a year of change, growth, learning, marching to the beat of my own drum, wearing outrageous outfits because I can, changing my hair color 45 times, trying to run fast but sometimes vomiting, high fiving strangers,  singing "turn down for WHAT" out loud everywhere, not accepting "I can't" from myself, running a mile race for shits and giggles, trying new things, and having a hell of a time.

(those are all true)

Moving on to 2015 I see more of the same amazingness!!!
I'm trying to iron out my actual goals but I feel that I've built a pretty decent foundation so hopefully now I can build that infamous house that everyone is always talking about.
Maybe I'll start with a single wide or a small ranch something...


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Here it is! 35 for 35, the time I ran halfway across Maine (well, kinda.)

I turned 35 in mid November.
To many, this might not seem like a big deal. To me though, it was probably the biggest deal EVER!
For starters I really, really love my damn birthday and try to turn it into a major national event yearly (it does not work. whatevs.) In addition, for the first time due to my late in life running efforts, I am in a new age group! Sadly, 35-39 is faster than 30-34- this prospect is rather terrifying and while I have not yet declared my intention to win my AG at EVERY race I do, I probably will soon.
Or not. Most likely not.

But I digress.
For this special of most special days I wanted to do something original, thrilling and completely unheard of in the running community!
I decided to run 35 miles for the big old 35. *sigh* Just like every runner in the history of ever to hit a milestone birthday.
If nothing else this should make the non runners in the world feel a bit more comfortable with the state of my sanity. Which is good, because I personally decided that my cheese had slid.

I have written this blog post approximately 300 times in my head so far.
Clearly, since it has been over a week I have been completely disgusted with each attempt. The problem is that it was a long ass day of schlepping over hill and dale and I simply can not imagine anyone out there having the attention span for that sort of dull reading.
But in the end, I got self righteous and remembered that this is my own damn blog and long-windedness is my right!
So buckle up kids, get a snack and a box of wine and prepare to learn why running 35 miles is the best idea that anyone could ever have.

How the day began: (said in ominous tones)
I was able to enlist the appropriate kind of barn help to give me the better part of a day off (Jennie for the WIN!) I was able to coerce Eric into being my support crew: essentially driving the Corolla along my route and meeting me every couple miles with snacks, water, wise words, and high fives.
I attempted to procure a merry band of runners to do some miles with me. For some strange reason, perhaps the fact that I live in East Bumstumble or that the planned route was legitimately over a freaking mountain range, and the temps were scheduled to be on the frigid side of cold, people seemed hesitant. Go figure, apparently my friends have no sense of adventure! (and by that I actually mean that they have common sense...) And honestly I can't blame them! I'm a hell of a long way from anywhere, bottom line. I'm one step away from living in a town that has numbers instead of a name! (ok, I'm kind of kidding...)
The best news was my final destination! I calculated that my route would bring me to my best friends house exactly at mile 35. It was clearly a sign from the running gods, duh.
Back when Angie lived in Oxford I could easily run to her house- the short route was 13 and the circuitous route was 18. Basically, she saw my sweaty ass an awful lot and almost constantly was being asked to supply me with snacks and rides home.
RUDELY she moved FAR, FAR away. You really have to question your friend choices when they move away from your regular running route in favor of a nicer home in a nicer area. Jeeezes. Clearly she did not anticipate that I would be mental enough to get on the hop and run twice the distance to her new abode. Never underestimate me.......
However! She promised to be home, with food in the oven and shower facilities wide open for my use. Basically a perfect plan.

As expected last Saturday dawned absolutely freezing your balls off cold (19). But not windy, or snowing, or any of the other things that might have really bothered me.
I ate some food, put on an odd combination of layers, threw bags of snacks, extra clothing, spare shoes, and a partridge in a pear tree into the car and off I went. It was fucking cold.

The amazing PLANNNNN!!:
I mentally broke the run into a few chunks.
The first 12 would take me over some decent hills and then into Norway, where I was planning to stop at Café Nomad to touch base with Eric.
The middle 10 would be a combination of a long, flat and boring as all hell stretch of road, followed by the first 2 of several mega hills.
I expected to final 13 to be a challenge both mentally and physically. I decided to simply not think that far ahead. Good plan Bradlowski, good plan.

And finally, THE FIRST 12 MILES!!!
Eric ran a few miles with me and then dashed back home to prepare for the role of amazing Sherpa/cheerleader/EMT. I paced well thru the first 12, and they were pleasant (according to plan. boom.)
Mile 0.7. Take note of the high fashion, especially the scarf and safety vest combo of excellence.
I saw Eric drive by me around mile 11 along with the rest of the world. There was more traffic than I could shake a stick at! *stay off my damn roads you damn kids!*
I ran into the Café to try to partially dry off my sweaty body- I was concerned with the effect of being damp (soggy) in the cold conditions but was hesitant to change into my spare clothing so early on (in retrospect, I should have.) This was the longest break I took all day and it came in at about 11 minutes- and included the bathroom pit stop/drying off/observing the fact that my old disgusting running shirt was crunchy (gross)/eating a few potato chunks/rehashing the route and plan.
(I need to clarify the potato thing. I eat whole, baked, salted potatoes. Not raw ones- raw potatoes are gross you guys! And I don't like gross.)

And with all of that taken care of off I dashed.
Or hobbled. Apparently, my body thought we were done at 12 and the act of hitting the restart button triggered some massive rebellion. Unfortunately, I was also seriously cold at that point but with frozen death fingers was able to text Eric and see if he could find some extra handwarmers. He caught up with me around mile 14, gave me the warmers and my life was saved.

The time where I questioned my sanity:
Right on cue, around mile 16 I started to question my life choices. I was an uncomfortable mixture of clammy and warm and cold, my legs were not exactly impressed (which- at mile 16 seemed a little bitchy to me), I was having some issues with people literally trying to run me over and the whole day seemed like a really questionable decision.
(the good news: at some point during almost every long, challenging run this happens. You just have to ride it out but honestly people- what a pain in the ass.)

Here comes tiny orange clad me.

 I met up with Eric again at 19 and said something like "I could be done now" but I didn't really mean it. I ran into the gas station for another pee break (I swear I have the worlds most dainty bladder), once again I grabbed some potato chunks and off I ran again. OR FUCKING WALKED. My legs were all "HEY. HEY LADY. IT'S US. YOUR LEGS!!! WE AREN'T MOVING BWAHAHAHA!!"

*sigh* Anyway, after a moment or two they got back with the program and we were off. Sort of.

I won't get into the tedious details of mile 16-23 but they were not the most glorious moments of my existence. It happens. You just eat a Picky Bar, complain to your husband, suck it up and carry on.

When things began to improve!
I met Eric at mile 23 and changed my shoes. I wasn't having any issues in my Hoka's but felt that with more walking and hills soon to come I'd jump into my Mizunos since those are pretty easy to walk in. Yeah, I had a moment of doubt at this point regarding my ability to finish but it wasn't particularly noteworthy. (although I'm noting it out of my typical need to be brutally honest.)

"We could just drive the rest of the way to Angie's for lunch maybe?"
I decided that I would suffer it out and see how I was feeling at the Marathon point.
Happily, right after the 25 mile marker, knowing that I had less than 10 to go I knew I could finish and that it would be a silly, slackey, lame decision to bail. At times like these I get a little shouty with myself "YOU CHOOSE THIS" I shout "NOBODY IS FORCING YOU!!!" "YOU SAY YOU LIKE THIS MADNESS!!!" And other motivational shit, you guys get it.

And at mile 25 when things were rough. A REAL motivational sign! BFF love right there.
I was still running most of the time in a slow, intoxicated looking manner but walking up the hills at the toppest of top walking speeds that I could manage. I expect that people in the towns I ran thru probably thought that there was something legitimately wrong with me. Especially when I start busting out tunes.
Which brings us to....

When you get to discover what goes on in my head. Yikes:
-I did a good amount of thinking about a variety of topics. Good stuff like Dr. Who, like my fear of making Mac&cheese and having the sauce separate, how pleased I was with my successful shoe modifications, and what I wanted for dinner and do we have any Ramen??
-I sang (in my head. mostly.)  "do you want to build a snowman" for MILES and am now hoping that I never sing that song again. Around mile 27 or so I sang like, 4 Heart songs in a row which was very retro of me, plus very awesome. At mile 30 I made up a song called "ouch" and- you guessed it- all the lyrics were "ouch!"
-I noticed allllll sorts of shit on the road
a: a dead owl which I was very upset to see
b: a toilet plunger. yep.
c: some really dirty horses. like, days of dirt dirty. you all know how I feel about that....
d: jerks in trucks trying to scare me
e: road art from Angie!!!!
f: construction

The final stretch. Thank God right? What a stupid-long recap!
Luckily I saw Eric about every 2 miles after mile 20. I was constantly needing food and water and Gatorade and to pee in apple orchards. So high maintenance.

The hills were really getting in the way at this point and my legs were complaining that we had been moving for far, far too long. (correct)

I stopped for chips around 30. That huge clip keeps the stuff in my back pocket from bouncing. #fashion
 At the very top of the last stupid mountain I saw Angie running towards me! It was like a freaking Christmas miracle seeing her little red socked self sprinting in my direction. A car gave her a little beep as she paused to cross the street.
"How many people have honked at you?" she eagerly inquired.
"none" I replied "unless you count that one...."
She was rather crestfallen to hear this news. Apparently I am one step short of luscious and attractive in my winter running kit.

As we rounded the corner onto Angie's street Eric was there cheering and FINALLY- after 6.5 hours on the road the sun came out. Thanks a lot sun, you really helped a girl out...

 So we finished in a blaze of glory!
HAH! What a REAL distance runner looks like. Duh.
 It took me about 3 more hours to walk up the moderate incline to Angie's house, and about 10 hours on top of that to take a shower and become a functioning member of society again.
Luckily, when I did reemerge Angie had a mountain of non-seperated Macaroni and Cheese  awaiting my arrival, Eric had cracked the pink champagne and Quinn (Angie and Jon's son) had decided to only be *mildly* suspicious of why we had arrived at his house. Luckily, he busted out his indoor lawnmower and when we were impressed he accepted us into his home. I had a lovely time eating everything in sight, complaining loudly about my self inflicted wounds and basically being a pain in everyone's butt per the usual norm.

So in hindsight I am quite glad I did this crazy run. I was pretty sore for about 24 hours and then began to recover quickly. My pace was not quick, about 10:15 or so but shit kids- 35 miles is not time to drop the hammer. It's good to note that I am very aware that I do not train in a way that would promote excellence in long distances. I more or less wing it and try to have a little fun and a few laughs along the way- I don't suggest that you follow my training plan and try to crack out a 35 (or do, and have fun along the way- not everything needs to be a serious race right?)

Thanks to everyone for the gazzilions of supportive texts, Facebook messages and tweets. I could not be more appreciative of them! Thanks also to everyone who ran their weekend Charity Miles for the "Stand Up To Cancer" charity. I donated my 35 miles to them, as well as donating to the Maine Cancer Foundation (gotta make the miles count right?) Finally though, a huge thanks to Eric and Angie (and Jon and Quinn) for the direct support before, during and after this run. It's you guys who got me to the end of this adventure still standing, coherent and smiling- without you I could not have done it!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

What 5 years of running have taught me.

This morning my Time Hop helpfully let me know that exactly 5 years ago I posted on Facebook that I was about to tackle the Thanksgiving Day 4 miler with my sister.

As most of you know, not only was that my first race but my first run. Yikes....

I did not jump right onto the running bandwagon, it was actually about 6 months before I ran another step! However, on that day I discovered that I could do something that I had previously thought impossible and that was pretty cool.

My second race EVER, 4 miles was SO FARRRRRRRRR!

Over the past 5 years running has been a lot of things to me.
An outlet, an interest, a passion, a frustration and most recently a truly enjoyable activity.

Interestingly, the thing that has taught me the most about my personal running has been my years of training and riding horses. I'm not sure why it took me almost 5 years to put the pieces together- other than a 2 legged journey is different than a 4 legged one.

What do I mean by this?
WELL. In short: "SHORT" being this freaking lecture..... Oops.

-With my horses I have a training agenda, as most trainers do but within that there is a good amount of flexibility. There are many paths to take to reach the same destination and the same path does not work for every horse (or runner!)
Just because your colleagues horse went from Training to Grand Prix in 5 years doesn't mean yours will, and just because your buddy went from a 4:30 marathon to a 2:28 Marathon doesn't mean you will. You follow your own path to success and have your own definition of a good result.

This horse did not follow text book path- but is certainly en route to a great career!
With my horses I listen to what they need. I went years NOT listening to what I needed as a runner and it showed in injury and burnout. (I always listen to my horses. apparently I do not extend the same courtesy to myself! rude!)

Well, I was polite enough to ice my legs....
-When I think about how I prep my horses and client horses for competition I know that I tighten the screws sometimes, but I listen to them- we play, we have fun, we gallop in the rain and push the envelope, try new things, attempt jumping (only on a horse) and have days of complete relaxed happy easy work. Sometimes a little kick in the butt is needed, as results don't come from complacency. But at the end of the day every training session has left the horse (or runner) better for the next day and excited to see what is next!

 -I have gotten the hell off the internet.
(important to note, as an equestrian I am lucky to have a trainer and plan I trust. I also rely on years of experience. I do not look to the internet for validation, I do look to the internet for inspiration and sweet deals on tack :-))
As an amateur runner I completely fell into the trap of comparing myself to other runners, other training plans and becoming frustrated. This is just plain silly- as I noticed my frustration level rising I cut myself off.
I needed to trust my training and what was right for ME. Not what was right for Joe Schmo with a completely different goal, body type and goal than my own.

-Prepare to be humbled. The second you think you have it "figured out" you will be side swiped with a new challenge. 
As a 20 year old I imagined that by 25 I would be a gloriously successful Grand Prix rider, that I would have many fabulous horses to ride, and possibly buckets of cash. Well..........
At 35 I know it turned out differently but better! I know how to work hard, how to problem solve, how to ride difficult horses and how to teach people to ride DAMN well.
5 years ago I was convinced that in no time I would bust our some kinda absurd 16 minute 5k and be a legend. Hahaha well...... Same story, work hard, figure it out and laugh a little.

First Marathon. so young and full of hope! (well, 32 and full of fear....)
-I have learned to take my day to day training with a Plan B in full effect.
For years I have firmly believed that with horses YOU might have a plan but so might THEY. Flexibility is critical! Throw plan A out the window when your horse friend feels stiff, or suddenly has forgotten how to do flying changes, or is just being a goose. Find that plan B- make it work, figure it out and get ahead in a different, creative way. And if all else fails, bail! Screw it! Tomorrow is another, way better day.
(or fix it by Wednesday. Susanne knows how well I an fix things in a week!)
If you go out to run and just feel like junk- find that plan B and make it work. Skip the impossible speed repeats of death in favor of something a little fluffier (and guess what- those speed repeats will probably want to come out and play tomorrow!)

I guess the moral of my story is that in my life, both with horses and running it's really important to take it day by day and do what is right for you. Or totally wrong- mistakes are allowed just work on picking up the pieces gracefully. I'm good at that!

And, you have to figure out what is working and how much is TOO much.
Last year, I put my old (er), wise, FEI horse in his first Grand Prix and he said "lady, this is just too much for me. sorry."
Being the plan B person that I am, I listened. He is now happily (at 19 years old) continuing on as a happy, sound, delightful small tour-ish horse who is NEVER asked to piaffe unless he offers. Both of us are thrilled with this arrangement. I did not need to pursue the highest level to feed my ego and he is happier because of that (and he loves to trail ride to my house, where Eric comes out and feeds him apples.)
Baffin has taught me more about flexible training than anyone I have ever met!

After Boston this Spring I seriously questioned whether or not I was made of the right stuff to marathon at a competitive (for my age group) level. I thought perhaps I would be better suited for  life of shorter, easier distances.
Or maybe competitive cupcake eating.
No lie, I really had to mull this over. After the summer of reevaluation I knew it wasn't time to retire just yet to take up knitting.  I still have the drive, motivation and fire to see how much my marathon times can improve.
And honestly, if they don't? I still have a really deep love for running. I would run every day just for fun, even if I did not wish to race. (but I still think I have a decent marathon time in my old legs.)

It's interesting to me to see my sports walk a parallel line. With both horses and running you have to enjoy the journey so much- there are so many hours, days and years put in to get a few moments of competitive glory (or... a finishers medal.)
My feeling? Totally worth it.


Friday, November 14, 2014

A gigantic Summer recap.

I've mentioned my summer and fall training a few times over the past several months but haven't gone into much detail.
(To be honest, right now at this very moment I'm reviewing my training journal for the first time since sometime in July..... I jot down mileage and stuff for future reference- like for blog updates apparently!)

Post Pineland, in late May I had to S-T-O-P. I knew I needed a few weeks of no serious running, I knew that I was not going to have much time anyway and I decided to just roll with it during the month of June and see what happened. I also was transitioning to being coachless for the first time in over a year. Many changes....
I tried the easy life of calm walks, but after coming across this decided that straight up rest was key. 

Jeeeeeezes. I was just trying to have a nice nature walk. Officially done with THAT!!
I want to be clear- my unique training schedule came by choice. I chose to prioritize my equestrian life and business and SANITY over high mileage. I absolutely own that- I'm not crying "oh poor poor wittle me with no time to train...!" No way- I made choices.

I made choices like this. Solid.
So: During the month of June I eeeeeeked out a whopping 47 miles. A good restful month.

When July rolled around I was up to my eyeballs in work. My weekends were packed with shows and camp crap and horse stuff and chaos!

All the horse shows!!!

 Around this time I came up with what was going to be my new "training plan" and I have stuck with it. It looks like this:

AM: UGH! I have no time to run. Zero miles it is.
PM: Ok, this looks promising. A small window of opportunity opened up!
-If I had an hour, I'd run for an hour. If I had 30 minutes I'd run fast, if I saw some hills I'd call it hill repeats, if it started to thunderstorm I'd run like the fucking wind and call it tempo, if it was hot and I felt tired I'd run slow and not care, if suddenly I had an extra 20 minutes I'd sneak in a couple extra miles and call it a long run. And that was that....

In July I had something close to 70 miles. 
And any form of cross training, other than sleeping, had been kicked to the curb. 

When August arrived, with fall marathon season knocking at the door I started to cram in some weekend long runs.
Oh, and in August there was that time where Eric and I got married. Pshhh, NBD obvs....

N. B. D.
 Anyways... My mission for my long runs was to cover territory that I had never seen before and this was hugely amusing. I ran on some crazy ass roads, climbed huge hills, got lost, had adventures and loved every minute of it! Usually, I'd just head out the door and follow my nose- hitting up logging roads, back roads in the willy wacks, mountains and the occasional un-passable piece of property. As crazy as this was- THIS IS THE WAY TO RUN!! Get out there and see some shit, laugh at your foolish adventures and have a hell of a good time.

Well. This is what I call a "good time". How about you?

In early August I decided that running Chicago was not a good idea financially, and while that was a bummer I signed up for MDI (my favorite race) which really eased the disappointment 
I covered about 135 miles in August.
I did not even one DROP of cross training. 
I also did a 1 mile race and a 5 mile race that made me feel very fast. Oooooffff!

September rolled around and I knew I was going to make a choice, mid month, to take about 10 days off. (yes, I hear marathoners everywhere literally cringing right now....) I had some late season horse showing to attend to and business was booming. Who wants to stress about squeezing in miles when you have a bunch of other cool stuff to do? Not me. So I took those days off and it was just A-OK.

This trumps excessive mileage!
During September I also cracked out a 1:43 Half, making me feel like I was reasonably well on track for MDI.
My long runs were feeling good and strong too. I shoot for at least 1 full minute over marathon pace, if not slightly more for my long runs and they were right on target despite the huge hills. I also never stop my watch while running- so all of my long run paces included water stops, potty breaks and the usual stuff that we all deal with. The clock doesn't stop on race day, so I never stop it while training!
(I also got into Boston 2015- yay!)
September logged in at 94 miles. 

Once October arrived I was all about taking care of business.
If business means running maybe 4 times a week that is.
(I think 4x a week is my magic number though for real. days off are critical.)
I had one almost fail final long run 2 weeks prior to MDI. Around mile 4 of what was supposed to be 17 I felt like complete crap so I stopped. Then went out the next evening and killed it. (I'm not a hero, I just am not going to push 17 miles when I feel like crap... sorry.)
I had a crummy MDI, we all know how that went. I'm still crying over not getting my lobster claw medal!
Girls with faces THIS angry don't deserve sweet medals!!!
Then I went on to have a perfectly fine completely unplanned LOCO race. What I'm most pleased about is my fabulous recovery from that. nothing like a low mileage training plan and a race where a PR was not an objective to get a girl back on her feet! Maybe running a fast 19 the week before every marathon is the key to my future amazing success...??
I managed 140ish miles in October

So what on earth is the takeaway message here?
For me, at this moment in time running really needs to be something that I like to do. I run for my own personal enjoyment and while part of that is meeting my competitive goals another part is enjoying my training!
I have motivation to run most of the time but I'm really flexible, if it's just not the day for it that is perfectly fine. I am continuing with my relaxed training plan. I want to clarify that just because the plan is relaxed my running is not! I take nice easy days, of course, but I always think of something challenging to do. I like the spontaneity of hitting the road not really knowing what the run will bring and deciding as I go. I know that there is a lot of work involved in getting marathon ready and I absolutely put it in- just on a lower mileage scale than some.
(I will not ever, ever be a 70-80 mile a week runner. There is not enough time in my day or dollars in my bank account for PT. I am not an elite athlete... Seriously.)
I can honestly say that I haven't enjoyed running as much in years as I have enjoyed the past few months. I look forward to it, there is no part of it that I dread and my paces and endurance are holding up and getting stronger (and I'm 100% injury free!)
After my race a few weeks ago I feel ok about being creative about my Boston training too. With winter right around the corner flexibility becomes even more critical, and that is something that I have become pretty good at over the past 6 months.