Thursday, December 26, 2013

Counting down to 2014 and through my good choices of 2013!

Continuing on with my end of the year wrap up!
I really can't believe it is time to count down the last few days of 2013. Shit, where did it go?

So, I'm going to start with my list of good things that I learned and good choices I made in 2013.
There are 10 of these, and they are not in any particular order. Except number one. That's a winner.

I have been known to make some pretty foolish choices over the years in my athletics which have sidelined me a few times. I am pretty bright though and pride myself on not making the same mistake twice (because that is the definition of stupidity, and is the definition of wasting your coaches time.)
So what brought about this change? A few things. One- as I said, I learn from my mistakes. Two- I had damn good guidance which brings me to our next good choice......

Yes, I still looked like this on occasion. Good choices are relative!
(also proving that I do NOT, I releat- DO NOT always photograph well!)

9: Hiring Coach Kelsey. A great choice. She made me walk the damn line. No more junk miles (well, fewer. I love junk miles...), no more avoiding cross training, no more obsessing over weekly miles. Total life changer. I think about where I am now vs where I was a year ago and I'm dumbfounded. I'm JUST as fit as I was then (or more fit) with NO nagging, repetitive injuries. Furthermore (and this is a big one) except for a month of so in the height of a training cycle when I know I need to be hitting 50+ weekly miles I don't care how many I'm doing. I can now see the big picture better- and the big picture contains more than constantly doing 50 junk miles a week for months at a time.

8: Backing wayyyyyyyy off on the racing. I didn't have a lot of extra cash to blow this year what with Boston AND NYCM costing me a mint. And in all honesty.... I might do fewer races in 2014....

This little medal cost me hundreds of dollars. F'n worth it. Hmmmm strange priorities.

7: Realizing that I do NOT need to PR at every distance: It is just a nice recipe for constant injury. This is a lesson I actually learned in 2012 but implemented successfully this year with good results. I PR'd at the distance I cared about and trained for!

6: Doing an Ultra. I discovered that I can do it! I discovered that perhaps, 26.2 is more my jam....

See, After a 50K I look close to death. Blerch.

5: FINALLY figuring out how to eat during a marathon. THANK YOU running Gods (picky bars) and a year of trial and error. This one is HUGE.

4: Only having 1 goal for my "A" race. It kept me from doing any negotiation with myself. It was BQ/PR or bust for Smuttynose and it worked like a charm! I think I can pull this off maybe twice a year as it was a pretty significant physical/mental effort!

Angie is holding me upright. That's what happens when your legs fall off at mile 25!

3: Realizing that I can't do an "A" race every month. Duh. What a shock. This is another lesson that I learned in 2012 to be honest. I definitely applied this amazing concept until October when I did all the races and quit running. was bound to happen....

2: Applying to be on the Oiselle Team, and being accepted! After meeting so many Oiselle athletes in NYC this Fall I really feel that I'm running with the right people. They are a serious but FUN group of ladies, and they love, love, LOVE running and racing. I loved talking to some of the elite woman- they are SO fast but were so down to earth and friendly- a real pleasure to converse with. I have enjoyed my time with Oiselle thus far and feel that it is a group of people, and a company that I believe in and can picture myself with for a while.

1: Deciding to marry my super wonderful exclusive dating partner. The best choice ever! My feeling is that if you have the opportunity to marry your best friend you should. I'm petty excited to tie the knot in 2014 and to spend the rest of my days having hot athletic dates with him and looking at his sexy physique. We really do have ALL the fun!



Monday, December 23, 2013

The end of 2013, the begining of the recap posts!

I love year end recaps! I enjoy writing my own to relive the year's fun moments (from back in the days when the world was not coated in ice- bleeerch!) I also like to read everyone else's recaps, I like to see what other crazy people have been getting in trouble doing.
It's also amusing to remember the worst, stupidest races of the year too so rest assured I'm going to do that too. 

I think I might do a few of these in a similar manner to last year. I'm so cool, I have multiple year end posts whooooo!!!

Okie Dokie. On to the good stuff.

Best Race.
Oh man... How I want to say Boston! That was supposed to be the race that sticks out in my memory like a shining beacon of amazing athletic accomplishment! I wanted it to be my perfect race so badly, and as fantastic as it turned out (my personal race, not anything else clearly) it isn't at the top of the list. Boston wins for other things though so stay tuned.

OK so REAL best race. It's an effing tie. Between a race that counted for a lot and one that totally did not.
Smuttynose (October-Marathon, 3:25:45)
And... The run leg of the Rev3 OOB team I was on (I know, random...?) (August-13.1, 1:37:10)

It was perfect and amazing (and VERY much worked for) for things to be perfect at Smuttynose. I had never had a marathon like that before and I know they don't play out that way every time. I went in determined to BQ with a time that would enable me to sign up earlier than this year- NO more squeaking in for me! Despite the crapola weather my race went exactly to plan. Every mile flew by, I did everything right, I left it all out there and was not 100% happy in the leg department for a few weeks.... And it was amazing. Whenever I need to remember why I do marathons I just remember that and I'm like "oh right..."

Smuttynose.... The last 400 hurts like a bitch. Woof.
As for Rev3 that was a complete surprise, and I don't get many of those since I pretty much know how my legs are going to react. It just happened that I was at the exact point in my marathon training, on a course that played to my strengths, on a day where the humidity finally broke (somewhat) and I was able to crank it up and run fast and badass. I had encountered a couple 13.1's this year that left my confidence shaken slightly- mostly just wondering if I had lost quite a bit of speed with ultra training. This took care of that nonsense and reminded me how much I like the Half Distance.

Rev3 OOB.... If I can show boat like this I'm clearly not pushing hard enough!
Best race because you only get one first time, and DUH I got engaged...
Well Boston Obviously. (and I did run a PR that day which I then killed at Smuttynose)
Other fun facts from this race: I did not have a great first half but then felt better and better, I certainly was tired at the end but maintained pretty well after I made it over the pesky hills. This was a huge confidence boost since my previous marathons had been a struggle for the final 10K.
I'm really excited to be qualified again this year. I have a feeling that I am going to enjoy myself even more since I know what to anticipate. I also expect the aftermath to be requiring fewer swat teams.... I'm not sure how Eric is going to top 2013 but he has 4 months to think about it (kidding Eric, kidding...)

Yay! A happy post race moment!!!

Worst stupidest biggest waste of time races.
UGH Effing Old Port Half. On the merits of sheer stupidity. I will never ever do this race again because it was terrible on so many levels and I don't make repeat mistakes. Like signing up for races that are awful more than once.

Stupid Old Port Half.
Also.... I just hate the Derry 16 miler. It's a well run race! They do a nice job running a decent sized race, in the dead of winter, in a pretty tiny town. What I hate about this race is nobody's fault- it's a race that leaves me questioning everything and 98% dead. So yeah, no thanks.
(and for 1st time Boston runners who do this race for the "prep" quality of it- the hills here do NOT accurately represent what you will see in Boston. Boston has hills. Derry has mountains. So actually, if you want Boston to feel easy do this ASAP!!!!)

Race that I ran on a whim to get an aided training run, which had a bad reputation and I ended up really enjoying.
Bands On The Run in Lewiston.
Who knows why I enjoyed this. Maybe because all I had heard was that it was a shit show in 2012 so my expectations were low. Reaaaaaaaaly low.
Now honestly, the majority of the course is nothing to get excited about. But it is fairly challenging without being brutal, has a section of trail that is entertaining if you aren't going at a blazing speed, and they did a good job this year with plenty of water stops and bathrooms. So, all in all not a bad race. I would consider going back in 2014 and I'd suggest it to friends as well.

Races that will be perennial favorites of mine, forever.
Mount Desert Island, Full or Half
Now that I have run both I can honestly say that the full is one of my favorite courses to run on, hands down. It is not an easy course or one that would be ideal for a guaranteed PR or BQ (although it is doable!) I really missed doing the whole course this year- although it would have god damned killed me.
As far as the half goes same deal. Challenging course for sure, but I expect that it will draw some very fast people in the upcoming years ending my reign as a podium finisher. There are a few wrinkles to work out after this year but nothing major or worrying. It was definitely "MDI lite" in 2013- a little messy at the start (and much less exciting! the start of the Marathon is legendary) and it would be nice to have a little pomp and circumstance for future podium finishers (*ahem* *use the podium* *ahem*) But those minor silly things aside, I'd definitely force my friends to get up to MDI and run this. Yearly.

MDI is even pretty in the rain! (good thing...)
My favorite picture.
Because why not? It's my blog and if I want to post all the pictures of myself I can!
This is the winner, from GCI back in July when it was warm and not snowy out.

It looks like I am winning.
I'm not.
I am, however, leading the peloton...
(before I bombed at mile 19 and they all caught me! Hah!)

So that is it for today's recap post. Much more to come since I like to string these things out for as long as possible!


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

How to work out when you are deathly ill. (Don't. Just don't.)

Last week was quite a good week in the workout department despite the fact that long days and arctic temps kept me inside. I ran some good miles, had quality bike time and even managed an outdoor 7 miler on Saturday in some pretty adventurous conditions while on vacation. (note to self: next years vacation must not involve a location that can have snow. we had a wonderful time but seriously, sun and sand people.....)
Really really pretty. REALLY REALLY COLD!!!

Sunday morning came and I awoke not really feeling myself. Blaming several late nights while making the pilgrimage from Maine, to Boston to NYC and then NJ (and all the shenanigans we got up to at those various locations) I basically tried to write it off and get moving.

Around noon I realized that there was no denying it. I was getting sick and getting sick fast.
Mother effer came in like a wrecking ball....

On Monday, with a fever, terrible cough, horrible aches and chills I made a trip to urgent care to have a scrub brush shoved up my nose to see if I was ridden with Influenza and needed to hole up in my house, all quarantined.
The good news? No flu.
The bad news? It was (is) one nasty virus and it was having fun making me feel terrible.

Paging McDreamy... Where are you??

Needless to say, when I am prone on the couch and am voluntarily staying there I don't work out. Especially with a fever and a cough. Working out in that ill condition would just be idiotic. I really felt horrible. I actually continue to feel quite nasty although I am somewhat better. I have had to take "breathing breaks" on a regular basis which is retard-o to the maximum. I mean really, who needs breathing breaks?! (me, for realz.)

I see a lot of chatter on the interwebs this time of year about when you shouldn't work out when you are sick. My bottom line is you just know, if you feel too damn shitty to do it then don't. Nobody gets any prizes for being a fool and pushing thru a 101 fever just to get in 4 miles, or whatever...
Especially when it is cold as shit out. WTF?

Well isn't that nice....

Have I run when I wasn't at 100%? Heck yes.
I ran a relay last November post bronchitis. (read: POST bronchitis.) While I was still coughing a lot this did nothing to set me back. I was back to being a picture of good health within days after this.
I ran Boston while about 50% sick. It was my A race and I wasn't running a fever, or even coughing. Just snotting. I will say that I got quite sick after the race with more of a respiratory bug but that had more to do with the fact that I was directly exposed to said virus than the run. Which didn't help because huge efforts like that tend to make your immunity all wacky.
If I had a race to run over the past few days I would not, and could not have done it. Which is how I knew to be smart and take a few damn days off! It won't make any difference in the big fitness picture.
So kids, the moral of the story is to be smart not dumb. If you have a tiny sniffle or a hangnail get off your ass and run. If you have the bubonic plague you have my permission to sit tight until it has passed. And Dr. Sara signs off.....


Monday, December 9, 2013

I return! And my thoughts on getting back into the swing of things.

Well hello internet, I am back.

I just took a couple weeks off from most things online. I completely avoided blogs! (I am a jerk but I really just couldn't take another sponsored "holiday gifts!!!" post) So instead of sticking around and getting grouchy about things that have nothing to do with me, I took a break from the whole thing. With only about 2 weeks to go until Christmas, and with the holiday frenzy in full swing this might seem like an odd time to reemerge.... However,  my break should enable me to be able to stomach 2,000 more reviews of various protein powders, and Mizuno Wave 17's (which everyone seems to have given a pretty cookie cutter review to. y'all wait, when I get a pair I'll let you know if they are REALLY that good!)
I also declined to look at Dailymile. (or even logging miles into it!) I just DID.NOT.CARE. Sometimes I find it quite inspiring to see what others are up to but for the past few weeks I have decided that it's more important to focus on what I need to do, with no regard to the training schedules of other people who have completely different goals than I! (novel, I know)
I enjoyed my break because I kinda hated the internet and that's not nice.
HAH!!!! That was ME!!!! But I'm better now...

Not wanting to cast the interwebs completely to the curb, I productively spent internet time on Instagram, winning all the Holiday prizes. Duh. With Grinchy gems like this how can you lose?

I was unimpressed by this lame Christmas parade.

I found my mojo early last week which was nice. Thanks to everyone for your helpful comments relating to my malaise. I sometimes need to remind myself that it ok to take a rest and that I should not get so damn emotional about it. The amount that I work out in no way, shape or form establishes my worth as a human being. And I really enjoy my routine so when I do not, it is ok to step back and take a breather. I did, and now I feel quite refreshed!

Mulling over things that contributed to my mini burnout.
I am not the kind of athlete who can race every weekend. **gasp call the blogger cops!!**
During the past year I did fewer races than in 2012 but I put 100% of myself into each one that was important to me. In the end, on top of being physically exhausted I was quite emotionally drained. I am very good at getting into a competitive mental mindset- but it takes a lot out of me! (especially in October- when I had 2 races that were very important to me and took a HUGE amount of mental fortitude, and a horse show where I threw down maximum effort in a challenging situation. tough stuff.)
I actually enjoy challenges like that where I can prove my mental (and physical) toughness to myself but need to cut myself a little slack about wanting to sit on the couch and watch terrible TV for 6 weeks straight after it is all over!
Physically I was pretty much done after NYCM and only in the past week have I felt remotely good and normal. I have no idea how people can do 6 marathons in 6 weeks... Good for them- but it certainly is not for me! I would have a broken leg constantly... Perhaps those runners simply use the races more as social outings and training runs? Or perhaps they have a bigger ability to stay at the top of their game for longer than I do? Either way, I know it is not for me!

Right now I am having a really good time with my training and working hard, without killing myself with a ton of mileage. I'm getting in some great cross training and focusing on getting much stronger to avoid any more weeks of butt discomfort. (which was a drag) I know that my improved training in 2013 thanks to Kelsey played a huge part in keeping me uninjured but I was close enough during the months of September and October. A good reminder to continue to get stronger!

I do not have a marathon planned until Boston and I feel quite fantastic about that. I clearly am trying to get arrested by the blogger cops today because I don't think that any marathoning blog author ever admits to that- or rarely, very rarely. I am quite excited for Boston and plan to train well this winter and to have a PR there, all things being equal. But am I bummed not to have to gear up for a February 26.2? NO!

I have a 10K on January 1st to ring in the New Year. I haven't "really" run a 10K in a very long time. My best guess is that I will not PR since my current (2012) PR is a 43:43 and I just can't see myself running 6, 7:02 miles- yuck!! My course PR for this particular race is 47:42 and I absolutely believe I can do better than that. Mo goal is 45:00 barring 30 MPH headwinds which are the bane of my existence. I'm excited by the prospect of only racing for 45 minutes but also a bit horrified thinking of basically redlining the whole damn thing! Hahaha oh well, it is bound to be an adventure!

So that's about it from the snowy and cold arctic tundra of Maine. Now that I am gracing the internet with my presence again I'll have a belated November recap up soon.