Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 In Review..

Its the very last day of 2011 - it was a year of many ups and downs for sure. Running-wise, I'm happy to let the door close hard on this year.

January 1, 2011 marked a 10 minute "test run", as I was recovering from a torn quad that happened in the fall of 2010. All of those hours of rehabbing on the trainer paid off, as I felt both strong, and pain-free. Of course, instead of coming back and being smart, I ran the Derry 16-miler only 2 weeks after those first steps, which has the below course profile. Yeah, wicked smart.

I obviously had a terrible showing, crashed and burned, and put myself in a terrible mental space. I passed on running a spring half marathon, as I was in serious training for Big Sur Marathon.

On May 1, 2011, I flew across the country and ran the second slowest marathon of my life (anyone sensing a trend to this year yet??). Since part of Highway 1 fell into the Pacific Ocean early in the spring, they changed the course to make it an out and back. On what remained of Highway 1. The course was crazy hard, it was warm, and had lost the race mentally before I even toed the line. However, I checked the race off my bucket list, and still had a crazy fun weekend in Monterey!

I had 5 months to put together some decent training for Chicago, with this little Half Ironman thrown in the middle. In my mind, that meant volume. If I could run a million miles a week, bike a little and throw in some open water swims, I could do it all! Yep, that'll do it!

I beat the snot out of myself over the next couple of months, culminating with my worst "race" of the year in the form of a 25K in early September. It came exactly ONE weekend before my 70.3 and about a month before Chicago. I threw the white flag and realized I needed some serious triage to even START Chicago, nevermind finish. It was too little, too late, but I needed to get smart. Stat.

But first, The Pumpkinman 70.3. By far the best day (athletically) of the year. It was unquestionably the best race of the year - I loved every minute of those 6 hours. It made me want Ironman more than ever.

One month later, I toed the line for the Chicago Marathon. I had put my broken body together enough to attempt a sub-4 and stop the marathon slowing slide. It just wasn't to be - it was hot, and my body didn't have it on that day. I crossed that finish line disappointed, but hungry for 2012.

I closed on 2011 with a 5K that went better than expected. It was the product of some new training, and made me REALLY excited for what 2012 holds in store.

2011 taught me a lot about myself, all of which I can carry over into 2012. I've already made a lot of progress, and I'm looking forward to turning over the calendar tomorrow.

Happy New Year Friends!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Embracing the New...

The last couple of weeks have been insane (as proven by my lack of posting in over a week!). Christmas prep, closing out work for the year, and then the holidays themselves. Christmas was an insanely fun day, but exhausting just the same.

Christmas Madness! 
Rockin' my Skirt Sport dress on Christmas! 

Trying to fit in workouts is never a small task, especially when it's school vacation, and you've completely over scheduled yourself on "vacation" (I am the WORST when it comes to that!).

I'm on a running program that is very different than anything I've tried before. I have made the commitment to stick to the plan (and therefore each prescribed workout) 100% - I'm never going to know whether or not this new way of training works for me if I'm sneaking in extra "illegal" runs here and there just to see my weekly mileage numbers look prettier. I'm not going to lie, it's not easy. Breaking the mold of something you've known for your entire running career, and putting all of your faith in something new, is damn hard. Running so easy that you feel like an elderly speed-walker could mow you down? Hard. Running a;prescribed pace thats close to marathon pace, but you know you could do the run faster if you were allowed? Hard. Reigning your HR in when you feel like a rockstar, just so you don't get punished by being confined to the treadmill? Hard.

I asked to take one more shot at my 5K PR in January, and then also asked if I could race a silly hard 16 miler as well. I got shot down for both, each for a different reason. I wanted to be angry, but the rationale coach put behind it made too much sense for me to get upset. If I want to execute successful goal races, I can't be toeing the line for every race that sounds "fun". Is it hard to not be able to "play with my friends" at these races? Yup, sure is. Is it easy to be able to say "no" when asked if I want to do XYZ race, when usually I'm the first one to tag along? Nope.

My goal has been to embrace the new - I need to be 100% in or out if I want this to work. And not be 100% in grudgingly, but actually wanting to execute every run as outlined in my training plan. Some days I look at my calendar while scratching my head, wondering why a certain workout is what it is. But my job is not to over-analyze, it is to go out and execute each days work, and let my coach do all that coaching voo doo stuff behind the scenes (seriously, sometimes I envision her as the man behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz). I have to believe in the plan, and trust that I'm going to come out the other end stronger, more confident, and faster.

As I head into 2012, I am embracing my new training style-  I have a few key races lined up that I am VERY excited about, and every day's workout is with those races in mind. I'm happily leaving behind a year of not so great racing behind, wiping the slate clean, and looking forward to some fast, confident running in 2012.

Happy Training!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Day The Wind Ate My Track Workout..

That's not true. I'd love to blame the wind on the sucktastic-ness of my track workout today, but that wouldn't be entirely fair. Sure the 10-15mph winds didn't HELP, but it's a track. Where there's a headwind, there's also a tailwind. Suck it up, buttercup.

My track workout today called for mile repeats, which in some sick and twisted way, I love. I got plenty of sleep last night, ate a decent dinner, but woke up feeling sore and lead-like in the legs. Sometimes though, the second I start running, this feeling disappears.Today, that was not the case at all.

I spent the drive over to the track psyching myself up - I thought about the successful 5K I ran very recently, which then bled over into a great week of workouts; last week I surpassed my prescribed paces in each of my quality sessions. I've had a good stretch, for which I am very thankful.

My warm-up was "eh". I tried to shake out the cobwebs, and put my game face on. No emotion, just a job to be done. It'll hurt, but will be over quickly. I figured out VERY quickly which way the wind was blowing as I jogged down the back stretch of the track. Yeeps. I mumbled a few expletives, did some strides, and it was onto the workout.

I won't bore you with the dirty details of the repeats, just know they sucked. My lungs burned, my legs burned, and I felt like I was getting stood up by the wind every time I came around that back corner. It was like I was pushing as hard as I could, and running in place. That progressively took more and more of a mental toll with each interval. I tried all the mind games - looking at my 400 splits to force accountability, not looking at my watch at all til the end of the 1600, and trying to just not think. No thoughts, just focus on the interval.  I even obeyed the prescribed rest interval (I'll admit, sometimes I milk these), so that I didn't have too much downtime to "think" and start down the spiral of doom.

When I crossed the line of the last interval, I glanced at my watch, and well, it wasn't pretty. I covered my eyes and cried for a little bit, while walking/jogging/moping around the track to try and stay moving. I was disappointed in my body. I felt like I was in a place where my performance during these workouts should be so much better. And if coach told me I should run a X:XX for each mile, I should be able to. And I couldn't. I failed. And that friends, is not a great feeling.

I turned the radio off for the ride home. I needed to go all zen on myself for a little bit. It helped bring me back to a less self-loathing place.

What I have realized as the day has progressed is as much as I would love to have everyone workout be awesome, it's not realistic.I mean, I'm going to go out on a limb and assume that even my good buddies Kara Goucher and Ryan Hall have less-than-stellar workout days. Looking at my HR file, I certainly wasn't half-assing the intervals. I gave what I had today, and it wasn't my day. This will be a great workout to look back upon the next time I DO those mile repeats and have a better result.

Now that I have logged the work out, I'm moving on. Not over-analyzing right now, or doing the should/would/could - at this moment, it's not helpful. I shall emerge myself back in all things Christmas - wrapping, baking, and red wine. What- is red wine not a staple in your Christmas preparation? My condolences.

How do YOU handle having a bad workout?

Happy Training!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Little Bit of This, Little Bit of That..

So I have 4 blog posts drafted, but haven't had the time to finish any of them. Tis the season, right? With that said, we'll go with a little compilation of what's been going on 'round these parts.

(1) I need to file for an extension on Christmas - it's coming too fast, I have a LOT of wrapping to do, and I *might* have a little bit of shopping to do. Hanging my head in shame. In a twisted way though, I love it. Having Caitlyn around allows me to fully appreciate the little things about the Christmas season that I would simply overlook if it were just me. For example, she was in a Christmas concert for school - I dreaded going, as it was "taking up" my precious time. She was so damn excited though - look at the look on her face the morning of her show:

How could you not get excited for her to sing her heart out?

(2) I'm still managing to get in all my miles, which I'm VERY proud of myself for. I'm building base miles, but working in more and more quality. I had a great track workout Wednesday, followed by a solid 7+ miler on Friday, and then laid down 8 miles at marathon pace Saturday morning. With the holidays happening, it can get tricky logistically. But when you have great friends who are willing to make chocolate chip pancakes with your kid while you pound pavement, there's no excuses.

(3) Caitlyn and I went shopping yesterday, after my run. We spent almost 2 hours in the mall (THE WEEKEND BEFORE CHRISTMAS!!) with her picking out her own gifts for everyone in my family. She is VERY thorough, which is good, but exhausting. Fueled by smoothies and slushies, we made it through. When we came home, she put on Big Time Rush Christmas songs while she personally wrapped every gift. While probably harder than any marathon I've ever run, her excitement was just awesome.

(4) I have 4 more workdays left, and then I'm off for more than a week. I am VERY fortunate that I LOVE my job, but it'll be nice to slice the 100 mile round trip commute out for a week. While I know myself enough to know I won't be able to stay completely offline work-wise, it'll be nice to hang out w/ Caitlyn, catch up with friends, etc. So looking forward to the downtime.

(5) The Christmas "Treat Tray" will be making an appearance again this year - Caitlyn and I are going to bake on Wednesday night. This alone motivates me to run. A lot.

Hope everyone is having an awesome holiday season thus far!

Happy Training!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Have YOU Ever Used Poison Ivy As Toilet Paper??

I have, and you can read about it here.

I did an interview over at "Who Has The Runs", and it just got published today.

Check it out!!!

Happy Training!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Winter Classic 5K - A Race Report

It's December - Pumpkinman and Chicago have long passed. My goal half marathon isn't until March, and Eugene at end of April. Yet I needed something - I needed to let me newly healed lungs, and spicy legs loose. Insert the Winter Classic 5K - Stephanie, Robin, and Danielle had decided to run this race awhile ago, but yet I didn't pull the trigger until this week. I figured it was a great opportunity to "check in" with my body after reduced volume and speed due to aforementioned broken lungs. Sometime early this week, I hit register, and the rest is history.

Before I left the house this morning, I checked in with my splits of my last 5K, which I did the weekend after Chicago. I used that as my baseline to gauge where I wanted my performance to fall today. I also checked in with April, and asked what my plan for this race should be. While I won't share the entirety of the message, it ended with "puking at the finish is optional, although greatly appreciated". Wonderful.

I met up with the girls, snapped some photo evidence of today's race, and we headed off on a warm-up jaunt. The body was a little sore from a class I did yesterday, and I could feel the effects of Friday nights red wine fest Christmas party, but worked most of the kinks out in that warm-up. Tossed back a Roctane (the new chocolate raspberry flavor kicks ass!!), and good to go.

The gun went off, and Robin started the bob and weave around about 100 people. I followed suit for about 20 yards, and then let her go. She was flying, and with my clumsiness, I didn't want to risk face-planting in the middle of Cambridge. However, Steph was sitting right on my shoulder. Perfect. The legs felt good, and I tried to find a place that felt uncomfortable, but manageable for the next 20 minutes. Mile 1= 7:09. I would have liked to have snuck under 7, and made it the goal for Mile 2. Steph got a few yards in front of me, and I focused on the back of her sparkly skirt. I told myself to not let her get away, and that I had a mile to catch back up with her. I found a good rhythm, and stayed focused. Mile 2: 6:59. Nailed it. I caught Steph at about mile 2.5, and noticed she was not happy. I called her out and told her that I wasn't finishing this alone, so she might as well hop on-board. We worked together for the last stretch of the race. Mile 3: 7:17. Less than awesome. I had another gear that I didn't engage, and I knew it as soon as I crossed the finish line. I went 1:21 for the last bit, to total 3.19 miles at 7:08 pace.

The last time I ran a faster time at this distance was in 2003 (right before I started transitioning to marathons - convenient), so while not a PR by over a minute (my 5K PR is currently 21:16), it's been over 8 years since that time. I'll take it. 

It was a good day - I felt in control the entire time. I know I had more in the tank, and it's only a (short) matter of time before I get that 5K average to sub 7-minute miles. I'm excited to be trending in the right direction. I'm excited to be getting stronger and faster. I can feel the PR's getting closer to the surface, and today was a great confidence builder. Hey 2012 - I'm coming for you. 

Post Race - A Good Day!

Great job to everyone today - it was an awesome day! 

Happy Training!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Random Friday Facts

1. I wear flip flops year-round, while living in New England. I swear my feet are claustrophobic.

2. My hair is insanely curly, and I have to straighten it every day. When I'm training for triathlon, I base my swim days around the days that I have to wash my hair. Sexy, no?

3. I'm the oldest of 3 girls. My middle sister is a speedster, and has run a 3:09 marathon. Still trying to figure out how to siphon the fast gene out of her. Someday.

4. I don't listen to music when I run. I had a short stint w/ the iPod Shuffle, but I found myself singing WAY too loudly, and throwing dance moves in the middle of runs. Twas bad.

5. I'll take running in the cold any day over running in the heat. The heat/humidity and I do NOT get along; I fall apart. I've been referred to as "Melty Meaghan" by running friends. Safe to say Badwater is out of the question for me.

6. They say dogs are reflective of their owner - I have a pug. Hmmmm.

7. How I Met Your Mother is probably my most favorite show on TV right now. Until the Bachelor starts again. I know, I know.. It's awful, yet I'm completely addicted.

8. Just booked a vacation that leaves on Marathon Monday. Pretty sure somewhere in my sub-conscious, it was done on purpose. I will qualify for that damn race someday. And then maybe not run it, just to give it the proverbial middle finger.

9. I have the biggest sweet tooth on the planet. To me, dinner is solely a vehicle to get to dessert. I could live on dark chocolate, oatmeal (with lots of brown sugar!) and coffee alone. With that said, I can't have it in my house, bc I have zero self control.

10. Although I run almost everyday, I hate spending money on running clothes. My running wardrobe is embarrassingly tiny.

Other RFFs:
-Katie @ Run This Amazing Day

Let me know if you did an RFF and I'll put your link here!

Happy Friday, and happy training!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Christmas Season...

There's not a whole lot of super exciting stuff to report on the running front (which can sometimes be a good thing!). A whole lot of base training to get me ready to roll this spring.

However, Christmas is alive and well around here! I shall now spam you with pictures from this past weekend, when we picked out (and cut down!!) our 2011 Christmas tree. Enjoy!

Caitlyn showing me some love!!! 
Caitlyn dragging her tree! 
This is hard work!! 
Happy holidays and happy training!!

Friday, December 2, 2011

One Last Run...

When my trusty Forerunner 305 and I hit the roads today, I knew it was likely going to be our last run together. ..

Look, I'm even running 3:22min/mile!!
When the 405 went on spastic sale over at Amazon this week, I couldn't resist upgrading my archaic technology to a slightly less archaic technology for $139 (with the new 610 and other dead sexy watches out there, I can't exactly call the 405 "late-breaking"). 

I requested the extra fast one, full of PR's... 

I'm conflicted over the forced death of my 305; we've been through a lot together over the years. We've had PR's together, and we've also broken-up a few times, after he told me that I was a bit heavy and slow. He may have also muttered something about my butt looking fat in a pair of jeans too. However, I've come to rely on him to get me through workouts, long runs, and especially races. He's replaced my fuzzy marathon math, and allowed me to have many successful running days. So today was the most perfect run for us. 

I had a progression run on tap today, as I have FINALLY turned the corner with this dreadful pneumonia/bronchitis/broken lung syndrome from hell. My legs have felt spicy the last week from the reduced mileage, but my breathing has caused me to stay at a pedestrian pace. But today, the legs were allowed to come out and play. 

As we progressed through the miles together, he kept giving me faster and faster splits. The legs were turning over well, and the smile on my face grew. The HR was behaving (well, mostly), and my lungs kept all nasty mucus to itself. I finished my run today and actually fist pumped. Outside, in front of my driveway. With people watching. Judge away.  Thank you 305. 

I'm looking forward to my new Garmin - he's sleeker, sexier, and my God I hope faster - than 305. Right now he holds so much hope and speed. We're going to start off slow though, as any relationship should. Tomorrow we'll ease in with a nice easy run, and see how it goes. We'll get to know each other, and I'm sure I'll have a few choice words as I figure out the damn bezel on that thing. And once we get comfortable with each other, we'll hit the track next week together. And there will be it's first test of speed. From there will go to long runs and eventually races together. I'm looking forward to long, yet speedy, relationship with 405. 

305, thanks for the memories. You will be sorely missed, and forever remembered. Just like pegged pants, feathered bangs, slouch socks and acid washed jeans. 

Maybe I'll just wear them both. Fastest time wins! 

Happy Training!