Thursday, September 29, 2011

The New Kid in School..

We all know what its like to be the new kid. Whether its starting school again, tackling the first day at a new job, or even joining a new club. It can be unnerving, even as a confident adult. That feeling along can make it difficult to start new things, or take that first trip to a group workout.  I was the new kid this week, as I stepped into a (GASP!) yoga studio for the first time.

I've been wanting to incorporate yoga into my schedule for awhile, and this week seemed the perfect time to start. I'm tapering, not spending as much time working out, therefore freeing up a little time in my schedule. I didn't want power yoga or hot yoga, mostly because I'm a newbie and don't want to risk injuring myself with less than 2 weeks until Chicago. So I found a gentle yoga class right near my house, and figured it was a great place to start. The only problem being that I had never taken a yoga class before. The nerves were equivalent to that of the hours leading up to a 22 mile long run.

Walking into the studio was, of course, intimidating. I donned my running clothes, and had a towel rolled up under my arm (I don't own a yoga mat). There were a few people in the room already, chatting like old friends while they were stretching (oh my Gumby-ness!). Yikes.

I warned the instructor that I'm a long distance athlete who doesn't stretch. Not only can I not touch my toes, I can barely hang my hands past my knees. She smirked, gave me the standard "stop if anything hurts or doesn't feel right" speech and handed me a few blocks. I'm a very confident person, but I was petrified of everyone staring at me and then being the one being talked about after class. Gulp.

The class was 75 minutes long, and I stretched more in those 75 minutes than in my entire life combined. Everyone in the class was so into the class, that they didn't even notice how much of a "stiff as a board" disaster I was. The instructor would come by my mat (yep, she let me borrow a real yoga mat like a big kid!) while going through the poses, to make sure that I was maximizing my potential. The words "runners calves" and "tight hamstrings" came out of her mouth on different occasions, but I could tell she was thrilled that she had a convert  on her hands.

Yoga was hard, but I loved it. It wasn't 75 minutes of heart-pounding efforts, or watching zones, distance, or pace. It was quiet, focused, and totally chill. Something I definitely need in my life. And when I woke up Tuesday morning, I didn't feel as tight as I usually do.  It's something I'm going to start adding into my workout routine, especially once Chicago is over.

Being the new kid is never easy; however it allows us to open doors to new opportunities and possibilities. Stepping outside our own boxes, and our comfort zones is just one way to better ourselves as individuals.

Happy Training!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Trust The Training

I got a little bit of a wrist slap this weekend, after I allowed myself to slip back into old habits. No friends, I am NOT hitting the bottle again (well, not hard anyway..). This has to do with nasty old running habits.

I was scheduled for a 16 mile progressive run this weekend. I wanted to squeeze in one last 20, but "compromised" at 16, including faster miles. I'm still trying to heal up from too many months of over-training (in warp speed time) to put together a decent Chicago Marathon in (GULP) 13 days.

A logistically tricky weekend, my only time block to run was Saturday afternoon. 80+ degrees and 100% humidity. It's okay to be jealous. I had a few factors working against me, but with my trusty Garmin and HR monitor, I would be fine. I'd run by HR alone, disregard pace, and get in a great solid workout before the start of a serious taper. HR training over the past month or so has been critical to the healing process for me. I'm a fly-and-dyer by nature, someone who loves smashing myself day in and day out to feel successful as an athlete. Training by HR doesn't allow me to do that, and as such, I'm bouncing back from the burn-out zone pretty quickly. Yay resilient body!

I pull into the parking lot of run location, turn on the Garmin. It immediately flashes "low battery". Insert about 50 expletives here. The proverbial blue streak. As it is, it's Mexico hot outside, it's the middle of the freakin' afternoon, and now my Garmin is failing me. Am I on candid camera? No, really. I wanted to go home, but due to time restraints knew my only choice was to suck it up.

Sooooooooo I started up the ole' Timex and the Garmin simultaneously, laced up the shoes and decided to do the best I could.   The first and only mile the Garmin lasted was right on target. Zone 1- nailed it.

At this point I'm relying on feel and mile markers (I was on a marathon course w/ visible markings) alone. The trouble is that everything feels hard in the heat and humidity. I was struggling between "is this Zone 2" and "holy crap that HAS to be at least Zone 4, I should slow down". Now throw in ONE more factor - I was running the exact course where I ran my marathon PR 2 years ago. 

Recipe for disaster. Getting frustrated by "feel", seeing splits I liked on my watch, and getting caught up in re-living my fastest AND smartest race I've ever run? Yep - you guessed it. Took off like a bat out of hell. I would try to talk myself into slowing down, which I think would last in 30 second spurts. Then I would slowly speed back up. I could feel my legs getting tired, but I could easily chalk it up to the weather. The phrases "this is supposed to be a workout" and "suck it up" went through my mind early and often.

This game lasted until mile 10-11. Then I crashed and burned. Hard. Cue tears, walking, jogging, cursing at myself for being stupid, etc. Not pretty.

Point of today's rambling?

In the words of a wise person:  "Learn the lesson. Trust your training. Trust the methods". 

I was supposed to do a progressive run, and instead, I let old habits drive me in the absence of the "tools" to keep me honest. If I want to get faster, and be a more competitive athlete, I have to embrace every workout for it's individual purpose. Going out and running race pace every day isn't going to make me a better athlete. Its the reason my body is completely shelled.

I have learned the lesson. I am going into this taper (and beyond) with Saturday's run in mind. I have had great progress with healing the last few weeks, and need to remind myself WHY that happened. It wasn't by accident. It was carefully thought out. And I don't want to start sliding backwards now.

As endurance athletes, it's hard not be competitive with ourselves (and others) every day. Yet each one of us is different, and we each may take slightly different roads to reach our fullest potential. We need to listen to our own bodies, and trust in our own training. Only then will we see our greatest results. 

Happy Training!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Heaven in a pan...

I stole this recipe from Chic Runner, and it's a MUST for anyone who has a sweet tooth.

Start with the following:

30 marshmallows (the regular size, not mini)
3tbsp of butter (I used some fat free margarine crap)
1tbsp of peanut butter - I used 3tbsp of the reduced fat PB
6 cups of Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch
1 1/2 cups M&Ms (I used dark chocolate ones)

Mix the marshmallows, butter and peanut butter in a pan over LOW hear, stirring until you have marshmallow-y goodness. Make sure to keep it on low so you don't burn the 'mallows. Took me about 15 minutes.

Then just pour in the Cap'n Crunch and M&Ms. I immediately then removed it from the heat. Mix it all together - it looks like a giant marshmallow spider web of awesomeness.

Once it's all mixed, dump it out into a greased 9x13 pan and pat it all down into the pan (think brownie style). Let it cool, and then cut into squares. No need to even put in the fridge.

Caitlyn and I had a BLAST making it, and it's so.freakin'.good.

Thank God I'm running long tomorrow ;)


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Couple Pictures From Pumpkinman

Early Morning

Swim Start

Strong Finish

What a great day... 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Its Getting Real..

Lookie what Mr. Postman delivered today!

Why yes my friends - that would be an EVEN NUMBERED BIB for Chicago!!! And I didn't even have to beg ask the Chicago Marathon race committee for one! I kid, however I DO have a freaky OCD thing w/ even race numbers. Feel free to judge.

Can only mean one thing - somewhere in this tired, burnt out body resides spicy legs, strong lungs, and speedy feet that are going to show themselves on October 9th.

T-Minus 19 days..

Monday, September 19, 2011

Goals vs being in the moment..

Ever since I broke the tape crossed the finish line at Pumpkinman last Sunday, my brain has been on over-drive. Thoughts of Ironman dancing through my head, as well as actually training (WHAT?!) for a 70.3, and seeing what times I can deliver. The words Placid/Florida/Arizona have been racing around my head, and out of my mouth in many conversations. Boston registration started last week too (no sillies, I do not have a qualifying time, but several of my friends do) which got me thinking about spring marathons. If I make the jump from marathon training to long distance triathlon training, how will I fit it all in? Do I have to? Do I WANT to? What is 2012 going to look like for me?

Then this morning, driving into work, as I was having the recurring daydream of crossing the finish line at Placid/Florida/Arizona/anyotherlocationthathasa140.6, I said aloud in my car "STOP IT!!".

I DID have a great 70.3 - I had an awesome time, and managed to pull out a decent result. But I have to take a step back. A mere 2 weeks ago, I was sitting on the side of the road in Gloucester crying because I didn't want to finish the 25K race. I was shuffling along, being completely miserable, trying to move a burnt out, tired body 15.6 miles. And hating every second.

I also have Chicago in 2 weeks and 6 days. I had my first 23 miler this past Saturday in probably close to a year in which I didn't cry or have to stop. It was awesome to be able to feel in control of my body. However, I also for the first time did this long run by HR, and forced my HR to dictate my run. It was a reminder of how tired my body is - my pace to stay in Z2 was very, very slow. I still have time to pull out a decent performance at Chicago, but I need to be smart. I need to have a strong taper. I need to focus on healing and recovery. I cannot be focusing on what my race calendar will look like 4 months from now.

Enter the "goals vs being in the moment" title to this post. I think as Type A athletes, we're always thinking about lists, schedules, races, training blocks, goals, and what comes next. Sure, we're focused on today's workout, but our minds often seem to be focused on the next huge training day/training block/race/etc. And I think as a goal race gets closer, our minds jump to what we can do after we cross the finish line. I know for me, that's definitely the case. "Once I slay this dragon, what's up next"?

For the next 3 weeks however, I have vowed (no, my fingers aren't crossed behind my back) to stay in the moment. One workout at a time, and focusing on preparing my body for Chicago the best I can on each individual day. Crossing the finish line in Chicago signals the end of the 2011 season for me. It will be time to close the chapter on this less than stellar season, and time to focus on wiping the slate clean. Starting fresh. Rebuilding.

I don't know what the 2012 season holds for me yet - but I do know that racing isn't going anywhere, and when I'm ready to build a schedule for next year, it will be with a clear mind, and heart full of anticipation. And a body hungry for some PR's. 

Happy Training!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Some Friday Fun..

Disclaimer: I have NOT trained for an Ironman. I have NOT committed to doing an Ironman (yet!). However, I think the word "Ironman" has been in every google search I've performed since the finish line Sunday. I came across this, and thought it was awesome. Enjoy!

  • You call a 5 mile run an easy day.

  • You plan vacations around where your next race will be.

  • You use the words "easy" and "long run" in the same sentence. 

  • You not only eat gels, but you know the best flavors for every brand.

  • You know what I mean by “eat gels”.

  • Your RHR is below 50 and you’re not dying.

  • You know what RHR is.

  • An easy swim is any distance less than 2000 yards. 

  • You do a Century ride for training, not charity.

  • You ride your bike to the start of a local 10k race.

  • You hear a gunshot and dive under water, not for cover.

  • You know that a “special needs bag” is for.

  • You hear someone else ran a marathon and think, “Oh, that’s cute.”

  • Speed work on the track is 4 mile repeats.

  • You have dreams about Ali’i Drive.

  • You know where that is.

  • The cashier at Costco says to you, “Didn’t you just buy that tub of peanut butter last week?”

  • Your long rides consistently take you across 10 town lines and at least one state line.

  • You put more miles on your bike than your car during peak training.

  • Your training race is just over 70 miles long.

  • You can eat 8,000 calories in a day and still lose weight.

  • You are over 30 and there is still someone in your life that you refer to as "coach".

  • Your bike cost more than your first car.

  • You have peed outdoors more times in the last year than you did in your first year of college.

  • You refer to the front hall of your house as the "transition area".

  • Happy Training!

    Tuesday, September 13, 2011

    Pumpkinman Half Ironman Race Report

    Get cozy my friends - this race report has the potential to be of great length. I promise some pictorial interludes throughout, to break up my wordiness. I want to capture in words the incredible day that I had on Sunday.

    As all of you know, I came into this race untrained and with zero expectations. Prior to the race, I had completed exactly 3 bike rides over 40 miles, and 1 over 50 miles. I had been in the water exactly 3 times, and those were open water swims between 20-40 minutes. I have not been in the pool since last summer. As in 2010. However, I felt a pull to at least give this a go. I was banking on my run fitness to get me to the finish line. Nothing more.

    I dropped off Caitlyn Saturday night at Scott and Lisa's house - they were having a sleepover, and bringing her up to watch the race on Sunday. I knew I was leaving her in spectacular care, and was excited to know I was going to be able to see her smiley face while on course.

    Race morning came fast - a 4:30am alarm for a 5am departure from the house. I was surprisingly not as pukey as I usually am before a race, and was able to get down a decent breakfast. Phil provided me with constant reassurance, and distraction when necessary. Such a rockstar.

    I held it together very well until we pulled into the parking lot - then, cue meltdown. I told Phil there was no way I could do this, I needed to go home. I had no business being there, I wasn't trained, and I just wanted to leave. Tears, tears, and more tears. It was ugly. He promptly kicked me out of the car, told me he would put my bike together, and we would meet back at the car when I was done registering. I cried while picking up my chip and packet -it was messy.

    Finally got a hold of Amanda, who proved to be my saving grace race morning. I latched onto her quickly, as she helped me set up transition, provided me some hints on what to do, where to go, etc. She reminded me that I COULD do this, and that I was going to be okay. More than okay. I took a deep breath, and remembered a friends words from the day before "take in every single moment, and soak it up". I did.

                                                          *how obvious is it that I was crying?*

    Lots of hugs, kisses, good lucks, and we headed down to the water. There was a delayed start due to the fog. It was freezing, but I was too busy trying to figure out how I was going to survive a 1.2 mile swim - my God that looked far. Nevermind the fact that I'm not used to swimming with people. Yikes. Luckily, I'm a very confident swimmer, so I knew if I could stay positive, I would be okay. At about 7:45, the race started.

    It was a 2-loop swim, and I was in the last wave - which meant we were starting the swim as the elites were coming around for their second loop. I got caught up in a sea of people, was kicked and pushed around. I think it was a solid 10- 15 minutes before I could get into any kind of rhythm. I kept trying to find feet, and stay calm. My goggles were so foggy, I couldn't see much. I was relying on the feet in front of me to take me the right way. I went off course a couple times, but all in all, finished feeling like I hadn't exerted much energy. Good. I have a LOT to learn about swimming with lots of people - my swim time was probably slow for me, but it was very much stop/go/swim, versus an actual 1.2 mile swim. Swim = 41:44.

    There is a huge ass hill coming into T-1. So big that there's actually a "hill climb challenge" - fastest person up the hill on the day won a special award. Yeah, that person was NOT me.

    I took my time in T-1. I needed to remember everything, and I haven't done a transition since August of 2010 - my last triathlon. I chatted w/ a couple people (I REALLY need to stop talking to people during a race), grabbed my stuff, and was off. T1= 2:50

    I saw Phil on the way out - all I said was "here goes nothing!" with a big smile. It was so awesome to see his face as I was heading out. The bike was the big wild card of the day. I'm not confident on the bike at all, and I've barely been on my bike this year. I had only practiced bike nutrition once, and that was when Sara and I did the course preview. I decided I was going to find a comfy place, focus on getting in my nutrition, and enjoy the ride. My hope was to hold 15mph for the 56 mile jaunt. I spent the first 10 minutes or so just getting comfortable and clearing my head. I found a pace that felt strong, and stayed there. As people passed me, I repeated to myself "half marathon, half marathon - do not chase, I'll get them on the run". Then it happened - I ACTUALLY PASSED SOMEONE ON THE BIKE!!! No, seriously, I don't think this has ever happened before. I was so psyched! I forced myself to hold back though, listen to my breathing, and chatted it up w/ people as they passed me, I passed them. I had a huge smile on my face and was enjoying every minute. "Take in every single moment".

    When I looked at my watch (I had my timex on one hand that I was using for nutrition timing, and my Garmin on the other to collect data), and saw I was at an hour, I glanced at the Garmin to check mileage. SEVENTEEN MILES in an hour?!?! Oh shit. I was feeling too good, and this was WAY faster than I expected. The bike is such an unknown to me, that I had zero clue if I could hold that pace for another couple hours. And you know what? I didn't care. I smiled, and just kept going. The gels were going down, my stomach was behaving, and I was cruising. I even experienced my first bottle exchange (now THAT was interesting!) with a smile on my face. And yes, I cheered outloud for myself when I successfully grabbed a bottle without dumping off my bike. Don't you dare judge me.

    I did some hazy bike math at hour 2, and then again at hour 2.5. My pace seemed to be staying around 17ish mph, and I felt good there. I was talking, eating, and having so much fun. I had no idea what was going to happen when I got off the bike, but I decided I would worry about that in T-2.

    As I came into the transition area, I spot Caitlyn and Lisa on the side of the road - I screamed for them, and they looked VERY surprised to see me. Phil said afterwards he was shocked to see me as well - I was 1/2 hour early! Seeing everyone got me even more excited as I pulling into T-2. Bike = 3:11:45/ 17.5mph

    I did one brick, about 2 weeks ago. Aside from that, the last time I ran off the bike was at my last tri - over 1 year ago. Due to that, I really took my time in T-2. I assessed my body for any tweaks, soreness, anything that could be flirting with injury. I sat down (!!), put my run shoes on, and walked a few steps towards the bike out. It was slow, but well worth the time I took. T-2 = 1:55

    I heard cowbells and lots of familiar voices as I came out of T-2. Caitlyn was holding a sign for me, with Phil, Scott, and Lisa right there smiling and yelling for me. I pulled over, gave Caitlyn a kiss, and was on my way. I made a decision at that point that I would NOT look at my Garmin the entire run. I also decided that I was allowed to walk through every aid station, but had to run/shuffle/jog in between all of them. Crazy, right? Notsomuch. My run has been in such a horrid place lately, and I was having way too good of a day. I didn't want to be discouraged, and I wanted to savor every moment of my first 70.3.  So I started my shuffle.

    My support crew managed to fly out of T-2 and get to the mile 2 mark, where they would be able to see me 3 times on the run course. When I saw them, I stopped again. This time I kissed all of them, and told them how much fun I was having. As I'm typing this, I'm thinking about how much time I lost stopping and chatting during those 13.1 miles. Oops.

    I saw so many people I knew, due to the nature of the double out and back. I was in such a great place in my head, that I cheered for everyone. Amanda was flying, it was so much fun watching her destroy the run course. I smiled, danced through waters stops (no really, I did), and stayed positive. I picked up Lisa at about mile 7, she was going to run the next 6 miles with me. I wish I could put into words how awesome it was to have her there - having someone that knows you so well, doing what we do so well together was simply priceless. As we shuffled along, I was recapping my swim and bike, asking about Caitlyn, cheering for everyone on course, and having an awesome time. I looked at her at mile 12, and said "I can't believe I'm doing this!!". She said to me "remember all of these moments, you'll never have your first 70.3 again".

    Caitlyn really wanted to run into the finish with me, but it's not allowed per USAT rules. However, she was allowed to run about 1/4ish mile stretch with me right before I entered the finishing chute. As I came up to her, I grabbed her hand. We held hands running, Caitlyn looking up at me with a smile on her face. She kept telling me how well I was doing, and of course, how sweaty I was. Having those moments with her on that run, on that day, was so special. I can't wait to see the pictures from that. Run = 2:04:27 (ouch).

    Lisa grabbed Caitlyn off course as I "charged" into the finishing chute - I crossed the line with a huge smile across my face.

    Total time: 6:05:09

    Caitlyn came flying around the finish, and couldn't tell me enough times how proud of me she was. Phil was so damn happy for me, Scott and Lisa were nothing short of amazing. Amanda kicked ass, and scored 2nd in our age group. We giggled like 10 year old girls about how happy we were for each other. Sara and Patty had strong races, and it was awesome to see them out on the run course. I am a very, very lucky girl.

    I am in love with this distance. I had an incredible day - I took in every single moment with a smile. I stayed positive, and learned so much. Given the lack of training, and first attempt at this distance, I'm sure I have LOTS of room for improvement. However for now, I'm just going to bask in the glory of my finish.

    Thank you for all of the support and encouragement - it truly means the world to me.

    Happy Training!

    Monday, September 12, 2011

    I DID IT!!!!

    Race report to follow, but I completed my first 70.3!! It was so, so, so much fun - I'm totally hooked on this distance! I danced through the water stops, and did every leg with a giant smile on my face. It was an incredible experience. Thank you for ALL of the support!

    Friday, September 9, 2011


    Preparing for a running race is natural and easy for me. Grab some gels, the ole kicks, and head out the door. Registration is optional for the shorter ones - you can do it race morning. I've been doing road races for years, and it's second nature to me.

    Preparing for a swim meet falls into the same category, although I haven't done one of those in forever. When it's what you know, it's simple. Easy. Swimsuits, towels, chlorine and I go hand in hand.

    Preparing for something you've never done before? Big. Scary. Exciting.

    Yes, I said exciting. I should probably be in the fetal position in my basement right now, sucking my thumb and rocking back and forth. I should be scared shit less, and have those knots in my stomach I do before every race. I should be refreshing every 5 minutes, and planning the next day and a half down to the second. Yet I'm not. I'm excited. Mostly. That's the beauty of never having done a particular race or race distance before, and also not "racing" an event. I get to take in every moment of this race for what it is, and hang on to it. I get to file Sunday away as my first ever 70.3. And will have memories and stories to tell of "the first one". Just as I do about the Vermont City Marathon - my very first.

    I wrote an email this morning to Lisa, as she and Scott will be hanging w/ Caitlyn during the race. It included when the race starts, when I can expect to come through T1, T2, etc, etc. I found myself being very conservative with times, and not stressing out about how many freakin' hours the eta for finish is from the swim start time. I forwarded to April, to make sure she agrees w/ my timeline.  I called Amanda, and asked her for help with nutrition - how many of "x" do I need, and how should I vary "y". And then I emailed Phil a shopping list for the bike shop. Gels, Gatorade, Bars, Sport Beans, Tequila. You know, the standard nutrition for an endurance event.

    For now, the bike is still on the trainer (Phil is making her even more sexy with race wheels for Sunday - gotta make 15mph look good friends!)

    And race stuff is starting to make it's way into a pile of sorts:

    At some point tomorrow, I'll break my bike down, put everything into bags, and start to put on a game face of sorts.  I'll watch what I'm eating and drinking, and save the Patron for during the race, instead of pre-race. Duh.

    Sunday is all about savoring the moments. All of them. I'll be outside, doing what I love on a beautiful day. I'll be surrounded by friends, and Caitlyn will be there cheering me on (how AWESOME is that?!?!). I know I'm not prepared for this race the way I should be, and I would naive to expect results to reflect anything but that. So for once, it's time to go into something with my eyes wide open and full of excitement.
    Give it what I've got, and see what happens..

    Happy Training!

    Thursday, September 8, 2011


    Fall inevitably means one thing - The return of the Pumpkin Spice Latte!!! SHRIEK!

    Delta decided to delay my flight home this afternoon, so I am cozied up with my FIRST PSL of the season and my laptop. Some work, some people watching, and a whole lotta this pumpkin-y goodness.

    Wonder if I can filled my water bottles with this stuff on Sunday... Hmmmmm...

    Happy Training!

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    Left, Right, Repeat..(A run report..)

    Can I pull this off? Do my legs remember how to run 8:20's? Wow that sun is hot. Whoa, my HR is 96 standing at the starting line. Maybe I'll surprise myself, and PR. I have successfully run this course, and it was only 2 years ago. I ran a great half marathon one year ago. I pulled off 8's running like a moron in July. Lets see what happens. 

    **BAM (well, not a gun - more a horn-like sound)!**

    Off we go.

    Lisa and I took off together. Her goal was to run anticipated marathon pace (8:50's) for the race, and my plan was to start off with her and try to hang on. In the event my legs felt spicy, I would allow myself to open up and push it at mile 10. No sooner. I also wanted to watch my heart rate the entire race. I wanted to collect data - how is my body responding to a hard effort? And an effort facing these types of hills:

    The first few miles hovered around 9's. At times it felt okay, and other times it felt like I was pushing at 400 interval efforts. My HR was varying between 164-170. Yikes. And my GOD it was hot. I practiced pushing negative thoughts out, and staying positive.

    I ran with Lisa until about mile 5 when she pulled away. I put in a couple efforts to catch her, but my HR shot straight up to HR 180 at every incline. 1-frickin-80. I know enough to know what HR 180 means at mile 5 - there's no way I'd see that finish line in under 8 hours. I listened to my body and slowed.

    Positivity left the building about mile 6ish, when my pace became slower than a training run, and my HR was through the roof. I was melting in the sun, and there were already people walking all around me. I saw Lisa's husband Scott at mile 7, who was waiting with cold face cloths, water and Gatorade. That man saved my day. I pulled off the road, and broke down in tears. I told him I didn't want to do it anymore, and just wanted to be done. He provided some encouraging words, and promised he would check in on me in a couple miles. I trudged onward, sniffling while shuffling.

    I will not torture you all with a mile by mile recap of yesterdays picnic. There were a lot more tears, a lot more walking, and a lot more of high heart rates. And a lot more of Scott doing the very best to keep all of us going, and putting one foot in front of the other. Left, right, repeat.

    I finished in a time that I am not proud of, and one that is a big fat slap of reality to me. A slap that I definitely needed.

    However, I am going to end this post with silver linings:

    (1) I am able to complete a 25K - many people aren't as blessed
    (2) I was able to spend yesterday morning with friends, doing something I love to do
    (3) I collected data, which is being used as a reminder that I need to start being healthy. ASAP.
    (4) Re-confirmed my plan for this weekend's 70.3 (gulp): all fun and no tears
    (5) Yesterday re-ignited that fire to WANT to be fast, and to WANT this to be fun again. Crying every week while running sucks. And if I want to break this cycle, I need to change my habits. And do it before Chicago, to salvage my last big race this season
    (6) Race support kicks ass - Scott literally saved the day yesterday. Knowing that he was going to be there for me, and continue to provide me encouragement to keep on going was priceless. I am very lucky.
    (7) I am able to live, race, and train in a location that provides views like this:

    And finally, runs/race like this only serve to make the good ones feel THAT much better. Right? Nice job to everything that gutted out yesterday's sweat fest - crossing the finish line of any race should never be taken for granted.

    Happy Training!

    Saturday, September 3, 2011

    Why Hello There Rock Bottom..

    So I'm getting cozy in this new place known as "rock bottom" - I should get comfy, because it's where I'll spend the next month or so. Although I don't think it'll be as enjoyable as this sign makes it out to be.

    My running has been on a steady decline the past year and a half, and I've continued to stack up the miles, push harder, do everything possible to beat my body into submission. Injury? Run through it. Hell, I'll run the entirety of the Philadelphia Marathon on a torn quad! Rest days? Hell no - not when other people are out there training. I need to keep up, increase mileage, and turn my running around.

    I have my degree in Exercise Physiology, and I'm a very smart girl. If anyone with a history of mine told me this is what they were doing to get faster, I'd straight up slap them across the face. However, when its me that its happening to, the rules don't apply. That's the beauty of being an endurance athlete - a friend of mine said it perfectly: "lets be honest - to be an endurance athlete, you have to have a few screws loose".

    In the past year I've worked with a fabulous coach, I've gone to PT regularly, massage therapy pretty frequently, and nothing seemed to be working. My times were getting slower, my body more tired, and runs were becoming harder and harder every day.

    About three months ago, rock bottom showed up and welcomed me to it's community. We're talking stopping during 4 mile runs, breaking down in tears during every run over 6 miles, and paces that are WELL over a minute where I belong. Not hitting one interval during a workout, and a heart rate on an easy run that is flirting with Zone 182746. That's right, I even welcomed a new heart rate zone while being in community rock bottom ;)

    My sisters, my best friend, my boyfriend, and many other good friends have all listened patiently to my venting, whining and crying. They've been there to pick up the broken pieces day in and day out. And last night I had dinner w/ a friend who is also a coach. She looked me in the eye and said "you're like an alcoholic who's hit rock bottom". She's 100% right. I've been pushing too hard for too long, and my body has had enough.

    This whole "rock bottom" thing is ill-timed however; I have 3 more races coming up over the next 36 days. I have a very hilly 25K Monday, a 70.3 next weekend, and then the Chicago Marathon on October 9th. I'm Type A, and doing these races is simply not an option. That part is very black and white. The results of these races will remain a mystery, but toeing the start line is not an option.

    I was given the guidance not to sign up for anything past Chicago. I need to take rock bottom and learn from it. I need to re-wire my brain and my body, and then come up with a plan for 2012. Is it to focus on long distance triathlon? Marathons? Some combination? I can't answer that yet - but what I DO know is that 2012 is going to be the year I actually start training correctly for me. I can't compare myself to the people running 80 miles a week, or those who run their mile repeats at 6:30. I can't freak out when I see someone out running on a scheduled rest day, that they're gaining fitness and I'm gaining inches on my hips.

    I've taken the first step in acknowledging the problem, and now I have to do the very best I can to prepare my broken, tired, burnt out body, and execute these upcoming races to the best of my ability. Then when October 10th rolls around, I'm wiping the slate clean. Its time to clear my mind and body of everything it's been doing the last few years, and start fresh.

    And take my word for it - when my body, head, and heart all line up eventually, I'll be back in this game stronger than ever, and hungry for some serious PRs.

    Happy Training!