Sunday, December 30, 2012

(Wedding) Week in Review

43 Miles
7 Days of Running
1 Lift Session
1 Wedding

Here's the summary, and you can find the proof in the pictures below.

  • I spent the first part of the week celebrating Christmas with my immediate family in Charlotte.  John left the house so we could take it over (best roommate, ever)
  • I married Garrett Bullock, effectively dropping the name (and initials) I've become so fond of.  Introducing Caitlin Rose Bullock aka CRB.
  • Garrett looked away from me when I looked up at him while walking down the aisle.  Later he told me that it was because he was afraid he would cry.
  • Our priest, Father Brian Cook, gave us one of the best wedding ceremonies I could have asked for.  People are still calling our parents telling us how powerful his mass was.
  • I didn't cry at all during the wedding events.
  • 100% of my Charlotte friends consumed the perfect amount of alcohol, which would equal "too much" in any other normal person's mind.
  • I ran every day with friends from Charlotte and around the world.
  • I ate a lot of really, really good food.
  • I enjoyed every single minute.
My last night as a Chrisman was spent snuggling with Meagan.

The beautiful Church

Mom, Dad and Vanessa at the Rehearsal Dinner

We're hitched...On the way to pictures!

Bridal Party Pics
Proud Daddy!

Thank God for our private dinner before the reception

Merry and I in the waiting room
Wedding Party Pics

What an epic after party at foothills, with my family here.

Charlotte in full force at the after party

They are all very, very drunk

Mom. Dad, me and their new son
Garrett escorted his mom down the aisle.  She cried the whole time.
 And, in case you missed it, our epic first dance.

Monday, December 24, 2012

(Birthday) Week in Review

50 Miles
1 Workout
11 Mile Long Run
2 Lift Days
1 Yoga Session

I have never been so excited to run 50 miles!  Lots is happening right now, so here's the short story:  the two best times in a woman's life are (1) when she gets married and (2) when she is pregnant.  Since I don't know much about #2, I'm making an assumption based on my experience with #1.  This whole week, I've been treated like a princess.  People have been so kind and generous and accommodating for the upcoming wedding.  I have been given countless gifts, well wishes, and just straight happiness.  Perhaps it's the holiday season, or perhaps it was because it was also my birthday this week, but getting married truly brings out the best in people and it's so exciting to be enjoying this whole experience!  I'm only 6 days away from the day where I commit to spend the rest of my life with Garrett and to build a family with him.  Running 50 miles this week was just a small feat on this busy agenda, but one that I don't want to go unnoticed!  Next week when I write, I'll be Mrs. Bullock and I will have dropped from #6 to #11 in Aaron's ranking of most important ladies in his life.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Week in Review

44 Miles
6 Days Running
2 Days lifting
12 Mile Long Run

I'm still only logging about half the mileage as to whats normal, but there are only thirteen days until my wedding, which I think is a pretty good excuse for running fewer miles.  There have been a few hiccups with the wedding front--total wine only ordered Bud Light and not the other 10 cases of Foothills and Mother Earth brews.  A couple of my vendors haven't confirmed when they will be arriving at the reception...but I understand it's the holidays so I'm positive they will show up when the time counts.

Anyways, this week was a success in that I ran a respectable mileage, without any pain in my shin!  I can feel tightness if I massage the shin, which I really want to go away, but I need to be patient.  I truly believe that my weight lifting program has helped tremendously and I can't wait to continue to see the improvement in my shin and also my racing.  I'm especially excited for the upcoming season, where I want to focus on the shorter distances through the spring.  My goals for next year are to PR in the 5k, half marathon, and potentially marathon.  I'm still undecided about running a marathon next fall, but I've got a long time to assess what's next.  For now, I'm going to focus on the wedding, soaking in all of the experience over the next two weeks!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Week in Review

32 miles
6 days of running
3 days of sickness
2 days of lifting
8 mile long run

Yeah this isn't the week I wanted it to be, but life got in the way.  I lost weight, my wedding dress is too big, I stressed too much over the wedding, I got sick, and I haven't been able to sleep.  Not in that particular order, but that summarizes my week.  My shin is fine when running, but when I perform self massage on it, the left shin doesn't feel the same as the right, so I'm not 100% better yet.  I'm hoping I can get in a respectable long run next week and hit 45-50 miles so that I'm not sucking wind the week of the wedding.  On a positive note, I was able to get well enough to attend the celebration party that Laurie hosted at her house for Garrett and I.  It was great to hang out with everyone in a non-running environment and to just sit back, laugh, and enjoy everyone's company.  We have such a great group here in Charlotte!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Runners at Moga

As some of you know, I'm a Lululemon ambassador, which really means that I get to be part of an extensive network of fitness professionals.  Largely consisting of yoga instructors and cross fit trainers, I'm the odd ball out because I don't own a studio and really just run.  This network comprises of the kindest, most generous people out there who truly want you to have a great day.  So let's start with Emily Breeze Ross, co-owner of Moga Charlotte, and a Lululemon ambassador. A couple weeks ago she invited me to attend one of the classes to check out because "we think that deep stretching and restorative movements in our classes would greatly benefit ALL runners!!! :o)"  Sounded very promising to me, and I'm always up to trying new things.  However, I didn't exactly start off on the best foot because I had to cancel on the initial class she had invited me to and then I invited Laurie, another Lululemon ambassador from ATL and now in CLT.  Fortunately, Emily and her co-owner, Beth Lange, were kind enough to fit in not just me, but also Laurie, to the Wednesday night 6:45 Deep Stretch yoga class. 

I haven't been to a yoga class since October 2007, when I did headstands and met my future husband for the first time.  So, yeah, I was a little rusty, but it was deep stretch, so I figured it would not be super hardcore  like the Ashtanga yoga classes I'd taken through high school and college.   Laurie and I showed up at the Atherton Lofts, in a cute little two-story studio with the standard loft-style compliments--brick walls, large and expansive windows, high ceilings.  It created  a great ambiance for a deep stretch yoga class--the feng shui flowed perfectly.  There was a small waiting area where Emily and Beth greeted us and handed us a waiver form to fill out, which took less than 5 minutes.  We had a couple of minutes to chat, albeit quietly since another class was going on upstairs.  Within no time, we all climbed up the stairs to the second floor to place our personal items in a cubby and grab two blocks, a rope, and a (traditional mexican) blanket before placing our mats in front of a convenient piece of tape to mark our places.  If  you aren't a regular yogi and haven't bought a mat yet, Moga provides mats.  They were nicer than my own.  The room filled up quickly and some people didn't find a space with tape in front of it, but still found room to place their mat.  My recommendation: get there early if you want a spot in front of the mirror. 

As a runner, I know that I should probably practice a deep stretch routine more often, whether it be in a class or at home, but I don't.  So, I was nervous!   I sat there on the mat, waiting for Beth to give us instructions on how to start out.  She gave a few announcements about upcoming classes and donations for Christmas before starting.  Fortunately, Beth took us through a nice warmup so that I didn't have to worry about pulling any muscles.  I honestly don't remember all of the warmup exercises, but I do know that we split them up with downward dog.  When we first started with that pose, I got worried we would hold it for 5 minutes because my arms have the strength of a 10 year old girl.  Fortunately, we only held it for about 15 seconds!  The focus was more on holding poses  that focused on the IT Band and hip flexor for about a minute each. 

After the warmup, we did various poses and held for 3 minutes on each side.  We did a twisty arm pose and, oddly enough, this one was the most difficult for me.  Most likely because I work at a computer all day.  I didn't know my body could twist that way!  The other poses focused mostly on the hips and IT Band.  I think they were something like:
·         Pigeon
·         One-legged child's pose
·         High lunge
·         And others that I don't know the names for

Beth's charisma and calm ensured that we all felt comfortable and were on track to do the right pose.  Her cues came at the right time and encouraged me to relax so that I could go even deeper into the pose.  Since the space is small, it calls for smaller class sizes, which gives Beth more time to focus on each individual and help get the students into a deeper pose.  I think she came by to me about 4 times throughout the class, which exceeded my expectations.  Personalized attention and care is definitely something you'll find at Moga, which will help your yoga practice in the long term. 

Oh, and I almost forgot -- the music wasn't your standard "spa music," thank goodness.  It was soft classics, think "Coffee House" on Sirius XM radio.  There were actual vocals, which fit with the style of the class.

After Savasana, we opened our eyes and started packing up, only to be greeted with a shot of coconut juice! What a great way to end a yoga class!

All in all, I recommend Moga to those who are looking for a deep stretch class that is offered multiple days a day every week.  Emily and Beth do a great job adding in little things that make it feel like your neighborhood studio.  Laurie and I both agreed that incorporating deep stretch yoga into our running regimes would definitely help, now it's just about finding the time to commit to it.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

(Bachelorette) Week in Review

36 miles
5 days of running
1 Flywheel Class
2 days of lifting
10 mile long run

I'm a week behind on my blog, so most of you know that Michelle Hazelton was a great host for me, Dalena, Danielle, Jocelyn, and Meagan.  Meagan surprised me in Santa's Sack (yes, you read that right).  She flew all the way to NC from Boston to join in the debauchery! While I tried not to cry when I saw her face, she tried to not pass out from heatstroke.  You can read/see her recap here.

My mileage isn't anything to write home about, but I'm still running and I'm 90% not injured. I still have 10% to go until I say I'm healthy, so I'm not satisfied yet.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Week in Review

22 Miles
2 Off Days
2 Lift sessions
1 Flywheel ride
6 mile "long run"

I can get used to this whole "running-for-fun" thing.  I'm running pain free (shin and glute), but yet I still have no desire to add any miles onto my runs.  I'm milking my down time to the extreme, and running exactly what I feel like doing on any given day.  Saturday's run at McAlpine marked my first run back with a large CRC group, and it reminded me of why I love Charlotte so much--because the people here are just so great.  We traversed the Boyce section of the trail, the only part accessible due to the Footlocker South races going on simultaneously.  By 10am, we sprinted from point to point to catch a fleeting glimpse of Alana as she raced by, before moving on to the next vantage points.  Alana may not have accomplished her goal for this race, but she showed some true grit and heart out there.  It was enjoyable to watch the prestigious race with a familiar face competing.

While I feel confident about my comeback plan--running less than 50 miles and lifting twice a week--an integral piece of this puzzle is chiropractic treatment from Dr. Greenapple and a trip to Alan Tyson from Architect Sports.  I'm sure that both of these things will help me pinpoint the heart of the issue to ensure that I don't get this sort of hamstring tightness (ever) again.  The key is to have fun during this unstructured training segment, get healthy and repair my wounded body and mind.  As for the fun part, I've got that covered:  watch out Raleigh, the CRC ladies are coming to town!  Michelle Hazelton is hosting what will be a fabulous bachelorette party next weekend.  I don't know what's better than a night out with friends and then a hungover run together the next morning.  Hey--at least the feeling is mutual, right?

Next week I hope to run 30-35 miles and gradually increasing my mileage to 50 by the end of the year.  I need to be in shape when all my Wake Forest teammates reunite at the wedding, where undoubtedly several miles will be run together.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Flywheel Charlotte

45 Minutes of Flywheel
3rd Place

Since I'm running lower mileage, I thought it would be a good time to try something new.  Largely encouraged by the three free Flywheel "rides" that Smarty Pants promoted, I swiftly created an account for myself and Garrett and signed us up for a class taught by Steve Justice, a former All American Wake Forest football player.  This is slightly embarrassing that it took me almost six months to finally check out Flywheel.  Steve's wife, a former Wake Forest soccer player, had approached me about Flywheel back in the summer and, while I had heard so many great reviews about the place, I never found the time to check it out for myself.

Anyways, on Tuesday at 6AM, I finally got a chance to see what this frenzy for Flywheel was all about. Flywheel is a studio dedicated solely to stadium spinning classes in a high-energy, super-cardio kind of way.  I've done several spinning classes before, at the YMCA, at the SIU Rec Center, but this is different.  First of all, you get to reserve your bike online, so I was able to reserve a seat right next to Garrett.  Once you get to the studio, all the steps you're supposed to take to check in are easy to figure out, even for a newbie like me.  I logged onto a computer to check myself in, grabbed my pair of (clean) shoes from a cubbie with my bike number on it, and made my way over to some lockers located just outside of the "spin room."  Garrett and I shared a locker (how cute), because they were that big, and headed into the stadium.

Garrett and I adjusted our seats and started a light warmup as we waited for Steve to bring on the pain.  Right on time, Steve walked in, gave us some instructions, and the lights went out, with a spotlight just on him.  The music started bouncing, our bodies started bouncing, and our heads bobbing, all in rhythm with the beat.  And I was sweating in less than a minute, but then again I sweat when it's 0 degrees outside.

Like any spinning class, you can make it as easy or as difficult as you'd like it.  However, at Flywheel, I think it's more difficult to cheat because the instructor provides torq and rpm ranges to ride to, which provides a great way to maintain the effort level.  So, if you do want to cheat, you'll inevitably feel a lot more guilty and feel less inclined to lower that tension on the bike.  Oh, and to add onto that, they have some convenient screens above head that allow you to see where you place in the rankings against everyone else in the class.  Don't worry, if you don't want to sign up to be on the "torq board," you don't have to.  But, you can use a secret screen name so no one knows who you are.  Mine is conveniently "meowmeow."  Of course, I wanted to win, but I only came in third place, just missing first by about 10 points.  Despite getting third, I was still breathing like a banshee the entire class.  Did I mention that I'm a marathon runner?

The biggest surprise of the class was when we grabbed two bars from the bottom of the bike and started lifting them over our head.  Honestly, this was the hardest part of the workout for me since my arms apparently have the strength of a 10 year old girl. I thought we would be done after doing some arm lifts, but I was so wrong--the workout continued for the entire duration of 45 minutes, and then we did an additional five minutes of cool down.  I definitely got what I (didn't) pay for (since this was a free class).

Needless to say, Flywheel gets two thumbs up from me.  They do a good job of differentiating themselves from a standard spin class offered at any other gym.  They are staffed with friendly instructors and keep things clean (the shoes are washed!).  To top it all off, you leave feeling like you just completed 20x400m all out on the track.  This is great cross training method for us runners and also a great way to burn some calories.

If you haven't already, go ahead and sign up for Flywheel.  The first ride is free, and then they have packages or individual rides you can buy.  Like I said, through December, you can get two free classes on top of the other free class (that equals three for my mathematically challenged readers) by clicking on this link and following the instructions.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Charlotte Marathon Weekend

While I did run for 30 minutes today completely pain free, this is one small feat compared to the slew of other accomplishments all of my speedy running friends achieved yesterday and today at various races. So many of my friends ran their little hearts out this weekend to achieve some pretty amazing times.  Some shout-outs go to:

Thunder Road

  • Billy Shue for finishing Thunder Road Marathon in just over 2:40 on a windy day, all alone on a tough course, even after he felt rough after 12 miles.
  • Caleb Boyd for shattering his marathon PR by over 8 minutes in a near (female) Olympic Trials qualifying time of 2:46:58.
  • Jamey Yon for breaking the NC State marathon masters record at Thunder Road when he apparently didn't even prepare or plan for a marathon.
  • Stephen Spada for achieving for what he set out to do at Thunder Road (like he always does!)
  • Jay Holder for surprising Lauren in the middle of her FIRST marathon and probably spending an ungodly amount of money on a plane ticket to be here for less than 24 hours.  Love is priceless!  Oh and also for hanging out with me and Garrett for almost 2 hours on Saturday.  Besties!
  • Lauren Holder for running her first marathon at Thunder Road and destroying it in 3:52:04, even after the emotional letdown of NYC Marathon being cancelled.  
  • Not Thunder Road, but...Megan Hovis and Val Matena for running the JFK 50 Miler and finishing 7th and 12th respectively! They are happily crazy doing those long distances
  • My bestie, Meagan Nedlo, for achieving a 2 minute PR at Philly, even though she was in no man's land after 14 miles.  She has PRed in every single marathon she's done, and I'm hopeful that she can continue this trend!
  • Dalena Custer for absolutely CRUSHING her PR (by over 9 minutes) to run an almost Olympic Trials Qualifying time in a blistering 2:46:02.  Watch out, world, she will qualify for the Trials in 2016.  I just know it!
  • Brad Belfiore, who got hit by a car while cycling and broke his elbow back in June, and still managed to achieve a 4 minute PR at Philly by running just over 2:40.  He ran for two months with one arm hanging limp at his side.
  • Eric Bilbrey, who took almost 6 weeks off due to a virus, for achieving huge half marathon PR in 1:18:x with a nice negative split
  • Pezz for getting yet another half marathon PR just 6 weeks after her debut marathon and placing third for some prize money
  • Chad and Danielle Crockford for going to Philly and still competing!  Chad ran a marathon a couple weeks ago and was still able to run 4 minutes faster.  
  • Of course, Matt Jaskot for running 3:03 in an American Flag robe, shorts, and socks.  Amazing!
Of course, many more congrats and kudos go out to so many other runners, both near and far, but these are the ones that I share a personal connection with on a daily basis.  Someone asked me if tracking the Philly runners made me sad since I backed out of a fall marathon, and I only had to reflect on the question for about 2 seconds before answering with a resounding "No." Instead of feeling pity on myself, I was so happy that all my friends who had worked so hard over the past year had achieved their dreams.  In a small way, I was involved in their preparation somehow or another and it was fun to see everything come together.  This weekend should just encourage everyone to get out there and run!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Recovery Week(s) in Review

Week of 11/5
0 miles
7 Days off
0 Doubles
0 Workouts
2 Days in California

Week of 11/12
8 Miles
5 Days off
0 Doubles
0 Workouts
3 hours rollerblading or dancing

As promised, I took an entire 11 days off from running.  I haven't taken off more than 5 days of running in a row since 2008.  Mainly instigated by the fact that I had sore muscles above my shin and a pain in my ass, days off were much needed.  Not only did my body need to heal, but so did my mind.  For the first week off, I didn't even miss running.  I quickly became accustomed to a lazy lifestyle of sitting at a computer all day to only continue that pattern once I got home.  What little movement I had consisted of ten short steps to the kitchen or bathroom, whether in my house or at work.  With my excess free time, I didn't even allot much time to wedding planning.  In fact, I did a whole lot of nothing, and it was pure bliss.  That's a true indicator that a break was much needed.  The only downside of the first week off was that the muscles over my shin were so sore and painful that I could barely walk up and down stairs, let along attend my dance classes as I had hoped.  By the end of the week, the tendons had calmed down and I was able to walk without a slight limp.

After a whole week off, I started to get the itch again.  No, not that kind of itch.  The itch to run!  I fought every urge to lace up my Nike Pegasus and head out the door for a breath of fresh  air with the excellent company of my friends.  I missed the salacious Charlotte gossip that inevitably is discussed on runs.  I missed the guiltless ability to eat as much as I want just because I ran.  I missed shaking off the stresses from the day during my run.  So, finally, on Friday, I acquiesced to Running, who lured me back without much persuasion.  Fueled by the rare opportunity to run with my high school coach Holda--who I've known since I was 5--I headed out for my first run with my fingers crossed--that my shin tendons would be healed, that my breathing wouldn’t be too labored, that my form wouldn’t be too crippled.  Quite frankly, it sucked.  My left leg was dragging in such a way that I thought I was going to be out on the disable list for another couple of weeks.  The strangest thing was that my hamstring nor my glute hurt.  Everything was out of whack, especially with my leg lift, which also caused my left foot to strike the ground a couple of inches in front of my hip line, instead of right below.  Because of all of this, I cut the run short at 21 minutes and followed it up with some glute strengthening exercises and foot drills.  

Tomorrow I plan on cycling along the Thunder Road course to cheer for several of my running partners and one of the athletes I coach.  I may try to run a stride or two to test out the leg, but we'll see.  Assuming I'm healthy, I plan to take all runs easy until after the wedding.  I want to build a solid base of miles and strength work before throwing in any workouts.  While I am excited by 5k workout ideas, I don't want to jeopardize any of my performances next year by jumping back too quickly. I need to ensure I have the strength in my lower body before hiking my mileage up.  I don't want to risk an injury, so my new weight program will be an integral piece to my training regimen starting in December.  Until then, I've got the opportunity to live vicariously through my friends over the next couple of days as I'm confident they'll achieve some great new PRs at Thunder Road and Philly.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Long and Winding Road to (Not) Run a Marathon

Back in April of this year, Aaron, Jay, Meagan and I all decided to run the Philadelphia Marathon together in hopes of breaking 2:40 together as a pack.  I used my persuasion skills to prompt several other Charlotte runners to sign up as well--Dalena, Brad, Phillip, Matt, Eric, Jess, Chad, Danielle…and the list gets even longer.

Why did we choose Philly?  Well, Jay had just finished a gutsy 26.2 miles at the hottest Boston Marathon ever in 2:41:12.  Despite all of his workouts that indicated he could run a 2:34, the heat prevented him from achieving one of his biggest goals of the year and he was ready to give the distance another go.   Meagan and I had just come off the Olympic Trials marathon, and we were both hungry to reach our next goal of 2:3x.  Aaron, well, he's just getting old.  He will officially be a masters next year, so he wanted to take advantage of the group atmosphere and run with his friends before he loses his young gusto.  Over the course of the next four months, Meagan, Aaron and I all embarked on our respective training plans, running between 85-100 miles a week for almost 4 months straight. 

Then, things started to fall apart for the original Philly fan club.  Jay got hurt for basically the entire summer.  Aaron backed out of Philly in favor of Marine Corps Marathon, one that is easy for him since his parents live in the DC metro area.   Then I had low ferritin levels.  Then my hamstring started to hurt.   Then my mental outlook spiraled downward, out of control.  Fortunately the list of people affected was only limited to Aaron, Jay and I. Everyone else can boast about a very solid training block over the last couple of months.  For their positivity going into Philly, I am so grateful! It's been great to follow their accomplishments leading up to the big day. 

My downward spiral started after the Greek Fest 5k on August 18th.  In my athleticore log that day, I wrote that "my left hamstring felt awful tight."  Nothing crazy, because I was able to run 100 miles the next week and feel pretty good doing it.  There was some residual tightness to be expected from a 5k race, but nothing that I couldn't run through.  Then September came around and I was having difficulty running 6:20 pace.  I got my iron checked, and, sure enough, my iron was low.  Still, I trudged through my training, trying so hard to keep my spirits up as my training went down.  Staying on top of your mental game is really tough when you aren't running where you know you should be.  Even my own mother could sense something different in my tone.  She urged me to reconsider my marathon plans and was convinced that I had spread myself too thin.   I wanted to prove both her and myself wrong, and kept at it.

Typically, I pride myself in my mental tenacity.   I was anything but tenacious this cycle.  Believing in my fitness was draining in itself. I didn't believe it.   I wanted to give up on most workouts.  My only shining light was my long run, which somehow managed to be absolutely awesome every single time.  I  had some of the best long runs I've ever had in a marathon training cycle.  This was a clear indicator that, despite everything else, that my fitness was still indeed there! 

October came.  My hamstring flared up again after a workout, and this time it wasn't something that I could ignore.  Dr. Greenapple got me in to some ART, dry needling, and cupping.  I went to DC for the Army Ten Miler, performed some hip swings prior to the race, and felt my hamstring pull as I tried to bring my leg to hip level.  I finished Army Ten Miler, in a respectable time, but nowhere near where I wanted to run.  I believe that my hamstring, combined with my lack of confidence, prevented me from maintaining a faster speed.  In hindsight, I probably should have just shut down after that race, but those long runs had me holding on to the one last sliver of hope and belief that maybe, just maybe, I could still run a marathon in PR time.

Then I found out that I would most likely have a work trip to Beverly Hills the week of Philly.  Perhaps this was the world's way of telling me that it was not in my cards to do a fall marathon anymore.   I already had my flights booked out of Charlotte, and the travel back from the left coast was going to impede on those US Airways tickets, which of course could not be rescheduled, unless I wanted to pay $150 dollars.  So, I switched to Santa Barbara, scheduled for November 10th.  My sister lives in the area, so I figured it'd be perfect.  I got a plane ticket for 20,000 miles and $5 and was set.  

The long and winding road was about to come to an end…right at the start line of Santa Barbara, and I was going to race it.  However, right before I approached the final taper, a fork appeared in the road.  One path took me down the road to recovery, without any running for the next week or so to heal my hamstring.  The other took me to Santa Barbara, but left me with an injured hamstring that I would have to nurse back even longer than I need to now.  I talked with Alice Rogers, who struggled with a tight hamstring after the 2011 LA Marathon.  She hasn't been able to run consistently or pain free for over a year and a half.  She told me that I need to be smart now, and take the road to recovery to ensure that I can continue doing the sport that I love most, at the level that I see fit.  The marathon is a fickle beast, and in order to defeat it, you have to be mentally and physically prepared, and I don't feel confident that I am prepared in either of those categories.  I don't want to run a marathon just to survive, I want to run a marathon to own and destroy it.  And with that long story, you now know why I decided to withdraw my plans to run a fall marathon.  I've put in a tremendous amount of work that I am sad to see go to waste, but I trust that this is what's best for me, both mentally and physically.  I am sad to miss an opportunity to race with Meagan Nedlo, but I'm sure we have plenty more to come.

Despite the negativity that flowed out of the paragraphs above, I am happy that I learned so many things this year.  One thing that I do love about training for a marathon is that you always learn something new, both about your training and about yourself.  I learned that it's pretty difficult for me to run 100 miles a week and to work full time.  I also learned that I can be a huge positive influence for my running friends, even when my own running is faltering.   I'm apparently really good at guessing people's marathon times when I believe their goals are not realistic (ex: Jason Martin was unsure he could break 3:00 at Chicago, and I told him he could run 2:58.  He did.  I told Charlie that his goal to break 3:00 was soft and that he could run 2:52.  He did.)  I've also enjoyed these past months being engaged to Garrett and planning our wedding together.  My relationship with Garrett takes precedence over my running, and I hope that I can find the balance next year to be a good wife and still run as I wish!   Finally, since I'm not doing any marathon, I now have the opportunity to cheer for Billy, Caleb, and David at the Thunder Road Marathon and see their hard work and training come to fruition with (hopefully) huge PRs!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Army Ten Miler Race Recap

10 Mile Race in sub-59:00

2 mile warmup?
10 Mile race in 1:00:26 w/ splits of 5:43, 5:51, 5:49, 6:00, 6:05, 6:08, 6:12, 6:11, 6:14, 6:09
18th female
1 mile cool down

In 2011, Meagan and I used this race as a sendoff party for her move from Charlotte to Boston.  She felt out of shape and I felt fit.  The tables turned this year, however, in the attitudes going into the race.  Last year, my training had been going well and I was confident I could break 59:00. On the flip side, Meagan, as she outlines in her recap, felt unfit and unprepared to break 60:00.  This year, I felt unprepared and I knew Meagan was going to have a huge PR based on her training (which she did!).  Why didn't I feel ready for this race?  Well, my iron took a plummet in late August, and I spent most of September focused on staying positive while struggling through most workouts.  This took every ounce of mental energy and focus to stay positive, so when I say that I wasn't ready for this race, I mean it from a mental perspective.

Fortunately, on Monday this week, I was greeted with the good news that my iron supplementation program had worked its magic, and that my iron had reached one of the highest levels I've ever seen.  That information alone was a huge positive influence on my mindset going into the Army Ten Miler.  At least I knew that my breathing wouldn't be an issue.  So, that being said, I set my sights on breaking 59:00, in a similar time as to what Meagan ran last year. I kept looking at Cherry Blossom 2012 as my motivation because I surprised myself to run a 58:38 when I thought I wasn't in shape.

After a seven hour drive on Thursday, Garrett and I had two whole days in the district to enjoy with Garrett's sister Elyse, who lives in Cleveland Park and works at Georgetown as a nurse.  Having Elyse as our host not only made it much more fun, but it also greatly reduced the expensive nature of the trip. We picked up packets at the Expo on Friday, browsed one of the Smithosonian museums on the mall, and slept for 11 hours on Friday night.  On Saturday, we enjoyed the beautiful fall weather by eating outside at Open City with Meagan and Jilane and taking a stroll around the zoo, where I saw several of Cicero's long lost cousins like Tiger, Lion, Lioness, Cougar, and Cheetah.  By the time dinner came around, I was ready for the race to be there.

This year, we wanted to avoid the metro as much as possible since we almost missed the start of the race last year.  So, Garrett and I listened to George Banker's instructions for the elites, and parked in the Hayes Street Pentagon parking lot with a volunteer pass.  Somehow, Garrett and I managed to make it there without a hitch--since some of the roads were closed, we had to map out a different route in a city we don't know.  It worked.  Shortly thereafter, Meagan got dropped off and we hung out in the car, while I insisted that we take pictures to document the trip.

Soon it was time for us to make our way through the masses of people and through the baggage check. Garrett wasn't allowed through since he didn't have a race bib and I hope that we would find him eventually.  Meagan and I began our warmup together and discussed a brief race plan, which was to go out in 5:45-5:50 and then for me to try to maintain that while Meagan probably picked it up.  Right when we finished cooling down, Garrett found us as he was exiting a porta-john, so Meagan and I dropped our pants and gave it to him to carry until the finish.  I did some hip swings, and immediately felt my hamstring pull with tightness as soon as my leg reached hip level.  Not good.  I tried to disregard the feeling and headed to the start.

Once the cannon went off, Meagan shot forward like a bat out of hell and I was left in the dust, wondering how fast we really were going.  I kept myself a safe distance from Meagan, maybe ten to twenty meters back, hoping that what my body was telling me--that we were way too fast--was right.  While she thought that I was starting conservatively, I was thinking, "damn, she's going out for a 5k."  Sure enough, I almost couldn't see Meagan when she came through the 1 mile mark, and I came through entirely too fast as well in 5:43.  Mistake #1

Through the next two miles, I was doing great.  I relaxed into a steady cadence of 5:50 for miles 2/3, and then missed the 4th miler marker, but came through 5 miles in 29:30, which meant that I had slowed down considerably. I told myself that if I just maintained 6:00 pace, I would still break 60, which would still be very respectable given all that's been going on.  I felt pretty optimistic at that point.  Then, things changed.  My leg didn't want to cooperate and I felt the tightness seize the left side of my leg in a way that prevented me to get the leg lift I needed.  The last 5 miles were a very slow, painful death for me.  Every time I passed a race clock, the seconds crept closer and closer to being above my goal pace.  I was hitting over 6:10s.  Dozens of men passed me; eight women passed me.  it was demoralizing.  I couldn't help but think that my last 10k at Twin Cities Marathon was faster than this.  I questioned:  What has happened to me?  Am I the same runner that I was 2 years ago?  Where is my confidence?  Clearly, not in this race.  I fought every urge within my body to drop out.  A part of me wanted to see the (in)famous Grim Reaper as we made it onto the interstate ramp, so I kept going. I even encouraged one guy that had helped me a lot and finally made it to the finish, not out of breath at all.  Good, at least I knew it wasn't an aerobic thing.  I looked for Meagan and hoped that at least she made up for my lackluster performance, which she did, setting a HUGE pr and placing 6th overall.

What I love about this blog is that it allows me to reflect on my running, both in training and racing.  To be clear, I'm not totally injured.  I can still run.  My leg is like 95% healthy, but I need to be 100% healthy to be race ready.  My butt doesn't have enough strength, okay.  But in the end, I think that 95% of my race result today stemmed from my mentality. Having low iron always wears me out physically, but even more so mentally. It's a game against yourself, believing that you are still in great shape even though your workouts would indicate otherwise.  Over the past couple of months, instead of practicing positive self-talk, I have been practicing negative self-talk.  My mind isn't in race shape, and that's the bulk of the issue.  The other slim issue is getting my hamstring back up, but I don't think that is where my attention should be focused right now.  It should be focused on getting back into the mindset where I am fired up to race and where I believe that my training has been quality.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pre-Race Workout

3 mile tempo at 6:00-5:50 + 4x400m

3.5 mile warmup
3 mile tempo in 6:10, 5:56, 5:56 + 4x400m with 1:00 rest.
3 mile cool down

4 miles in the pm

This felt harder than it should have, but I've had other workouts where I could barely break 6:00 pace before a race and then really crushed the race, so I walked away feeling pretty good about my effort, and confident about the prospect of a race in DC.  Caleb, Laurie, Eric and I all met up at the Speed Loop way before the sun came up, and started the workout without much thought.  For the first mile, we were all in a comfortable little pack, talking a little too much, and it was eerily similar to my Army Ten Miler pre-race workout last year.  Except, this year we went through the first mile much more slowly and then Caleb and Laurie took off and I tried to hang on desperately, but my leg wouldn't do it.  Then I hovered around the same pace for the last mile, watching Caleb and Laurie run smoothly about 30 meters ahead.  After a half mile jog, we started the 400s and again, my legs felt heavy to lift, but I completed them feeling strong.  On the cool down, I enjoyed the cooler weather and felt really positive about the weekend.

Then, in the afternoon, I felt my hamstring revert back to where it had been a couple weeks ago--exceptionally tight.  When I really thought things were starting to get better in my hammy, a little workout went ahead and threw it all off.  It really all comes down to the fact that I was slack on my glute exercises. Like most runners, I've got a weakness in my left glute, which is causing my hamstring to do a lot more work than necessary, therefore causing my hamstring some wear and tear.  Hopefully it will hold up for Army Ten Miler!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Week in Review

92 Miles
2 Doubles
22 Mile Long Run in 2:40
3 (Athlete) PRs

After enjoying a low key night out with our guests Thomas and Michelle on Saturday, I met up with Phil and a slew of other guys who were along for the ride for just an hour on Sunday morning at McAlpine.  I had a long run on the schedule between 2:40-2:50 in duration, which was really no big deal since I completed 23 miles a couple weeks ago at McAlpine.  Of course, I set out with the expectation that I would run at least 2:45.  Fueled by the fact that three of my guys set PRs yesterday (David -- 3+ min PR at 15k, Billy 30+ sec at 15k, and Brad - 2+ min at HM), I set off with a respectable pace after the second mile.  I was ready to make this long run feel awesome like it had with Laurie a couple weeks ago.  We ran 700-7:20 for the majority of the run, with a few slower miles when we turned around at the 4 mile mark. By the time 2:20 hit on my watch, I couldn't stop looking at my splits because the effect of running a workout on Wednesday and then again on Friday was beginning to take a toll on my body.  At this point, I was left alone with Charlie and I felt bad for my lack of ability to hold a coherent conversation, but it was all I could do to put one leg in front of the other.  Despite a fuel stop at halfway for some Honey Stinger chews and water, I still felt weak and lightheaded.  I willed myself to get to my car, which I did--just at 2:40 and as my Garmin beeped for 22 miles.  I stopped immediately and chugged a half gallon of orange Gatorade...not joking.  I still felt pretty awful and almost declined breakfast with T&M, but after 10 minutes, I think the gatorade started to kick in and I felt much better and met them at Owen's Bagel and Deli.

The main thing to remember is that my body was tired from two solid efforts back-to-back with less than optimal recovery days.  While I've spent the rest of the day feeling rather awful, I feel really positive about this week's events and am happy that I can at least finish out my week with a solid long run. Looking back at my past two marathon cycles, I've never done a run over 22 miles, and definitely not more than one run at 22 miles.  So far in this cycle, I've done 22 miles, 19 miles, 23 miles, 20 miles, and 21.5 miles.  Clearly I'm gaining something from these long runs and am looking forward to seeing the results manifest into something positive.  

On Friday, I was able to get some bloodwork done at LabCorp and I am eagerly awaiting the results.  I'm crossing my fingers that the results will come back with an improvement in my levels, which will likely serve as a catalyst to put me into a different mindset.

Friday, October 12, 2012

3x2 Mile Bust

3x2 Mile with 2:00 Rest at 11:30-1:40 (5:45-5:50 pace)

4 mile warmup
3x2 mile at:
5:55/5:45 (11:40) 2 min jog rest
6:08/5:57 (12:05) 3 min jog rest
5:56/6:08 (12:04)
1 mile cool down for 11+ miles total

I am really trying to stay positive here, but workouts like this really make me wonder what the hell is going on.  I've been on a strict iron supplementation program for the past four weeks and would expect that I could run 5:45 pace without sucking air.  Well, I can't.  Halfway through the second interval, I fought everything within myself not to stop and walk.  My muscles wanted it, my lungs wanted, and my mind almost wanted it.  But I didn't stop. I made myself push through it until the end, and then I took a longer rest between 2 and 3 so that my breathing could get back under control.

I would say that perhaps I went out too fast, but my first interval was practically all downhill from Mint to Morehead.  Hooray, I can run 5:45 pace going downhill.  I used to be able to run 5:45 pace on flat surface without thinking.  I can't image that it's just my iron that is affecting me right now, but whatever it is, it's not helping my frame of mind.  I've got Army Ten Miler in 9 days and I have no idea how to make a race plan if I don't even know what my body (mind?) can handle right now.  First plan of action is to head into LabCorp later today to get blood work done and see if my iron is finally higher.  If not, then I'll have some reevaluating to do.

The only thing I can think of is that I really need to slow everything down, kind of like what I did before Twin Cities.  For workouts like this, I would start at Marathon Pace for the first interval (6:10, 10k (5:50) pace for the second one, and like 5k-10k pace for the third one (542).

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wave Tempo

10 Mile Wave in 5:55/6:25

2.3 mile warmup
10 Mile Wave in 5:55/6:45
2 mile cool down for 14.3 miles total
2:58/3:00 (5:58)
3:23/3:20 (6:43)
2:56/2:57 (5:53)
3:30/3:30 (7:00)
3:03/2:59 (6:02)
3:20/3:16 (6:36)
2:55/2:59 (5:54)
3:24/3:20 (6:44)
2:56/3:00 (5:56)
3:40/3:20 (7:00)

Aaron had a similar workout to what Mark had on my schedule, so I decided to go down to his neck of the woods and run with him at McMullen in the morning.  While my confidence is still coming back, I really practiced going into this workout with some positive energy and trust that I could accomplish a solid effort of work for 10 miles.  Fortunately, my mental planning paid off because I was able to hit a pretty decent wave workout. Contrast this to two weeks ago, when I set out to do a 10 mile tempo and really just ended up running a 5 mile tempo at slower than my goal marathon pace.  Figures how a 20 degree drop in temperature and 14 days of iron supplementation can really come through.  While I do feel like my iron is probably coming back to a fairly normal level, I still don't know for sure and my times still aren't reflecting that I'm 100% better.  Typically for this type of workout, my "slower" portion would be between 6:20-6:30 and I was a bit off of that today.  However, I am excited by my faster splits because this was the first time that I've run 6:00 pace and had it feel easy.  In fact, for the very first interval, I thought that maybe we were too slow, but we came through right on pace for 6:00.  Despite the small improvement, it's enough to keep me smiling.  Looking forward to my next workout 3x2 mile later this week.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Week in Review

~80 Miles
8 Runs
19 mile long run with 2 miles uptempo
2 Days in Nashville

After completing mile repeats on Tuesday, I set out on Friday to do a 19.5 mile long run at 5:15AM with Matt, Phil, Derrick, Brad and Charlie. We went on the greenway before picking up Brad and company and in those first 70 minutes, I felt like a million bucks.  The run went downhill after that.  My legs felt heavy and sore, and I account it fully to the asphalt.  My last three long runs have been perfect, perhaps due to the soft terrain at McAlpine.  I definitely don't like running long downtown as it results in much more wear and tear on my legs.  After the unforgiving long run, Garrett, John and I embarked on the seven hour road trip to Nashville, TN to reunite with several Wake Forest friends to celebrate the marriage of Molly and Jared, some of our former Wake teammates.  Most importantly, I was able to reunite with Merry, who was just three days back from a two year stint in the the Dominican Republic as a Peace Corps volunteer.  With the help from Merry and Liz, I was able to get in 90 minutes of running in the morning in the frigid (for October) temperatures on the greenway of downtown Nashville.  Obviously, with a wedding and lots of driving, it made sense to make this a down week, and I did just that.  I didn't double on Sunday just so that I could say I ran 85 miles this week.  Instead, I got a respectable 80 miles, and felt good doing it.  It's late on Sunday night so I'm off to get some much needed rest...And I get to sleep in tomorrow since it's a holiday!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

MIle Repeats

6xmile with 2:00 rest at 5:26-5:34

2.5 mile warmup
6xmile with 2:30 jog rest
5:43 (2:30) (downhill)
5:47 (2:13) (turns)
5:48 (2:18)
5:47 (2:24)
5:48 (2:34)
2 mile cool down

This was an early morning workouts with at least 10 other people at the Dilworth Speed Loop.  Waking up at 5AM isn't nearly as rough when you know that you will be joined by several friends. 

Laurie, Caleb, Spada, Dalena, and Jason all met at the speed loop to do this workout together while several other people were running loops as well, just at varying speeds and distances than us.  While the fellowship was fantastic, the weather was weary.  Dismal clouds blanketed the sky and sealed all the humidity to the ground, making it for a hot and humid run in weather that felt eerily similar to August instead of October. 

We out with David and Billy, who were running 3x2 mile, and instead of going out at the goal of 6:00 pace, we went out at a 5:43, which immediately put my in oxygen depletion and gasp mode.  Instead of turning around on the workout, I slowed up my pace and tried to relax my breathing pipe to ensure I was getting as much oxygen as possible.  While my times weren't blazing fast, my consistency was there, and that's all I can ask for right now. I know that my fitness is there, it's just hiding right now through the cover of my ferritin. 

Laurie and Caleb absolutely killed this workout, so after the third interval, Spada and I trailed behind those two, with Dalena a couple of seconds back from us.  I look forward to when I can keep up with Laurie on our workouts!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Week in Review

96 Miles
10 Runs
~ 23 Mile Long Run @ 7:00 pace (2:40)
2 Workouts

The highlight of this week?  Definitely the long run!  Laurie, Megan and I have continued our tradition of running long together in the dark, early morning hours from McAlpine and each run has gotten better and better.  By next week, I'll be finishing at 6:00 pace!  Of course, we are always surrounded by our entourage of male escorts, who ensure our safety from any stray animals or pranks from Billy Shue.  After 11 miles, we grabbed Alana in the parking lot, and somehow split from the main group once again.  It was after this point in which I was able to capture some of our mile splits by the markers and saw 6:40 and 6:50 pretty consistently.  I would say that we hovered around 7:00-7:10 for the first half of the run and then around 6:40-6:50 for the last half.  Greenapple's treatment showed its healing powers because I didn't feel my hamstring whatsoever, which most likely lead to the increase in pace.  My view on long runs is that if you feel like going faster, then do it.  Vice versa, if you feel like going slower, then do it.  Perhaps since my other workouts aren't as stellar as I'd like, I'm able to really shine on my long runs, so I'm not complaining!

The other really cool thing about this week is that I felt good about doing this mileage and came to it pretty much unplanned.  I approached this week differently than I ever have in the past, which typically consisted of planning out my doubles and workouts down to the exact minute of the day.  This time, I didn't double if I didn't feel like it.  I doubled when I wanted to (different than when I had time), and I didn't lay out exactly how I do my weekly mileage.  The end result was that I was happy doing it.  It felt easier than 6 weeks ago when I ran 100 miles because I just didn't think about it.  I let the runs come naturally, I listened to my body when it told me that it could go a couple more miles, and I also happened to get in my longest run ever.

Just when I thought it seemed most reasonable to turn my back on Philly, things are really starting to look up.  I'll make a decision probably after Army to see what is best for my own wellbeing, but right now, I'm feeling pretty optimistic!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Tempo Success!

10 Mile Tempo at 600-605

3 miles warmup
8 miles at 6:32 average (fastest split was only 6:20)
2 miles cool down at 7:00 pace

pm:  4.5 miles for 17.5 miles total for day

I could choose to look at this workout as a fail, but I chose to look at it as a success.  I didn't give up and I did what I could with what I've got.  And what I've got is low iron and an annoying hamstring.  Fortunately yesterday, Dr. Greenapple was kind enough to spend over an hour with me, performing ART, cupping, acupuncture and finally kinesio tape.  I know that the treatment will start working it magic in a couple of days, not overnight.  So, regardless, my hamstring was still a little tight and tired from general overuse combined with strength exercises from the night before by the time I met up with Aaron at McMullen.

Aaron's legs were tired from a couple of back-to-back high mileage weeks, so he was okay with whatever I had in the tank.  We ran through the perfectly flat trail at McMullen, not really looking at splits and still keeping up some semblance of a conversation.  I could still talk, but my legs felt like glue.  Sure, it was fabulous and I didn't hit my goal times, but I cranked through.  Right now, finding the motivation to complete a workout is tough since I know the time will be slower, but if I just get in the effort, everything will fall into place in a couple of weeks. I left this workout trusting that I got in a good effort (can 6:20 on low ferritin equate to 5:55 with normal ferritin?  I think so)

After 8 miles of work, we slowed it down a bit to cool down and both of us were equally happy to be done with the up tempo portion. Some days are meant to feel harder than others and today was definitely like that, but I still came out of it feeling really positive about how I approached the workout and how I got in some uptempo work!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Glimmer of Light (6x800m)

8x800m with 1:30 rest at 2:43-2:37

3 mile warmup
6x800m with 1:55 jog rest at 2:42/2:45
3.7 mile cool down for 10 miles total

PM:  1.5 hours of dance!

I might be back!  Just maybe.  Caleb and I started a bit later this morning--at 6:30--to get some extra hours of much needed sleep.  We did just 6 repeats, two shy of my goal, but I felt positive about how I stayed mentally in the game.  I didn't look at my splits and even asked Caleb to not share the splits with me as we finished. I did cheat a little though by asking him what he ran, since he was a little ahead of me, I could still gauge how fast I was going.

I have to start somewhere, and I feel like this a great start!  I enjoyed the workout and felt very positive in my thoughts during each interval.  Positivity at this point is very important and definitely a step in the right direction. I'm finally beginning to believe that I'll start feeling like a new person--meaning, a person with normal iron levels--in just a short period of time.

I'm going to do a 10 mile progression run with the intent of putting in the full effort, even if it means the pace may be a bit slower than I would like to see right now.  Like Laurie told me on our Sunday long run, at least when my iron is back, I'll feel fantastic!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Week in Review

87 Miles
2 Doubles
20 Mile Long run in 7:09 pace
1 Workout Fail

Last week I ran about 88 miles.  This week I continued with roughly the same number.  It's funny because all I really did is take out 2 doubles from my week, and that's resulted in me feeling like I have so much more time on my hands.  I don't have to commit my entire evening to a run, or I have the option to sleep in if I feel like I need it!  This week, I focused on listening to my body and my interal sleep ticker.  If my alarm went off and I felt like I needed more sleep, then I turned the alarm off and went right back to sleep for another hour or so.  With the low ferritin level, I'm supposed to feel tired all of the time, and so might as well try to sleep as much as I can. 

Early in the week, I had a craptastic 10-mile-tempo-turned-into-5-mile tempo.  Initially, Mark had adjusted my paces to slow it down to account for the low iron, but that didn't even work.  I decided that I just need to focus on effort and not on time, and so at least going into next week I can do just that.  Leave the Garmin at home, and run based on time, without mile markers.  I threw out my second workout of the week (3x2 mile), opting instead to get in two runs and enjoy the beautiful fall weather at a slow jaunt. 

The positive note of this week was that my awesome long run streak continued as I ran 20+ miles with Laura, Megan, David, and Jason and felt amazing.  Running in the low 7's was a breeze and felt pretty great.  I've gotten in a decent number of 18+ mile long runs over the summer, and I think that will help me at Philly. 

In the act of full disclosure, I've got a pretty tight left hamstring and IT Band that I've also been dealing with.   I'm crossing my fingers that it holds up over the next couple of weeks as my iron returns back to normal levels and as I build up to longer tempos and steady state runs.  Because of this, I'll keep my mileage around 85-90, get in to see Greenapple as often as possible, and also perform my strength and stretch exercises.

Next week, I've got some 800m repeats, a 10 mile tempo, and a 18 mile long run with the last 3 miles at 6:00 pace.  I may drop one of those workouts and then try my first 10 mile tempo next week, but I haven't decided yet.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Week in Review

89 Miles
3 Doubles (10 Runs)
21.4 long run in 7:14 average
3 Hours of Dance

Technically, I'm not fully done with this week because I still have to complete another run this evening, but I'm assuming that I'm going to go ahead and complete that one.  This week could be characterized as one of those where I was working on getting myself out of a mental rut.  I actually devoted much of my time to focusing on all the positive things going on with my training right now and how I can still get in the work that I need to, given my schedule, to still accomplish a new PR at Philly.  My iron is low, but I'm not going to let that inhibit my own mental tenacity any more, as it had been over the last couple of weeks.

I tried running 100 miles a week in the summer, and now that I've had time to reflect on those three weeks, I realized that running that many miles is just too much for me physically and mentally.  I've decided to keep my mileage around 90, which will still be 12 miles more per week than what I ran on average during my Twin Cities training cycle.  Granted, I am running a 24 miler for the first time during this training cycle, and during that week I may be a bit higher, but the idea of running 100 mile weeks in a row is not comfortably feasible for me.  Additionally, I am going to alternate between running 2 workouts + 1 long run a week and then 1 workout + 1 long run the other week.

Let's be honest here -- I am anal-retentive and I'm planning a wedding...which means that I'm probably putting in too much work into the details of the wedding. On top of that, I'm working full time, acting as Vice President for the CRC, taking dance lessons, and preparing to be a wife for the time in my life.  I'm exceptionally passionate about all of these "extra-curriculars" and I don't want to give up any of these so that I can successfully run 100 miles a week. Instead, I'll keep doing them all and just run 90 miles, and trust that this change will be the catalyst to getting me back in the right spot mentally.  I already have noticed a positive change in my outlook just in this past week by incorporating these changes.

Enough about that.  The highlight of this week was definitely my long run on Saturday with six other people, which is a small feat in itself considering that nearly every CRC member was racing either Hit the Brixx 10k or the Run for the Green Half.  For two hours and thirty five minutes, I covered all of the trails in McAlpine with Laurie, Jason, Charlie, Anna, Megan, and Josh.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous for a long run and the company ensured that we had lots to talk about since we had two newcomers in the group.

One thing that has remained strong for me throughout this training cycle is my long run.  I haven't had a long run yet where I felt like I couldn't finish it, and I think that's a sure sign that I'm still in good shape and ready for a marathon.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

16x400m Repeats

16x400m with 1 min rest at 78-83

3 mile warmup
16x400m at 78-83 with 1:00 rest
2.5 mile cool down for 9.5 miles total

pm:  4.5 miles for 14 miles total

After learning that I've got low iron and that I'm trying to do too much at this point in my life, I decided to do 400s.  Why 400s? Because they are easy to handle mentally and I didn't have to even look at my splits on the speed loop.  I was fortunate to have the company of Spada and Caleb for this workout in the early morning hours on the Dilworth Speed Loop.  We started off and I felt okay, not too winded but not a walk in the park, either.  I let Caleb and Spada speed ahead in front of me, and felt no worry. I didn't look at my splits, which helped a lot.  Towards intervals 10, 11, and 12, I felt terrible, and when I looked at my splits after the workout, my times reflected this (81-83 splits here), but then I was able to pull it back together by the last set.  In fact, I really wanted to quit after 12 intervals, but I vowed to myself prior to the workout that if things started getting tough that I would just slow it down.  I didn't even have to slow it down once I reached what I thought was my breaking point; I just needed to get my mind focused and in the right spot and I was able to fight through my own mental shortcomings.  All in all, the focus of this workout was to run fast time.  Instead, it was to come out of it feeling mentally stronger than when I went into it, and I achieved just that.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

(Wedding Shower) Week in Review

75 Miles
16 mile long run
1 Tempo Fail (third time in a row)
4 Doubles
4 Days in Carbondale

As you tell above, there's a couple of common themes going on here: (1) that I keep failing at workouts and (2) that I've been busy with a whirlwind of wedding festivities.  My wedding isn't anytime soon...not until December 29th, but it's more fun to have these types of things in the beautiful fall weather.

So, about number (1).  On my long run with Garrett, I realized that I'm in the exact same spot that I was in back in November of 2011, before the Oympic Trials.  In fact, if you go back and read my blog from that month, you'll notice that the tone was tainted with a bit of negativity, because running just wasn't easy.  I realized that I had really low iron during that period, so it was nice to have an answer then.  I haven't gotten my iron checked yet, but I'm just going to go ahead and assume that iron is the issue.  Right now, my mind isn't in the place it needs to be in order to finish a marathon.  I want to toe the line in Philly knowing that I'm in the best mental and physical shape of my life.  I know that I've been running an average of 80-90 miles over the summer and that I also haven't been injured for a prolonged period of time since 2005.  Those two factors combine probably point to that the fact that I am physically in shape, but my mind and my iron aren't where they need to be.  The challenge of running is to fight through it when it gets tough and mentally challenging.  This is a big year for me--competing at the Olympic Trials Marathon, starting a new role at the Bank, and planning a wedding all in the same year is quite a lot.  All great things, of course, but I am such a planner and over-thinker that sometimes I put too much stress on my mind and body that for a couple of weeks every year, I just crumble and feel tired and whiney.  Everyone has their moments, and this is mine. I hope to get it out of my system by like, oh, tomorrow, in time to fully enjoy this beautiful fall weather that Mother Nature has finally bestowed upon us in North Carolina.  Of course, I'll take my iron pills, continue my ab regime, keep on taking dance lessons, writing the CRC newsletter and the other stuff I cram into a day while working full time at BOA and cross my fingers that it'll all come together by the time I get to Philly.

So--enough about running.  Let's talk about getting married! Getting married is quite possibly one of the best things ever to happen in your life not just because you marry your very best friend ever, but also because all of your family and friends treat you like you're a princess.  Seriously, I thought I was spoiled already, but I REALLY got spoiled this week.  Everyone is so very nice and throws big parties, makes delicious food, and buys very nice presents.  I felt like Cinderella after she met the Beast, when she got rich.  Bachelorette parties and wedding showers are so much fun and I am so blessed and grateful to have such awesome family members to host fabulous events for Garrett and me as we embark on a life together.  After my sister organized a trip for 8 girls in wine country, she continued her mastery by helping my mom organize a scavenger hunt and dinner for 30 guests at our Carbondale farm.  My mom and dad picked 50 cucumbers and cut 100 watermelons from their own garden for us to enjoy.  My other parents--Scott and Ann--drove all the way from Greenville, NC, which is a 16+ hour drive, to see us and to partake in the festivities.  It was definitely and great weekend with terrific weather and even better friends and family.  Thanks to all who came out...I'm so grateful to know you all!

Looking forward to even more wedding events as the date draws closer...and also to better running!