Saturday, December 31, 2016

December in Review

Coach T-Bone let me start doing very moderate workouts again this month and it was really fun to start getting into the groove of things again.  The weather has been great, with clear skies and cool temperatures (especially for California!).  Considering all the holiday parties, birthday celebrations and family time, I'm really proud of the work I put in over December, without even having a goal race yet.

Week of November 28th

  • 54 miles total
  • 14M long run
  • 0 Days off

Week of December 5th

  • 41M total
  • 12M with 4 miles tempo in 612/606/605/558
  • 14M Long run 
  • 2 days in yosemite
  • 1 day off

Week of December 12th

  • 62M total
  • 11.4M MLR
  • 10M with 13x 1 min on/off in 6:05 pace total with rest
  • 14M with 6 miles from 614-630 pace
  • 0 Days off

Week of December 19th

  • 62M total
  • 12.2M MLR
  • 12.5M of fartlek workout with Shal at Baylands
  • 15M long run 
  • 1 Day off 

Week of December 26th

  • 69M total
  • 12M MLR
  • 8M with 10 x 1 min up moderate hill in Huntington Beach
  • 10M with 6M steady state (630-640)
  • 15M long run 
  • 0 Days off

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Chicago Marathon Race Recap


Goal 1:  PR (Sub 2:40:30)
Goal 2:  Sub 2:40
Goal 3:  Top 10 American Female
Goal 4:  Top Bank of America Employee Finisher


2:38:47 via 1:18:03 / 1:18:42
6th American Female, 14th Overall Female
1st Bank of America Employee Finisher (Male or Female)



What a year!  What a day for a race!  I'm about to PR!  After what I've been through this year? Caitlin, you're amazingly tough.    

Nothing too incredibly deep in the paragraph above, but you'll have to forgive marathon brain at mile 26, coming in to the home stretch to finish a marathon.  As I outlined in my blog in October, a lot of things changed in my life earlier this year, including my marital status and permanent place of residence.  Undoubtedly, as I ran down that final straightaway on Columbus Avenue in Chicago, I was really proud of myself more so for recovering emotionally from a setback than I was for running a personal best.  Let's recap the specifics of the race.

I arrived in Chicago on Thursday night, with an incredible excitement to see my good friends Laurie, Lauren and Rachel and, of course, to finally put my training to the test!  I'll skip out on the details of all the days leading up to the race, but want to ensure that I mention how phenomenal the race organization committee is at Chicago.  The entire team is professional, supportive and detail-oriented so that they do indeed successfully host one of the largest marathons in the world.  The elite coordinator, Tracey, did a fabulous job ensuring that our entire group was taken care of.  I felt so proud to be a Bank of America employee - after all, we have an entire team dedicated to organizing this race. 

After a pre-race dinner with my mom and dad, my brother Ben and my boyfriend Peter, I said good night and ensured everyone knew to meet in the VIP tent after the finish.  (Side note:  another perk of being an employee meant that I was able to secure tickets to the VIP tent for my friends and family, so that they were well-fed and sufficiently heated while I traversed the streets of Chicago).  

By the time the alarm went off at 4AM and I started getting ready, I was grateful to be rooming with Laurie, my friend and former training buddy from Charlotte, because we both are pretty calm and collected during race morning prep.  Not too serious, not too chill.  After a bag check, a metal detector scan, and a half mile bus ride, we arrived at the elite tent in the heart of Grant Park.  After what seemed like an agonizingly long time, we finally were ushered to the start line, where we waited another 20 minutes until the gun went off.  With a few final good lucks, fist pumps, high fives and high skips, we finally got into the starting position, poised for a (hopefully) great race.

The gun went off and Laurie, Rachel, Lauren and I all tried to stick together.  The first 5 miles were exceptionally difficult because so many men from Corral A, who are indeed running 2:30 or faster marathon times, kept passing us. I had no concept of what pace I was running, and the Garmin lap pace function wasn't reliable with the tall buildings. So when we came through the first mile in 5:53, I knew not to panic and Laurie and I both said to the group "let's dial it back".  

By the second mile, we came through right at 603, so my nerves calmed a bit....But by mile 3, we were back at 551 and I quickly dismissed thoughts that this would just become a repeat of CIM 2013, where I ran 1:18:xx and 1:22:xx. Instead, I reminded myself of what Terry had told me, which was "if you run a 5:50, you can run a 6:10." So, that's exactly what we did in the next mile. I remember the cumulative time on the race clock was right around 24:00 at this point, so I felt reassured I hadn't completely thrown this race in the crapper just yet. I could hear Rachel telling Lauren that it would be okay if we backed off a bit and I consciously did that.  Laurie was saying the same thing too, but what she really meant was "let's assess how we feel" and I could tell she was going to have a great day. Soon enough, Laurie took off with the Irish girl around 5 miles.  That would be the last time I saw her during the race.  Instinctively, I fell back a couple steps to be closer to Rachel and Lauren. By mile 7, we finally found a group of men trying for our pace and I tried to tuck in behind them, or at least alongside, because the cross/head wind was pretty strong. By mile 10, we had formed a fully functional group of runners, with two latinos fearlessly (and gladly) leading the way.  It's surprising to me that when these early miles of the race were some of the most stressful because I was fretting so much about hitting the right pace.  I probably wasted some precious energy just by being stressed.

The fortunate highlight during the first half of the race included the overall spectacular crowd support, including seeing my friends Mark and Jess, my family and Peter, and my high school coach.  The unfortunate highlight included dropping the first three of my elite fluids, which meant that I didn't get to execute my planned fueling strategy.  I could not believe that I literally dropped every single one through 15K.  I even asked Rachel and Lauren if they had any gels that I could borrow, and they didn't.  I cursed out loud after dropping the third one. I tried not to panic. Soon, I reminded myself that Terry had trained me to be prepared for exactly this type of situation.  After all, I had done numerous long runs without any water or gels.  I changed my strategy in two ways:  (1) I started grabbing my bottles with two hands instead of one to ensure the bottle would not slip precariously from my grip and (2) I drank more gatorade from the race aid stations.  I wanted to make sure that I still got lots of sugar or carbs to prevent any early bonking from occurring. The only negative was that it made my stomach feel kind of weird.  When I did finally have a honey stinger gel at 20K, I downed it so fast that it made my stomach churn. Not much later, that feeling passed. In terms of overall fueling compared to previous marathons, I consumed much fewer calories.

Around 12 miles, I heard and saw my high school coach who literally just drove up five hours and straight back home to see me at two different spots in the marathon. It was awesome! At the halfway point, I saw that we were right at 1:19:0x and I looked at Rachel and Lauren and said, "we're perfect you guys!" And for the first time in the race, Lauren spoke. She turned to me with a huge grin on her face and said "yeah, we are!" I felt so happy! Even though she hadn't said anything before, I always felt her calm, confident presence which made me feel so much more relaxed.

The pack forms
After halfway, I began to notice the wind a lot more. I'm not sure if it actually picked up, or if I turned more towards it, or if I was just starting to get tired. I tried as best I could to tuck in behind Nacho (from Spain) and Hector. They were my very gracious leaders of the pack. I offered my elite fluids to them at one point and they looked at me like I was crazy. :)  I found out later via Nacho's blog that he likes being at the front of the pack and didn't mind that I wasn't making any effort to break the wind for the group (PHEW!).  

At mile 16, Lauren pulled away slightly and I considered going with her, but decided that it was too early and that I should be conservative. I told myself to stay tucked in with my guys until at least 22 and then to make a decision to move past them. For a while, Lauren was just about 15-20 seconds ahead of me, but after mile 21, I could tell she was feeling great and was running 600 or right under. From miles 18-21 I passed at least 3 women, and I tried to tell each of them to tuck in with our pack. 

It also was extremely encouraging to pass through some latin neighborhoods because they went absolutely nuts when they saw Nacho and Hector who both had their country names proudly printed on their jerseys. Some of the fastest splits of my race were posted during these miles 19 and 20, mostly because Nacho and Hector were clearly energized by the support.  By 23, I noticed that the pace had slowed a bit, so I somewhat reluctantly moved to the side and tried to continue running the same pace. I began passing several guys, even though I didn't feel like I was speeding up and instead felt like I was barely hanging on. I was nervous to look at my splits at this point, but I'm really glad that I did because I saw that I was still under 6:10 pace. I was surprised, because I felt pretty shitty at this point.  Even if my legs felt pretty dead at this point, they were still strong enough to carry me to that finish line in a respectable pace! I was overjoyed!  At mile 25, I saw another decent split and told myself that I just had 5 more laps on the track. I saw Tim Meigs and told him good job, but that was all I could muster.  He said "I should have stayed with you" and I couldn't even respond.  Just get to the finish, I thought, and try to power through. I loved seeing the 800m to go sign and willed my legs to go faster. At the one "hill" in the race, I was really starting to feel the effects of running 6:02 pace for 26 miles, so I was grateful for the left turn to the finish line.
As I "sprinted" down the final straightaway, I heard the announcer say that I am a Bank of America employee who made the elite group. That was really special. I ran through the finish line and was immediately greeted across the fence by my family.  I smiled knowingly at them and turned around to check for Tim crossing the line.  After guzzling a water, I finally made my way outside of the finish chute and was pulled into hugs from my family.  They had experienced firsthand the struggles from earlier in the year, and I could tell my mom was a little overcome with "proud mom" emotions.  

After making my way to the elite tent (with my family as an escort) to gather my stuff, the day was made even more special to find out that both Lauren and Laurie had ran PRs.  It was exhilarating to feel the buzz of excitement and pride, the feelings of success contagious among us all. After changing out of my sweat-drenched clothes, Laurie and I got a celebratory mimosa in the VIP tent before taking our mandatory golf cart back to the hotel to check in with the race organizers. In the middle of all the post-race chaos, there was a voice in the back of my head saying:  I knew you would do it.  Afterwards, when I had time to reflect, I realized the true power of running, and its therapeutic effect to facilitate recovery, reflection and transformation.  With this, I was able to finally put into words what this race really meant to me:

This race represented so much more to me than just getting a fast time. It was about proving to myself that I can overcome struggles in my life with resolve, dedication and a happy spirit. Running helped me channel all of these qualities into the culmination of this race and it means so much to me that I was able to use those track workouts in Durham when my marriage fell apart, those runs with Jenna when she was training for Grandma's Marathon and I was recovering from my heart break and finding myself, those runs with all my new guys who weren't freaked out that I stalked them through Strava to find running buddies, to those late nights spent getting to know Peter who loves me....all of this helped me get to Chicago with an intense need to prove to myself that I'm one tough chick who can overcome anything. 

My support crew

Laurie (2:36:00) and Caitlin (2:38:47)

Immediately post race with my family
That's what a proud boyfriend looks like

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

November in Review

190 Miles
13 Miles - longest run this month
5 Cities - Point Reyes, Phoenix, Plano, Poipu, Los Angeles

Apparently I don't know how to just stay in one place for more than a couple of days.  Work is really picking up, while my running is not.  That's a good thing.  I am in no rush to get back to running fully yet because I believe in a true recovery.  That being said, I'm taking the extra time and using it to travel to either fun places in California with Peter or to visit my family.  In an effort to spend quality time with Peter doing things that we (I?) love, I've been doing more runs with him since he's got a goal to run a half marathon at sub-1:40.  I also spent a couple of days in Kauai and Maui, soaking up the hiking experience there.  Towards the end of this month, I finally cracked into the double digits for a run, which felt like the perfect amount of time.  It's been almost 7 weeks since the marathon, so as I close the chapter on the month of November, I'm finally ready to start doing a medium-intensity training plan.

Monday, October 31, 2016

October in Review

1 Marathon Race
5 States (California, Illinois, Ohio, North Carolina, and Georgia)
160 Miles total (55M, 60M, 0M, 22M, 33M)
8.4M - longest run outside of the marathon this month

The big theme for October is obviously my race at the Chicago Marathon.  After that, I embarked on a journey across the midwest and southeast to see family and co-workers.  After the marathon, I saw my Grandma in Bloomington, IL, then drove with my parents to see my nephew in Cincinnati, OH before flying to Charlotte for a 3-day working session.  After that, I wasn't ready to go home yet and flew to Atlanta for Sarah's wedding, where I reunited with my mom (after not seeing her for only three days).  It a whirlwind of a week, but entirely worth it.  By the time I finally got back to California, I was ready for a couple of weeks just at home, where I could get back to my routine.  I slowly started running again, but mainly focused on getting back to the rock climbing gym regularly. I got in a couple of hikes on the weekend to take advantage of the beautiful weather and the green scenery from all the rain!

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Big D

So I'm divorced. (Well, not legally. North Carolina requires a one year separation before you can officially be divorced.) It's a taboo topic, especially when you start dating before it's "official". Still, I am sharing my story to encourage people to find their voice and talk about divorce, breakups and heartbreak and therein find their power to move forward and love again.

My saga began in August 2015, when a job promotion opened up that would allow me to implement my newly attained MBA skills within the Bank of America Digital team. The catch: It required me to move 3000 miles from Durham --- and from my husband who was only halfway through his Physical Therapy program. Since we had already weathered long separations in our marriage back when he was a baseball player, he encouraged me to take it on and agreed this new role would intellectually stimulate me. We both knew it did not, however, fit the formula for a "normal marriage". I shared my second thoughts before leaving: "I like living here in Durham with you and the routine we've created." We were confident we could stay strong, so I made my decision, took the promotion and moved to California.

Just six months later, on March 21, 2016, I wrote this in my journal:
The first day of spring is all about rebirth and hope. I'm pulling all strings right now to hold on to every piece of hope I've ever needed in my life. Tonight I was lying sprawled out on my bedroom floor - 3,000 miles away from my husband - staring blankly at the ceiling as tears slowly rolled down the side of my cheeks. I asked myself - is this what real, deep sadness feels like? I don't have the motivation to get out of bed, go running, eat any food or make friends. My comfortable world just unraveled so quickly (14 days to be exact) in front of me and now I'm trying to make sense of it all. I feel so helpless, but one thing I do know is that I am going to fight for my marriage.

Another 14 days later, on April 5th, my marriage ended, despite trips back to Durham and a couple of counseling sessions.

Have you ever experienced that moment where all of the assumptions you had about your life's future just disappear like dust in the wind? There are so many events that could cause this to happen - realizing you're gay, losing a loved one or, in my instance, getting divorced.

My picture perfect future was erased that day when my marriage ended.

Of course, there were moments leading up to the ultimate decision where I realized that perhaps the future I had imagined actually wasn't that perfect. Maybe instead of bringing the best out in each other we brought out the worst. Maybe we didn't have as deep of a relationship that we both desired and needed. Was it just better for each of us to go our own separate ways and find another person who can make our souls sing?

I needed time to come to terms with the "maybes." I needed time to understand that this was the right path for me. Most importantly, I needed time to absorb the reality of the situation, to mourn the loss of so many people who were family to me, and to begin on a path towards forgiveness and peace with myself and with my ex.

That day it ended, I called my parents, bawling that it was really over. They dropped everything and drove through the night to whisk me and my cat back to the haven of my childhood home in Southern Illinois. We grieved together as they had loved him like a son but we worked rapidly to pack what we could into their car and the remaining items into good friends' garages. I left Durham without looking back. I stayed at home for a week, ate very little, didn't do any dishes and pretended that I didn't know my mom was going outside to cry where I couldn't see her. We went to two Dharma meditation classes together and that helped my mom as much as it did me. I helped my dad plant kale in the high tunnel, where he told me "Caitlin, just get your hands dirty. Putting your hands in the soil is therapeutic." As always, he was totally right. I burned old pictures of "us" with my brother. As the huge bonfire transformed smiling images of days gone by to ashes, we both screamed primal cries. Very cathartic, I might add.

Within a week, I was ready to go back to work, to feel productive and to put roots down in California, something I had hesitated to do before. I had this intense need to invest in friends already made in the previous months. And I wanted to get that started already!

Upon landing in SFO, my Uber driver and I talked about his family and his dreams and then he looked at me through his rearview mirror and asked me why I looked so sad. I told him I was going through some heartbreak. He told me: "Caitlin, you are so beautiful. I can tell you have a good soul, you will have a very happy life with a very kind man!" It sounds so “don’t worry be happy” saying this, but in that moment, a switch flipped. He was right. I was going to be just freaking fine! I needed to believe it and I needed to be positive.

In fact, his words jolted me just when I most needed to hear them. I knew how to come to terms with the "maybes:" Begin to accept them as truths. I was on a better path, even if I couldn't see it during the break up. I had a choice. I could choose to feel sorry for myself and constantly question every single action I took leading up to the separation, or I could accept it and begin forming a new life filled with people who support and love me. I chose the latter. A wise friend, Jillian, who also recently was separated, summed it up perfectly:  Love is certainly a confusing thing, especially when we confront head on the things that are missing in a relationship, even when it causes our paths to separate.

After I changed my frame of reference, I realized that it's okay to write a different script.

Suddenly being so far away from Durham was the best thing that ever happened to me and allowed me to move forward, at lightning speed. After all, none of my Cali friends knew him or had been to my wedding. I had a perfectly clean, blank slate. I didn't have to answer awkward questions of "How's he doing?" because he wasn't ever a part of my life here.

What also allowed me to move forward was the fact that I already had an established residence as well as a selfless support network who visited in April and May, some from across the country! My Charlotte friends called me constantly, providing legal, moral and emotional support. I started dancing, hiking, lifting, rock climbing --- I met so many amazing people in the process. And, of course, I ran. I didn't have a plan, I just ran with Jenna or Heather as much as I could and basically every run was a therapy session, even if we didn't talk about my separation directly.

Just having someone I could rely on every single day was powerful. Running transformed my anger into acceptance, my confusion into clarity, my pain into power.

On one particular run, it hit me: I am free. I am not only running free, but I am indeed free. Quite literally, free! With the wind whipping through my hair, the bugs drowning in my sweat, and the geese hissing at me, I had this revelation: I no longer am bound to anyone or anything in my life. I can do whatever I want. The future is entirely my own - I am no longer a shared entity with someone else. And that's a very beautiful thing to welcome.

After that wonderful little run, I signed up for the Chicago Marathon. It was time for me to channel my newfound power into the challenging training regime that would prepare me to successfully cover 26.2 miles. In many ways, my life got back on track through my steadfast friend named running.  (note - I'll cover that race in another blog post). 

And then, just a couple months later, there was this journal entry:

June 16th, 2016: A Whole New World!
Let's change the mood of this book called life. As I flip the page from a chapter full of heartbreak, despair, judgment, pain and shame, I hold my chin up high with confidence in the full rebirth of Caitlin Rose Chrisman. This next chapter has already started full of hope, trust, warmth, laughter and acceptance! What am I really saying? I am actually beginning to live again! I've been resurrected. My past has shaped me, but it doesn't DEFINE me. Since it's top of mind now, I want to recap my past two dates because they were really fun!

I didn't expect to be ready to date, but I was. I expected that some friends or family members would justifiably be skeptical of my judgment to jump into a relationship so soon. I sensed that they were coming from a place of wanting to protect me from potentially getting hurt again. Some even questioned me point blank, and I appreciated their concern. Yet I also knew that the only person who could gauge if I was ready to date was myself. There isn't a script for falling in love that we all can follow. And so with that, I encourage you to trust your instincts and to pursue relationships that make you feel alive. ...

just because, four months later, I'm still dating that same person. When the time is right for you, may you also be open to the same happiness and pure joy an authentic caring relationship can bring.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Week in Review

55 miles
13M with 2 x 4 miles with 1M moderate recovery in 605/603//601/602 (635) 606/601/557/552
12.7M MLR with 5 miles progression at 627, 623, 611, 608, 601

Just one more week until I toe the line at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon!  After taking my easy runs SUPER easy, my legs finally felt decent again in a workout!  I was thrilled to hit the times in the 2 x 4 mile workout and I finally feel recovered from being sick and running pretty hard through it.  I'm ready to get there already!!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Week in Review

74 Miles
15.6M with 5 x Broken 2K repeats (1000m with 200m float, 800m fast, 400m jog rest)
     84/87/43 (57) 81/82 (2:08)
     87/86/43 (57) 81/82 (2:15)
     84/84/42 (59) 80/82 (2:03)
     84/84/42 (65) 81/82 (2:03)
     84/84/42 (53) 81/81

18M with 10 miles at 601/602/558/601/602/601/603/601/604/555

Phew, what a week! I'm definitely ready for a solid taper! And after Saturday's workout, Terry emailed me that I get the best (and worst!) present of all:  a really nice taper.  But first, let's start with Wednesday.  My trusty training partner, Jonah, and I headed out to the track near El Camino to run the broken 2K repeats workout.  Ironically enough, the last time I did this workout was back in late March in Durham when my marriage was crumbling apart in front of my eyes.  For more reasons than one, I wanted to really crush this workout, and I did just that!  Also, it's a really fun way to do a track workout.  Typically I cringe when I see that Terry's created a workout that logistically works better on the track, but I knew that this one would be more interesting than just doing 400m repeats or countless mile repeats.  

On Saturday, Jonah and I headed out for my final big marathon workout.  It was a bright and sunny day, and I gave Jonah strict orders that we should run 605 pace.  Instead, we were running low 600s to high 550s.  By mile 9, I watched as Jonah pulled away from me and I maintained my pace.  I didn't go with him because mainly I felt like crap, but I also didn't consider trying to go with him because I know that I've got a marathon in two weeks and he does not.  It was so cute because at the end of the workout, when Jonah rounded back for me, he immediately asked "Are you okay?!" because it's the first time he's seen me do less than how the workout was written.  I'm used to having workouts where I feel like poo-poo, but he's never really seen that happen yet.  After reading my log about how tired my legs feel, Terry immediately responded with strict instructions to take my slower runs even easier and to reduce my mileage.  I am happy I get to take a step back from running, but I also loathe taper weeks because they get so boring and tedious. I also typically feel super bloated during taper because I'm not running as much and because I'm eating more carbs than normal.

Terry also said that my tempo workout gave a good indicator as to what a good target pace is for Chicago - and I agreed with his assessment.  We both recognized that the best way to PR at Chicago is to run 605 pace through at least halfway or even 18 and then to try to run faster after that.  At least now I have a goal that my own coach also believes I can achieve!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Week in Review

66 Miles
2 Days off
15M with workout of 4 x 2.5M (800m rest) at 556/555/257 (326) 550/555/252 (328) 
555/556/253 (343) 553/557/253
11.5M with 12 x 200m repeats at 40s with 200m jog rest
24M time on feet long run in 2:55 (7:17 pace), with no food before hand, 2 sips of water

Despite having taken off two days due to sickness, I absolutely killed my runs this week.  I have always prided myself on my ability to listen to my body, even if it means taking a day off.  It's really helped me to put aside my ego and just trust that taking time off will be better for me in the long run.  As a result of my strange stomach virus on Sunday, I felt like total crap on Monday and Tuesday. I didn't run or climb and focused on just taking naps and sleeping a lot.  By the time Wednesday rolled around, I knocked out 9 miles easily.  I decided to try out the original workout of 5 x 2.5 miles on Thursday because I'd have the company of Jonah.  For this workout, my notes were recorded as follows:

  1. Super glad I took Monday and Tuesday off from running. 
  2. This went 100x better than I was expecting given how sick and tired and just terrible I felt Sunday through Tuesday.  It was harder trying to slow down to run 555 pace than it was to run 550 pace. It just felt SO effortless!  
  3. Thank god for Jonah. 
  4. After the third one, I stopped for a quick sip of water and the jog rest time doesn't reflect that so it was probably more like a 4:00 rest. 
  5. YAY!   I killed this workout!  This is the first time that I've really walked away knowing that I'm in shape to PR at Chicago.
Saturday and Sunday were also somewhat big days, with a light 200m workout, followed by a long run on the rolling hills of Canada Road with some of my guys.  Most, if not all, of my runs this week were spent with Jonah and I am SO GRATEFUL for his company.  Especially this week, when I was doubting my ability to get runs in after my sickness, his presence was crucial.  For the long run on Sunday, I made the mistake of only drinking water and not eating any food before.  I had only 2 tiny sips of water during the run so that in the final 2 miles of the run, my body was seriously bonking.  My legs started to feel eerily similar to the end of a marathon, so ultimately I was grateful for the practice of running on really tired legs and the chance to use my mind to overcome my protesting body parts.  

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Week in Review

83.6 miles
14M with workout of 5 x 1.5M with splits of 600/252 (2:00), 555/250 (1:59), 557/249 (1:59), 601/250 (2:01), 556/244
21M  at 648 average pace

It's always fun to take advantage of a bank holiday by running 16 miles.  I was so relieved to have the entire three day weekend to myself, without any major plans so that I could just focus on training.  With Peter in China for work, I had a lot of time to just pack up my things for my upcoming move and also to catch up on writing all the training plans for my athletes.

For the 1.5M workout, I did this solo at Stanford around the 2 mile road loop.  I thought it was going to go quite poorly, but it went rather well. I was really stoked to hit - and even surpass - the target workout splits without the company and encouragement from the usual suspects like Heather or Jonah.  I should also note that I decided to start lifting again, so I was really sore during this workout because I took a three month hiatus from picking up anything over 25 pounds.  I only decided to lift because my lower back was beginning to get tight again - which is what caused my achilles injury last October - so I did not want to see any of that force me out of Chicago.

Peter made it back on Friday and by Sunday, I'd knocked out 21 miles with Jonah, Max and Tom on Canada Road.  I didn't feel great on this one and actually ran a bit slower than Terry had planned, but I knew that it was more important to listen to my body and just run on feel.  I still closed the last 2 miles in 620 and 559, so it wasn't a *terrible* run, just not example 14-16 miles at 630-645 pace as written.  The unfortunate cap to this weekend was when I spent the rest of the afternoon feeling absolutely terrible, ultimately resulting in vomiting a couple of times, among other things.  It was great to have Peter there because he made sure I had whatever I needed to at least feel somewhat better, which was mainly just moral support and saltine crackers.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Week in Review

83 Miles
20.5M Long Run with 11 miles at 605, 600, 602, 558, 604, 608, 605, 602, 606, 605, 555
15M with 3 x 3 miles w/ 800m jog rest via 552/556/556 (3:28), 552/559/549 (3:45), 554/557/552
8 Runs, 0 Days Off
3 Rock Climbing Days
1 Lift Session

What a great week! I kicked off the week with my last day spent with some of my favorite guys - Nick and Matt - which included a rock climbing session plus some yummy dinner in Palo Alto.  The rest of the week was spent catching up on sleep, running a lot, and working and climbing more.  Coach T-Bone's plan for the week was somewhat daunting, but I managed to hit all the pace and mileage goals without a hitch!  Peter is gone in China for this week and next, so I figured I would take advantage of the free time by knocking out some solid miles and also taking some time to reflect.

I am in such a good place right now.

My training is going really well and I finally have friends to share the miles with.  I've created a solid crew to run with in the mornings (which is surprisingly a much more difficult feat than it sounds since Californians loooove to sleep in and run in the afternoon).  I've gained back the divorce weight that I lost during the roughest weeks and I look healthy again!

The first half of this year was one of the toughest moments of my life, but so far the second half is shaping up to be pretty fan-freaking-tastic.  I'm so excited to toe the line at Chicago in just five weeks.  It's such a privilege to be able to toe the line with so many professional runners and then also so many of my great friends.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Week In Review

83 Miles
14M with 8M tempo via 556, 612, 559, 554, 604, 600, 551, 555
23.5M at 6:59 pace
8 Runs, 0 Days Off

The marathon training grind really kicked off this week.  When Terry had an 8 mile tempo on the schedule for marathon pace, I immediately synced with Heather to see if her workout was somewhat similar. Fortunately, she had 6 miles at MP, so I hopped on board with her to that we could both mutually benefit from running together.  I continue to be amazed at the support I've found out here, both from a running and personal perspective.  I had a bit of a cold this week, and Heather just chatted away during this workout, keeping my mind off the struggle I was facing.  I felt bad because I couldn't respond with much more than "yeah, it's great" for most of the run.

On Saturday, Tom and Jenna joined me for portions of a time on feet long run where I had strict instructions to drink very little to no water.  I got a couple of sips just twice during the run, and I was grateful that I did if more just for the mental sanity it provided me.

I can't believe that Chicago is in just 6 weeks!  It became more real because some Bank of America associates came out to meet me at Rancho San Antonio for a photo shoot for an article.  Typically BOA features about 12 athletes who have really cool, inspiring stories related to the marathon.  Most of the folks are real heros, battling cancer or running with a handicap or helping save lives in other countries.  My story obviously isn't along those lines, but they wanted to feature me since I do work for Bank of America.  Ironically, while I've been extremely open about my divorce to everyone in both my work and personal lives, I didn't want to make that the spotlight for the piece on me.  So instead it's mostly about the injury leading up to the Trials, which was really just a small blip on the map compared to all the other junk that happened in the first quarter of 2016.

But I digress.  I'm so honored and humbled to be included in the BOA Chicago Elite field.  After all, I was rejected at least twice before to this program.  Over the years, Bank of America has supported my endeavors to pursue training for the Olympic Trials and also to graduate from the Duke Fuqua School of Business while working full time.  Even during my separation, when I felt like I was putting my career on the line by requesting to work from Durham for an undetermined amount of time, my manager came through and let me do it, no questions asked.  It's moments like those that made me feel like I truly mattered, not only as an employee, but as a person.  I can thank all of my current and past managers for creating that culture.  My managers have been completely supportive of me during my 8-year stint at this company, so it's very meaningful for me to race as a way of saying thanks for all that they've done over the past couple of years.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Week in Review

71 Miles
11.5M MLR
20 Miles LR in 6:52 pace in Seattle
7 Runs, 1 Day Off
3 Days in Seattle
3 Days in DC

So this wasn't exactly the week that I was hoping for from a marathon training standpoint, but I chose not to let it get to me. I've been on a whirlwind of a travel tour every weekend in August, so I'm happy that I'm still prioritizing my long runs.  I ditched my workout target (8 miles at MP) and opted instead to do a long run with Josh, a guy that I had strava-stalked through some mutual friends.  Running with Josh was a perfect way to get a full tour of Seattle while also taking advantage of the much cooler weather on the West Coast before heading to DC for Katie's wedding.

As an aside - have I mentioned lately how FREAKING awesome Strava is? I swear that Strava is the technology version of myself -- always connecting runners.  Caleb used to always say he was so impressed by my ability to recruit at least one other person to join runs.  He always expected a surprise person to pop up on our runs because of my tendency to be inclusive.  Strava has allowed me -- through segments and CRs -- to find folks that run near my current location AND folks who can run the same pace as me.  It's seriously the best.  It really pulled through for me in Seattle, as I did 20 with Josh on Wednesday and then 10 with Roger on Thursday.

After my work trip to Seattle, I flew back to SFO, where I met Peter and together we flew to DC for Katie and Torin's wedding.  It was such a raw, real and uninhibited ceremony.  I was so content to witness Katie and Torin reveal why and when they fell in love and then to celebrate with them at the reception.  It was so great seeing familiar Fuqua faces including Kishor, Claire and Randi.  It was a really great week, filled with lots of good friends!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Week in Review

74 Miles
14M with 2 x 2miles @ 602/600 (2:00 jog), 559/5:59 (2:03 jog), 4 miles at 602/553/552/556
20M at 7:00 average
2 days in Pacific Palisades

I'm sooo far behind on my blog, but this was my first full week back to training after the SF half!  I shuffled my long run to be on Friday so that I wouldn't have to worry about knocking out a 20-miler when I was in LA with Peter.  It all worked out quite nicely because I helped out Max on his last long run before Santa Rosa while, at the same time, getting in a solid effort for myself.  I also found a new workout buddy - Jonah - who has proven to be in quite stellar shape!  He kept me company for the 8 mile workout at Marathon Pace and  I was so excited when he blasted past me on the final mile.  I FINALLY found a dude that I can run with and together we can help each other achieve our running goals! #WINNING

Sunday, August 7, 2016

(Down) Week in Review

41 Miles
19.5M Long Run
3 Days off, 0 doubles
1 climbing day
3 days in NYC

The highlights of this week were:

  1. Taking a couple days off as a reward for winning the SF half
  2. Running along Park Ave in NYC since it was closed for Summer Streets and then doing a loop in Central Park with a group of Team T-Bone girls
  3. Hanging out in NYC with Peter, Merry, Sam, Nikki and Anna....basically gorging myself on chocolate chip cookies and booze.
Considering that this was a down week, it was fun to knock out my longest run in definitely over 14 months in the streets of NYC.  It was hot and humid as hell, but turns out that California hasn't turned me into too big of a baby quite yet.  I felt like I handled the humidity just fine, even if I did have to stop for water a couple of times.  Now I just have 9 or 10 weeks until the Chicago Marathon, where I hope to set a new PR.

This week marked the first weekend of all four in August where I have plans, either traveling to another city or with friends visiting.  Cheers to having tons of friends all over the country!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Week in Review

70 Miles
11.3M MLR
13.1M with 6 x mile repeats at 542, 541, 537, 538, 539, 535 with 60s jog rest
10M with 4 sets of (3 x 60s on /off) with 2-2:30-3 jog between sets
14.2M long with last 2 mile at 620, 558
4 Days in Denver for Wilmore Reunion

After a couple of weeks at lower mileage, it was refreshing to hit 70 miles, especially since I was in Denver for 4 days. For the second week in a row, I modified a workout for the week, indicating that my body is ready for a nice taper leading into the SF half.  The paces were still solid and I still got in all the work, including minuters while at 6500FT in Denver.  Surprisingly, the altitude didn't affect me unless I was running uphill or faster.  I was VERY glad to have extra rest in between sets on the minuter workout and that it was FLAT.  Matt was such a great host and ran with me every day except for one, and I can forgive him for that because he was probably pretty hungover.  I could definitely live in Denver because it's a fun city full of lots of vegetarian restaurants, plus it has two of my best guys friends who call it home. :)

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Week in Review

57 Miles
6 Runs
16M with last 10 miles at 650, 637, 624, 612, 607, 556, 554, 558, 602, 601, 633
2 Days off
2 Days camping in Yosemite

This week I did something that in the past I probably would have never done: I didn't run for two days because I wanted to camp instead.  I'm so much more balanced now and making decisions based on if they make me feel happy and SO alive.  The past six weeks of great training and a busy social life is finally catching up with me, both mentally and physically.  My legs were really tired on Thursday, and I mentally didn't have the capacity to process doing 8 x 1 mile repeats.  So instead I decided to knock out my long run and turned it into a progression run based on feel.  I was really happy with how fast I was able to close out the run, especially considering that for the last five days, I've really been struggling with some GI issues.  My stomach has been absolutely killing me, so much that I questioned if I have Crohn's disease like my brother.  My stomach finally calmed down once we got to Yosemite (thank god!).

The rest of the weekend Peter and I backcountry camped at Yosemite, with our tent overlooking Half Dome.  It was the first time I've ever camped at Yosemite and it was even more wonderful than I could have imagined! We didn't see anyone but one person on the hike out to the campground.  We also go a wilderness permit so we could camp wherever we wanted. It was awesome!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Week in Review

78 Miles
11.5M with 16 x 200m repeats at 35-39, 200m jog rest
14M with 3 x 2.5M @ 547, 539, 247, 2:30 jog, 543, 540, 247, 2:30 jog, 537, 542, 247 
15M Long Run in Oakland Hills
3 Days in Oakland

Woohoo! What a great week - highest mileage since who knows when (maybe a year?) and lots of time spent with my sister.  Seriously, what a great week.  I had so much fun.  The workouts were tough, but I've continued to kill the workouts even though I'm solo. I've been super busy with my social life, visitors and travel schedule, but it's been 100% worth it.  The 3 x 2.5M workout this week was super solid and I was really happy to run such quick times while being completely solo.  My sister and I hung out in Mountain View on Thursday before heading to SF for a night and Oakland for the remainder of the holiday weekend.  We basically spent a ton of time hanging out with lots of rad ladies and eating really good food.  Laurie and Mark hosted us and Vanessa and I hung out with their son Jackson, who calls us "auntie" and melts my heart every time he jumps in the bed to wake me up.  We did some yoga where we cleared out the negative energy within us (for that day) by chanting and swinging our arms back to throw it behind!  So fun.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

(Race) Week in Review

66 Miles
14M workout with 3 miles via 544/545/541, 800m jog in 322, 2 miles via 533/534, 800m jog in 328
1 mile in 522, 800m jog in 324, 800m in 240
10K Race in 34:48 at SF Pride 10K, for 1st place overall (male and female), Splits:  520, 552, 531, 524, 557, 533, 1:09

The highlight of this week was breaking (for the third time!) my 10K track PR from college in the SF Pride Run 10K race.  I feel so confident with this training cycle and I know that time off due to injuries back in Q4 2015 and into Q1 2016 really is helping me feel so fresh now.  There are so many metaphors with my running journey that I can continue to tie back into my life: that the lowest moments - like getting injured before the Trials - only bring some of the best moments - like running close to my 10K PR in my first race back.  This ties back to my life:  getting separated (low moment) has allowed me to do things I never considered doing and for me to learn how to wholly love again (best moments).  Happy sigh. I couldn't be in a better place right now.  Sure, there's more healing to be had, but I am trusting that I make good decisions and am surrounded by a slew of loving, wonderful people who love me for who I am.  But I digress.  

Quick race recap:  I decided a couple weeks ago to do the SF Pride 10K and then when the Orlando shootings happened, I knew that I needed to do this race so I signed up.  Looking at the results from years past, I knew that it would be very likely that I'd be solo for the majority of the 10K, so leading up to the race, I focused on the mental tenacity I wanted to leverage throughout the race.  I was really psyched to a run a race that supports the LGBT community, and the SF Pride Run race committee definitely lived up to my expectations.  My favorite part was that the race started late (around 9:20AM) and around 9:15, the race director said:  "It's 9AM...GAY TIME!" and everyone just laughed knowingly.  It was a great atmosphere and I definitely stood out doing my strides and typical pre-race exercises and drills.  

When the gun did finally go off, a couple of guys shot out and I eventually tucked in behind a couple for a mile, before ultimately passing them (including the 5K leaders) until I was alone around mile 2.  Fortunately, I had the support of the lead cyclist who was my main motivation.  We ran two 5K loops, and I passed through the 5K in first place, which confused the hell out of people.  On the next loop, I had to weave in and out of the 5K or 10K runners that I began to pass.  It wasn't too difficult and I was grateful for the practice because the SF half will have the same situation.  The course was uphill on one side of the loop and downhill on the other side of the loop.  This proved to be very difficult to keep myself motivated for during the 5th mile, when I was working hard to stay under 6:00 pace.  I barely saw Peter, who had sprinted all the way across the Polo fields to try to catch me on the other side.  (Side note - that was my fault because I'm pretty sure I said it wasn't far to the other side and I'm pretty sure it was almost a mile LOL).  

Representing Skechers in SF
Eventually, I made my way to the finish line, having no real clear indication of what I would run until I saw the overall time on the clock and I pushed hard to break 35:00.  After breaking the tape, I was (positively) overwhelmed with support from several people since they loved that I won the men's race too.  It was a really special moment because it was my first race in SF as a California resident and it supported something that matters to me.  

Ultimately, I'm very pleased with this race effort because it's only 12 seconds off my 10K road PR from 2015 Cooper River 10k and it's my first race that I've finished in over a year.  Also, it's my first race back and I ran sub-35!  I can't wait for the SF half because now I've practiced the same hills I'll be conquering again in just two months. 

After the race, Peter and I went to Judahlicious and then we went hiking at Point Reyes before heading back to South Bay.  It was a perfect, perfect day.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Week in Review

64 Miles
12M with 2000m @ 5:30 pace, 1600M @ 526, 1200m @ 403, 800m in 237, 400m @ 73, all with 400m jog rest
11M with 11 x 50s hill repeats at 4-5% grade
16M with middle 8M at 644 - 625, one mile at 554 pace, then 4M cool down
2 Days in Seattle
1 Day off

I'm sooo behind in updating my blog, and the odds of anyone reading this post are slim so I'm keeping this short. I'm back on the schedule of alternating between 2 workouts + long run and 1 workout + hard long run every two weeks, so it was fun to knock out some hill repeats before I set off for Seattle.  I really enjoyed hanging out in Seattle with Matt, Jessie & Ryan, and Ruth!  It was great to reunite with Ruth not just one, but TWO runs!  We ran long on Saturday and even though my legs were tired from the two workouts earlier in the week, I figured it'd be fun to tag along for her steady state workout.  The highlight was definitely going to the Solstice Parade with Jessie and Ryan's friends, where we watched people with body paint ride around the city naked.  It was great people watching and I really love Seattle because of the people and their seemingly easy going nature and willingness to be accepting of anyone, no matter what their differences may be.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Week in Review

70 Miles
12M with 5 x mile repeats in 536, 535, 528, 531, 527 with 60s jog rest
16M at 633 pace average, ending in 548
1 Climbing Session
1 new friend!

Another solid, solid week in the books! I'm so excited that I texted coach to tell him about my long run on Saturday. That is a very rare thing for me to do.  I am fit.  I need to race.  There's nothing else to be said.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Week in Review

75 Miles
12M with 4M tempo via 544, 541, 539, 534 and then 800m jog rest for 5 x 1 minutes in 502 - 516 pace
9M with 2 x mile of 30s on off with mile splits of 543/542 with 800m jog rest
17M long run at 654 average
0 days off
1 new friend!
1 rock climbing session

Whew, looking back on this week, I feel somewhat exhausted knowing what I accomplished.  Yet the odd thing is that I feel completely energized.  I haven't felt this good since the summer of 2005, before I headed back to Wake for my sophomore year.  I firmly believe that my latest running fitness mainly is due to 1) injury and time off during the months of October - January, 2) the ridiculously good (read: low humidity) weather, and 3) unintended weight loss.  I'm slowly building up my crew of guys to run with by stalking strava and it has proven so successful! I've met Ted, who lives less than half a mile from my house, and then also Tom, who will certainly start hitting some massive PRs if he continues running long with me.  I'm so impressed with these folks and I hope that we can continue to push each other to achieve goals together.  I've also done my last two long runs with Heather, which has been such fun since we've gone through similar life situations over the last couple of years.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Week in Review

64 miles
10M with 2 x 2 miles at 544, 537, 2:00 jog rest, 535, 537
16.2M long run at 651 average
1 day off
2 rock climbing sessions

This week marked the first week that I've had a formal training plan from Coach T-bone in a long, long time.  And every moment was wonderful.  I don't know if it's because I unintentionally lost 7 pounds or if it's because I really haven't trained hard since August of last year, but I'm feeling like a badass.  I'm itching to race and to test my fitness, but I'm being patient.  I nailed the 2 x 2 mile workout, by hitting much faster paces than Terry prescribed on the plan. AND I was solo.  From previous posts, you should know that I'm a freaking baby when it comes to working out solo, but I've apparently found a new strength.  Probably because of my new life perspective - take risks, enjoy life and be happy!

Before the long holiday weekend fully kicked off, I got in 16 miles with Heather on Canada Road.  I loved every part except 1) running over what may have been a rattle snake and 2) the lack of shade.  But the course was great, with slightly rolling hills and then tons of cyclists with really nice, muscular calves for me to admire for a split second as they whizzed past me.  Overall, I wanted to get a few more miles in this week, but I decided to take off one day because I was starting to feel a tickle in my throat and because I wanted to rock climb with my new friend Armon.  All is well in the world as long as I'm making healthy choices that keep me happy. And I was damn happy taking that day off.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Week in Review

66 miles
11.5M with 10 x 90s on / off
15 mile long run with 5 miles in 617, 607, 619, 615, 608, 1.5M rest in 6:40 pace, 3 miles in 601, 554, 601, 535
1 lift day
1 rock climbing session
0 days off

Another successful week down in the books, but with a couple of hiccups along the way.  First, Jenna and I ran a workout together on Tuesday and it went great.  Then I drove home, and right before I pulled into my apartment complex, a guy in his car plowed straight into my car and broadsided me.  It was scary because 1) I had the right of way and looked up to unexpectedly find a car coming straight for my door and 2) I didn't want the side airbag to go off so I tried to avoid as bad of a collision by positioning my car so he would hit closer to my rear passenger door.   Fortunately, I wasn't hurt and my side air bag didn't go off! And, the guy (my neighbor), was super helpful and accommodating.  He was willing to accept responsibility and he called his insurance immediately to get the process going.

Then, later that week, again during a long run workout with Jenna, we were flagged down by a woman walking.  We are assholes, so we obviously were not going to stop since we were in the middle of a tempo mile, even after she asked us if we had a phone.  Then she said: "There's a dead body over there." And we immediately stopped. Did I feel guilty? YES.  She told us where the body was, that she didn't suspect foul play and that it was likely a homeless man. I couldn't help but think well at least he died in a very peaceful place, with lots of sounds of nature, water and birds surrounding him.  It was a weird way to start the day, especially after we ran past the body on the bench.   It definitely made me feel grateful for the food and shelter that I take for granted every single day.

The rest of the weekend was spent with Liz.  We got in some miles together, spent time in the city with our Wake Forest teammates and went to quite possibly one of the worst live DJ shows ever at Love and Propaganda.  Regardless, it gave us a great story to tell later and to cherish forever.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

(Duke Graduation) Week in Review

65 Miles
Workout 1:  10 miles total with 4.25M of 13 x 1 min on/off with mile splits of 602, 558, 555, 545, 521 for the last .25M
15M long run in Durham
4 days in Durham

I'm finally starting up my week in review again! This is a new day, a new leaf, a new CAITLIN!  To bring you up to speed, I've run 60 miles the past 2-3 weeks, so this was the first time that I've cracked any mileage over 60 in a very, very long time.  I also made the decision to not follow any formal training plan.  Instead, I decided to use the last couple of weeks to run with Jenna, who is training for the Grandma's Marathon.  It's been a perfect way for us to get to know each other better and for me to get into shape again.

This week, I front-loaded my mileage by taking advantage of having Meagan in town - we did 30+ miles in 3 days without any doubles. If I get a chance to train again with my favorite Olympic Trials race buddy, then I'm going to capitalize on the opportunity.  We enjoyed an awesome minuters workout together, which is one very difficult way to still run a tempo. I purposely kept the jog rest at a medium effort (around 640-650 pace) so that I could keep the overall mile splits around 6:00.  This was the first real workout where I realized that I'm in pretty damn good shape. I'm finally starting to get excited about racing again. I haven't had a good race since April of 2015, and I'm chomping at the bit to cross a finish line feeling strong and confident.

The rest of the week was spent in Durham, NC, where I walked across the stage to earn a degree from the number one business school in the country (at least from last year's rankings!).  I couldn't be more proud of my classmates for all that we accomplished.  16 months, 5 countries, 100s of hours of class, 90,000 airline miles, 105 new friends, 16 different courses, 3 sicknesses, and the list goes on.  In between graduation festivities, I spent time with my mom and dad who have been my foundation ever since they brought me into this world.  They taught me how to dream big, run fast and achieve goals.  My friends Danielle and Chad even drove in to watch me cross the stage, so in between catching up with my classmates, I was able to get the most out of my Duke tuition dollars by inviting D & C to the luncheon where they could eat/drink as much as possible at the seafood and liquor bars.

Of course, the weekend would not have been complete without a run with my favorite Durham boys, who have helped me in so many ways beyond just my own training.  They have picked up stuff from my old porch, stored my random boxes and supported me when my life was turned upside down.  Getting in 15 miles with them in the disgusting NC humidity was memorable, even if I mostly just recall the squishy shoes that Alan and I rocked the entire run.

As much as I enjoyed my time in NC, I'm ready to get back to CA to continue meeting new people and soaking in that California sunshine.

Dad and I enjoyed a walk on Saturday
I had the honor of speaking at graduation!

Duke Fuqua CCMBA Class of 2015

Thursday, May 12, 2016

I'm baaack!

Well, that was a long, long hiatus.  It's been more than three months that I've written and I'm disappointed in myself...even though I know that only Kishor and my mom have been checking back at my site to see if I've updated.

What's happened in the last three months?  Well, I toed the start line of my second Olympic Trials Marathon.  I didn't finish, but I outlined the reasons why here in advance of the race.  Instead, I ran 9 miles in blistering heat at around 6:10-6:15 pace with just under 4 weeks of solid training under my belt.  I was damn proud.  There's a lot more to say on that topic, but I'll save that for another day.

After that, I went to Kauai with my family and best friends.  We hiked, fell in rivers, got our feet muddy, crashed every single resort pool in Poipu, tanned, sang (terribly) to Disney classics, laughed deep belly laughs and ate entirely too much.

And then my life changed. At first, I was terrified and worried, because the future I felt I had a strong hold on, suddenly just slipped through my fingers, right in front of my eyes.  But there's been a reason for my absence.  I needed time to discover that not having any idea what my "future" looks like is one of the greatest gifts life awards us.  In reading The Alchemist, it helped me begin my quest to realize my Personal Legend.  I am finding that anything is possible, it's okay to dream and to yearn for every single thing I would like to see happen to me in my life.  This is how I am taking one step forward, every single day.  I have no ties to anything except the people who care deeply for me and I will march forward with them by my side, both spiritually and physically.

I'll go into more detail later, because I think it's important, but now is not the time.  Currently, my focus has been on building those friendships that I had neglected here in the Bay Area. I want to create a new West Coast family of friends so that I have a solid foundation and community to keep me strong.  Running is obviously a start, but I also want to expand my social circles to others as well, so I joined a rock climbing gym, went to some meetups and frequent the city much more often.  I finally started living out my life in the West, and the first four weeks have been more than I could have ever asked for.

And for this, I am grateful.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

A 9-5er, non-contender, non-finisher heading to the Olympic Trials!

noun | nine·two·fiv·er
: a person who works 9 to 5

noun | non·con·ten·der
: a person who has no chance of winning in a contest

noun | non·fin·ish·er
: a person who starts something but does not finish it

Why, yes, I'm toeing the start line at my second Olympic Trials marathon.  But, there's a catch.

If you read the headline closely enough, you'll realize that I don't plan on crossing the finish line of the (second) most important race of my life.  Gulp.

Don't worry, I've come to terms with my predicament because I still have the privilege to toe the line alongside our country's best distance runners. Numerous people have had to drop out from the race, which is especially difficult for those professional runners whose entire livelihood depends on one major marathon a year, and, every four years, a hope for an Olympic berth.  Fortunately for me, running is not my career nor does my paycheck depend on my race performance.  As a non-contender, I never had the chance to make the Olympic team, but I do have the opportunity to pursue big dreams and to push myself to new limits.  The Olympic Trials marathon allows me to toe the line and compete with so many talented women who have poured countless miles, energy and mental stamina into this one endeavor.  It's an opportunity that merely puts us all on the big stage together, so that we can achieve our dreams one mile at time, side-by-side.

Unfortunately for me, I've battled a calf strain and an achilles issue since October 9th.  In the sixteen weeks leading up to the Trials, I envisioned:

  • 12 weeks of 85+ miles per week
  • 24 unique workouts
  • Four 22+ miles long runs

Nope.  Instead, this is what happened:

  • 44 consecutive days off from late November to early January
  • 5 weeks of running, at an average of 25 miles per week
  • 3 unique workouts
  • 8 miles longest run

Spent a lot of time with needles in me
You don't need any more information to understand why I'm not finishing the race.  It's too risky; it's practically delusional. Tendon injuries are fickle and unpredictable.  They could come back at anytime, and you don't know how long they'll bug you for.  So, I'm not finishing and that's that.

But the good news? I still get to toe the start line, run side-by-side with Meagan and help her achieve her goals. Because on Saturday, Meagan's goals will become mine.  My purpose is to make her race be as great as it can possibly be.  Because I'm by her side, providing encouragement, water and Gatorade, maybe even a wind block if necessary, I will take some of her stress away.

So on Saturday, I will toe the line and then I will gracefully bow out of the race when it seems necessary.  I have the honor to run a couple of miles, while my friends and family cheer loudly not only from the sidelines in LA, but also 3000 miles away from the comfort of their own homes, watching on NBC or tracking on their phones.  In that moment, I will feel the tremendous love and support from everyone who made it possible for me be there.  I am so grateful to have such a powerful support group.

And, damn, I definitely wouldn't have been able to toe that start line without the help of so many people:
A huge thanks to all of the people above.  They helped me believe when it mattered most, when my doubts were biggest.  They inspired me to believe I would start at the Trials.

Finally, some helpful information on the Trials coverage.

How to Watch the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon on NBC

Guide to the 2016 Olympic Trials Marathon

Monday, February 1, 2016

Week 4: The Comeback

26.7 miles
5 Runs
2 Days off
2 workouts (7 x 300m repeats and 2 miles tempo at 6:00 average)
2 yoga classes
3 weight lifting days
6 hours of walking

This was my fourth week back running and I hit the same total of mileage that I would have completed in one race at the Olympic trials if I hadn't gotten injured. It's okay though, because I still get to toe the starting line!

This week, I went to my first Strava Track Club workout in probably two months.  I ran solo for some 300m repeats and cheered on the ladies as they sprinted really fast around me.  I was most pleased with my tempo effort on Saturday with Jenna, where I ran 6 total miles, with 2 miles at 606 and 551 pace.   Considering that my goal is to run a lap or two with Meagan at the Trials, I'm really pleased that I can run 6:00 average pace for a couple of miles.  This means that I can still run the pace I would have liked to run, albeit for a shorter distance.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Week 3: The Comeback

20 miles
5 days running, 2 days off
5.3 miles longest continuous run
1 lift day
2 sore calves

This week, I felt like my body was falling apart, but my two PTs from Durham reached out to me to reassure me that I was doing just fine.  My calves are sore, and my quads are killing me.  My left knee tightness came back and that completely freaked me out; I thought I was on the path to injury again.  I started foam rolling and resurrected even more rehab activities for me to be doing. I feel like I constantly live on the foam roller or on my yoga mat, doing crazy mobility drills.  I'll do whatever it takes for me to feel like a normal runner again.  The positive thing is that running is getting easier.  This unorthodox method back is going great, even though it's tough mentally and physically.  My lower back is still ridiculously tight, so I'm really beginning to think that I need a new mattress.  The one I have now is too firm and my back has been bad the whole time I've lived in California.

I also started going to the YMCA yoga classes on the weekends and they are the BOMB. I love them.  The instructors are great.  It's basically deep stretch classes and the bonus is that one of the instructors incorporates foam rolling into the practice.  SWEET!

Here's my week in review, for those who care about a different approach to coming back to running after taking 7 entire weeks completely off.

  • Monday: 2 x 10 in 6:00 with 1:00 rest, 8:00 in 5:56 pace for 4.8 miles total in 32:00 (also this was a stop rest), walked 2 hours for 6 miles total
  • Tuesday:  Off
  • Wednesday:  3 miles continuous in 6:40 pace, tired today
  • Thursday: 4 miles continuous on feel in 6:40 pace, felt way easier than yesterday , walked 3 miles to work
  • Friday:  5.3 miles in 6:31 average via 10 x 3:00 with 30s jog rest.  I did all intervals at 6;30-6:10 pace
  • Saturday:  6 miles hike, yoga
  • Sunday:  3 miles walk, yoga, lift, 3 miles in 21:00 

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Week 2: The Comeback Continues

11.7 Miles Total
3.2 miles continuous! (YIPPEE!)
2 days in LA

Hey-oh!  I ran over 10 miles total this week.  Hard to imagine that in just four weeks, I should be completing 26.2 miles at the Olympic Trials.  Don't worry - I'm not actually going to run 26.2 miles. I don't want to risk an injury, so basically my whole purpose over these next four weeks is to get my body used to running 6:10 pace for a sustained period of time so that I can at least run side-by-side with Meagan for some portion of the Trials race.

For the next two weeks, Garrett has concocted an unorthodox plan to get me back on track.  He's consulted a former Duke Track Coach and two Duke PTs who helped a Blue Jays pitcher come back from surgery in practically record time.  So, I am going with it.

Here's how crazy my comeback has been, keeping in mind that typically comeback involves running slow for like three weeks and maybe eventually incorporating strides:

  • Monday:  10 minutes at 6:36 pace, 2:00 stop and rest, 6:20 for mile
  • Tuesday:  weight lifting + 30 minutes walk
  • Wednesday:  3.6 total miles in 6:52 via 3 x mile with 2:00 stop rest in 6:11, 5:51, 6:15, 6:33  for a half mile, lifting
  • Thursday:  lifting
  • Friday:  2.4 miles continuous at 6:17 pace, walked 30 minutes
  • Saturday:  3.2 miles in 7:23 pace with Katie
  • Sunday: walked 3 miles, biked 10 miles
I'm feeling good even though my calves and quads are very, very tight.  

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Week 1: The Comeback begins

3.6 miles total
3 runs

I ran.

Sorry, let me type that again.


For the first time in 47 days, I kicked off my first run of the year on Monday at the Charlotte Athletic Club on the Woodway treadmill.  It was completely on a whim. Something just felt right.  I mean, there was a Woodway treadmill just practically begging me to test out my achilles on it.  I hopped on, walked 2 minutes, ran 2 minutes, walked 2 minutes, ran 2 minutes. I felt great!  Then, two days later, on Wednesday, I ran an entire mile.  GASP!  I wasn't even breathing hard.  I felt like maybe the running gods had decided to not let me get completely out of shape.  That feeling of complete godliness disappeared after I ran outside on Saturday.  I ran 2 x 1 mile with 1 minute rest.  My lungs were on fire and I reminded myself that I used to crank out 26.2 miles at 6:07 pace.  It will come; I just need to be patient and to trust the process.

In between all of that, I've been lifting regularly to ensure I strengthen the areas of weakness.  I feel so much stronger and it's such a great feeling. I'm glad that an injury forced me to finally get on the lifting bandwagon and it's something I'd definitely like to continue until I'm well past the senior citizen age so that I can try to keep my skin tight into old age.  But I digress.  This was also the first real week that I tried cross training a bit more. I did a cycle class, water ran with Billy.  It's much easier to cross train when you have a partner to do it with.

I'm not a real big believer in cross training.  For me, it just emotionally drains me.  I hate being on stationary equipment. I'd rather be physically moving closer to an object, versus staring into a wall for an hour.  Because of that, I've begun walking the same amount of time that I would otherwise be running.  This will also help my body get used to more weigh bearing so that I may have a better chance of running as far I can go at the Trials.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Where I've been in 2015

Shamelessly following the same theme that Sarah used....

ONE Duke Fuqua School of Business MBA Degree!

TWO Injuries: L Calf Strain (October) and R Achilles (November through January)

FOUR Weeks of Injury:  Tight Calf (L)

2,780 Miles between me and my husband (California to North Carolina)

60,000 Airline Miles:  FOUR Countries (Chile, UAE, India, Turkey) & NINE States (AZ, FL, NY, SC, CA, MA, PA, IL, OH)

83 Days off from running in 2015, with 43 consecutive days off from Nov 15th until the end

  • January - 10 days off
  • Feb - 0 days off
  • Mar - 0 days off
  • Apr - 1 day off
  • May - 1 day off
  • Jun - 10 days off
  • Jul - 1 day off
  • Aug - 1 day off
  • Sep - 4 days off
  • Oct - 10 days off
  • Nov - 15 days off
  • Dec - 30 days off
2015 wasn't exactly what I had planned in mind.  I was hoping for a exuberant ending to my MBA, followed by several weeks off work for the holidays, with the capacity to pound the pavement for some solid training leading up to the Olympic Trials.  For the first time in exactly ten years, I was sidelined for more than one week with a real injury.  With an injury that was unapologetic and unwavering in its persistence.  With an injury that stole away my chance to finish a race at my second Olympic Trials.

That's right:  at this point, it's very likely that I won't finish the Olympic Trials Marathon.  The silver lining is that now I have the opportunity to try to run fast on the track at the Stanford Invite or perhaps even on the roads.

But, I don't want my injury in 2015 to blur away all of the great things that happened in my life.  I made so many great new forever friends through my Duke MBA program. I got to travel to four different countries, immerse myself in the culture, and run the streets with my classmate Katie.  I got a big promotion at work, leading to a move to sunny California where I can really challenge myself.  I hiked Patagonia! I hiked Big Sur! I hiked the Marin Headlands!  I ran a 10K PR at the Cooper River Bridge Run.  I spent my 30th birthday surrounded by people who were willing to pay money to hang out with me on the big day.  I'm very, very fortunate and grateful for the many wonderful things that I did this year and I'm confident that I'll bounce back from my injury to have a fast (and happy) spring.