The New Zealand Adventure Begins…

5 years ago today I had just returned from my backpacking journey through South East Asia. I spent 4 months learning about the world and myself while traveling through small towns, large cities, and even tiny villages, learning the art of mastering a squatter toilet and saying “yes” to every adventure that knocked on my door, from dining on a still-beating snake heart to learning to ride a motorbike the morning before I set out on 8 hour journey on one through the winding roads of Vietnam with a group friends I had just met two days prior. While in Asia, I started a blog to document my travels and keep in touch with family and friends at home. It was this blog that helped me fall back in love with writing and made the decision to start this one much more obvious.

Aloha!

Aloha!

Waikiki Sunset

Waikiki Sunset

 

 

Now here I am with Mike, nearly 5 years since we met (we met 3 months after I returned from my trip) and on another adventure with him. As I write this, we’re on our 4th flight in one week. We’re headed to Queenstown, the vibrant New Zealand city in the South Island known for bungee jumping and adventure. We started our journey last Sunday after the marathon, heading home on an evening flight from Sacramento to San Diego. We spent one day at home and work before packing an even larger bag and boarding a flight to Honolulu, Hawaii on Tuesday where we spent 24 hours on a paid vacation layover thanks to a mistake made by Hawaiian airlines (we were supposed to leave for our trip Wednesday).

 

Mike and Sam's husband AJ paddling out for a morning surf

Mike and Sam’s husband AJ paddling out for a morning surf

It actually turned out to be much better having the layover since the flight to Hawaii is 6 hours and the flight to Auckland was another 9. We got into Honolulu in the afternoon, took a walk, laid on the beach for a bit and then had cocktails during sunset at the restaurant at our hotel. Our flight on Wednesday wasn’t until 2 p.m. which gave us a full morning to enjoy the 80+ degree weather. Ironically, my oldest friend (circa kindergarten), Samantha, was also on the island with her husband and son, George. Sam lives about 2.5 hours away from us in California now which means that we haven’t actually gotten to see much of each other because of the daunting obstacle of LA traffic. So somehow it made more sense to do a meet up in Hawaii. We spent the morning at the beach where I learned the lesson that 2 year olds do not make for a relaxing beach day – luckily I didn’t mind.

 

The 9 hour flight to Auckland actually went by pretty quickly thanks to the long list of free in flight entertainment. We left Hawaii on Wednesday afternoon and arrived in Auckland on Thursday night, losing about 23 hours of life thanks to the international date line. Luckily on the way back, we gain an extra day.

I was instantly brought back to my backpacking days in SE Asia when we checked into our “ensuite” hostel room in downtown Auckland near midnight on Thursday. Our rock hard full sized bed with accompanying twin bunk was squished into a room far too small and the sink (which I later learned is apparently not just a problem in hostels) was barely large enough to was our hands, let alone our faces!

We spent a rainy Friday exploring New Zealand’s largest city, lingering over breakfast and coffee (yes, coffee – trying not drink it daily but it’s definitely one of our favorite parts of vacation!) and then walking around as much of the beautiful city as we could. One thing I must say about Auckland is that it a sophisticated city. The streets are immaculate and all of the cafes, shops and eateries are very trendy. The food is absolutely delicious – it’s a very international city with no real emphasis on any one type of cuisine. We found an absolutely delicious casual vegetarian cafe for lunch, ate a mind-blowing street waffle in the afternoon, drank delicious local craft beer in the evening and ended it with an amazing Asian fusion dinner (Indian naan for appetizer, Indonesian Nasi Goreng and Thai Curry for the main dish). It was a day of delicious food!

Saturday was the highlight of the trip so far with a day trip to Waiheke Island, which is just a 40 minute ferry ride from downtown. Waiheke is known for its unspoiled beauty and abundant wineries. Waiheke is most commonly visited (by tourists anyway) via a tours and we almost booked a tour when the guy at the tour desk mentioned that you could just hire bikes and ride to the wineries. Perfect!

We started the day with a 2 hour hike from the ferry station through an absolutely stunning route featuring dirt and beach trails. We arrived in one of the larger towns on the island and continued our trek for about another hour, heading down to Blackstone beach and saw the endangered bird who migrates all the way from Alaska to be there! After the hiking we had an amazing vegetarian lunch (starting to realize that New Zealand is VERY vegetarian friendly) at a cafe overlooking the beach.

 

image

After lunch we rented 2 mountain bikes (the rental shop actually rarely rents these bikes – they specialize in electric bikes due to the rolling hills on the island which make it pretty hard to ride comfortably) and headed on quite a journey. The roads were very hilly and winding with basically no bike path, but all of the cars were good about avoiding us (lucky for us). It had started to lightly rain after lunch but it didn’t bother us because we were generating enough heat on the massive inclines so it actually felt pretty nice.

 

image

We rode probably 45 minutes or so before we found our first winery and stopped in for a tasting of 5 wines. The tasting area was absolutely adorable, nestled among the vines. The woman who gave us the tasting gave us a very thorough run down on each pour and was very nice to talk to. We felt a little scrubby in our hiking/biking gear but felt no judgments here! We ended up purchasing a bottle to go, which waived the tasting fee.

After the tasting we set out for more riding, passing one winery that appeared to just be a restaurant, not a tasting room. Eventually we ended up at an absolutely breathtaking winery on a hill which not only had a nice tasting room, but a gourmet restaurant and an event venue (a wedding was taking place). We felt a little more scrubby here, but one of the fellow wine tasters asked if we were the ones on the bikes so we felt like our appearance was a bit more acceptable in a nice place. Everyone who asked about our bikes throughout the day was impressed that we weren’t using the electric powered ones!

We had been out for nearly 3 hours now and the other wineries were starting to shut down due to weddings and other private events. We made our way back in more rain, cycling for about another 30-45 minutes before reaching town. We immediately sought out food and had dinner and drinks at a laid back, but hip restaurant overlooking the water. We made our way back to the ferry by 7:15, for a 10 hour day on Waiheke Island! It was absolutely perfect and a great way to end our stay in Auckland.

More photos to come once we download them off our old fashioned cameras. For now, you get the iphone versions!

CIM Race Recap – My Legs Stopped Before My Heart

The human body can accomplish amazing feats. Stay in motion for 17 hours to complete an Ironman. Create a human being and innately understand without practice how to give birth to it. Defy odds and heal without a known cure. Unfortunately, just as it can surprise us, it can defy us. Yesterday, my body betrayed me in a way I never imagined.

The race started off pretty great. Everything leading up to the day was perfectly executed and my legs felt fresh on race morning. The weather forecast was nearly ideal with a temperature in the low 50s at the start and projected high 50s at the finish with low winds. I made it to the start line with a near perfect training cycle behind me, loads of confidence and a fit, healthy body that I knew could get me 26.2 miles in 3:35 or less.

IMG_5604

 

The adorable sign our friends and weekend hosts Greg and Tessa made for us

The adorable sign our friends and weekend hosts Greg and Tessa made for us

Fellow Oiselle Birds at the Start

Fellow Oiselle Birds at the Start

I started right ahead of the 3:30 pace group but didn’t have an intention of actually running with them, at least not to start. However, once we started going and my legs felt really good, my breathing light, I kept my word and raced easy, just as planned. It just so happened that my easy also was just about the same pace as the 3:30 pace group (who I believe go trapped back behind the crowd and had a slow first mile) and by mile 2 or 3, I was running right with them.

I didn’t listen to music at the start was and simply enjoying eavesdropping on conversations around me. Breathing was easy, legs were light. I closed out the first 5 miles at an average pace of 7:59, which I knew was a bit aggressive BUT given the course profile (100 feet of loss in those first miles, although these are quite a few rolling hills) and the fact that I thought I could possibly run closer to 3:30, I went with it. My Dad and Step Mom made it to Sacramento for the race and I saw them with their awesome motivational signs at mile 2 and mile 4 and was amped and feeling great.

RW8O9701

Around Mile 5, the course gets a bit more hilly, with an equal amount of climbing as descending, and I also had to slow for a water re-fill somewhere so  my pace slowed a bit. I let the pace group go ahead, knowing I wanted to run my own race anyway. I slowed in the next 5 miles as we constantly ascended and descended the hills. I hit the 10k mark and thought of those tracking me at home, specifically Asia and Jeremy, and knew they’d be happy that I was ahead of pace.

RW8O9714

My legs were feeling it a bit by Mile 8, but my breathing was still light. I had one pretty slow mile which felt like a lot of climbing (Garmin data shows it wasn’t much more than any other mile though). There was an aid station on the hill at Mile 8 and I slowed to fill my water bottle which lost me some time. Just as I’d planned, I kept with my feeding schedule of 1 Gu per 35 minutes plus 1 salt pill per hour. I stayed within each mile and was enjoying latching on to smaller groups and then moving on as either they or I surged ahead.

RW8O9702

My thoughts were very positive and I remember thinking as I got to mile 10 that I couldn’t believe how much better I felt than at OC and Phoenix, despite running even faster. I kept imagining the BQ bell that we’d seen at the expo that was going to be waiting for me at the finish line. I couldn’t wait to ring it and finally achieve my goal.

IMG_5605

Around Mile 10 or 11 we passed through Fair Oaks which was jam packed with spectators. This was definitely the best I felt in the race, likely due to the caffeinated Gu I had taken not too much earlier. I was giving high fives, smiling and loving the race. Every time I heard someone ring a cow bell I thought about ringing that BQ bell. The miles just flew by, but my pace definitely slowed a bit. I found myself consistently running 8:05-8:08 splits and my average pace started to creep up.

I hit the half marathon mark at 1:46:24 and I knew that Asia would be tracking me and excited because I had said that my goal was to run the half marathon around 1:46 (My Step Mom Denice had told me the day before to imagine Asia running with me and I actually used this tactic quite a few times in the race!). I myself was thrilled because this meant if I maintained this pace I was 4 minutes ahead of 3:35. A nice cushion indeed.

RW8O9703

The rolling hills continued. Every time we went down, there seemed to be yet another hill to climb up. The miles started to get harder, but I was still keeping each and every one under 8:12. I focused on staying within the mile, repeating my mantras, telling myself it was my day. I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed that although my splits were still under 8:10 it was tough to keep them there. The 3:30 dream was probably not happening but I knew the BQ was mine for the taking. When it hurt, I reminded myself that if marathons were easy, everyone would do them. If qualifying for Boston was easy, everyone would qualify. This wasn’t going to be easy and I knew it. Time to get to work.

This is when those long runs with long segments at marathon goal pace really came in handy. When there was 14 miles to go, I reminded myself of my successful long run with 14 miles near goal pace. If I could do it then, I could do it now. Just as forecasted, there was now a slight headwind, so I was trying to draft off people when possible. I kept focusing and marching on. At one point a spectator yelled to me and told me I looked so fresh, like I was on Mile 1. My confidence grew. This is my day. I repeated it to myself over and over throughout the race.

Before I knew it, I was at mile 16. I thought of my normal 10 mile route and I really believed that I could do it and that I would not hit the wall. I heard the 3:35 pace group coming up on me because spectators would shout “3:35!!!” and I knew that they were ahead of schedule, so I didn’t let it bother me. I’m not sure exactly when I got enveloped into the group, but once I did, I knew I couldn’t let them out of my sights.

I ran toward the front of the group and not too long after I joined, the pace leader said to me, “Do you run ultra marathons?” I said, “No, why?” and he told me that I have a very efficient gait. More confidence boosts. Let’s do this Mr. Pacer.  This is my day.

Somewhere in here, the cramping started. It started in my right shin and moved around to my foot and calf as the race progressed. I noticed my gait was altered but tried to shake it off.

Mile 20 has an arch over the timing mat which is constructed to look like the wall. You literally “run through” the wall. I think this is also where the photographers were set up and as I neared, I pointed to my 3:35 pacer and smiled. My Dad and Step Mom were also right at the Mile 20 marker with their sign now showing “You = BQ” and I nodded and smiled enthusiastically. What wall!? I thought. I had totally forgotten about the cramping during the welcome distraction.

Time to get to work, I thought, as the miles got harder. I stopped paying much attention to my watch and just focused on hanging with the group. I wanted to get over the bridge (the last hill before it’s all flat) and get to the numbered streets (they start at 54 or so and the finish line turn is at 8). I was feeling so confident that when we got to the bridge that I said loudly, speaking to the small group of women runners in our 3:35 group, “Ok ladies, let’s do this! Let’s ring that BQ bell.” They were all so in the zone that no one responded (hah!). I took that as a sign that I was feeling better than them, but I just hoped that it lifted their spirits!

I started feeling progressively worse, but not terrible. The cramping got worse and moved up my leg. But, I was still with the group. I was still at this point plotting when I’d break away. I thought I could still bust out a fast final mile. I’m not sure when it happened exactly, but I think it was very near Mile 24 when things got HARD. The pain went from manageable to nearly unbearable. Not just the cramping, but my breathing. My legs felt like bricks were tied to them. It took every ounce of energy to keep going but I did.

My pace slowed, but was still under 8:20. The pace group inched ahead slowly but was still in my sights and I knew they were ahead of pace by nearly 2 minutes. The cushion was getting more narrow, but the BQ was still within grasping distance. I kept bribing myself by reminded myself that I only had 20 or 15 or whatever it was, minutes to go and that it would all be worth it. Ring the bell. BQ. Make all the training worth it. Pain is temporary, pride is forever. Don’t give up. Don’t give up. Don’t give up.

Pain Cave

Pain Cave

RW8O9724

The pain got worse and worse. By the time I was near Mile 26, I felt like I was in a dream. The pain was surreal and unyielding. I remember wondering if I would faint or puke at the finish line, or both. I saw my Dad on the course and I couldn’t even acknowledge him. I could feel my form going to hell and I tried to correct it, to stay light, a few times but my body kept wanting to go back to whatever felt best. I wanted to be done SO bad but the end was so near. Ring the bell. Ring the bell.

I made the left turn onto 8th and then there is another quick left to the finish chute. At this point the males and females separate with the females on the left and males on the right. I was right behind a girl who got confused over where to go, and slowed and faltered a bit, causing me to change my gait to avoid running into her and also to dramatically slow. As I started to go again, my legs started to feel like jello. The finish chute was 50 yards or so and I could see the finish line. The clock still showed 3:34 (and I was a minute behind the gun time at least). I didn’t know it, but my husband Mike was just beyond the finish line (he also ran and finished in an amazing 3:20!) and was watching me, holding my medal, ready to put it over my neck.

And then, I stopped. My body didn’t want to go any more. It had enough. I literally stopped in my tracks and fell to my knees. Mike said he’s never seen anything like it – the way my body moved and fell. I tried to get up, but I couldn’t. My quads literally felt paralyzed. I tried again to no avail I let out a moan and yelled “Nooo.” My face writhed in misery. I knew, then, I had lost it and my heart was literally breaking.

RW8O9725

Heart literally breaking.

During Ironman training, I watched the YouTube Video of Paula Newbie Frasier as she collapsed within yards of the Ironman finish line and lost her first place prize just as she was about to capture it. She lost control of her body and here I was, in the same position. It was probably the most surreal experience of my life.

RW8O9727

RW8O9728

Mike approaching to help

An absolutely wonderful woman who was just behind me stopped and tried to help me. I keep thinking about that woman. I hope I didn’t ruin her BQ dreams too. She moved on after realizing I was a lost cause. Soon two volunteers approached to help me up and then Mike ran over to me and he and one of the volunteers helped walk me across the finish line, but it was too late. The clock had turned and I had lost my chance.

I later heard from my family, Mike and Layla who was handing out medals at the finish line, that the whole crowd was rooting for me. They had literally just been announcing that all the women crossing the finish line were Boston Qualifiers and I know that many people must have realized that I was about to achieve the goal only to have it ripped away by my disobedient body.

As soon as I crossed the finish line, I was placed into a wheel chair and moved into the medical tent. I held my face in my hands, but didn’t cry. I had the foresight to stop my watch but didn’t learn my actual finish time until later. 3:35:27. Just 27 seconds between me and that BQ. Looking at my Garmin data later, I was not moving for a total of 2 minutes in the final portion of the race, 30 seconds of which was due to the fact that I stopped my watch late. That means that I gave away 1.5 minutes to the clock and my finish time would have been around 3:33:58.

Once inside the medical tent, I was swarmed by nurses and being asked questions to make sure I was still with it. They pricked me and checked my blood sugar, which was apparently fine. They moved me to a cot and forced me to eat pretzels and drink Nuun. The thought of Nuun was making me sick since it was the last thing I had in my water bottle, so I told them I would just take another salt pill. All I wanted was plain water – it sounded so good. I felt hot and asked for ice packs which I put on my legs and then on my head. I felt like death.

Eventually, I started to feel better. I joked that I was going to be trending on YouTube and that I was like Paula Newby Frasier or Julie Moss. A wonderful volunteer nurse named Amy took care of me and told me jokes (they were pretty good) and nursed me back to health. At one point a series of seemingly endless cramps moved from both feet up my shins and calves and quads and Amy forced me to stretch out my legs and breathe through the excruciating pain.  I called my mom and as soon as she picked up I started crying. After I let it out, I started to feel better.

I failed – again. But this time it wasn’t my mind, it was my body. I literally gave it my all, and it wasn’t enough. I can try to think of what went wrong, but there’s no point. Every time I think about those moments, and try to imagine why I couldn’t get up or wonder if I had done something slightly different that wouldn’t have caused the collapse or if I had tried crawled to the finish, or had I just had enough time banked that I could have done it despite it all, I just come back to the same answer – what is done is done. I pushed myself to my limits. I gave my best. What else can I ask for? When I wrote my goal post for this marathon I said other than qualifying, I wanted to run a race of proud of and never give up, and that’s what I did. My watch tells me that I ran a 8:11 average including the collapse and that’s a Boston Qualifying time in my mind. I am (almost) at peace with what happened. I might not get a pass to Boston, but I did it. I stayed positive 99% of the race, I pushed through the pain, and I didn’t give up. And that’s something to be proud of.

And it’s a damn good story. One Mike and I will probably be telling for the rest of our lives.

There was celebrating to be done - 5.5 minute PR!

There was celebrating to be done – 5.5 minute PR  and my 5th marathon finish. Mike’s 4th marathon finish! Oh…and COFFEE!

So thankful for my Dad and Step Mom for their support!

So thankful for my Dad and Step Mom for their support!

Thank you to everyone who has supported me as I trained and prepared for this race (I read your blog comments, emails, tweets, Instagram posts, etc over and over before the race)  and for everyone’s kind words in response to the crazy outcome. Thank you most of all to Mike, my amazing and supportive husband, who knows what to say to make me feel better and whose love is more important to me than any qualifying time.

In the words of Eminem…. Til I Collapse.

In case are curious, here are my splits. Despite hitting a wall at 24, I barely slowed. I ran a consistent race and I’m proud of that.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 9.41.52 PM

CIM Marathon Goals and Strategy

The race is on Sunday. It’s so soon. It’s go time. Time to lock it in and focus.

The taper is kind of evil. At the end of my last big training week, I was flying high and thinking I could take over the world. Somewhere in the middle of the taper my confidence was ripped to shreds by heavy legs and paranoia about an oncoming cold that never came (yay!). Now that I’m over the hump, seemingly healthy and with fresh(er) legs, my confidence has come back, although possibly not to the extremes I experienced during some of my most epic training runs where I imagined myself flying through the marathon shooting off 7:50 min/miles and shocking everyone, including myself.

I’ve landed somewhere in the middle of that. I’m feeling confident. I think the taper worked, although it was painful. I know I’m rested. I’ve been eating very healthy and I have noticed a difference in the way that has made me feel compared to the indulging during my 3 Thanksgiving feasts. I feel light and good. I’ve obsessively checked the weather (so far, so good, although not as ideal as I had hoped). I’ve mapped out the race weekend, I’ve read the course map (and detailed course information – no guessing games at CIM!) and I’ve charted out some possible scenarios.

So this is where I land.

My big goals for this race:

1) Qualify for the Boston Marathon (Sub 3:35)

2) Run a race I’m proud of

3) Never give up

I believe I have the BQ time in me. Deep down, I also believe I can run even faster, potentially sub 3:30. I don’t want that secondary goal to take away from the big goal, which is the BQ. I originally thought about running with the 3:30 pace group but now I’ve decided to take a slightly less aggressive approach.

My strategy for achieving these goals is not set in stone but generally involves these principles:

1) Start EASY for the first 5 miles. Running should feel comfortable. I’m not going to dictate an exact pace because the first 5 miles of this race have a nice decline so it’s possible I’ll be running around a 8 min/mile and feel good. Or, I’ll be running 8:15. Either way, I want to keep it easy. This is why I’m not going with the pace group – I don’t want them to force me to run faster for the first 5 miles.

2) Hit the halfway mark under or around 1:46. I know this is a time goal and I said I didn’t want to be dictated by them, but I also know myself in marathons and the half marathon mark is usually the point that I assess whether or not this race is going to go my way. I wish I could NOT have these thoughts, but I know I will. I think given the course profile, I should be able to easily accomplish this goal. The b) goal to this goal is to NOT freak out if I’m not feeling great even at the halfway point. If that’s the case, I’ll need to think back to my last key long run where I averaged 8:20 and finished with a negative split on tired legs.

3) Stay within each mile. I have broken the course down into segments and I want to think of it as a series of small races instead of one big one. One of the mantras I’ll be repeating to myself on Sunday is “Be Here Now.”

4) Embrace the pain in the final miles and remind myself of WHY it’s worth it. I wrote down a list of all the reasons why I want this goal so bad. I plan to remind myself of each of those things throughout the race, but in particular during those final miles.  “Pain is temporary, pride is forever.” Another strategy for the final miles is to find people to pass. I did this at Long Beach and at one of my triathlons this summer and it was very motivating! And from what I’ve heard the final miles at CIM are the most populated by spectators so I hope to use them for a boost as well.

5) Fuel properly. Gel every 35 minutes (Gu), salt pill every hour, and carry my handheld water bottle with several water refills (I’ve gotten really good at stuffing the cap down my bra, running through aid stations and dumping several cups into my bottle). It’s going to be warmer than I originally thought on race day (likely in the mid 50s at the start, low 60s at the finish), so hydration will be more important than originally anticipated. Eating is even more important.  At some point in the marathon, I always don’t want to eat anymore, but I need to keep on my fueling schedule even if my beloved Salted Carmel Gu sounds like puke.

The Pace Group Dilemma

I definitely considered going out with the 3:30 group, but ultimately have decided to run my own race. However, CIM has amazing pace groups and they even have a page on their website dedicated to getting to know the pace leaders, many of whom have run and/or paced CIM several times (some like 25 years!). The contact information of the pace leaders is online and I emailed the 3:30 pacer to get his strategy. He did tell me that the group will be running even splits, not trying to bank time or negative split (like the pacers at Phoenix Marathon) because of the net decline. So, if the wind is particularly daunting, I may change my plan and jump in with the group. As of now, the forecast says light and variable winds with a potential for a 5-10 mph headwind. That’s not that bad, but if it gets rough I may tuck in to either the 3:30 or 3:35 group, depending on how the day goes.

One thing that my Oiselle teammate Robyn wrote in her pre-marathon blog post recently that really stuck with me was her strategy to “be smart in the first half and brave in the second half.” It’s time to be brave, face my fears and achieve my goals.

Four Fun Facts

It’s race week!!! I’m happy to say that I’m feeling better today. I was feeling off starting on Thanksgiving – almost like I was about to get a cold, and it has luckily not turned into one. My legs have been heavy on runs since the taper started, but this morning’s run with 3 x 1 mile at race pace felt good. I’m on the road to recovery and feeling more and more optimistic by the day.

Let’s have some fun on race week. I was tagged for this survey (also going around under the Mustache theme) by Beth. I won’t tag anyone in particular but if you want to include it in your blog (and haven’t already), please feel free to do so!

4 Names People Call Me

  1. Nikki/Nicky (by relatives who have forgotten I stopped going by it circa 1988 and by a few college roommates)
  2. Mongita (Mike’s nickname is Mongo as a result of his voracious appetite and since we’re married and I also am quite hungry all the time, I’ve acquired this nickname)
  3. The Beast (for relentless energy and dedication toward training)
  4. Tasmania (because after I’m done with the kitchen it looks like a Tasmanian devil went through)

4 Jobs

  1. Hostess at Chili’s (first job!)
  2. Marketing intern for a book store in Madrid, Spain (while studying abroad)
  3. Auditor at PricewaterhouseCoopers
  4. Sr. Financial Analyst (current job)

4 Movies I’ve Watched More Than Once 

I haven’t watched a movie over and over again in years…but in the old days these were my favorites:

  1. Scream
  2. Zoolander
  3. Austin Powers 2 (my best friend and I probably annoyed everyone we knew by constantly quoting this movie- riiiight).
  4. Home Alone

4 Books I’d Recommend

  1. Gone Girl
  2. Born to Run
  3. Iron War
  4. In Defense of Food

4 Places I’ve Lived

  1. Huntington Beach, CA
  2. San Diego, CA
  3. Madrid, Spain (study abroad)
  4. Encinitas, CA (current home and favorite of all!)

4 Places I’ve Visited

  1. Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Indonesia – 4 month backpacking adventure!)

    Holding a Snake in Vietnam!

    Holding a Snake in Vietnam!

  2. Italy (twice, once in college and for our honeymoon)
  3. Costa Rica (first trip with Mike in 2010!)

    Costa Rica!

    Costa Rica!

  4. Prague (my favorite European city)

    Beautiful Prague

    Beautiful Prague

4 Places I’d Rather Be Right Now

  1. In my bed
  2. On a tropical beach with a fruity drink
  3. Exploring a new city
  4. At a party with all my closest friends

4 Things I Don’t Eat (regularly that is….)

I used to be extremely picky so this list is WAY shorter than it used to be. Until college, I existed on chicken nuggets, pizza and bread only it seems.

  1. Olives
  2. Pineapple
  3. Fast Food (only if Chipotle doesn’t count..)
  4. Meat/Fish

4 of my Favorite Foods

  1. Avocado
  2. Pizza

    We LOVE pizza!

    We LOVE pizza!

  3. Peaches (when perfectly ripe these are the best fruit EVER!)
  4. Einstein Bro’s Everything Bagel

4 TV Shows I Watch

  1. The Walking Dead
  2. Big Brother
  3. Nashville
  4. The Bachelor or a Spin off of the Bachelor

4 Things I’m Looking Forward to Next Year

  1. Zion Half Marathon trip with friends
  2. Visiting my Dad and Step Mom at their house in Yosemite
  3. Visiting my friend Erin in New Jersey/New York
  4. Taylor Swift Concert (Yes I already have tickets!!!)

4 Things I’m Always Saying

  1. I’m hungry
  2. Yay!!!
  3. Time is flying!
  4. I can’t wait for….

What do we have in common?

All the Hay

Since becoming an endurance athlete, one phrase I have heard quite a bit has been “The hay is in the barn.” Its always used as someone approaches a big race and it’s a gentle reminder that the work has been done and there is nothing you can do but relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor until race day.

Instagram-Keep-Calm-Taper-On-800x800

After last Sunday’s confidence boosting 18 miler which capped off an incredible training week and an even better training month,  I was flying high. I was confident that my goal was mine for the taking. However, in the past week, the taper monster has taken over my body and more dramatically, my brain, and it hasn’t been pretty at times. I’ve never trained so hard for a marathon before and I guess it would follow that the taper would suck more than ever. Luckily, CIM falls the week after Thanksgiving this year which means that I’ve had 4 1/2 days off to get extra sleep and try to battle the cement monsters lurking in my legs that make running feel like a death march through quicksand.

During my particularly awful 10 mile run this morning (which was supposed to be 13 but given my extremely slow pace, I figured it would be wise to shorten it so I wasn’t running for over 2 hours), I let my brain go into some bad directions. I even drafted a blog post called the Taper Monster which would lament how awful the taper is.

But then I realized that writing a negative post about how awful the taper is won’t get me anywhere. Instead of that, I’m going to write a post about all the reasons why I’m ready for this race, and specifically why I’m ready to finally get my BQ. No need to dwell on the negative, especially when the negative is just a necessary (yet evil) consequence of all the hard training I’ve put in. Come race day, a slow 10 mile run a week before the race won’t matter. It’s what I did in the last 20 weeks that will.

So here it is – all the hay in my barn, out in the open for everyone to see:

  1. 1 solid year of endurance training. I started training for the Phoenix Marathon in November of last year. Although I was sidelined by an ankle sprain in early January, I still trained hard for that race, averaging 7-10 hours a week of running and cross training. After the race, I gave myself a few weeks to recover and then began training hard for RnR SD using the same book/training model that I’ve been using for CIM. After that race I took a little time away from running to focus more on triathlon and P90X3 during the summer and then started building mileage beginning in August for CIM. I think the cumulation of all that endurance is going to prove beneficial come race day.

    I may not have BQed, but all that training for the Phoenix Marathon made me stronger.

    I may not have BQed, but all that training for the Phoenix Marathon made me stronger.

  2. PRs and Podiums. The best PR was my 1:40:03 half marathon at SD RnR because I trained specifically for this race with that goal in mind. Although I don’t race 5ks often and have never actually trained specifically for one, I PRed in the 5k twice – once during RnR SD training where I took first place (at a very small race but it’s a win!) and again during peak CIM training just weeks ago at the Fit Foodie 5k. I placed 2nd female overall at my first 10k trail race in September as well, pushing myself to my limits on a very hard course with a unyielding ascent to the finish line.

    2nd place female at the Carmel Valley Trail 10k!

    2nd place female at the Carmel Valley Trail 10k!

  3. 21 Weeks of Dedicated Marathon Training With No Key Workouts Missed. Since I create my own plan and modify it week to week, it’s hard to really say I didn’t miss any workouts since no one was telling me what to do.  But in the sense that I never woke up the morning of a tempo run and slept in instead, or that I let a weekend away for a wedding cause me to miss my long run, my training was near perfect. I did skip a few easy runs here and there or modified a workout in some way, but those were times that I was listening to my body which was telling me it needed more rest.
  4. 217 Miles in November. I ran more miles in November than any month prior, averaging 7.2 miles a day. I ran 50+ miles four weeks in a row beginning in mid-October through the start of the taper. In the past, I’ve never run more than 5 days a week and during this training cycle, I would run 6. Running 10 miles before work became easy. I looked forward to tempo runs and would set goals and look forward to pushing myself to achieve them. I rarely felt overwhelmed by the training or the miles – instead I embraced them and enjoyed the ride, from the exhausting moments to the runner’s high.

    I didn't wear my Garmin for a 6 mile run...add 6. #typeAathlete

    I didn’t wear my Garmin for a 6 mile run…add 6. #typeAathlete

  5. Core Strength & Cross Training. During this training cycle I was able to get in 2 reformer Pilates sessions nearly every week and at times, yoga as well. I wasn’t perfect and some weeks there was less and some there was more, but I know that keeping up my strength training is one of the reasons I didn’t get injured despite all the high mileage weeks. I also know that the core strength I have maintained will help me run a stronger marathon.
  6. Practice With Race Nutrition. I didn’t change much in terms of my race nutrition this training cycle, but I did practice it quite a bit, eating my pre-race dinner, pre-race breakfast and fueling on long runs just as I will in the race. I put an alert on my Garmin to remind me to eat every 35 minutes (I’ve been known to forget to take a Gu during a race when I’m in the zone) and I left it on for the entire training cycle. Hopefully that beep is ingrained in my head and I won’t forget it!
  7. 4 Very Successful Marathon Pace Long Runs. During this training cycle I’ve done a long run on the weekend 15 miles or longer during 11 out of the 20 weeks, starting with my first 15 miler at Bird Camp in August. My first marathon pace long run was back at the end of August, when I ran 12 miles with 10 miles at MGP + 10-20 seconds. Back then, this run felt really hard (especially due to the heat). My average pace for the 10 mile portion was 8:26. Beginning in mid-October, every other week was a hard long run which contained longer and longer portions close to goal pace, starting with 18 miles with 14 @ MGP +10-20 seconds and ending with 18 miles with all 18 at MGP + 10-20 seconds. I nailed all three of these workouts, exceeding my expectations and ultimately deciding my marathon goal pace was now an 8 minute/mile.

    8:20 average on tired legs.

    8:20 average on tired legs.

  8. Confidence. My training was very different this time than it was for the last two marathons, but one difference is the most important and that is my confidence. Leading up to Phoenix, I was so worried. I felt like I was already rushing into another BQ attempt due to the fact that I had to move my goal race up from May to early March because of a conflict and then after spraining my ankle and missing several weeks of key workouts, my confidence really plummeted. I tried my best to use visualization and positive thinking to tell myself that I could achieve my goal, but I’m not sure I ever believed it. I felt ill-prepared. This training cycle has been completely different – I feel ready. I am confident in my training and instead of forcing myself to imagine myself achieving my goal like I did before Phoenix, the thoughts of achieving it come naturally.

So there it is. I can’t say that my training didn’t prepare me for a successful race at CIM because it did. I’m ready to race and there are no excuses. It’s time to fly.

What do you think is the most important aspect of preparing for a race? Do you have a good story about feeling crappy during the taper and achieving your goal? 

CIM Marathon Training – Week 14 – The Final Push

Last week was both a peak week and the beginning of the taper. It was the beginning of the taper since I reduced my mileage by 20% from my peak mileage, but it was peak because it contained 3 hard workouts, all of which made me feel even more prepared to crush this marathon in two weeks.

Monday: 

Rest Day. I was exhausted from the 5k Saturday followed by the 22 miler on Sunday so this was much needed.

Tuesday: 

Lunch: Pilates

PM: 3 miles easy. I almost skipped this run, which was supposed to be 5 miles. This seems to be a common theme when I leave it for after work. But, I knew that my Wednesday tempo workout would feel WAY better if I shook some of the tightness out with an easy run. I was definitely glad I did!

Wednesday: 

AM: Threshold Run. 2 mile warm-up, 2 x 15 min @ half marathon pace, 3 min recovery between, 2 mile cool-down . This was another confidence booster! This has been a regular workout for me going back to the Spring when I was training for RnR SD and I’m happy to say it was the fastest average pace I’ve held for the 15 min segments! (7:29, 7:27). In fact, I looked up my data from the same workout in September and on average my paces were 12 sec/mile faster for the 30 min tempo! I love seeing progress, but it’s especially great to see it in the middle of such high volume training.

Thursday: 

AM: 6 miles easy with Asia! My first run with Asia since she got married. It was so nice to catch up. She and Jeremy ran the RnR Las Vegas the Sunday before without much (any) training so she was still sore so I was thankful she joined me!

Friday: 

IMG_5563

10 miles with 8 @ MGP. Thursday night was my monthly girls dinner party with my college friends and this was our big Thanksgiving dinner. Our meal was amazing but I ended up sleeping poorly and feeling bloated all night after eating such heavy food. I also knew rain and wind was in the forecast so when I got in bed past 10 with a 5:30 AM wake-up call, I had low expectations for how this run would go. When I woke up, I could hear the rain, but Mike and I got up anyway. It was lightly raining and the temperature was in the high 50s but since it wasn’t pouring, we ran. I wore a tank top and capris to try to simulate SOME sort of cold that I’ll be experiencing at CIM and found that after just a few minutes of running I was totally comfortable (if you aren’t from Southern California I know that 57 probably doesn’t even sound cold to you).

My legs actually felt pretty light which was somewhat surprising and as soon as I started the race pace portion, I knew it was going to be a good run. I finished the 8 mile portion at an average pace of 8:01 and found myself having to hold back at times. It certainly didn’t feel super easy, but it felt comfortably uncomfortable. During a lot of the run I grew increasingly excited for CIM – I’m ready for this race and actually very much so looking forward to it, pain and all.

I smiled as I ran down my street and saw the rainbow for the first time. Everything is falling into place!

IMG_5567

Saturday: 

Saturday was a LAZY day! Mike and I got 9.5 hours of sleep, took a walk and lazed around, then got BACK into bed, slept another 2 hours, and then got up and go in a short 3 mile easy run plus 10 minutes of yoga. I was planning to rest but I wanted to shake out my legs before my long run and again, I was glad I did.

Sunday: 

8:20 average on tired legs.

8:20 average on tired legs.

18 miles (plus 0.8 mile warm-up) @ MGP + 20 seconds. The goal for this run was to simulate race day. Unfortunately, we kind of messed it up by attending another Thanksgiving potluck dinner the night before, so we didn’t get to eat our pre-race meal. Given that we’ve had it enough at this point, I think we’re ok. We did, however, wake up early, eat our pre-race breakfast and even go get coffee because even though we’re not drinking it now, we do plan to drink a little bit on race day (probably half a cup). We also did a short warm-up, which wasn’t in the training plan. We did dynamic stretches and nearly a mile warm-up (I’ll probably do about a 1/2 mile warm-up on race day). We even sang part of the national anthem!

As soon as this run started, my legs were tired (are you surprised!?). I thought it would wear off, but it really never did. The plan was marathon goal pace + 20-30 seconds and my personal goal was to negative split the run. I wanted to start out at 8:30-40 and ease down and finish with my fastest miles last. That’s exactly what I did, although I never really felt amazing,with the end in sight I was able to get in two fast final miles: 7:58 and 7:50, for a total overall average for 18 miles of 8:20 pace. This was quite the confidence booster and I proved to myself that I can run on tired legs.

It’s taper time now and I’m taking it VERY seriously. I’ve been very hard on my body the last 5 weeks especially, running over 215 miles in that time with plenty of speed work and race pace efforts. It’s time to relax. My plan had 2 hard workouts this week plus 1 next week and I’m completely throwing one of them out, and I’m reducing the length of both of the others. I’ll still have some intensity, but there is no need to get crazy. It’s time to rest and prepare. The work has been done. Time to let it sink in.

Weekly Totals: 

  • Totals Miles Run: ~49
  • Total Strength/Stretching: 1 hour
  • Total Time: ~7 hours

What is your favorite part of the taper?

Huge Beachbody Sale – 50% off P90X & More

I don’t write about P90X or Beachbody on this blog anymore, but I still am a Beachbody Coach and I truly believe in the effectiveness of the programs (my P90X results here)!

The holidays are approaching and in honor of that, Beachbody is putting on an amazing sale starting tomorrow, November 25th and ending December 2nd. Products are first come, first served and they could sell out! They are selling everything from P90X and other workout programs like Turbo Fire, to equipment like medicine balls, bar bells and jump mats.

If you’ve been thinking about trying a program and have been on the fence, now is the perfect time to try it out – you won’t find this price anywhere else! The prices are so cheap, you can get yourself and a family member or friend a program for the price of one.

Some of the great deals:

  • Orignal P90X: 58% off , total price $49.95
  • P90X2:  58% off, total price $49.95
  • Les Mils Pump: 60% off, total price $66.95
  • Stability Ball + Medicine Ball Combo Pack:  70% off, total price $29.95
  • TurboFire : 50% off, total price $39.95

Use this link to shop:  https://www.TeamBeachbody.com/Shop/HolidaySpecials?referringRepId=98354

If you want me to be your Beachbody Coach, please use rep ID 98354 when checking out. Please do not hesitate to email me with any questions!

fitnessfatale@beachbodycoach.com

The 5 Most Important Training Runs This Season

This has been a very successful training season. With this last week behind me, I’m 2 weeks out from CIM. My “official training” has been in full swing for 14 weeks now, but I also had a 6 weeks “pre-season” which wrapped up right after Oiselle Bird Camp, so technically it’s been 20 weeks. In those 20 weeks, I’ve had to make a couple of modifications due to vacations or weddings, but all in all, I followed my training plan, didn’t miss a single long run (even if I had to do it on a weekday), and hit the large majority of my training pace goals. It has been truly an amazing training cycle and I’m looking forward to what all this hard work gets me on race day.

Today, during one of the runs I that I’ll talk about later in this post, I had an idea to write a blog post about which of alllll those training runs were the most important to me, and why. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that I chose to coach myself for this race using Brad Hudson’s “Run Faster” book, which emphasizes a few key principles, one of which is that all training plans should be specific to the individual and always changing based on how the runner is adapting. I didn’t simply pull out a training plan and follow it to a T. Instead, I used one of the suggested training plans in the back of the book and modified it to my own needs. For one, I reduced the weekly mileage (my plan was supposed to peak at 65 miles and I peaked at 57), and I often ran 5 days instead of 6 (although I did run 6 a few times, which was a first for me). Instead of the short hill sprints he prescribes for strength work, I added in 1-3 days of my own strength training in the form of Pilates or yoga.

Training myself for this marathon has been interesting – I’ve now learned what I mentally need to accomplish to feel prepared for race day (at least at this point – I’m sure that’ll change). Many of the top 5 training runs have more to do with the mental fitness I gained than the physical. Anyway, enough rambling, let’s get to the list.

1) Long Beach Half Marathon (Week 8)

Running Long Beach

Running Long Beach

I went into the Long Beach Half Marathon with relatively low expectations and came out with a low performance. I didn’t commit to a plan or a goal and I didn’t put in the effort during the race to execute or achieve anything in particular. My time was not great but still decent, but in the end, I wasn’t disappointed in my finish time, I was more disappointed in my mental state.  The good news is, although I am not happy with how I handled the race, it was a great learning race.

Lesson Learned: I have to commit to a goal in a race to be motivated. 

2) Fit Foodie 5k (Week 13)

Fit Foodie 5K

Fit Foodie 5K

Similar to Long Beach, I went into this race not knowing what I was capable of. I did decide in advance, however, that I would try my best at this race. Rather than a time goal, I had an effort goal. The effort was “pedal to the metal” effort and despite this race occurring at the end of my 4th consecutive 50+ mile week, I PRed by over 50 seconds.

Lesson Learned: I’ve got more speed in these legs than I thought.

3) Final hard long run: 18 miles @ MPG + 20-30 seconds (Week 14)

8:20 average on tired legs.

8:20 average on tired legs.

Today I had my final hard long run of the training season. There have been 4 of these runs, but this was the first where the ENTIRE run was near goal pace, not just a large portion with a warm-up and cool-down. Mentally, that’s tougher to swallow. Going into this run, I was actually not nervous about it because I’d had so much success in the past two hard long runs. I actually expected it to be fairly easy since the pace would be slower than the previous effort.

However, as soon as I started the run, my legs were heavy. I told myself it would wear off, but it really never did. It definitely got a little easier, but the entire 18 miles was tough. I had to continue to coach myself mentally and focus to maintain the pace. I had a goal to negative split this run and I executed the plan perfectly, negative splitting the run (8:25 for first half, 8:15 average for the second half with the final 2 miles 7:57 and 7:50), despite those heavy legs.

Lesson Learned: Even if my legs are VERY tired at mile 8 of the marathon, I can still run 18 miles fast and achieve my goal. 

4) 8 x 3 Minute Hill repeats at Torrey Pines with Brooke (Week 4

Torrey Pines with Brooke and Mike!

Torrey Pines with Brooke and Mike!

I went to Torrey Pines with Brooke, Mike and Amy and Brooke stayed with me for the 8 hill repeats. Torrey Pines is very steep so each segment was just as taxing on my legs as my lungs. The first couple I ran well, but I stated to fade during the middle repeats. My mind would wander and I just wasn’t focusing on the goal.

Brooke could sense that I was fading and started to encourage me to pick up the pace. Since the repeats were based on time, not distance, as we neared the top of the hill, she would tell me that I could make it to the stop sign (which I had yet to make it to). Motivated by her suggestion, I pushed it harder than I thought I could and reached the stop sign for the final two repeats. I definitely worked harder than I would have on my own in this workout, and it was thanks to Brooke.

Lesson Learned: When my legs are very heavy at the end of the race, find a person to catch or a landmark to run to (and think of Brooke!). 

5) 20 miles with 15 miles @ MPG + 10 sec/mile (Week 12)

Celebrating the best 20 miler of my life with an ocean ice bath.

Celebrating the best 20 miler of my life with an ocean ice bath (and showing off awesome shorts tan lines)

This was by far the most confidence-boosting run of the entire training season. I ended up feeling absolutely amazing during the 15 mile segment and rather than running it at 10 sec/mile slower than goal pace (which for me, I made a range of 8:10-8:20), I ran the 15 miles at 8:05 average. I had to hold myself back from running even faster because I felt so good. Even the final cool-down miles were quicker than usual. This was also one of long runs that I mapped out my strategy in advance and broke it down into smaller segments, which really helped me keep my focus during the middle miles.

Lesson Learned: 20 miles can actually feel easy (2nd lesson – I am ready for this race!!!), especially if you break it up into smaller, more manageable segments. 

What was the best training run you’ve had recently? What did you learn from it? 

Specific Endurance – Why Running at Race Pace Matters

One of the big reasons why I chose Brad Hudson’s Book “Run Faster (From the 5K to the Marathon – How to Be Your Own Best Coach)” for my training plan for both the San Diego RnR Half Marathon (PR city!) and the upcoming California International Marathon was because of his emphasis on race pace training. After two unsuccessful attempts at qualifying for Boston,  one thing I felt that was missing from my training was feeling comfortable running the 8:12 min/mile that I needed to run for 26.2 miles in order to achieve my goal. I was comfortable running intervals, hills and tempo miles, but I lacked the confidence that I could truly sustain race pace on race day.

I ran A LOT of miles at 7:38 before I ran a half marathon at 7:38

I ran A LOT of miles at 7:39 before I ran a half marathon at 7:39

As I’ve explained before, Brad’s training principles are summarized in 4 key “Adaptive Running Principles.” The first of these is:

The goal of training is to stimulate the precise set of physiological adaptations that are needed to achieve maximum performance in a peak race. 

Ok it’s a little vague. And a little bit of a “duh” statement. We train to achieve our goals…. but what exactly does it mean? It means that depending on your goal, you will need to achieve a certain level of aerobic fitness (ability to consume oxygen efficiently – think speed work), neuromusucal fitness (the strength of your muscles – think hill repeats) and specific fitness (endurance – the ability to hold a fast pace for a long period of time – think race pace work). In order to be successful, you need all three types of fitness – but depending on how long your race is, and how fast you want to run it, the weight of each type will vary.

For the marathon, all three types of fitness are important and are used throughout training. As you progress through training, the emphasis will shift. First, you will want to focus more on strength (hill repeats) and speed work (shorter intervals, track workouts), but as the training cycle progresses, these type of workouts will be fewer and farther between (although still included), and the focus will shift to specific endurance.

One of Brad’s adaptive training methods, as outlined in his book, is the Progression from General Training to Specific Training. The principle of specificity refers to the fact that the body adapts very specifically to the demands placed up on it in training. One side effect of this is that the running fitness of every runner is always limited by their training. For example, a runner who is VERY fit while training through the winter in Chicago who comes to San Diego for a race will suffer as their training wasn’t specific to the heat. A runner who is trained for place 1st in a 5k likely won’t win a marathon a few weeks later, although they are very fit. You can’t be good at everything (boo!). The most important lesson we can learn from the principle of specificity is that to run a race at the pace you want to run it, you will have to practice running at that pace. 

Brad cautions that although race-pace runs are pivotal to training, they cannot be incorporated too soon. If you were to incorporate race-pace training from the beginning of a 16 week cycle, you would either burn out quickly and/or plateau. You must build up non-race specific running fitness first, and then build into specific endurance workouts just 4-6 weeks before your event. Attempting a demanding race-pace workout during Week 1 of a marathon training cycle will not only be ineffective, but it’ll likely hurt your ego, rather than building confidence. When properly executed, specific endurance workouts can be incredibly beneficial not just physiologically, but psychologically.

In terms of my own training, I began the training cycle with a combination of short, fast intervals as well as medium distance runs with a portion at a “moderate” pace. Slowly, I started incorporating more tempo workouts, building up my aerobic machine. The last few weeks and for the next two, I’m focusing on specific endurance in the form of long portions of my long run at just slower than race pace (e.g., 18 mile with 14 @ marathon goal pace  + 10-20 seconds), or shorter workouts with several miles at race pace or faster (on tap for Friday – 10 miles with 8 miles @ MGP).

For me, an added bonus of marathon goal pace miles is the confidence boost I get from it. Going into the RnR half marathon, I KNEW that I could run race pace (7:38 min/miles), which often felt very hard in training runs, for at least 8 miles. Once I got a few miles into the race, I thought to myself – I feel good and I know I can sustain a harder effort than this for 8 miles, so I better try. Instead of getting worried that I was running too fast or working too hard during the race, I was confident that I could handle the pace. Now that I’ve run 20 miles with 15 miles at 8:05 pace, I have that memory to use when it gets hard during the middle miles at CIM. If I could do it in training, I can do it in a race.

Specific Endurance Workout Examples (to be completed during peak training): 

  • 5K: 5 x 1K @ goal pace with 90 second recoveries
  • 10K: 4 x 2K @ 10K pace + 1K maximal effort w/ 1 min jog recoveries
  • Half-Marathon: 4 x 3K @ half marathon pace with 90 sec jog between
  • Marathon: 10 miles easy, 10 miles @ marathon pace

Do you incorporate race-pace running into your training? Do you vary the type of key workouts as your training plan progresses or do you tend to do the same workouts week to week? 

CIM Marathon Training Week 13 – Peak Week (Sort of)

Last week was peak week in terms of long run mileage, but this current week is also a very important (and tough!) week, so I hesitate to say that the hay is in the barn….because it’s not! I’m reducing mileage this week but I still have some key workouts to get in.

That being said, this past week went well! I started out a bit tired from the previous week’s faster 20 miler ever, and ended on a high note with a 5k PR.

Monday: 

Rest Day. Kickball was canceled because our opposing team didn’t have enough players (automatic win!). After work Mike and I went for a walk but that’s about it!

Tuesday: 

AM: 7 easy miles with Mike. Nothing special, just some slow miles with my running buddy husband.

Lunch: Pilates Level 2. This was only my second time with this teacher and she was great! A lot of new moves that I hadn’t done before and I was quite sore the next day.

Wednesday: 

AM: 9 miles with final 6 progressing from MGP + 20 sec to MGP. This run didn’t go well. I wasn’t upset, because this training cycle has been FULL of GREAT workouts and very few bad ones. It wasn’t terrible,it just wasn’t great. My legs were tired/sore from the previous weekend’s hard effort plus Pilates the day before and it was early. I ran 3 miles easy and immediately could tell my legs were not going to cooperate. As soon as I turned around at the 4.5 mile mark, I was greeted with a really strong headwind. I ran the remaining 4.5 miles into a headwind, with a net incline. There were some tough moments! I couldn’t for the life of me get my legs to move faster. I wanted to hit close to an 8 min /mile for the final miles and I couldn’t until the final mile when I was more protected from the wind. My legs started to wake up and somehow I got out a 7:53 mile, although it seemed like the same effort as the 8:36 mile I had done. Overall I averaged 8:19 on the 6 miles and my splits were:  8:28 (net incline), 8:22, 8:15 (net decline), 8:36 (net incline), 8:23, 7:53.

PM: After work I tried the new Club Pilates “Arm and Abs” class. I liked it! Although there was definitely still some legs – including quite a long bridge portion which I had to rest a few times during because my legs were tired!

Thursday:

Rest day. I was planning to do 5 miles easy but wanted to sleep in. After work, I was too tired and hungry to go out and run in the dark alone. Overall, I think it was a good call. Those miles were junk miles.

Friday: 

AM: 10 miles Zone 1-Zone 2. My legs were back to feeling refreshed for this run! I ran a really easy to moderate pace on this run and felt like I could run forever. I felt great and my legs felt fresh. It’s crazy how easy 10 miles runs have become.

Lunch: Club Pilates FIT Level 2 class. Again, this is mostly traditional pilates but with a little more intervals to get the heart rate up. The hardest move was a segment where we did a blank on the bosu ball, jumped our legs up to it, lifted it over our head, jumped back down into a plank and repeated. Then we’d do a long series of mountain climbers while planking on the bosu and then repeat the sequence again. Sweaty!

Saturday: 

Fit Foodie 5k! I treated this as a tempo run but it ended up being a really successful one as I pulled out a nearly 50 second PR! Total of 6.5 miles including warm-up, cool-down and race. Race report here.

Fellow San Diego Blogger Kate & Me at the Fit Foodie 5k

Fellow San Diego Blogger Kate & Me at the Fit Foodie 5k

Sunday:

22 mile long run. This run was a bit rough. I told myself I wouldn’t do 22 (my plan actually called for 23 which is what Mike did) if my legs felt too tired from the 5k,  but when I started the run, my legs actually felt pretty good all things considered. Mike and I ran together for the first 4.5 miles or so and then he went ahead. We ended up meeting up a few other times on the route because he stopped for water more often than I did, but I ran the large majority of the run alone. The time went surprisingly fast but it was HOT. Somehow, San Diego pulled out a 76 degree, sunny day in mid-November. The goal of this run was endurance, not pace, so I kept it easy (mostly low 9s). Toward the end, my legs were really tired and I started to shuffle a bit but I made it to the end.

Ready to Run 22 Miles

Ready to run 22 miles in the heat

DONE!

DONE!

The highlight of Sunday was tracking my friend Brooke as she dominated her first Ironman! She finished 5th in her age group (25-29) with a time of 11:25:49. Brooke jokes and calls me her coach and my one regret as her coach was telling her to change her clothes in transition! She was so close to 3rd place and  her transition times could have made up that difference. But to Brooke, none of that matters – she had a great day and is so proud of how it turned out. I’m so happy for her!

Brooke is a machine!

Brooke is a machine!

Weekly Totals:

  • Miles Run: 54.5
  • Stretch/Strengthening: 2.5 hours
  • Total Time: ~11 hours

Do you usually start the taper 3 weeks or 2 weeks out?