Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Mountains To Beach Marathon Race Recap

Leading up to Sunday's Mountains To Beach Marathon I had a pretty unbelievable (for me) training cycle. Coming off of CIM in early December, I felt fresh, rested and ready to get back to work in January with a new training block and dreams on the horizon. My body was used to the rigors of training as this was my fourth marathon training cycle (10th overall marathon) in the last two years. I've been lucky that each marathon has provided a personal record (PR) and that is not something to be taken lightly. My body has been strong and adaptable to the slow ramp up of increased miles and harder workouts. During this particular build up for M2B, I tested myself quite a bit (double runs twice a week. Yep. I can do that. 70+ miles almost every week topping out at 80. Bring it. I'm happy to make it work), and yet it was very seamless and overall an enjoyable experience - which if you aren't feeling that way, something needs to change.
As I stepped onto the starting line, I felt confident in our race plan and calm that I would execute and achieve what I was capable of and trained to do.





The plan was simple, start conservative. The first three miles of the course were a net uphill and there was no need to rush things. I literally ran into Ashley and started chatting with her, which really relaxed me even more and was a great way to start a marathon. Got to mile three cool as a cucumber and we all breathed a sigh of relief at the turn around (and I hear - "Hey Nat!" and see the other Natalie and shout back my hello) and the lovely gentle downhill we would encounter for a bit. The 3:05 pace group was well in front of me and I knew going into the race that I wouldn't begin with the group because it would take me away from the plan of a very conservative start (first 3 miles were 7:19, 7:27, 7:16. Coach said to keep it between 7:10 and 7:20, so I was good, a little slow on mile 2, but I knew that would come together later). I needed to trust the process that I would eventually catch up to that group.
The miles flew by and I was running with a group of guys that I knew were on a mission (no words were exchanged, but we all knew) to catch the 3:05 group as well (my overall goal time for this race was 3:02 - 3:05), so we all worked together. Finally, I could see the white sign ahead that I knew was the correct group - although there was a moment that I thought - what if it's the 3:10 pace group instead?
The beauty of this race was, I felt so relaxed in the miles, happy as the majesty of the mountains passed us by, the rolling hills taking us closer to the ocean. I felt so calm, that I knew 3:10 and beyond was behind us and our only job was to keep moving forward.





I didn't check my watch very much, just a peek at each mile to make sure I was staying on the pace coach laid out for me (6:55-7:05) and each mile clicked by with ease. Jerold and the kids caught me probably about mile 7 or 8 - so loved seeing them - and the next thing I know, we've hit the half way timing mat and there it is: "half down, half to go." Crossed the half in 1:32 and away we go for the next chapter of the saga that is every marathon.
At this point, I was within reaching distance of the 3:05 group and I said to myself: "You see them, now make contact. Get in the group." And that's what I did. The guys were welcoming and kind. I chatted for a few seconds with one guy (by the way, I never chat during a marathon - was this happening? Was I really chatting with someone at mile 15 of a marathon? I worked for the fitness that this moment afforded. I felt proud. Miles 13-17: 6:43, 6:52, 7:13, 6:56, 7:06) and then all was silent as each runner kept gliding along the road, less and less focused on the mountain views and inching toward mile 20 when the race truly begins.



Mile 20


Jerold and the kids were all cheers at mile 20. I remember pulling out the sleeve of chews from my back zipper - needing something at that point other than GU, and feeling ready to tackle the challenge I had in front of me - get through this 10K and don't blow it.
I remember the heat rising a bit, the sun irritating just enough, but nothing I couldn't handle. I've ran in plenty of hot marathons and this was no big deal at mile 21, although I could feel my body pulsing. I could visibly see that I was losing my grip on the 3:05 group - in fact, they were now gone. Gone? No. How can they be gone. I remember hearing a guy on the side of the road look at me and yell "catch up to the group!" I swear, it had to be God himself on that road, telling me to not lose contact. Well, now they were gone, but I was far from defeated. You see, I've done this enough times to know, even if you see them go around the corner (I did), they still aren't far from you. Probably at this point - one minute ahead of me.
Just keep pushing.
Then mile 22 comes and mantras are reeling in my head - I will not give up. I start to recall everything I read in Deena's book. I see the words on the page. Fight for it.
I see a man on the side of the road convulsing in the heat.
I will not give up.
I see a woman literally trip and fall in front of me, shaking.
I will not give up.
I pass a man dry heaving out of control. Bent over at the side of the road.
I will not give up.
Mile 23, 24, 25 are a gradual uphill that is never ending. I'm slow. I can't see where it ends. Why is the sun in my face? Did I wear sunscreen. Yes. My mind is sharp, my body is fading, my legs are heavy, but thank God not cramping. My stomach is fine, I'm just... slow.
I see a girl with two long pretty braids - very Jordan Hasay-like, pass me by with her friend/coach/someone and he says to her "Come on. Let's GO." 
I realize he's telling her to fight for that 3:0something. COME ON. 
I desperately want to go with them. Hey. Wait for me. I want it too.
But I can't. My legs are struggling. Cursing me up that blasted hill. 
You're stronger than this. The hills outside of your house makes this look like child's play and you run them practically every day.
I go into salvage mode. This can't last forever, it will end soon, make the turn and book it to the finish. COME ON.
We make the turn.
Two girls pass me by. Desperate to claim their time. Puffed with determination.
I trail behind them. I need to fight harder. Get angry.
I just want to finish.
I'm not sure if I want to do this ever again, I think to myself.
Don't say that.
Just start sprinting.
How long is this straighway anyway?
Expect success. That's what coach says.
I am strong. How much time have I lost. DOG GONE IT.
Oh, I see it. I see the finish.
Just like that, I start running with what I have left. Wait. I'm strong. I do have it.
RUN.
I hear Jerold frantically yelling, his face contorted, like the sports fanatic that he is in these moments especially.
GO NAT!!!!!!
I had no idea how close I was to 3:10 - I saw him and waved my hands and he's yelling at me. GOOOO.





3:11:00.

They drape the medal around my neck.

I'm not in pain.

I can't wait to come back.

This is freaking awesome.

Wait. This kinda sucks that I gave that time away, although I knew I couldn't help it. I need to get stronger. Go back to the drawing board. 

But right now. At this moment.

No. This doesn't suck.

I worked my butt off. The time on the clock today doesn't define me. I will joyfully take these miles, training and experience with me and it will carry me through the next and beyond. I'm stubborn. I'm grateful. I'm proud.

But right now. At this moment.

This is awesome.




Thank you to my family for everything. I love you infinity.

Thanks so much to Brooks Running for keeping me in an endless stream of running shoes, clothes and gear. I could not do all the training without shoes to keep me going (I'm wearing the Launch 5 for the race and train in the Ghost) It means so much to me to have their support.
Thank you to Lululemon (Santa Monica - the best store) for the sweet race outfit (energy bra and speed up shorts), complete with a tank and warm, beautiful jacket to wear afterwards. You guys are always so good to me.
Thank you to the lovely Kristine for providing me with awesome sunscreen that has protected me through hundreds and hundreds of miles.
To Jaybird Sport - who always has my back when it comes to music. Thank you for the earbuds that keep me pumped during training.
To Roka Sports - your sunglasses are amazing and I could not train in So Cal. weather without them. Thank you.
Garmin - your watch never fails. It's permanently attached to me. I love it.

More details to come on the clothes, gear, fuel, next steps/goals and all the little things that I'm probably missing now.





A HUGE thank you to my coach, for always believing in me.


Never Stop Dreaming.

xo,
Natalie



















Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Expect Success

** Note: I wrote this on Monday evening, decided to go to bed instead of editing + publishing and now it's Wednesday.

It's 8:30 PM and I just put Josh to bed after we spent a good 45 minutes working on four thesis statements along with fractions and research for his state report. I feel like I just kissed and hugged a college student instead of a fifth grader (I don't remember having this much work in fifth grade?). I'm proud that he is always willing to work hard even in the midst of me deconstructing his thesis statements and discussing how he could make them stronger...better.
He is learning a lot about life these days - how even though he is working really hard in a lot of areas of his life, he isn't coming out the "winner". I mean, to Jerold and I he is definitely always a winner, but he isn't the best on the basketball team despite his daily practice in the driveway and there are other things lately that he has worked for and didn't get the result he wanted. 
I think it's really good that things aren't coming easy to him despite his hard efforts. He is getting the hard knocks of life (on a young boy's scale) that you've got to work harder and smarter to achieve what you want and sometimes that means going back again and again until it happens. 




Expect Success.

These are the two words that my coach wrote in my training log this past week and out of every single thing that has happened in this crazy week, these words are burned in my mind. I hate the doubt that creeps into my mind at times that suggests I won't achieve what I want in this sport. Most days I shove it away with a vengence, but there are days where I let the whispers crowd into my space: "What if you do all the work and you don't perform well?" What if you make rookie mistakes like you did in December?" What if, what if, what if.
I don't mean to go all heavy on you guys on a Monday Wednesday evening, but you know you've been there - whether in running or anything else you set out to achieve in your life. 
I think the best thing to do is to hold your head high, tell those thoughts to take a hike and keep telling yourself:

Expect Success.

At this point, I know I'm putting in the work, the effort and dedication. I know how much I love running and the joy, peace, clarity and sense of accomplishment it brings to my life. I know that I'll keep going back to the well, keep striving for my own sense of greatness no matter how long it takes.

Expect Success.

Alright, here is a glimpse into my training from last week:


Monday March 19th: 
Easy 5 miles. 
I love these Monday morning easy runs. Sundays are my long run days and Mondays are for complete chill mode.

Tuesday March 20th: 
8.1 miles am - 3 miles pm
I'm in double day mode a couple of times a week and my body is handling it well thus far.
8 miles outside and then a quick and easy 3 miles on the treadmill in the late afternoon. I'd love to do this outside as well, but the kids are home by then and I have do what works.





Wednesday March 21st: 
10 total miles broken up like - 
2 mile w/up, 8 x 800 meter (ranging from 3:08 at the start to 3:03 the last two - it took a bit to warm up to the faster pace) repeats with 400 meter jog, 2 mile cool down.

Thursday March 2nd: 
8 miles

Friday March 23rd: 
10.74 miles am  - 3 miles pm
This am workout was 8 miles and then two at a faster pace. The two at faster pace was tough to pull off and I was running into a wicked head wind on tired legs, but I ran as fast as I could. 

Saturday March 24th: 
8.1 miles

Sunday March 25th: 
20 miles (at 7:40 average pace)
I haven't run a twenty miler since CIM training in the fall and it felt good to have this under my belt. Coach wanted me to keep this conservative and I was happy to do that. I do enough quality work during the week that every long run doesn't have to be at a fast pace, plus it is easy for me to recover and get ready for a new week. The key is to spend time on your feet, not race your long run and then not be able to hit your paces in key workouts later. Note: some weeks we have some fast paces woven into the long run.


Total miles: 75.94

I mentioned this on Instagram, but I peaked at 70 miles in the fall for CIM and now I'm running 70+ miles every week. It's been a slow progression to get to this point I'm doing all the things to keep my body happy. More details on this soon.





Do Awesome Things.

xo,
Natalie

Sunday, February 11, 2018

60 Miles + I Wasn't Feeling It Till Saturday

You know those weeks that seem absolutely endless? Yeah, I had one of those and I felt pretty out of it the whole week. Moving by auto pilot each day, going through the motions - having many days where I had zero desire to run. What? Yes. I had many days where I didn't want to run AT ALL and it was incredibly difficult to force myself out the door. By Thursday, I started to question if maybe I was coming down with the flu? No. That wasn't it... I think weeks like these are normal and okay. If we felt great every single day on every single run - well, I guess we would be super human.
My speed workout (which is usually on Wednesday), was moved to Thursday since I had the race last Sunday. I ended up moving it to Friday, becuase Thursday was crazy, crazy and I also didn't feel like I had much energy to run fast on Thursday.
Finally, I knew I had to try to get this done on Friday and the first rep felt like death. I mean, I was so depleted after the first 600 meter (I had 10 to do) that I really doubted that I could finish. I was like, "I'm done". Then you talk yourself into doing just one more and then by number four it feels better and by number eight I knew I could finish.
Sleep. I know I talk about sleep a lot, but as athletes, sleep is critical to the healing/recovery process. I've been making it my job to go to bed every night for eight plus hours. It's become a game - how fast can I make it to bed. What? I have to finish this task? Nope. I've got to go to bed. Only seven hours and fifty seven minutes? Shoot! The thing is, you have to take it seriously, because the alarm clock doesn't care - it goes off at the SAME TIME every morning and it has zero mercy. Ugh.



Every day is a new day toward your goals. #justrun


I'm happy with my sleep this week and I'm proud of myself for staying strong through a less than stellar week of feeling good about running. Finally, on Saturday morning I bounded  cautiously lifted myself out of bed and felt excited about running. Sure enough it was a great eight mile day and then fifteen on Sunday felt like nothing was ever wrong. (insert sigh of relief).
Although I'm not "marathon specific training" right now, I am building a critical base that is important to the overall health of this training cycle. I can't begin to tell you how pumped I am about it and my journey toward big goals. On the bad days, you shake your head and wonder: "How am I going to run x pace for 26.2 miles?" Other days, you confidently feel that it is going to happen if you put in the work, pace well and BELIEVE.


Josh took this. #proudmom



Let's make this post short, sweet and down to business, shall we?


Monday Feb 5th - 4 easy miles (post race)

Tuesday Feb. 6th - 8 miles

Wednesday Feb. 7th - 8 miles

Thursday Feb. 8th - 8 miles

Friday Feb. 9th - 2 mile w/up, 10 x 600s (at 6:00-6:10 pace. I did the first half at 6:10 and second half going down toward 6:00 - last three were in 6 min. range), 1:30 jog in betweem, 2 mile c/d = 9 miles

I used the Energy Gummi Bears for this workout!
Also, the protein Cake Bites taste like heaven.


Saturday Feb 10th - 8 miles

Sunday Feb. 11th - 15 miles


Long run felt fantastic in new shoes! Brooks Ghost 10 #runhappy


Finally a run where I felt good this week.


Post run with this sweet 7 year old girl - love her so. #Megan


Total Miles: 60


Onward to a new week and I'm feeling great about it + Valentine's Day + almost mid Feb?


How do you deal with running when you aren't feeling up to it (but not sick)?

Which spring races are you training for?



Do Awesome things.

xo,
Natalie

Friday, February 9, 2018

Redondo Beach Super Bowl 10K Race Recap

One of my goals for 2018 is to race more often, treat a race environment like second nature and to work on speed. I was happy to start the new season with a 10k race as a starting point on what to work on and access where I am right now.
This race also coincided with Elle's 5th birthday celebrations and to be honest (which, why do we say that? I'm always honest with you :) about a week before the race, I thought seriously about pulling out, because I didn't want to feel over loaded. I went back and forth and decided I could do ALL the things and I really want to race in early February, blah, blah. Ultimately, by the time I got to the starting line I was exhausted. I tried to block it out of my mind when the gun went off, but my body was listening at all. Although I very much wanted this race, it just wasn't my day. The hectic pace of the week, including Elle's actual birthday the Tuesday before (which included school and home celebrations) along with her very first birthday party with friends (the last four birthdays have been family only) on the day of the 10k was pulling myself emotionally and physically in too many directions.


You can't do ALL the things and race well.



Jerold and I decided to take the kids with us to the race as it was going to be a gorgeous day and we thought they would have fun hanging with Dad while I raced.
They dropped me off quickly near the start, so I could begin my warm up and stretch routine while they parked the car. I felt pretty good on the warm up and ultimately would have liked to arrive even earlier to get to the front of the pack with ease as it was a pretty nice sized race.
From the moment the gun went off, I knew my body felt off.  I didn't think about it too much, I just focused on running according the plan coach had outlined. After the first mile, there wasn't much zip in my legs and I tried to run as fast as my body would let me.

Splits:

7:10, 7:06, 7:02, 6:51, 7:16, 7:15 = 44:41

Let's talk about the good things here for a moment. The good thing is I'm working hard on pacing and the first four miles were a good progression down. I didn't start the race too fast and I was happy about that. 


I HAD to find something good about my race :)


The not so good things were I was aiming to run 6:30s and go DOWN from there (nope) and also what happened to mile 5 and 6? (yikes - I could tell I was toast, couldn't even sprint in at the end which I always do).

These splits look more like marathon splits than 10k, but with each race you learn so much. I learned that you can't schedule 5,000 things over the course of a week and expect to race at your very best. I slept well that week, but I think the craziness of party planning, Mom life and some unexpected stresses during the week was too much for this runner girl :)

Other great things about this race:

1. Well organized. I had to pick up my bib early that morning and I was able to get it in like two minutes - no joke.

2. Fun race atmosphere! They had such great music, an enthusastic announcer and lots of fun booths to explore after the race.




3. The volunteers were super friendly and everyone was in a great mood with getting their sweat on in the am and then preparing for the big game later that day!

4. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. The weather was fantastic and living in So Cal never, ever gets old (especially in February).




5. The t-shirt and medal were very cool.





6. Good, enjoyable course - flat with a few rolling hills.


I ran a two mile cool down and then we jumped back in the car to hurry home and get dressed and ready for the all the little people that were coming to my house later that day. Here's the thing - with being a Mom and an athlete, I have to juggle a lot of balls and hope nothing comes crashing down. In this case the race came crashing down, but to see Elle's eyes light up with joy at her big birthday party.... well, that's all that mattered on this day.


Bunnies and a bouncy house to celebrate 5!


I care about the time on the clock, but they don't :)


I would highly recommend the Redondo Beach Super Bowl 10k as a fun way to kick off Super Bowl Sunday, a well organized race in a beautiful seaside setting.

I'm in the middle of a 60 (I think it'll be 60) mile week, so off to hydrate, run and be the best Mom I can to three awesome kids.


How do you deal with bad races?

Ever raced during a hectic, super busy week?


Do Awesome Things.

xo,
Natalie










Friday, February 2, 2018

Roka (Rio) Sunglasses Review

I've been psyched to write this review - it's fun talking about products that get me fired up AND I get to share it all with you guys. The fact is, sunglasses that I can run and work out in are like GOLD to me. Living in a year round sunny climate, I pretty much sleep in sunglasses. Most importantly, for the overall health of my eyes, its so important to have the right pair.




When I started on the hunt for a new pair of shades, I knew they had have the following criteria:

1. Stylish. 
I mean, right? They have to protect your eyes like nobody's business, but if they look bad on your face, then that's a deal breaker. Also, they have to be timeless - like you want to look back in 10 years and still think they look good.

2. Functionality
I needed a pair of sunglasses that were going to stay put during a twenty mile run or one mile repeats and everything in between. Who has time to constantly fiddle with glasses when you are focused on running? I wanted to put them on and forget about them - like they weren't even there....

3. Lightweight
...which brings me to the next point - lightweight. I wanted something that would feel light as air on my face.

4. Polarized lenses
Polarized lenses are important to me - they have better protection for your eyes...

Check out this article from VSP:




5. Versatile
I was looking for sunglasses that I could easily wear on a run or go out for dinner. Wear them with jeans, a dress or active wear. I didn't want to have to worry about having five different pair of glasses.






The Roka Rio fit all of my needs and so much more. These glasses are in three words: total. bad. ass. Roka has an awesome selection of sunglasses that are crafted and made for athletes, and yet anyone can wear them and look great. The company understands that athletes work hard at their sport and they want to look good too. The Rio is a classic aviator style, and from the moment you slide them on your face, you're in heaven.






Not only do they feel smooth as silk and light as a feather (the glasses weigh only 18 grams) all at the same time, they are handcrafted in Japan and made with titanium. They of course have polarized lenses and sturdy nose grips which don't allow the glasses to move AT ALL on your face. I've worn these beauties on over twenty mile runs, tempo workouts, hill repeats, trail runs and more during marathon training and they fit like a dream.



Excellent quality - these glasses were made for working hard and looking beautiful at the same time.



I also love the luxurious case that they provide for your glasses. After years of putting my sunglasses any and everywhere, this case is so pretty that I can't wait to put them away after every use.






Roka provides sunglasses to some of the best athletes in the world, and they only launched in 2013 - amazing things this company has done in a short amount of time.







Let's talk about cost for a moment. The Rio retails for $300, which I know isn't cheap - but I'm telling you, it's worth it. There are things you can skimp on, but protecting your eyes isn't one of them. After two months of testing these glasses, I feel the price is justified (note the black pair are a bit more expensive. This style also come in other colors which retail for $260).




Cheers to running and protecting our eyes!






*I was sent a pair of the Rio for review, but all opinions are my own.


Do you run in sunglasses?

What is most important to you in a pair of sunglasses?


Do Awesome Things.

Xo,
Natalie

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

57 Miles + End Of January

After CIM, I remember thinking about how tough the marathon is on our bodies. Rest and recovery is so critical to our long term success and as much as we want to jump right back into training, it's much smarter to ease our way back. It's been eight and half weeks since the marathon and I feel really good and ready to start training again. The last few weeks have been a nice transition of lots of easy runs, getting back to longer runs and a tiny bit of fast stuff.






Here's what last week looked like:

Monday January 22nd - 4 easy miles (Monday is an optional rest day or very easy miles. I wanted to shake out my legs from 13 miles the day before and a four mile trail run was just what I needed.)

Tuesday January 23rd - Seven easy miles

Wednesday January 24th - 2 mile w/up, 15 x 1:00 on (1:00 jog), 2 mile cool down. 
Incorporating some speed back into the legs. 5:25 - 5:50 pace on the these one minute repeats and I felt like my legs were ready for a bit of speed! 8 total miles

Thursday January 25th - 7 easy miles

Friday January 26th - 10 miles (easing back into double digit weekday runs)

Saturday January 27th - 7 miles




Sunday January 28th - 14 miles (at 7:40 pace). I ran this on the treadmill, but I was able to settle into it and run a good effort, not at all hard, but a good pace.

Total Miles for the week: 57

Total January Miles: 181.1

Onward to February, friends!


What are you most looking forward to in February?

How do you feel about your beginning of the year fitness?

Do Awesome Things.

xo,
Natalie


Monday, January 29, 2018

Koala Clip Review + GIVEAWAY!

The month of January usually crawls by like a snail and I find myself wondering, "Is it still January?" That is definitely not the case this month. The month has flown by so fast and how is it the last Monday in January already... 
Running has been going well and I'm excited to review a new product that I know you are going to love as much I do! It's called the Koala Clip - an amazing little pouch for your phone that allows you to clip it onto your sports bra and not worry about where to put your phone.






I don't know about you guys, but putting my phone in an arm band does NOT work well for me. I never liked the idea of having something on my arm while running. For a long time, I have placed my phone in the zipper pocket of my favorite shorts, but I've been really enjoying the Koala Clip. It allows me to attach my phone to my running bra, which leaves more room for fuel and my key in the back zipper pocket.







I have taken the Koala Clip out for many runs in the past few weeks and it really does hold up to the challenge. Trail runs on rocky terrain, long runs, tempo runs, easy runs, super sweaty, hot runs - this clip has stayed in place and I don't notice that it is there. I like that it fits in all types of running bras - the pics in this post are with a low cut (in the back) bra, so the clip sticks out a bit in the back, but it didn't bother me at all on the run. The only thing that I have to get used to is reaching my arm up to unzip and grab my phone rather than grabbing the back pocket.



I usually put my phone in the bottom zipper pocket, now I have extra room for fuel and other items. 


I felt safe putting my phone in the pouch, it's well made and had a nice layer of cushion inside.


I'm an android girl (not an iphone) and it fits great.


Good padding and zipper to keep the phone secure.



Now it's time for me to say "Guess whhhhaaat?" - and when I say that, you know it means something good! One of you lucky friends is going to get one too! I love sharing the love and Koala Clip is kindly giving one away. Head over to my Instagram to enter to win.

Whether you are running, strength training or cross training - who has time to worry about their phone? Koala Clip is a great solution to keep your phone safe and accessible.



** I was given a Koala Clip to review, but as always all opinions are my own. 


Do Awesome Things.

xo,
Natalie