Monday, August 20, 2018

I Picked A Fall Marathon + Training Update

After the Mountains To Beach Marathon 12 weeks ago, I knew that I would train for a fall race - the ultimate plan for 2018 was to run a spring and fall marathon. Mountains to Beach left me hungry (yet happy with another PR) and ready to work harder, eager to address the reasons why I fall apart the last 10k, 5k  even after I started conservatively and raced with my head instead of my heart. Maybe I need to keep chipping away, maybe I have to have more experience, maybe I need even more strength training. The answer is hanging in the air and I very much want to find the answer. 


Post 18 miles yesterday


Up until this point, choosing a marathon had been easy - let's go to Boston, I haven't done CIM yet... This time however was a little different. I wasn't completely sure what I wanted to do next. At first, I didn't worry about it - just recover well from M2B, and begin building a base again. Weeks would pass by and I still couldn't pin my finger on what I wanted. CIM was high on the list: a superb race, in my state, ideal weather, great competition and the list kept going. The first weekend in December is a tough time to be away - plus the kids really wanted to come this time and yet I knew I could make it work if I really wanted to. I booked my hotel in early June and figured the excitement would follow. It didn't (and then it did again) and yet nothing else felt exciting either. I started looking at all the options - races all over the country (not ideal - changing time zones is tough), Indy Marathon, Richmond, my friend asked me to come up to British Columbia and run one with her in early October... nothing seemed exciting and also a perfect time to get away. Soccer games, cross country meets, school events - I'm not really into missing much these days... my kids are growing at lightning speed and I want to be there for it all. I will say, I'm really glad that I kept putting in the work despite the indecisions and that my coach was patient with me. I had a great July logging just over 247 miles with several 60 mile weeks and two good races.


5k PR at the end of July. Haven't run these times since college.

I couldn't believe it until I went back to my training log and started looking at the numbers. Okay, I have a pretty good base here and June was good even with marathon recovery. August first popped onto the calendar and I knew I had to make a decision. My friend Jen said it best: "Pick a marathon and THEN the excitement will follow." Truth.


Scene from our 13 mile run near her home on Mercer Island, WA on July 1st. I wish we could run together all the time!


With that I've decided to run the Ventura Marathon on October 21st. Now that I've registered and made it real, I'm so excited about it. Ventura was the first marathon I ran in 2014 after having the last baby and it was also the place where I got my half marathon PR last fall. It's close to home, I don't have to travel or miss any events or family gatherings. It's a fast course with a great reputation and it's growing - drawing an impressive field of runners. Ventura makes me smile with it's quiet beach beauty and small town feel. I knew that I would be there either way, because I would do the half as a tune up for CIM. Done.
Now that the decision has been made, I realize that I don't have several months to think about it. I have 9 weeks until the race and I have to make every week of training count. Normally, I would really start to dial things in when the kids went back to school in a few weeks, but now I have to focus and juggle them being with me (most of the time) too. It's become really fun, cause they know the drill and now everyone wants to run with me. Josh is a good partner on the easy days (and even part of the hard ones - they came with me to the track in July and he blew through a portion of the 800 meter repeats I had to do and was great partner to push me). Elle got new running shoes and runs just over a mile like a champ (she is also the absolute cutest right now as she has lost so many teeth and has a lisp that makes my heart melt. Stay five forever please...) Megan likes it, but isn't as eager to go very far right now which of course is okay. It's whatever they want - it's their world - I'm just a loving guide helping them to navigate through it.


Every 800 repeat that Josh ran with me, I nailed my paces.


I was sick part of the week of August 6th and missed three days of running. This week I was back on track, but missed one hard workout and cut a few runs short because I still felt a lot of fatigue - my body was hanging onto the tail end of that virus and demanded I adjust accordingly. Saturday was a good run and Sunday's 18 miler finally felt back to myself again and it was a strong effort (7:22 pace) and a little faster than coach prescribed (7:30-7:50 pace- he doesn't want me racing the long runs every weekend and I get good speed with 2 other workouts during the week), but I felt like I could fly. It's a rare feeling in marathon training, so I'll take it. I finished up with 61 miles this week - time to recover well and gear up for the coming week. I'd like to race again soon and I have a half marathon to find as a tune up next month.

We always take advantage of every day in August to wrap up summer (summer's still here! Is our daily chant) and experience every ounce of golden non scheduled days. Life is far from perfect and it's messy, but I love these guys so much.



The best way to recover from an 18 mile run. Cool water felt awesome on my legs.


Enjoy every moment my friends.

Do awesome things.

xo,
Natalie

Monday, July 30, 2018

Summer Breeze 5K Race Recap

The clock sounded off with it's musical ring at 5:00 am and I could feel myself groaning inside. Granted, 5 am is pretty late compared with some of my wake up times for marathons, but still - my bed felt oh so cozy and the house was silent with the fog of children blissfully sleeping. Was I really going to place my feet on the floor and interrupt the sound of silence? I groaned again and yet I knew this is how you get better and stronger - you have to go outside of your comfort zone. I had promised myself I would race two 5ks this month and I was determined to do just that.
My clothes were laid out and I dressed quickly, grabbed a banana and water (I don't eat a lot for a 5k and I had a big dinner the evening before) and started waking everyone up. We were able to get out of the house pretty easily and arrived at the race about 6:40 am (for a 7:30 am start). Josh and I ran a warm up together - one mile for him and two for me (I also added in 4 - 15 second sprints), followed by dynamic stretches and we were ready to run. 

No pics pre race, but I love this of us post race.


This was Josh's second 5k race ever and I love the excitment he feels about running. He was pumped to go out and give it his all and he definitely did - I am so proud of him! For some reason, we got a little separated at the start of the race so he wasn't next to me...




The course was a simple out and back race with no real surprises. The weather was overcast, but a little humid - I was definitely sweating already at the start of the race. I felt warmed up and ready to run, but when the gun went off it took me a bit to feel comfortable and settle in. I played it conservative and didn't run too hard at the beginning. There was a girl in front of me and I was trying to judge how strong she was (most of these local races are filled with young men and boys at the front). I passed her after the first 800 meters and I tried to fill my mind with confidence and keep running hard. We came to the turn around pretty quickly and as I rounded the turn I could see Josh right behind me. Seeing my Josh at that moment brought two quick thoughts to my mind:

1. Well, you knew this would happen - Josh will ultimately beat you/give you a run for your money (which is so awesome!).

2. I'm going to use this as motivation to run hard and not let him catch me.

The rest of the race I knew Josh was right behind me, hunting me down and I could feel the pain of running running mile after mile at 6:2xx pace. The last mile came and I tried self talk: "You can do anything for one mile", "You are strong, you are fast" , "Pick up your feet and run harder". I know that I have a lot of work to do to get my fast twitch muscles engaged and run a 5k faster than my half marathon pace - this is the start of that journey.

19:52 for me (a PR and I finally broke 20 minutes for the first time since... college)...

Can I ever take a finish line pic without stopping my watch? #goals


20:13 for this awesome kid (over a 2 minute PR from 4th of July!) and look at the pure JOY on Josh's face! This is running my friends...


I couldn't be more proud.


Life is so sweet...






Jerold volunteered at the race directing the runners and I loved seeing him at the finish. My Mom and the girls also volunteered with giving the runners their goody bags, food and water. It so neat to have them all there! That morning really made me realize how huge running is in our family - the greatest feeling...


I didn't get a lot of pics of them (and none of sweet Megan) - this is a screenshot from video.


After the race I ran a 5 mile cool down, which gave me 10.1 solid miles for the day. Then we rushed home to get ready for church and I was really happy that we were able to do both. Once the initial shock is over, I love waking up early and accomplishing so much by noon.

Raced in the Brooks Launch 5 - makes me feel fast!


Now off to enjoy the rest of this beautiful Monday - pool time and then off to a beach where you can make a bonfire! The kids are so excited to roast s'mores on the beach and swim at sunset. 

I love summer.

Happy running friends and do awesome things.

xo,
Natalie

Friday, July 27, 2018

Happy Friday + July StrideBox

July is one of my very favorite months of the year. I get excited at the end of June, anticipating July peaches, pure summer fun, sunny days, late summer nights and so much more. It's inevitable that good things must come to an end and here we are, standing in the middle of the last Friday of July. I know August will bring so much joy, the kids don't go back to school until after Labor Day and I can turn a blind eye to the back to school sales. There's a reason why July and August each have 31 days in the month... soak it all in...





Running has been going well. Some days I feel like I'm just going through the motions of getting out the door and the first mile lately has been especially a slog. Then suddenly, it all clicks, I feel better and better each mile and I remember this is why I make the time to run each day. The kids have been immersed in summer bedtime hours (despite my effort in June not to let that happen) and by the time the giggling stops, the constant need for water and bathroom visits, they finally settle. I should be going to bed also, but then I putter around, get work accomplished and suddenly the hour is later than I would like. My goal for the rest of this beautiful summer is to sleep more!

Summer, please slow down just a tiny bit.


I am working hard toward a fall marathon, and now the question of the day is, which one? I wish I could say I have it all figured out, but I hope to have one picked out - one that I am really excited about - in short order. For now, I'm building a good base and staying very diligent in my training, which makes me a happy summer runner.

One of the highlights of each month is receiving a Stride Box package on my doorstep! I love this company and its dedication to giving runners a variety of goodies geared toward their running needs each month. I've been working with StrideBox for a while now and they never disappoint on the great variety of items they offer:




Here is what is in July's StrideBox box:

1. StrideBox water bottle
I don't know about you, but I always need a new water bottle! It seems like we never have enough and the kids lost so many this past school year, so this will come in handy.

This is an amino acid supplement that enhances hydration and muscle performance. I can't wait to try it!

Who likes stinky running clothes? This special detergent is supposed to remove oils and bacteria that cause your clothes to smell.

4. Stride Box motivational stickers
I love the stickers that comes in the Stride Box each month. They always are right on point with the best messages. I have started to collect them:




YUM. Love granola and gluten free is easy on my stomach.

In the contents of my purse or bag, you will always find lip balm. I love that this glides on easily and includes coconut oil and avocado oil.

I love Nuun and my kids fight over it like crazy. This flavor is strawberry melon which is perfect for summer.

Beet infused performance chews for improved energy and stamina. They sent a chocolate pomegranate flavor which is delicious!

Another great feature about StrideBox is that they include a handy card with a recipe on one side and a workout on the other - all from reputable experts in the field of running, fitness and nutrition.



In a sea of junk mail and bills, Stride Box is a fun treat to look forward to every month! You can go HERE to find out details on how to get your own box each month. Stride Box sends me a box each month for my honest reviews and all opinions are my own.

Another pic of Jerold and I (in a picture together taken by one of the only hikers we ran into!) climbing Mt. Baldy last Saturday, cause this makes me smile...

We look tired - cause we are

I hope you guys have a wonderful weekend and happy running.

Do Awesome Things.

xo,
Natalie

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Climbing Mt. Baldy

We walked into the dark, cool interior of the Mt. Baldy visitor center feeling the anticipation of the unknown. Neither of us had ever climbed a mountain of this elevation, this intense... yet we intuitively knew it would strengthen and renew our bond in a completely different way.  After 17 years of marriage, the births of our three children, the unfathomable loss of a parent way too soon, multiple homes, travels to far away places, a multitude of memories, ups and downs, crushing loss and victories, tears and joy, we've experienced a lot and yet we are just getting started in so many ways - a refresh was just what we needed as a couple.




When I met Jerold at a friend's wedding 21 years ago, it would have never occured to me to think this far ahead, to anticipate that the handsome guy, fresh out of college, smart as a whip would become my life partner. I remember talking to him and thinking that he was so different than any other guy I had ever met. I was at a point in my life that I was okay with not getting married - I couldn't imagine finding someone that would truly understand me and would be up for the life journey that I had in mind. Obviously God had other plans when Jerold sat next to me at the wedding reception (cliche, I know. If you would have told me that I would meet my husband at a summer weekend wedding, I would have laughed at you) and struck up an intelligent conversation (he's really smart, I thought to myself. Score one). I walked away at the end of the evening impressed and not hopeful in the least. Weddings can be a fantasy world and the reality was he lived hundreds of miles away, living a different life and I had no plan of ever seeing him again. Well, he called me the next day and now here we are... standing in a small mountain town about to begin yet another crazy experience together.
The park ranger at the front desk handed us a detailed map and explained the various trail options to make it the to top of the mountain. As I put my finger on the trail that began from right outside the door, she raised her eyebrows and said: "This is the most strenuous hike up to the top - are you sure you want to do this?" I admit, my ego felt the slighest bruising and I thought: "Does she really think we can't do it? Don't we look like fit bad asses that can do anything?" Jerold brought me back down to earth and mentioned that she was just doing her job and part of that was to make sure that people knew what they were getting themselves into.
We walked out into the sunshine and I say to Jerold: "Look, I think we should talk about this. I feel like I'm the one getting us into crazy situations, so I am okay with driving up halfway and taking the shorter route. We'll still make it to the top of the mountain, it will simply be an easier way of getting there." In the end we agreed that this is what we came for - no shortcuts... let's go big or go home.




Before I get into the heart of our adventure, I want to talk about the fantastic gear we received from Brooks Running that completely prepared us for this journey. Through my partnership wth Brooks, I was able to choose someone special in my life to receive a full head to toe outfit. I chose Jerold because he is the biggest supporter of my running, he never doubts my potential (even when I doubt myself) and he has this way of lifting me up with his words of encouragement. Bonus - he needed new workout gear desperately....



I gave Jerold his present the day before and thought he wouldn't be surprised (I may have asked for his shoe size), but he was so suprised and happy with everything and he really loved the new trail running shoes!




As we began our journey, the climb up was immediate and right down to business. We launched into uninterrupted conversation right away, amazed by the fact that we were alone and there was no one around asking for Mommmy or Daddy. The first 20 minutes we talked non stop about our kids, the fact that we would already be turning around if they were with us, we would never bring them in the first place and whether Josh could conquer this mountain (he is 11 and yes, he could with some experience on a lot of shorter mountain climbs first). I couldn't believe how remote the trail was and we finally ran into two ladies who had done a short portion and were turning around to head back. We kept climbing, completely by ourselves surrounded by nature.




The climb was intense, we had been warned about rattlesnakes, so my eyes were peeled for them and yet I couldn't believe how lucky we were to witness this mountain beauty, fresh air and sunshine. This is my happy place.





Two hours into the hike, we stopped for lunch at the most beautiful spot. It boasted spectacular views and a perfect large flat rock, perfect for two people to enjoy a meal.



We spent about 15 minutes for lunch and then we were off again, excited about reaching the top and having no idea how long it would take us to reach it.




Yes, it is as remote as it looks in these photos, we had zero cell service and at one point I asked Jerold what would happen if we needed to protect ourselves. He had a swiss army knife and that was all we had other than food and water which was quickly dwindling.





There were hard sections and there were points where I felt it was easier to run than hike.



We were about 4 hours into our journey at this point and all said and done it took us just over 5 hours to reach the top. 





There were sections where it seemed like we would never get there.



Finally, we arrived. 10,064 feet  - we made it.









We both were a little speechless when we reached the top and placed our feet on the plaque. Such a symbol that life is a uphill, rocky journey - so beautiful and challenging, yet so worth every step.




We hung out at the top for a half hour and then realized what goes up, must come down and we had a very long journey to get home again.




There wasn't much talking on the way back, just like grunts and a few words of encouragement. A few rest breaks (going downhill is hard), but not many as the sun was sinking pretty quickly and there was no way we were going to be stuck in the dark. We ran into a couple on their way up (probably about 6 PM) and they were going to sleep up at the top, which I thought would be really adventurous to do that someday... I imagine the sunrise is priceless.
I could have kissed our car when we finally made it back - the best feeling in the whole world and one of the hardest things I've ever done. I can see why people run a marathon and say never again!
Ended the night with burgers and beer, which we kept talking about on the way down that mountain, so to finally sink our teeth into that juicy burger, we felt like we were in heaven.

Dirt still under my nails = I worked hard today. 


Jerold and I both agreed that this was the perfect way to celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary. It is such a metaphor for our life - the climb up the mountain is relentless, tough, rocky and precarious, but the experiences and incredible views along the way make it worth every difficult moment.

The great thing about our marriage is... we're just getting to the good part.


Do awesome things.

xo,
Natalie

Monday, July 9, 2018

Pacific Palisades 4th Of July 5k Race Recap

Fourth of July is the number one holiday of summer and I love how our town celebrates it with all the fun and fanfare that it deserves. The morning starts off with the annual 5k, 10k and kids races, which have been going on for 41 years. The 10k is super hilly, partially on trail and one of the toughest in the nation, the 5k is run in the residential areas of town. Our family goes to the races every year and this year I decided to run the 5k and Josh would be running it too - his very first 5k race.



Our day started with an early wake up to arrive early to pick up our race bibs. Josh and I then ran a one mile warm up followed by our dynamic exercises. I needed a quick bathroom stop and we got to the starting line just in time for the race.
I made a last minute decision to run, and I knew I would give it my best effort as a speed workout and not worry about the rest - just get out there and have fun.



I didn't look at my watch and the first mile I didn't feel like I was going fast  - in fact I was thinking I hope I'm going fast enough, since a 5k is pretty much a gut buster from start to finish.
First mile: 6:02
I knew the second mile had a hill and was pretty much net uphill, but tried to charge it as much as I could - I felt the fade and pushed everything out of my mind.
Second mile: 7:06
Ouch on the second mile (and the sub 20 minute just went out the window) and yet since it wasn't a goal race, I didn't let it rattle me - just keep going and try to recover on the third mile.
Third mile: 6:54
Time to sprint to the finish with good form and be competitive all the way to the end. These races are what make you stronger for the marathon.
Finished in 20:48 and turned around to see Josh finish...


He's got legs and arms like his Dad 


This awesome kid finished in 22:30 (7:12 pace!) and I am just blown away by his performance with zero training. Josh will be running cross country in the fall for the 6th grade team and this race has made him so excited. He now wants to get on a regular running schedule and really see what he can do in the fall. This was such a proud moment for Jerold and I - our Josh is really growing up!



LA friends - if you are looking for a fantastic local race to run for 4th of July - put this race on your list! The medal is really classic and patriotic...





There was plenty of fruit and water to cool off and refuel after the race...




Everywhere you looked, there was a sea of red, white and blue decorations....

This was painted on the ground near the start/finish area.


There were balloons, banners and streamers everywhere and they gave all the kids flags!


So many kids were attendance, which makes it such a wonderful event for families to get an early start on the holiday!





Josh's fast time was fast enough for 3rd place in his age group - meaning there are a lot of fast kids in our town who love to run.

Top two boys ran sub 7 pace!


Everyone that ran received this awesome t-shirt (I love these shirts and my kids have kept their shirts from past years).



They also gave everyone a pair of festive leggings!



As my kids grow, each holiday tradition means so much to us. I just want to freeze time and keep them at this age forever. Please, slow down summer...



I placed 3rd woman overall, which was a good start to my summer season of getting faster and stronger.


Everyone dresses up for the races! Photo credit: Gwen


So many people think of LA as a big, overwhelming city - our town is a small, quaint little town by the sea that offers a home town feel with wonderful people. Whether you decide to run the 5k or 10k, I hope to see you guys out there next year!

Happy Summer!

Do awesome things.

xo,
Natalie