Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Boston Marathon Training Recap: 8 Weeks Till Race Day!

8 weeks till Boston.
Less than 8 weeks until the taper begins...
This is the time to press forward. It's time to keep working hard and the work will pay off on April 18th.
I am excited, nervous of the unknown, but mostly just pumped to finally experience one of the greatest road races in the world. 
The Olympics for the everyday runner.

Every year our school has a week off in February.
We had such a fun week exploring our city, playing at home with friends and toys and just slowing down a little bit.
Trips to the museum are always fun, I mean how can kids not be in heaven drawing on the walls?

A trip to the Pier, since winter seems to be avoiding us like the plague. No really - we NEED winter. We need rain, I'm not quite ready for spring yet! 

Our sunset view from the ferris wheel

We had friends over to play, we cooked, crafted, biked, played a fun game where my son set up cones and we did this crazy obstacle course while trying to catch a series of three balls. It was actually a great workout!

Last week was my biggest mileage week so far of this training cycle. My mind was reeling on how to get everything done while having the kids home with me, but it all worked out. 
I had an 18 mile run on Saturday and I woke up Saturday morning wiped out. I realized when the alarm went off at 5 am, that it wasn't going to happen at that time of the morning. My body was begging for more sleep and daring me not to listen (My body: "Okay, if you push me anyway, it's not going to be pretty.").

As much as I wanted to run and be finished by 7:30 am, it just wasn't going to happen. So I blissfully went back into a deep sleep and didn't set the alarm again.
I stopped putting the pressure on myself (this is supposed to be fun, right?!) and enjoyed the morning. The rest was just what I needed to recharge and by afternoon I was ready to go.

My body was so grateful for the rest and I learned ---> you don't bet against your body. 
The 18 miles was pretty much a breakthrough run for me and a learning experience all at the same time. Staying strong at the end of a run, playing in my head what I will be thinking about at the end of the marathon + patience. After all, the marathon is all about patience. I ended at the beach, which is always my favorite place to end a run. Jerold and the kids picked me up and we had a fun dinner together (okay, keeping it real. I was cold and wet, so we picked up a yummy dinner and ate it at home, which the kids always love). It was a really awesome Saturday.

What else is going on?

I'm chugging away on the book "How Bad Do You Want It" and it is GOOD. I will share more of my thoughts when I am finished, but I am so inspired every time I pick it up.
Check out this brief passage:

"The question that one part of you asks another in the crucial moments of a race - How bad do you want it - is really an invitation to self-exploration. Not all athletes accept this invitation. If you want to become the best "fire walker" you can be - and more than that, if you want to get the most you can get as a person out of the athletic experience - you will accept it. The journey toward becoming a mentally fit athlete is very much a journey of personal development."

I've never been a music person during running, but I have been having fun with music during my rare treadmill runs. It makes me actually, sorta like the treadmill?!!!

I am not a rap person. If you know me at all, you will know this.
BUT ---> I think Eminem's Lose Yourself MAY just be my anthem for Boston.
Wait, did I just say that?

I enjoyed THIS article about an elite runner and what she eats during her training.

Jerold and I watched The Intern on Sunday night (thank goodness he is used to me wearing compression socks to bed and rolling out my legs during a movie!).
Highly recommend the movie :)

In celebration of Black History Month ---> this movie about the great Jesse Owens looks good! I look forward to checking it out...

Here are my workouts from last week!

Monday February 15th - 7 miles easy

Tuesday February 16th - 7 miles easy

Wednesday February 17th - 3 mile warm up, 4 mile tempo, 3 mile cool down

(tempo splits - 7:14, 6:48, 6:55, 6:57)

Thursday February 18th - 7 miles on the treadmill (evening was my only window to get it done)

Friday February 19th - 7 miles

Saturday February 20th - 18 miles at 7:37 pace

(splits: 7:53, 7:46, 7:58, 7:48, 7:32, 7:48, 8:03, 7:33, 7:19 ,7:22, 7:17, 7:29, 7:50, 7:28, 7:34, 7:34, 7:42, 7:40)

Sunday February 21st - Rest like a champ!! A huge nap, good food, hydrating like it's my job, a good amount of stretching + rolling and a great day at home

Total Miles: 56

What movies have you seen lately? Recommend anything?

What songs get you pumped for a big race?

Happiness Is Running Life!


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Boston Marathon Training Recap: 9 weeks Till Race Day!

Wow - it's getting really people. We are down to single digits. 
9 weeks till Boston, which means less than that for hard core training. I feel like this year is flying by already! Anyone else feel that way?!

It was a good week of running and let me just say - every week that I complete good, solid training, I feel so blessed.
So thankful to be injury free, feeling strong, excited and ready to tackle the next round of workouts.

I know I have to keep grinding. Keep pushing and good things will come. I imagine that must be what Olympians think during their training. They are on such a completely different level, but I am sure they think about how amazing it will feel to cross that finish line and you know are forever going to be in history. You are representing your country at the Olympic games!!

Last week was Valentine's week and my kids were so excited. We were making Valentines every day!

Hearts for her friends!

Let's take a look at my workouts for last week:

Monday February 8th - DAY OFF. Today was a rest day following Sunday's half marathon.

Tuesday February 9th - 5 recovery miles

Wednesday February 10th - 7 easy miles

Thursday February 11th - 7 miles with 8 x 20 second pick ups (6:30 down to 5:00 pace for the pick ups)

Friday February 12th - 7 easy miles

Saturday February 13th - 17 miles (starting at 3:58 am - we were going to be at the Olympic Trials all day) at 8:04 pace with a 7:42 last mile finish. 

17 miles in the dark

Sunday February 14th - DAY OFF (Happy Valentine's Day!)

 I haven't had a 5 day week of running in a long while and it was so nice to have two days off.

Are you following me on Instagram? You can check out more pics of fun adventures there! :)

Total miles: 43

This week is a step up week in kind of a big way - the most miles I have run this cycle thus far. 
Excited for the challenge and hoping to get a lot of sleep this week (so far this has been a dream more than reality!)

Another pic of my sweet girl cutting and arranging flowers at her Valentine's party.
I hope she grows up with the confidence that she can do anything in this world. All you need is a dream...

I love this article about Shalane and how she felt during the race on Saturday. Crazy that this was the hottest weather on record for the trials!

Have a great week friends! 

Run fast, take chances.

What is your big running goal for 2016?

Happiness Is Running Life!


Monday, February 15, 2016

The Olympic Trials Marathon: An Epic Weekend!!!

There aren't really a lot of words for the weekend. It was one of the best weekends of my life.
It was inspirational, awesome and exciting. I will tuck this weekend into my memory bank and my heart to keep it there forever.
I have never been so inspired to work hard and when you think you've had enough... work harder.
Go for your dreams and achieve your goals - there is nothing stopping you!!

Without further ado, here is the weekend in pictures...


Talented, fast mother runner Andrea Duke!

The incredible Lauren Fleshman!

Oiselle founder Sally Bergesen giving a speech about Kara Goucher + Kara's coach.

Kara Goucher!!

She signed my poster with "I hope you have an epic Boston!"

Shalane!! You can see me gushing over her more on my Instagram page!

I hope you all have an amazing week!!

Who watched the Olympic Trials?

Happiness Is Running Life!


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Boston Marathon Training Recap: 10 Weeks Till Race Day!

Last week was a small step back week. My coach cut the miles a tiny bit for Sunday's race, but we did not taper for the race.

Still working hard on all the physical therapy exercises...

I keep this band with me at all times :)

Here are what my workouts looked like for last week:

Monday February 1st: 6 miles

Tuesday February 2nd: 6 miles

Wednesday February 3rd: 8 miles. Two mile warm up, then 6 miles at 7:45-8:00 pace

My splits: 7:42, 7:43, 7:51, 7:56. 7:42, 7:48

The idea here was not to run too hard - just a brisk good pace

Thursday February 4th: 6 miles

Friday February 5th: DAY OFF

Saturday February 6th: 3 mile shake out jog

Sunday February 7th: RACE (with a 1.5 mile warm up)

Total Miles: 43.6

I do a core circuit, dynamic stretching and PT exercises every day. Weights 2-3 days a week.

We had a fun night out as a family last week. Elle had pajama night at her preschool...

Check out this video from my coach's blog. He is talking about the importance of easy runs and how to pace yourself. Great info here!

How "easy" are your easy runs?

Happiness Is Running Life!


Monday, February 8, 2016

Surf City Half Marathon Race Recap

All week, I was focused on Sunday. Surf City would be my third half marathon in three months and I had some expectations of what I wanted out of this race.
Rock N Roll Vegas was simply for fun (1:44:27) - a great first race 7 months post knee surgery. When I started running that first mile, I felt like I almost had forgotten how to race. I have never smiled so much during a run and I finally felt like my old running self again.

Mid December I ran the Santa To The Sea half marathon (1:39:03). By then I had 4 more solid weeks of training under my belt and I went into the race with a little more confidence. I knew my body was capable of running under 1:40 and all I had to do was execute, stay strong and believe.

8 weeks have passed and I have been very consistent with strong mileage, speed and hill work with continued strength, core and PT exercises. In my mind, I felt like it was time to break my PR.

I'll start with Friday. I had an all day women's event at my church and got home just after 10 PM. I was really cold almost the entire evening despite the fact that I had on a sweater. I knew Friday was the most important night of sleep before a Sunday morning race, and was anxious to get to bed.

Saturday. Ah, Saturday. The women's event at my church was continued all day today, followed by me driving down to Newport Beach to spend the night with one of my dearest friends.
The church event started at 9 am. 
I woke up at 9 am. 
Seriously? I never, ever wake up at 9 am. I don't know how I slept through my children waking up and the chaos of the morning (thank goodness Jerold takes over on Saturday mornings.)
Anyway, I woke up feeling pretty awful and run down. My throat was a bit scratchy and all I wanted to do was sleep. I knew at that moment, if I wanted to race the next day, I would have to rest.
I stayed in bed most of the day. Every time I got up to eat or drink, I couldn't wait to go back to sleep.
Finally, late in the afternoon I felt good enough to go for a 3 mile shake out jog.
I kind of slogged my way through it, but I felt better. The rest was what I needed. 
Hung out with my family the rest of the afternoon and then made the trip down to Newport Beach. My friend Kristin and I would be running the race together and I was so excited to see her. She is a friend that everyone needs - so sweet, positive and absolutely radiates joy. You can't help but smile when you are with her!

Earlier in the week she suggested that we wear matching outfits and it was so fun! Last year, I was injured, she was running the race and I came down to cheer for her. What a treat that we were going to race together...

I love my friends!

By the time I arrived at her house, she had cooked a pasta dinner for me, we talked for a bit and then we both couldn't wait to go to sleep. 

Sunday morning. The alarm chimes at 4:45 am and I could hear myself groaning. How did the night go by so fast?
Finally at 5:15 I dragged myself out of the warm, cozy bed and began to start the day. Race outfit on, a piece of wheat toast with almond butter and about 4 glasses of water (one glass with a grape flavored Nuun tablet - also I stop drinking fluids 2 hours before a race) and I was ready to roll.

We were riding with two of Kristin's friends and we all arrived in Huntington Beach and at the starting line about 6:30 am, with a 7:45 am start time.

My coach wanted me to do a 1 mile warm up followed by dynamic stretching and to be warm, revved up and ready to go at the start. I went a half mile over on the warm up and felt good and ready to go at the start. 

I decided to line up with the 1:35 pace group and see how I felt. I wanted to make sure not to start too fast, but I felt like I was capable of running 1:35 for this race.

My splits:

7:14, 7:16, 7:12, 7:21 (there was @ a half mile hill/incline here), 7:09, 7:04, 7:18, 7:27, 7:24, 7:35, 7:40, 7:35, 7:36, 6:30 (for the .1 finish)

Final Time: 1:36:43 (7:22 pace)

My PR (You will not believe this): 1:36:43 - exactly.

I couldn't believe it. The exact time - even down to the seconds! 

As you can see, the race started falling apart a bit after mile 7/8. I am not making excuses - but I will say, I just don't race well in heat. So with this race, the turn around occurs at about mile 8. 
From mile 8 to the finish, we were running on PCH, with the sun beating down hard - right in your face.
It was a gorgeous day, but for me it is tough when I have to run in heat. This was a perfect exercise in self talk - I kept telling myself not to fall apart. Pick up your feet, adjust your posture, focus, you can do hard things!!

One of Kristin's friends passed me at about mile 10 (she went on to run 1:35 and Kristin's other friend went on to run 1:29!!! I need to train with these speedy, inspirational women!) and she said: "Come on Nat!" In my mind, I knew if I could respond to that and stay with her, I would run the time that I was aiming for. As she bounded by me with all the energy in the world, I could feel myself wilting.

I didn't respond, but no way was I giving up! Just so you know with this race, after mile 8, there are zero hills or turns - nothing but flat paved road. It might sound wonderful, but I was craving a hill - something to break up the monotony. 

I see mile 13 looming in front of me and glanced at my watch. If I started sprinting, could I squeak by in 1:35:5something?!

Not meant to be, but I was happy with my time. I am moving in the right direction - chipping away at my time, getting faster, heading toward the ultimate goal of Boston.

I had a phone conversation with my coach later that day and afterwards felt so much better. He reminded me of a few things:

1. We did not taper for this race (I was telling him my legs felt a little heavy)

2. I have improved so much since mid December

3. Boston is the ultimate goal

I finished 3rd place in my age group, which was a huge surprise as this is big race with a lot of fast women. 34th woman overall.

I will race again sometime in the first 3 weeks of March - looking for anything from a 10k to a half. A big part of me wants to race another half next month, so we'll see.

Thoughts about Surf City Half Marathon:

- A really fun race! Well organized, water every couple of miles. Gatorade added in the later miles
- A flat course, but not necessarily a PR course. I say that not because I didn't PR, but I have talked to lots of runners who felt the same way.
- Great medal and a killer t-shirt! I love the shirt and will be wearing it all the time (I rarely wear my race shirts.)

- The marathon starts at 6:30 am and I almost wish the half started at the same time. 7:45 the sun is blazing and by 9 am, it was HOT.
- There is music and lots of fun after the race, you are RIGHT on the Pacific and it is simple stunning. A great place to hang out for the afternoon.

- The race provides good post fuel - chocolate milk (love that), bananas, oranges, water, cliff bars and juice
- Plenty (TONS!) of porta potties, which was awesome. Zero lines
- I didn't make it to the expo, so I can't speak on that

So, that's a wrap! 

I'll have a report coming next on my training for last week.

Onward to Boston!!

Would you rather race in weather a little too cold, or a little too warm?

What is the coolest race medal you've earned? Coolest t-shirt?

Happiness Is Running Life!


Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Few Essentials of Marathon Training

When you are in the middle of marathon training, life is about healthy food...

I sat down to this tasty lunch after my 8 mile run yesterday (2 mile warm up and 6 mile tempo at 7:47 pace. brisk, but not hard. Saving my legs for Sunday's race) yesterday. Steamed kale, berries (blueberry, strawberry, raspberry - all organic) and Ezekiel bread with almond butter. I also made a protein smoothie (whole milk yogurt, banana, orange and protein powder).

Life is about hydration...

A huge thanks to Enduropacks for sending me their Electrolyte Spray! I just started adding it to my water (10 sprays in 16 ounces of water) Full review coming soon. 
100 ounces of water is still my goal each day and at this point in the training, my body craves it.

Here is the delicious smoothie I made after today's 6 mile run:

1 scoop of protein powder, 2 cups of kale, 1 cup frozen mango, 1 banana and 1 cup of greek yogurt.
Perfect after a workout.

Getting in a dose of afternoon greens

Marathon training life is about balancing your running with the most precious parts of your life...

She got to discover some interesting new rocks and I got to read (only about 5 pages - #reality) of this book...

It's about taking care of your legs...


Yoga poses that I am faithfully doing each night:

Downward facing dog
Pigeon Pose
Legs up the wall

It makes a huge difference in how I feel each day.

Marathon training is about rest as much as it is about training hard.

Massage therapy...

I went in for a 90 minute massage to loosen up muscles and get the junk out.

There are many pieces of the marathon puzzle and so many ways to get stronger and become a better runner. 
Have a solid plan and stick to it. Your diligence and hard work will pay off.

I love this...

Anyone in the middle (or beginning!) of marathon training?

How often do you get a massage?

Happiness Is Running Life!