Friday, August 31, 2018

Goodbye August, Training Is Ramping Up A Bit + Stride Box

As I felt the warm tap on my nose, my eyes reluctantly fluttered open and Elle was standing in front of me asking to climb into our bed. Instinctively, I knew it was well before dawn and I wasn't ready to give up my warm cocoon just yet. As she climbed in and snuggled under my arm, I had the overwhelming sense that really nothing else in the world matters. Give me this moment, give me this time and I promise I won't squander it. I promise as you march away from me for a little more independence, that I'll remember at the core of everything - you are still my baby.

During one of our beach bonfire evenings.

When I looked at the training schedule this week, I gulped a bit and then put it out of my mind. Each day is a day of renewal and growth, a time to reset and tackle things one at a time. It's just running and the real epicenter of training won't happen for a while. I think if I focus on more strength work and quality, deep sleep every night - the miles will obviously happen and I'll feel refreshed and ready for workouts. School beginning will bring change for our family - change is necessary and vital for growth is what I keep telling myself. My thoughts lately often turn to how much can I accomplish while the kids are away during the day... I want to make every hour have a purpose, no matter how mundane. Fold 5 loads of laundry (and put it away) from 8:30-9:30 am? Yes. Allocate time for the business, networking, phone calls, pitches, writing, exploring hotel running routes, meal prep and some running/training for myself too? Yes. Yes, I can.
We've been having lazy mornings this week...

Stay in pj's and read in the mornings? Yes, please. All while wearing the Garmin that she never takes off. Oh and to all the people that have gorgeous patio furniture with multiple children - I applaud you. That is indeed paint on my couch, but at least it's outside, right?

I love this video. Wow, this is the making of an athlete for sure. Don't you love the tag line? It's only a crazy dream until you do it. YES. YES.


I had a good tempo workout yesterday. 8 miles at 6:54 (+ 1 mile warm up and cool down) and I worked for it. I'm not even going to sit here and give you the impression that it was cake...

I worked for it. #keepgoing

Who says your dreams can't be fulfilled because of wherever you are in life right now? Who says?
YOU call your own shots. YOU fufill your own destiny. Sweep away the noise of anything (or anything) telling you, NO. It's always up to you. You can do it.

I got my Stride Box earlier this month for August and wanted to share it with you, cause I love this box. It makes me happy every month. It's not a bill or endless streams of junk mail...

Love these training tips

Normally, I have one picture that I take of the entire contents of the box. For some reason that picture is gone from my phone. Or maybe I imagined taking it? At any rate, I did an Insta Story, so I was able to go back and get screen shots of everything, so I apologize for all the pics! :)

I haven't tried THIS yet, but will come in handy during a workout. So much to try during marathon training!

Loved the way THIS made my water taste!

I'm excited to try THIS after my super long run this weekend.

Loved the taste of THIS energy bar.

Ate THIS after a workout one day - in like 1 minute :)

THESE were so good! They tasted so clean - not too sweet.

I'm ready for the long weekend! I also have a 19 mile run on Sunday, so have to gear up for that. Happy Labor Day weekend friends!

Dream Big.


Monday, August 27, 2018

55 vs. 97 - Do What's Right For You

The sweat already started to bead onto my forehead as I headed out the door for my morning run and I could feel the sun beating onto my shoulders. I chided myself about starting earlier, but unless I begin before dawn, it's almost always going to be hot this time of year. The easy miles have gradually been feeling easier and some days I have to glance at my watch so that I don't go too fast on the easy days. I tend to run faster without realizing it (a bad habit that I quickly rectify, cause I love my easy days - and they are necessary/vital), when I think about running another marathon, working on my form or focusing on finishing a race fast no matter the time on the clock - I think the adrenaline starts to kick in and I have to remind myself to slow down. The question that has been nagging in my head for a couple of weeks is: "Will I be ready to race a marathon in October?" I don't know why that question rears it's ugly head. I don't have a reason to doubt my fitness and my coach has laid out a solid plan for me to prep for the Ventura Marathon on October 21st. October 21st is fifty five days from today and at the beginning of last week I was determined to be ready. Nothing has changed as far as steadfast preparation, but the thought would pop up at random times: "Do you feel rushed? Are you trying to take on too much at the same time?"

This is me super up close and personal after one of last week's morning runs #bareface

Kids at home. Starting Suite Run. And you guys - I started coaching! Yes, I know - All.The.Things. I have a few clients right now (I love it so much already) and I'll give you all the details in another post. I think because I will finally have all three off to full day school (for the first time in 11.5 years, I will not have a kid home with me), I wanted (needed) to have a meaningful purpose to fill the day. I started wondering about my ultimate purpose in life - I've been home with my kids for so long and although it's the hardest job I've ever had, do I need more now? The answer is a resounding yes and I've done so much soul searching about my feelings and how to navigate through it all. Honestly, I look at women who have worked outside the home and balanced a family and think how cool that they have an amazing career to keep them going. Then, I shake it aside, because the grass always seems greener, right? I have to simply start from where I am now and build my own career.

We each have our own path in life

Anyway, back to whether I'm taking on too much right now... I will take a huge breath when the kids go back to school after Labor Day and I will be able to organize my day accordingly. With all that said, the thoughts at the start of my runs lately have nagged my mind about whether I can run as fast as I know I can - and inch closer to my goals in the time allotted. The thing about the marathon is: you get one shot. ONE SHOT. One throw at the dart board to make an impact and then you have to let the body heal, recover properly, slowly ramp up and start another cycle all over again. There's a good 5-6 months in between each marathon cycle, if you don't want to risk injury or overtraining. I knew going into Ventura that I needed to give it everything I have or I would not have another chance until probably springtime. Long story short (and if you are still reading this - thank you) and after a big heart to heart with Jerold on Friday, I have decided not to run the Ventura Marathon.

Scene from Saturday's gorgeous mix of trails and road. Lots of time to quietly think - I had the best time.

However, there is a bit of a twist. I will be at Ventura - to run the half marathon (Use my discount code - GoNatalie2018 to get 10% off!). It's a fast and honest course and I ran a big PR there last October. I can't wait to go back in fifty five days and run even faster in the half.
I have decided to run CIM on December 2nd! After our talk on Friday, I made the choice to move our December plans around a bit and go for it. Racing CIM gives me more time to settle into life and training, I have unfinished business with that course and I love the fact that the marathon championships will take place there again this year. You guys - I can't believe I didn't cancel my hotel... I thought about it last week, and put it on my to-do list. I'm really glad I didn't, cause I know the hotel sold out super early this year.
Anyway, there you have it. I now have ninety seven days until the marathon and a sigh of relief coursing through my body. Look, I know at the end of the day, I would have mentally rose to the challenge and made myself ready for the Ventura Marathon, but this decision feels so, so good. I'm really happy to go back to Sacramento and race my heart out.
Training hasn't really changed - I'm still running a lot and I have double runs once or twice a week (not to split up the original run of the day - I've had questions about this in the past - but to add an easy extra 3-4 miles to get more miles in my legs). This week of training definitely had some difficult points - one run I cut in half, and my tempo run this week was 3 x 2 miles and I only did 2 x 2 miles. Ugh. Also on Sunday's 15 mile long run - 10 miles I ran easier at 7:41 pace and then the last five miles at 6:55 pace. When I got to the tempo portion, I ran one mile and then I stopped. I just stopped on the side of the road when I had 4 more miles left to go. Total time stopped was about 45-50 seconds of contemplation and then I realized - this stuff isn't easy my friends. Running can be really hard at times - so what do you do? I knew in that moment that I had to for real suck it up and finish the dang thing. Finish it. It wasn't pretty, but I finished with 15 total for Sunday and 62.3 total miles for the week.

There was zero smiling on this run. PS: I take my pics after the run is completed.

This coming week, the plan is to hit well over 70 miles and I will be ready. Coach tells me to take it one day at a time and you have to, otherwise it's really overwhelming.

In other weekend news, we had the most amazing ice cream sandwiches on Saturday afternoon...

It's my heart wrapped up in these 4 humans.

We did a good amount of work on Suite Run and spent some quality time in Westwood vetting running routes from one of the hotels along Wilshire Blvd. We have a really pretty 3 and 5 mile route and the map will be up shortly on our site. The great thing about Suite Run, is we get to explore so many parts of our city up close and personal.

Along the Wilshire corridor in Westwood near UCLA.

We set up a few interviews with some fantastic people! You won't want to miss it so subscribe to our newsletter so you can get edition #3 delivered to your inbox :)

Have a wonderful start to your week my friends. 

Never stop dreaming.


Saturday, August 25, 2018

Super Human You

As I threw the beach towels into the washing machine this morning (an almost daily ritual as I try to have us packed and ready to go to the beach at all times), I thought: "Is it really the last Saturday in August?" I had to look at the calendar to convince myself that is indeed the case. August, you have been topsy turvy, crazy, wonderful, at times stressful and filled with joy. We have thoroughly enjoyed this last full month of summer before school begins. We've had bonfires, hiking adventures, surfed in the waves, worked on our swimming technique at the pool, rode our bikes, had impromptu dance parties, stayed up past bedtime, roasted a lot of marshmallows, experienced some incredible sunsets, had sweet parties with friends, read new books, explored museums and so much more. My heart is full of memories and we plan on packing more into this coming week.
As far as marathon training goes, the miles are adding up each day and week - I've been putting in the work and it hasn't been perfect, but the effort is there. Before I go to sleep each night, I've been remembering my goals and how incredible I'm going to feel when I accomplish them. Isn't it dynamic that goals keep you going -  that they keep you accountable and excited? Goals give you so much purpose and on those days where I don't feel like going for a second run, or I feel exhausted, I put on my superhero cape and think about how it will all be worth it.

Brooks Running always comes up with great campaigns, and I love the current one a lot. It's about discovering your Super Human You and how you have the power to do anything. They sent me the latest edition of the Levitate 2 (this shoes makes you feel like you're flying - I love it! More on this shoe when I get some miles on it) and this great mat to write my dream/what I have the power to do.
It took me two seconds to make a decision and it's simply to run a sub 3 hour marathon. I've had this big dream for a while now and I know there will be a lot of focus, determination and patience to achieve this goal. I have to develop strength at the end of the race when I'm so tired and I also know this will happen when my body is ready to make that breakthrough. I really do love the process of pushing myself and sometimes I close my eyes and imagine that incredible moment when I sprint down to the finish line and see the numbers 2:5X on the clock. I imagine the look on Jerold's face, the contorted scream coming from his gut, the leap into the air, the excitement from Josh and the sweet screaming from the girls. I see myself sprinting so hard, my lungs burning and yet none of it matters - the pain is irrevelant because I will have done it. I know that will be a moment that I will always remember. I imagine calling my coach immediately afterwards and yelling: "I did it coach!" and the words of pride he'll have for me. The tears will roll down my face and I won't be able to eat anything for recovery because I'll be too choked up.

Scene from Friday's run

I've never talked in detail to this extent about my immediate goal, but I love the fact that now it's out there in print, for everyone to see. The days where I doubt myself, I know that God has given me the ability to overcome any obstacle. He wants me to believe in myself more than I ever have and this is what I love about the power of running. To you my friends - I want you to find your Super Human You. Discover that big goal that scares you and speak it out loud... then wake up every day, refer to it and work your butt off for it. Let's help each other - sound good?

In other news, our 2nd edition newletter for Suite Run went out yesterday! I'd love it if you'd join us and sign up to receive a little goodness in your mailbox each week - I will not spam you :) just good stuff about running and travel.

Here's a pic from my interview with Alex Baxter that is featured in our newletter this week. Alex is the former Chief Digital Officer for Competitor Group (they own Women's Running Magazine, The Rock n Roll series and more) and I was thrilled to sit down with him for a chat (Jerold did an awesome job on the photography) and go for a short run together on Thursday. He and his wife are so wonderful and this was definitely a big highlight of our week!

In Alex's backyard talking about the amazing sunsets they see every evening.

I have a lot of fun stuff to share with you in the coming week! In the meantime, have an amazing weekend my friends.

Do awesome things.


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Developing A Business From Scratch: Suite Run

Ten days ago, Jerold and I officially launched Suite Run. It feels like months ago and I had to actually look back at photos to remember the exact date. Since those long ten days ago, we've been hard at work - brainstorming, setting up meetings, attending meetings, talking, breathing, thinking about Suite Run. Between launching this business, training for the Ventura Marathon (60 days! and I have something for YOU. A discount for 10% off the awesome Ventura Marathon on October 21st - use code GoNatalie2018) and hard core parenting with school not starting until after Labor Day, it has been intense. I wake up in the morning so excited with all the possibilies of the day ahead (and a little tired - marathon training = more sleep, which has to happen cause I have big goals for Ventura). Starting a business is a lot like running a marathon: you have to take a slow, methodical approach, believe in yourself, work consistently and diligently and never give up - even on the tough days.

We had a lot of time to talk, dream and plan on our big hike up to Mt. Baldy last month.

It really hit home how much running has woven itself into our relationship. When Jerold and I first met shortly after college, I knew I wanted to run my first marathon and started preparing for it pretty much right after we met. He was there for my first marathon and we've never looked back. Building Suite Run together (or any business model that is centered around running) was really in our destiny and this is a huge dream big moment for us. I also knew that we wanted to offer something tangible and valuable that people could use, appreciate and incorporate into their lives.

Runners just want to run and we won't let travel derail us from that.

What is Suite Run?

Suite Run is a business that organically merges runners and travel together. We want traveling runners to feel like they can grab a map with a beautiful, safe and accessible route that shows them where to run. No fuss, no overthinking - just run. The map will be at the hotel desk, or downloaded to your mobile phone (with audible turn by turn directions.) Of course we thought of the app, and we'll develop that soon. We envision ice cold bottles of water, maybe fresh fruit and ideas of where to grab a cold pressed juice, some extra running accessories, get a massage (if the hotel doesn't offer it), have a great lunch... All you have to think about is your run, getting it done and having fun (or getting to your morning meeting). This business model has been done in other hotel chains, but we want to focus on the independent hotels. Hotels that don't have a mega brand name but still want to offer their guests the very best. Fitness is HUGE in our world - people want to work out, it destresses them and make them happy.

Yes, this is me - but isn't this the geeky smile we all have after a run?

We also have started a newletter and our first edition went out last week. We are committed to publishing a weekly edition that will have interviews (you guys - we have some GOOD people lined up for interviews. Stay tuned), gear we are loving, helpful information for runners, travel tips and so much more. I know you don't want to miss the next edition, so sign up :)
You can sign up HERE.

One thing for me is that I have to get used to talking about Suite Run - a lot. I'm so excited about it and I can't wait to share so much with you guys and get feedback from you! I love connecting with all of you and thank you for following along for the last (almost) four years of my training, running, racing, product reviews, family life, ups and downs and so much more. I'll still be doing all of that and weaving in what it's like to emerge yourself in a start up as well. This should be a fun ride!

Oh, and to everyone who has sent me a note of encouragement with such positive feedback on Suite Run - thank you, I/we so appreciate it! By the way we are also on Insta, Twitter, Facebook and working on our You Tube Channel (Nat and Jerold on You Tube - this should be interesting :).

Lots of miles to run this week, lots of recovery and enjoying these last weeks of summer. The August sunsets have been incredible.

Scene from yesterday's run

Happy running my friends and never give up on your dreams.
Keep going - it's working!


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.