Wednesday, June 25, 2014

New Plan of Attack

Thank you so much, my friends, for your comments on yesterday’s post! I was reminded by your loving kindness that I am not as bad off as I like to sometimes think I am, while also recognizing that this running journey is supposed to be FUN and if it stops being fun then maybe a marathon IS more than I can handle at the moment. And you know what, that’s okay too!  But I’ve been inspired to find a new plan of attack on this thing and truly get my head (and rear!!) in gear over the next

So here we go:

Strategy #1

All lunch prep (the cutting, cooking, packaging) will take place on Sunday. Then each night before bed I will set the coffee maker to brew and organize lunch items as needed for the next day so that all I have to do is throw it quickly in the lunch bag and go. For example, I typically have almonds for an afternoon snack, but instead of using a gazillion different plastic containers I usually just throw the amount for the day in a small container and then refill it the next day. These are the types of things I can do the night before instead of the morning of.

Strategy #2

Pits and Legs shaving is only going to happen on non-work days. Okay, that might be too much information, but it’s a reality…shaving takes time and in order for me to have the time I need to dedicate to sleep and exercise some things just have to GO. No way around it…so Friday, Saturday, Sunday – looks like you’re the new shave days and I’ll just have to get creative about what I wear this summer. LOL! Oh, and in case you’re not wondering, thankfully I have Nordic roots so I can kind of get away with less regular shaving of the legs and I constantly worry about "bingo wings" so tank tops at work are not something I usually do, so we’re good there! Haha

Love her!!!

Strategy #3

I have got to quit hitting that darn snooze button. I will get up earlier the two days a week that it is necessary to (Tues/Thurs) in order to fit in those longer mid-week runs. I’ve been shortchanging myself for the most part and have had to skimp on a lot of those 5-8 mile runs on a weekday because I just don’t get up in time. That has got to stop because I am SURE it is making those long runs on the weekend exponentially harder than they need to be.

Strategy #4

Explore long run alternatives. I have 16 miles on the plan this weekend and I am going to continue with what I’ve been doing which has been heading to the local lake and running the trail. It really is quite pretty, but is also extremely short on shade. However, there isn’t NO shade, as there are a couple spots where the mountains provide shade until the sun gets above. I will run repeats in those shady areas until they are gone, gone, gone and then move on to just straight trail so that I can get as much shade as possible.
Diamond Valley Lake in Hemet, CA
I mean, that’s pretty, right?? BUT in the event that this weekend’s run is just as crummy as last weekend then I have a back-up strategy. If it is because of: A) Loneliness: I kindly request force my BFF on her bicycle out there with me; B) Heat: I find a new route that offers some additional shade; C) Motivation to Keep Moving: I try running with the Riverside Road Runners on a Sunday morning instead. If it’s because of all of those things then I’ll re-think my strategy and motivations again. Truth is that it is only ten more long runs and two of those are taper; so eight weekends of long mileage. I’m sure I can figure out a way to make it work!!

Strategy #5

Eat like a boss from here on out. Yes, yes…broken record time here. I will make better food choices, but I’m also going to make sure I’m getting some PLANNED treats in there so I don’t feel deprived.

Strategy #6

Add strength training back in at least once a week. I haven’t been finding the time (which is pretty much the same thing as haven’t been motivated, right?) to regularly strength train, but if my core, legs and upper body are stronger it will make the long run that much easier. Time to add it back in and I don’t think doing it at least one time a week is too much to ask from myself.

Strategy #7

I may start playing with some different walk/run intervals. I’ve been doing a 7 minute jog/3 minute walk ratio (for my long runs only) but if that proves to be more than I can do in the summer heat then I’ll play around with it a bit and see if shorter intervals work better.

So there, I think I’ve come up with some good strategies to be successful…well, at least hopefully more successful than I’ve been lately! Time to keep my eye on the prize and make this happen!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Get the Balloons...It's Time for a Party!

Ohhhhh...You thought this was going to be a fun party???? Okay, so my title might be a little misleading...*wink*

So where do I begin? Do I start with the excuses I gave myself or do I start with the explanation of why I should be allowed a pity party? Or do I start with just owning up to my spectactularly horrible marathon training?

#1. I had a really stressful week last week. I won't go into the boring details just suffice it to say that there was some capital "D" - DRAMA that really just wore me down. And then let's throw in work stress and a horrific allergy attack on Thursday and we can pretty much skim the surface of the stress.

#2. It's leading up to Aunt Flo's visit so emotions are on high alert, nothing feels like it fits, I want to eat everything in sight, and the boss brought in new bags of chocolate for the candy jar. All a recipe for disaster.

#3. After a week of unseasonably good weather, it decided to warm way the heck back up for Thursday - Saturday of this week. When's my long run? Saturday morning.

#4. I narrowly missed getting my car towed Friday morning, which meant running down the sidewalk in sandals nowhere near "smart running apparel". Okay, so here's the short version. My neighborhood HOA was repaving all the streets in the 'hood in chunks which meant being creative with parking on the day of the paving in our "chunk". That was on Thursday and we were all rather pleased that on Friday I already had the day off so once we parked the car on the street we didn't have to worry about figuring out how to get out again on Friday morning. Well, except for the fact that where we parked it on Thursday night was the section that was getting paved on Friday morning!!! The notice stated that all cars had to be off the street by 7:00 AM or would be towed at owner's expense. I realized at 7:30 AM that we had actually parked in the "green section", better known as the Friday, June 20th section. So I quickly slipped on the sandals I had worn to work the previous day, grabbed the keys and started walking over to the parking spot with that pit of despair in my belly expecting to see my car gone. As I turned the corner I saw a tow truck backing up towards a sedan car that was parked in the vicinity of my car so you absolutely KNOW I took off at a sprint at that point, right? Thankfully (unfortunately for the car's owner) the car that was being loaded on the truck at that point in time was the one in FRONT of mine, so crisis averted, but WHEW. It was crazy!! And the rest of the day my shins were just tender and think sprinting down the sidewalk in sandals maybe wasn't the bestest idea in the whole wide world? But at least it wasn't for naught because I was able to park my car in the garage at that point.

Google Search

So there you have at least some of what my problem is and then just go ahead and throw on top of that a HORRIBLE long run in the middle of marathon training and that recipe for disaster I mentioned in #2 above turns into a fully baked cake for my little pity party!!

Seriously though, I would be lying if I didn't have a whole lot of doubts right about now when it comes to if I feel like this marathon thing is actually a good idea. I was out on my run on Saturday and it was just tough from the get-go. My shins hurt from the sidewalk sprint in sandals, the sun was shining brightly in the sky even at the early hour I was out, there wasn't even a whiff of a breeze to be had, and I'd been through a ridiculous amount of stress for what seemed like weeks on end.

It's wasn't pretty, friends. I tried and tried and tried to get my head in the right space but was never truly successful. And then I started to think: "What am I going to do when I am struggling at the race?" "How am I going to survive a long, hot summer of training like this?" "Man, it's boring as hell out here and I feel like I'm wandering in the desert for 40 years of solitude." "I'll walk until I get to that rock, okay, the next rock; alright, I'll really start running at that curve up ahead." "Who do you think you are...running a marathon! You can't even do the training, what are you going to do at the race...walk the whole thing and finish in 12 gazillion hours?" "I can't do this alone..."

And that's how it brain on the constant hamster wheel.

But that last thought is the one that truly sticks with me...I think I need to admit that I don't think I can handle these long runs all by myself. It is just totally motivation sucking, brain draining, morale killing, no good  and no fun to run for hours and hours all by myself in the hot summer sun on a dusty trail just me and an occasional "real runner" speeding by me once every hour or so. I mean, the stats speak for themselves - I was out there for 3 1/2 hours people and only ran (if you can even call it that) 12 miles!!! I was supposed to do 15. I am so far behind on my training it is becoming ridiculous.

But I haven't called it quits just yet, but I'm definitely rethinking my plan of attack. I am officially halfway there so I have 10 weeks left until race day to get my act together. I might need to enlist my BFF to ride her bicycle while I run...maybe she will even need to carry a Starbucks or cupcake tied to string behind her to keep me going! I might need to join a run club but the only problem there is that there isn't anything local so it will mean driving for 45-60 minutes in a single direction. When you're already taking so much time away from the family, every little bit is precious so that's a tough pill to swallow for me. But I'm not willing to concede defeat...I WILL FIND A WAY!!!

Any suggestions, feedback, help??? PLEASE??? :-)

Or criticism from YOURSELF...right?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

2014 Idyllwild 10k Race Report

So I need to give a little bit of background before I get into the actual nitty-gritty of the race. As I mentioned in my previous post (here) we were renting a cabin with the family and staying the entire weekend. My son and DIL were driving up from LA and then we would head to the cabin to get everything settled in and the rest of the kids would join us that night after work/school obligations.

So mid-afternoon my son & DIL show up at the house and my DIL is immediately struck with severe stomach cramps and the need to visit the restroom STAT! She starts feeling quite off so we take a little break and allow her some time to just curl up in a ball on the couch while giving her some crackers. She finally starts to feel well enough to go and we head on up the hill to the cabin. The cabin is FABULOUS!! Like seriously perfect for us. A lot of times the cabins tend to be a little on the smaller side and we are a big family - with the babies we had 11 people! This cabin had 5 rooms so everyone got their own space. Win! My DIL continued to feel "off" the entire night, but never really let it keep her from having a good time...she was a super trooper! So we ate dinner and went to bed at a later than I wished time of 10:30 PM or so. That is WAY past my regular bedtime...but when in Rome, right?

A majority of the don't see here my other daughter Melissa, her SO, Curtis (Melissa had to go to work so they met back up with us after dinner) and my DIL Tasha that is taking the pic. Let's go clockwise around the table starting with my lovely son with the cheesy grin right there in front (haha): Robert, his wife Auxi, the Hubster, empty chair (Tasha), Angie in the high chair, her daddy (and my son) Brandon, me, the bubbies Joshua and his mom (my daughter) Michelle.
I slept fairly well until about 2:30 AM when I woke up with horrible stomach pains. GAH!!! Off to the bathroom I went where, okay totally TMI, I was so glad there was a trash can because I was so nauseous I thought I might just have to use it as getting off the toilet was out of the question. And there I stayed for probably about an hour. No bueno. I was able to go back to sleep, but I was exhausted and still not quite feeling 100%. I woke up with the alarm but hit snooze a few times and then went reallllly sloooooooow getting ready. Way slower than I had wanted to. I ate some toast and coffee, but I can't say it was all that appealing to me. But I was bound and determined so I headed off to the race with about 30 minutes to spare before the start. I actually had to drive PAST the 5k runners because they were already close to finishing. Understand that I usually prefer at least an hour before the race start to get all checked in and settled. That obviously didn't come close to happening on this one. Okay, so now we are finally to where I can get into the nitty-gritty of the race.

The weather was actually pretty good in comparison to what we might have in the valley down below, but it was already shaping up to be extremely warm with a projected high of 85. Now the thing you have to keep in mind is that you are at elevation (about 6,000 feet above sea level) so the air is thin and that means that the sun pretty much has a direct shot at ya. So any cooling effect of being in the mountains is negated by that sun hitting you in full force. But I was prepared and had slathered on the sunscreen and was decked in shorts, a singlet and no compression sleeves. In past years at this race I have been overdressed and paid for it dearly while sweating buckets in the later half.

Right before the start...ready to go but feeling a little less than stellar. That's the "I really hope I don't puke, face".
There was a small group running the 10k - 79 participants total finished. I was able to take down a GU Espresso Love right before starting, but it definitely didn't go down as easy as I would have wanted. I was still feeling a little queasy, but at least didn't feel too shaky. Finally our little ragtag group lined up and then we were off! I had to really remind myself at the beginning to run my own race and not get caught up in the pack. I didn't care that people were whizzing by me or widening the gap in front of me. I was out there competing with me, myself and I. I kept it at a nice easy pace and, honestly, I felt great for the first several miles! I felt strong, nothing hurt, and I was able to pass some folks that were already showing signs of struggling. I was able to take on the slow rolling hills with no problems and I even realized that the part where I usually start to feel my calves cramping I was able to continue running through. Everything was great. I was probably a good 2 miles in before I took a short walk break.

I got right back to running and was truly enjoying the scenery. For the most part I was by myself but was keeping pace with a couple ladies in front of me. I hadn't even turned my music on because I was enjoying the peace and quiet. The hills started to get a little bigger and I started to get a little slower. And then every time I started to get a good jog going I would alternately feel like either puking or passing out. I just wasn't feeling great anymore and I started to walk more and more. Instead of worrying about it, I just decided to Instagram enjoy the scenery instead.

I was at least happy that even though I was mostly walking, I was keeping up a pretty decent walking pace! I was also happy that even though I was mostly walking, I was still keeping up with the lady in the purple tank top in front of me! It's the little things...

I attempted to take a Chocolate Outrage GU as I started up the worst of the hills, but I was only able to get a couple little mouthfuls down - probably about half of the packet. I'm going to take a little side route here for a Mom & Sister were also both participating in the 10k race. My sister had done it back in 2010 when it was both of our first times tackling it, and my Mom had been doing the 5k race each year along with my sister in 2011-2013. They both knew that it was going to take them a fairly significant chunk of time to complete the race and they also knew that with it being such a small race, the race organizers shut it all down fairly quickly. Even though they don't have a time limit posted, the announcer leaves to do the kids races, the volunteers all take off, etc. and if you aren't careful you are coming in to a completely normal town center instead of into a race finish line. Have you ever been at the back of the pack? There's a great blog post about it here that I think every runner, spectator or race organizer should read!! Okay, PSA over and back to the story. Since my Mom & Sis knew it was going to take them a long time to finish, they were cleared to begin the race with the 5k runners 45 minutes before the 10k start to give them a little head start.

Here's another pic, just because...this is right before you hit the "Big Hill"
Okay, so back to my story: As I was nearing the top of the big hill I finally caught my Mom so it was nice to see her for a few moments! I was also able to pass the lady in the purple tank top on the hill. And I need to note, it isn't necessarily that the big hill is super steep, because it isn't, it is that it goes on for FOREVER. No, like seriously...FOR-EV-ERRRRR.

You get to a curve and think - okay, this is it, I've got to see the top of this hill...and no. Then another curve and you foolishly think the same thing just to be denied again. And it goes on and on like that for a ridiculously long time. It is a cruel joke...

Elevation Profile from my Garmin stats
But finally there it was, the crest of the hill! From there I knew that it was downhill for a good little while and I was ready to give it a worthy effort. So off I went and I was able to go for a good bit before a new sensation entered the equation. As I was coming down the hill I got to now feel like I was going to either Puke, Pass Out, or Pee! Downhill running is not a friend of the bladder...I seriously considered ducking into the bushes, but there were a lot of houses, not a lot of brush, and I, of course, worried about ducking into a patch of poison oak or poison ivy. That just would NOT be a nice thing to subject the hoo-hah too, so I held it and did the best I could to finish strong! I finally caught my sister and wished her well after taking a short walk break with her and then got moving again. At this point I just wanted to finish so I could be done feeling like dookie.

The rest of the race was fairly uneventful. I was thrilled to see my Son & DIL cheering me in at the finish line and I was thrilled that there was still cold water left (I think this is the first year I actually was able to grab a cold bottle!).

Final Finish Time: 1:20:12
So it wasn't a PR, but you know what? It also wasn't my slowest time either and I felt like serious crud for a lot of this race. So I totally consider it a win!! And it did leave me feeling fairly confident that I can get a PR at the Mission Inn Race in November. So my dream isn't dead, yet!

My splits are honest in telling the story of this race:

Mile 1 - 11:18
Mile 2 - 11:12 (see, feeling good and keeping a nice casual pace!)
Mile 3 - 14:17 (slowing down)
Mile 4 - 15:12 (gain 174 feet of elevation in this mile)
Mile 5 - 15:27 (gain another 251 feet of elevation)
Mile 6 - 12:16 (lose 253 feet!)
Mile .2 - 0:14 (okay, my Garmin shows it as only .03 miles so who knows...)

So there you have it - it was a successful, challenging, and crazy race! I have a lot of mixed emotions about it because I wanted it to be a great race but the stomach thing really crossed that want off of the list. I did continue to feel pretty icky the rest of the weekend and was glad that we only spent a little bit of time walking through town on Saturday afternoon and that Sunday morning was full of relaxing. I was also super glad when we got home that evening and I could crank the air conditioner because it was toasty warm! My stomach sickness was not isolated either, my hubby ended up being sick all day on Sunday and let's just say his tummy is not as strong as mine so he got the joy of actually puking instead of only feeling nauseous. Poor guy... :-(

Even though this race is so challenging and it does have some areas for improvement it is one I look forward to every year and I can't wait to go back in 2015! I have a funny story to tell about a little post-race adventure, but I will have to get to that another day since this is already more than wordy enough. Look for it soon though!

I will close with this last pic just because it cracks me up to no end! Can you tell she loves to take pictures???

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Race Talk and Happy National Running Day!

First things first, Happy National Running Day! June 4th of each year is the day dedicated to the sport that I have come to know and love. So if you love it too - go celebrate! If you don't, then that's okay too; go celebrate what you do love! :-)

Feel free to make your own badge, pledge your miles and more on the national running day webpage.

So did I run today?'s one of my cross-training/rest days and even though I heavily debated doing some type of run in celebration I decided that I celebrate running just about every other day and the fact that I didn't run today doesn't mean I'm not a runner. Instead, today I apparently decided to celebrate with some extra sleep. haha

I guess you could say that I'll be celebrating this upcoming weekend when I participate for the 5th straight year in the Idyllwild 5k/10k race in our local mountain community.

It's a tough race, for me anyways, for a lot of reasons. 1) It is in the mountains so at altitude - thinner air to breathe; 2) It has a LOT of hills; 3) Not a lot of course support as it is tiny, tiny, tiny; 4) Did I mention the hills???

Here's a pic of the course elevation:

Yeah, you see that downhill start followed by a massive climb for a few miles? It gets me every time. As I mentioned, this is my fifth straight year participating in this race, and my 4th time doing the 10k. Last year I was forced to do the 5k as I was still recovering from my knee surgery and rather than even attempting to run it, I planned on walking the entire thing; which I did.

So let's look at my previous finish times:
2010 - 1.22.12
2011 - 1.16.20
2012 - 1:22:15
2013 - did the 5k and didn't really care about time

The first year the race totally kicked my butt. So I headed to the local hill, that I still continue to use as a warm-up now at Diamond Valley Lake, and had my first introductions to "The Beast". I put in a lot of hill work that year because I was bound and determined to do better the next time around; and you can see that I did!! Then I slacked off in 2011/12 and returned to my flatlander ways and you can see that I went right back to where I was that first year.

My goal this year is to PR in every race distance and this is my first shot at getting a new personal best in the 10k! I'm really hoping to feel strong and confident on those hills, but I also already have my doubts. Let's talk strategy for a moment...

You can see that it is a downhill start, and that is actually part of the problem! It is a small race so it is easy to get caught up in the start line excitement especially because if you slack at the beginning you'll quickly find yourself all alone out there. I absolutely love running downhill, but I also tend to cramp up in my shins/calves if I go out too quickly and then I find myself losing time because I'm stopping to stretch my legs out. So it is imperative that I start off slowly. I want to spend the first mile or two getting in the groove and saving my energy for the hill.

At least you can't say it won't be scenic!!
As far as the hill goes I want to run if I can, but will walk it most more likely. It goes on for a really long time and the concern here is that if my heart rate gets too elevated I'll never be able to bring it back down and finish strong.

That downhill after the big ass hill - I plan on really capitalizing on it! I want to completely take off there and keep a run up the entire time until the final little hill close to the finish. I might walk that hill, I might run it - really it depends on how I'm feeling. But then I'll throw on the burners and sprint to the finish to quickly shut off the Garmin. This is not a chip timed race, but they do have folks recording the times at the end and they seem to usually be fairly accurate since you pretty much cross over the start line as soon as the horn goes off because it is so small.

In the past I've been able to really utilize fishing in this race, so I'll do that here as much as possible. There's just something so rewarding about picking a person and then passing them. I know that as much as I have struggled with this race, there are others that also do too so if I can capitalize on that in the later miles I will! hahaha

My big concerns for this weekend:

  • It's looking like it is going to be toasty warm this weekend! 
  • It's at altitude
  • I'm on my first week of 10-hour days for work so the fatigue usually really sets in by the end of the first week until I acclimate to the new hours by about week 3
  • We are renting a cabin so I won't be sleeping in my own bed which means I may not be as rested as I would like to be
  • My running has not been as stellar as I would like it to be lately...I haven't been pushing as much as I could/should and even though I've done a lot of hill walking, I haven't done a ton of hill running. That might bite me in the rear.
So with all that taken into consideration all I can do at this point is do my best! I'll go out there and put in the best effort that I can...I'll let you know how it all goes next week!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Pushing on a Pull Door...

You know how sometimes you come up to a door and give a little push fully expecting it to open up in front of you? But instead you are only greeted with a face smack to the door because it is a PULL door?

Sometimes I swear running is like that. You go out with the full expectation of having an awesome run where everything just works and it is effortless, but instead you are virtually smacked in the face by the pull door you are attempting to push. *sigh*

This weekends long run was such as this. And the thing is, I SAW THE PULL SIGN and still tried to push the door open anyways. Okay, so let's back up for just a moment...

I work at a Community College and last Friday was our graduation. My office has a pretty hefty role in the graduation festivities so I always work the event. We hold our graduation at an outdoor amphitheater - The Ramona Bowl - that is on the side of hill. Incidentally, it is also the home to California's Official Outdoor Play - The Ramona Pageant. It is a beautiful location that overlooks the valley and provides a stunning backdrop...but it is a major bitch to get around because it is a lot of steps, a lot of dirt, a lot of hills and a lot of sun. But whatever...I also happen to love our graduation and am so glad I am a part of it every year. You see, my specific office doesn't see a whole lot of student traffic and we very rarely have student contact so it is easy to forget why we are here on a regular basis. But when you go to graduation you get to SEE first hand the students that have accomplished a huge goal in their lives. It just brings it all home and reminds me that what I go through every day does make a difference and that we are changing lives, directly and indirectly. But that doesn't mean it isn't a lot of work, right?

The Ramona Bowl
So on Friday I got to the "bowl" at a little after 3:00 PM and didn't get home until 10:00 PM that night and a majority of my time there was either running up and down hills/stairs or being on my feet. I think I sat a couple of times for no more than 10-15 minutes.

And then I went home and figured I'd jump up at 4:30 AM to get ready for a 13 mile run...

Yeah, I know, right? brain power is just ah-maz-a-zing. I got a late start because, DUH, I was freaking tired when I got up and was moving like a slug. I had to run to the store to get eggs, bread and coffee creamer because I was out of everything I needed for breakfast. (Side note: a trip to Walmart pre-coffee and on lack of sleep is highly inadvisable!!) I think I finally got to the bottom of the hill I had to climb about 7:00 AM and the sun was already out in full force. The last two weeks we have been blessed with a beautiful cloud cover that has meant perfect running temperatures. This week...not so much. Not a single cloud, not a single breeze, but I soldiered on anyways.

Here's a pic of the beauty in front of me halfway up the hill.

And it all went downhill from there, just not literally because there was a lot more UPhill than DOWN hahaha.

I tried...I really, really did!! I gave it my all, but unfortunately my all was nowhere near enough. I walked a LOT. I bargained with myself a LOT. I told myself that this was good training for the marathon and my brain said "Kiss Off!" It just wasn't pretty and I came nowhere near the 13 miles on the plan. I got 9 in and it took me way too long to do even that. I was simply exhausted.

If I had been pulling on that pull door instead of pushing, I would have realized that I needed Saturday as a rest day and done my long run on Sunday instead. I would have had all my breakfast stuff on hand so there wasn't a delay there. I would have gotten up bright and early and been out just as the sun was coming up. I could have saved myself a lot of grief, but instead I made it through 9 brutal, grueling miles.

But lest you think I'm all grumbly, I did have to realize this morning that it's pretty freaking fantastic that I still went out and did nine miles on a Saturday morning when most people were still at home in bed!!! I mean, heck, I could have just skipped Saturday AND Sunday. I don't have to get up and work out or run...I GET TO and that's pretty fantastic. It was a gorgeous morning, I got to see birds sailing through the sky, I watched boats motoring along the water. Outside of being exhausted, it was pretty awesome.

This weekend I have a 10k race that I want to really do well at...I'll talk more on this later this week!

Until then, make sure you aren't pushing on a pull door. :-)