Hot Chocolate > Hot Dash

IMG_0098Yesterday’s Hot Chocolate 15K race went so much better than the Hot Dash 10 Mile.  It’s amazing what putting in effort and training can do.  The weather was gorgeous yesterday.  My best running friend (I call her “the instigator” – she signs up for these races and I just copy her :)) and I left my house at about 6:30 am.  All went according to our race agenda (we even found the perfect parking spot!) and were at the start with plenty of time to spare.  Even got to meet some friends of hers who are also running fanatics.IMG_0118

I have stuck to my marathon training plan religiously these past 6 weeks putting all of my fitness focus on running.  I was pretty excited for this race.  I have never been in any type of qualifying coral but my previous race time in the Sioux Falls half marathon got me bumped up to Coral J which was the first coral at the 15K race.  It was super fun to start out with all of the fast people.  Most of them passed me quickly but a few of us finished together!

hot chocolateI didn’t feel like I was pushing or going out too fast at all.  Looking at my splits, I probably could have pulled back a little more in the beginning but felt really good at the time.  Usually I die a little every time someone passes me (which is often because I’m slowish) but yesterday my montra was “my race, my pace”.  I focused on going as fast as I comfortably could.  After the first few miles the rest just seemed to fly by.  Every water stop also had gatorade which was really nice.  Since it was chocolate themed, each stop also had candy.  I skipped the sugary stuff for the most part except the very last water stop.  At mile 7.5 Sugar by Maroon 5 thrummed into my ear buds just as I was approaching the break and I took it as a sign.  I indulged with a good 45 seconds of snacking and Adam Levine fantasizing before continuing on to the finish.IMG_0117

Finished strong with an average pace of 10:30 per mile.  A huge improvement over my average pace at Hot Dash of 12:04 per mile for about the same distance.  And no blisters or injuries this time!

To “sweeten the deal”, the post-race snacks were totally awesome.  Hot chocolate, chocolate fondue, bananas and real water bottles.

That’s all I have for now folks.  GOOD LUCK to those of you running Boston tomorrow!  Have a phenomenal race!  I can’t wait to read all about it. 🙂

 

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Race Recap: Zumbro 17 Mile Trail Race

Friday night I didn’t have much to put together.  I had been picking my outfit out all week and lining things up.  Went to bed early and got a good night’s sleep.  Yesterday morning I woke up bright and early at 4:30 am.  Had plenty of time to take a shower get dressed, curl my hair, decide I wanted it braided instead, make breakfast, remember I needed sneakers, look for sneakers, forget my glasses, go back for glasses, and get to M’s house by 6:00 am.

A two hour drive from the cities to Theilman Minnesota later we arrived at the start of the Zumbro 17 mile trail race.  The race starts at the Zumbro River Bottoms campground area.  Here is info on the course and altitude for anyone interested.  The scene at the start was very laid back.  At packet pickup and check in we just gave them our names.  No scanning, no code, no ID necessary.  IMG_0076People were camping in tents with camp fires.  The weather was sunny and mild in the mid 50’s when we got there but was closer to 70 by the time we were done.  This race was the shortest distance of the event with 2 ultra marathon races already in progress.  50 miles (3 loops of the 17 mile course) and 100 miles (6 loops of the 17 mile course). 100 milers started 8:00 am the previous day and 50 milers had started at midnight on Friday.

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Just after the start, heading into the woods.

So now that the stage has been set, here’s how this thing went down and what I learned along the way.

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At the top of the first hill.

The race starts out with a brief flat straight away into the woods that immediately shoots straight up a massive incline which is the first of 4 major climbs on the course.  I don’t think I’ve ever been up something quite so steep.  I had looked at the elevation prior and realized I had 2 or 3 more of these to go.  The first couple miles M and I ran together.  She’s done plenty of these including a rim to rim to rim through the grand canyon and a major trail marathon.  This is a pretty good depiction of what I’m sure we would have looked like (picture M is Merlin and I’m the wolf):

After the first incline I was holding my own and felt pretty good but didn’t want to hold her back.  I was glad she continued on (and met her goal!).  Miles 2 through 3 were incredibly muddy.  And not a puddle here or there.  I’m talking about the super thick, sticks to your shoes nasty muck.  The course was full of giant rocks, leaves, roots.  Very different than the flat road races I’m used to.

Having just made it out of the mud and happy to be on dry land, mile 4 provided an extra special treat: SAND!  It was tough and slippery and I was happy to get out of the sand pits without breaking an ankle.

After the sand fiasco I picked up speed a little and cought up to some other racers.  I watched what they did, realizing this trail was definitely a different kind of race animal.  I walked as fast as I could up the hills.  Hydrated and took a short break at the top, jogged as fast as I could safely on the down hills.  Ran as fast as I could on any straight flat areas.

I also learned that trail racers are very chatty and super nice.  You can’t pass someone without having a conversation.  I tried once – it was super awkward I got a bunch of bad vibes.  You can talk about anything: the weather or the difficulty of the run or the nice scenery but you *have* to talk to each other and the pace is slow enough that this is doable.  I stuck with a pack of about 6 individuals (at least one was a 50 miler) from miles 6 to the finish.

Aid stations are weird.  People are super nice and helpful but it’s not the grab a cup of water or Gatorade and continue on.  There was a whole smorgasbord of snacks an beverage options.  Water, soda, candy, sandwiches, cookies, pretzels.  It all looked very tempting but I stuck to my nothing-new-on-race-day rule and skipped it all.  I only stopped at the last aid station at mile 14 for the porta-potty.  I probably could have skipped that one too but didn’t want to regret it on the next mile!

Speaking of regrets, my only true regret is not taking enough pictures.  As difficult as this race was, it was equally gorgeous.  I made the mistake of putting my phone in my jacket pocket.  When it got warmer I chucked the jacket in my hydration pack.  At the time, I was exhausted and it just felt like a hassle to get to it.

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Finished! With our wood medals, course map in the background.

The number one lesson I learned is that trail racing is NOT road racing.  At all.  I would actually call it a completely different sport.  Different crowd, different pace, different expectations, and a drastically different course.

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I finished the 16.86 miles in 4:35:40 with an average pace of 16:20.  I would have been extremely disappointed with that pace on a road race.  However, given the extreme conditions of the course, I’m damn proud of my finish at my first trail race.

Would I do it again?  You bet.

The Art of Not Freaking Out

I was blissfully going about my day yesterday when an email popped into my inbox.  This was the subject: “Welcome to the 2015 Zumbro Endurance Run”.  I immediately felt nauseous, sweaty and shaky.  I hadn’t forgotten about the race I registered for months ago.  Far from it.  I had been purposely not thinking about it (there’s a big difference).  Here’s what enters my brain every time I think about this race.

I’m in over my head.
I’m not this kind of runner.
I’ve never completed a trail race or run of any distance.
I’ve never completed a run or race of this distance.
I’m estimating it will take me about 4.5-5 hours.  I’ve never exercised for that long.  Ever.
And I don’t like mud.

And then there’s my distance running history to nag me as well: Here is how I’ve felt after my previous half marathons.
2013 Sioux Falls Half: I thought I was going to die. I honestly couldn’t believe I finished it. I cried in my husbands arms when it was over.  I was incredibly sore the rest of the day and for two days following.
2014 Sioux Falls Half: Ran fast and hard the whole way, set a PR 17 minutes faster than the same race last year.  Legs and lungs felt great but my feet were killing me.  I don’t think I could have taken another step solely (see what I did there?) due to foot pain.
2014 Monster Dash Half: Went out too fast.  Wound up taking walk breaks around mile 11.  Legs were just dog tired.  Finished 3 minutes slower than my PR the month before.
12.5 Mile Training Run (three weeks ago): Almost didn’t finish it.  I was just really tired.  No excuse either, ran the whole thing slow and easy.

I can’t imaging running another 4 miles (for me that’s 40-60 minutes) after any one of these.

I hate feeling anxious.  Anxiety just feels like poison coursing through my system and I won’t put myself through that for the next 4 days.  Since it’s this Saturday, I know not thinking about it is no longer an option. So I have two choices: 1.) Drop out and just decide to rain check until I feel more ready. Or 2.) Get over myself and find a way to not freak out about this for the next 4 days.

Well, I don’t quit.

Time for option 2.

Positive thoughts for consideration: 
My training has been solid the past couple months.  I have been running.  I’ve been running a lot.  I have in fact focused only on running and dropped the strength training completely (on Dr.’s orders).  Usually that has bummed me out but right now it’s my beacon of hope.

It’s fun to run somewhere new.

I will set a PR (for distance) no matter what, because I don’t quit (see above).  Even if I wind up walking/hiking most of it, it will be the farthest I’ve ever traveled on foot.

Most importantly, this is not the race.  It is a race.  This is a fun way to train on the way to the race.  I can’t get too hung up on races that are not my ultimate goal.  My goal is to finish the marathon in October.  And I know when I’m 4 days out from that thing, anxiety will be back in a very big way. At that point I will be able to remind myself how well I did on a little 17 mile trail race back in April. 🙂

Training Plan #57

Guess what kids?  I have a new training plan!  Shocked?  You really shouldn’t be.  I change my mind on my training every 10 seconds.  When it comes to picking a plan I have the attention span of a 3 year old.

What happened to Simply Shredded and 20 miles a week?  I will spare you the details (because they are boring) but in a nutshell, no strength training (not even body weight training) on Dr.’s orders until mid April.  Definitely cuts out the dead lift, bench press and barbell squat in Simply Shredded.  Also, as it turns out 20 miles is a lot to squash into my schedule each week.

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I have been wanting to run this route for over a year and finally did it! Victory!

And thus, a new training plan is born. 🙂  Since I can’t do any strength at the moment, I have the opportunity to focus on my running.  Last week I ran sprint intervals a couple times, did some cross training on the bike and topped it off with a 12.5 mile run from my house to work with a friend on Saturday.

My BRF just started using a new app called Gipis so of course I had to check it out.  I really like that it gives you an estimated race time and shows how you can improve.  It is super customized to you and your goals.  It adds a good combination of easy runs and speed work.  So I’m going to try the Gipis, spruce it up with a little cross training and some hypothetical strength training days (for later).  And there you have it, my latest and greatest.Capture

Monday: run & strength
Tuesday: run
Wednesday: cross training & strength
Thursday: run
Friday: REST
Saturday: long run
Sunday: cross training

I’d like to say that this is *the* training plan that will support me all the way to marathon day.  But let’s be honest folks, it probably isn’t.  I know I will probably “upgrade” to something newer, better, shinier, fancier.  The good news is, I’m still learning what works for me, I’m still getting stronger and faster.

And I’m not stopping.  Ever.

“3 Walkers, 1 Runner”

As I’m recovering from my ego blow from the Hot Dash last week and trying to ramp up for this 17 mile trail race in April, I set out for a 10 mile training run today.  I left my house doubtful of my ability and still thinking about last week and wondering if I’d even be able to put up 10 more miles today.  As I headed into the park about a half a mile from my house, a woman was pushing her two small children in a double stroller.  I could hear her narrating things they were looking at on the trail.  As I passed she said “Oh look, a runner!  That makes 3 walkers, 1 runner, kids”.  We both smiled and waved.

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It’s amazing what a small phrase can do.  I don’t think she has any idea how her words powered me through the rest of my workout.  Mile 3 when a side stitch kicked in “1 runner”, mile 6 when I was bored “1 runner”, mile 8 when my blister returned “1 runner”.  I am not fast by any means but I did finish the 10 miles I planned on today.  I listened to myself and my current ability and kept it slow.  I felt way better than I did last week.  The weather was great and I even discovered some new trails in my home town.

In other news: I got my grade back for my finance course – A!  I haven’t worked so hard for a grade in a long time.  Feeling pretty happy about that one.  I’ve had this past week off of school but it’s back to the grad school grind next week. 🙂

wpid-wp-1426362125201.jpegRight now though?  It’s burrito time.

Hot Dash or Hot Mess?

Let’s just say yesterday’s race, the 10 mile inaugural Hot Dash in Minneapolis was less than hot.  Here’s a recap of my experience, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the uglier.

I went into this race with the mind set that “it’s 10 miles, I’ve run farther before, no big deal”.  My last race was a half marathon at the end of October ’14.  I figured I’d done a good job maintaining my running stamina by running 2-5 miles, 2-3 times a week on the treadmill.  This was my first mistake.

Woke up on race day, showered, got my gear in order, inhaled a bagel and some water.  As I turned the knob to leave for my car a thought crossed my mind: “Oh shoot, forgot the body glide. No worries, I’ve got my good socks.” Skipped it and left the house.  Mistake number two.

Picked up my friend and we drove down to the cities.  Found a great parking spot (we were an hour and a half early) and chilled in the car for a while.  We headed down to the start with plenty of time to use the porta-potties and get set in the coral.  National anthem, then we were off – exactly at 9:00 am.  (Gotta hand it to Twin Cities in Motion.  Every race of theirs I’ve run has been perfectly punctual.)

At the start line!

At the start line!

Mile 1: Was feeling great but went out too fast for my current fitness level after a winter of short treadmill runs.

Mile 2: Realized I went out too fast and tried to pull back.

Mile 3: Still trying to recover from my initial burst of energy, my Spotify is interrupted and my playlist starts going haywire.  This has happened before – I realize my 8 year old is on our same account trying to play music.  I try texting and calling him but he won’t answer.  I call my husband but my 6 year old answers.  I tell him to tell his Dad to check his phone to get our 8 year old off the darn Spotify account.  Finally the competition for the music ends.  (I find out later it was actually my 6 year old who was on it.)  This whole ordeal slowed me down, I had jogged slowly trying to figure it out, walked some.

Mile 4: Get myself regrouped, pace is back up – enter, the side stitch!

Mile 5 & 6: Just plodding along as best I can.  Wound up taking way more walk breaks than I usually would.

Mile 7: Blister on the left foot, keep on jogging.

Mile 8: Taking even more walk breaks now due to blister.  Get some semi-urgent work texts, so I answer those and some work emails.

Mile 8.5: Hubby texting me that he can see my progress on MapMyRun and is virtually cheering me on – so thankful for that!  Kicked it up and tried my best to get my pace up.

Mile 9.5: Blister is killing me now, start running with a limp just tapping my left toe which causes an increased strain on that calf.

Finish: As I’m rounding the corner to the finish I see about 5 people who Hot dash(somehow) look to be in worse shape than I am.  I figure I can just sprint and at least have passed a couple.  As I’m running like my life depended on it my overused calf collapses.  That’s the best word I have for it.  It just quit working.  I thought I was actually going to face plant across the finish line.  But I didn’t, I finished strong and was never more happy for a race to be over.

My slowest race pace in a really long time.  Later at home I showered, I cried, I slept.  Then I got over myself.

Whenever I’ve made a mistake, my grandmother has asked me one question: “Did you learn something?”  The answer is yes.  I learned many things along this 10 mile course.

  1. Don’t go out too fast!  I say I won’t every time but the race excitement always gets the better of me.  Need to work on that.
  2. Don’t take a significant distance for granted.  Next time I’ll train better.
  3. For goodness sake, DO the body glide!  It takes literally less than a minute!
  4. Be more flexible.  I should have just switched to a different music app or gone without.  I let that slip up mess with my mojo way more than it should have.

Enough of that.  There were some great things about yesterday too.  Had a lot of fun with with my running buddy before and after the race.  The race itself was really well organized – plenty of porta-potties, water stops, parking.  The course was relatively flat (I cannot tell you how grateful for that I was!).  It wasn’t too crowded.  Post race snacks were really amazing: (fresh!) bananas, large water bottles, chips, bread, nut roll, “dash hash”, beer.  The after-party village area was also pretty great: fire pits to warm up and a contest for the best runner in lumber jack costume.

I did run 10 miles.  I did finish the race.  I learned some valuable lessons.

Today I ran 2 more miles, just to prove I could.wpid-wp-1425841333174.png

My next race is a 17 mile trail run.  I’ve never run more than 13.1 miles.  I’ve never run a trail race.  I have a month to take what I’ve learned and get ready for this thing.  Here we go!

1,000 Days of MyFitnessPal

Crazy milestone.  I’ve logged into myfitnesspal.com (MFP) every single day for the past 1,000 days.  I’m not sure if that’s dedication or insanity but there it is.  Here are some things I’ve learned through my experiences the past 1,000 days.

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Before MFP in March 2012

Let’s first paint the picture:  Rewind to June 2012.  I had previously tried tracking calories using SparkPeople.com with little success.  I would use it, not use it, use it, not use it – you get the idea.  I was visiting my sisters in Virginia when my youngest sister suggested myfitnesspal.com.  She said her (now) husband started her on it and liked the

My first day logged on MFP.

June 3rd – My first day logged on MFP.

usability.  At first I was a bit skeptical since I already had SparkPeople but figured I’d check it out.  Loved it.  When I found out there was a streak counter for days logged in, one thought came to mind “oh it’s on like Donkey Kong!”.  I’ve logged in every day since.  When I first started using the app I wasn’t very active.  I hated working out and just figured if I ate less I didn’t have to exercise.  I was a busy mom, chasing my kids, playing with them in the yard etc. and figured that was enough.  Looking at my diet now, I ate pretty poorly back then.  Lots of pizza, convenience foods (think EZ cheese, pop tarts, mountains of girl scout cookies).  Whatever was easy and whatever I wanted.

I started using the app to just see what I was eating.  From there I started slowly reducing my calories and did my best to stay within about 1,200 daily since that was what MFP recommended for my height.  It wasn’t easy and I often had “cheat” days where I didn’t feel like logging all my food.  But I did continue to log in.  Every. Single. Day.

January or February of 2013 I realized I needed to start exercising.  I realized I liked the MFP app so much I might as well see if there is anything that rewards consistent exercise the same way.  Enter Nexercise.  I don’t use this app anymore but I can’t tell you how big of a part this app played in my journey to health and wellness.  You get virtual badges for doing different kinds of activities or more minutes of an activity.  It counts everything from house cleaning to badminton to swimming.  It even listed specific brand exercises like those found on BeachBody.com.  There were weekly points where you could compete with strangers or your friends.  And boy did I!  I told myself that it didn’t matter what exercise I did, I needed to do something every day.  And I did.  And I discovered a whole world of new activities I love.  I jumped rope, I logged seemingly endless hours on the elliptical, I played baseball with my kids, I did yoga, I walked (I walked a lot), I biked, I took fitness classes for the first time in my life.  I was so excited to see my Nexercise steak continue and rack up the points.  I also noticed that MFP gave you extra calories for eating with all of this activity.  Now we’re talking. 🙂  I started logging my food more consistently.

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First 5K – May 10th, 2013

Enter (my now very best running) friend.  I saw on her Facebook page that she had registered for a night time glowed up 5k.  It looked super cool.  She invited me to come.  My thought was I could never run for 3 miles.  She was super encouraging and said it was okay to walk and some of the others who were going would be walking too.  I remember this vividly: I was at a hotel in Wichita Kansas for work and wanted to see if I could do it.  I got on the hotel treadmill and huffed and puffed for about 46 minutes.  I walked, I jogged, walked some more, cursed a little.  But I survived 3 miles.  I registered for the race that night.  I kept up with my other activities but didn’t really train for the 5k.  When race day came around I some how ran (okay, slowly jogged) the whole darn thing.  I was on such a high, within the week I was asking her when we could do another race.  I was hooked.  I registered for a 10K, but knew I needed a training plan.  I completed every day of the couch to 10K program sometime during that Summer in preparation for the race at the end of August.  In total I ran 9 races in 2013, including my first half marathon.

With my boys after finishing my second 1/2 marathon - September 2014.

With my boys after finishing my second 1/2 marathon – September 2014.

I kept up with running and eventually didn’t need Nexercise anymore to motivate me to exercise.  I continued to log everything into MyFitnessPal.  I took a couple months off in Winter for a surgery but jumped back in with my first race of 2014 in March.  Eventually after much research I realized I need to start strength training.  I discovered that endless Capture2hours of cardio are not going to get me to where I want to be in regards to my physique, strength and endurance goals.  In May I began the ChaLean Extreme program from BeachBody but abandoned it after about a month when I joined LA Fitness and started working with a trainer instead.  My sister also helped me get started with eating IIFYM-style after I saw her using it with great results.  Increased calories to support my fitness was great.  Additional muscles and strength were also an added bonus.  I kept running.  I racked up a total of 467 miles in 2014 and finished 20 races. I continued to log into MFP.

January 2015

January 2015

MFP has changed my life in a gradual yet wonderful way.  I wake up, I shut off the alarm, I log in.  Every day.  I’m the most in shape I’ve ever been in my life.  I love trying new things and being active with my family.  I have discovered a love of racing and am excited to start training for my first marathon in June.

And that, my friends, is how I’ve spent my first 1,000 days on MyFitnessPal.