Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Run It Out

As I've outlined in my last post, I have a lot of goals and changes for 2015.  I was so excited by them all that I started working on them early!  Here's how the last few days panned out:


I joined Thepinkhatrunner for 50 minutes of pool running.  It was my first time pool running and boy was it harder than I thought it would be!  I can't swim so I had a little anxiety when I first jumped in but other than a few little panic attacks mid-pool I think I did ok for a newbie.  I didn't drown so I call it a win!  I definitely felt the fatigue in my entire body when I was done and I was ravenously hungry.  I'll be adding pool running to my weekly routine for sure!

DANGER!  Clueless runner in the pool! 


On Saturday I woke up at 4:30 AM in order to join my friends Sarah and Chantel at 6:00 AM for a 5 hour trail run.  Yup, 5 hours.  In my infinite wisdom I thought it would be the perfect time to break in my brand spanking new Altra Lone Peak 2.0 trail shoes.  It was also going to be the first long run where I was going to be using my Nathan hydration vest.  You know, 'cuz you should always try new things during long runs and races right?!

It was FREEZING cold (that's 30 degrees for us Cali folks) at the start and dipped down to the 20's along the way so I never warmed up which is really unusual for me since I usually run hot.  The air was so cold that it was really rough for me to breathe in so I had my Buff covering my nose and mouth for the first 10 miles or so.  My asthmatic lungs apparently don't like cold air!

I'm usually a road runner so trail running is a relatively new thing for me.  It didn't seem so terrible when it was dark because I couldn't see the hills we were running but once the sun was up (and it was still freakin' cold), it was becoming a huge mental challenge for me to crest each hill just to see another one right in front of us.  Add to that the fatigue on my body and hunger and I was not necessarily the most pleasant runner towards the end of the run.

Oh but the views!  The views made it all worth it.  I literally smiled as I ran while watching the sun come up and seeing the views of the hills and the ocean.  Despite my crankiness in the last few miles, I would do it again in a heartbeat.  I'm pretty sure trail running is going to be my new favorite.

At the start with my bajillion layers

I loved watching the sunrise as we ran

So pretty!

How can you not run happy with this view?

Trail running is my new favorite


Rest day


Easy 2 miles.  I also did meal prep for the first time in preparation for my new clean diet regiment in 2015.  I made:
  • Breakfast: Steal cut oats with a drizzle of honey and blueberries
  • Snacks: Baby carrots with roasted tomato hummus * Turkey, reduced fat swiss cheese and avocado rollups * Greek yogurt with blueberries
  • Lunch: A jalapeƱo turkey pattie with a spinach, mixed greens and kale salad and balsamic vinaigrette

I met up with Thepinkhatrunner and Sarah at 4:45 AM for a 5 mile o'dark thirty run.  It was chilly but no where near as cold as it was on Saturday.  The miles flew by as we chatted along the way.  Before we knew it we were done!  Michele was fighting illness last week so this was her first run since being completely recovered and she rocked it.  After exchanging high fives and hugs all around we made plans for our next run/workout together and went off to conquer the rest of the day.

I wouldn't get my early AM miles in without them

After work, I headed to my local gym for a R.I.P.P.E.D. class.  The instructor introduced the new season's exercises/workouts to the class and man was I all over the place!  I was the epitome of a sweaty hot mess.  After an hour sweat session full of weights, plyometrics, intervals, power and endurance exercises I was definitely exhausted.  I know I'll be feeling it tomorrow!  

So happy it was over!

Double sweat session day for the win!!!

Once I got home I proceeded to pack up the meals I had prepped before heading to R.I.P.P.E.D.  On the menu for tomorrow:
  • Breakfast: Steal cut oats with a drizzle of honey and blueberries (the steel cut oats are currently soaking in almond milk in the fridge)
  • Snacks: Baby carrots with roasted tomato hummus * Honey ham, reduced fat swiss cheese and avocado rollups * Apple cinnamon greek yogurt with steel cut oats * Blueberries
  • Lunch: Ground turkey, red, orange and green bell peppers, red onions, mushrooms and spinach cooked "fajita style" with mexican seasonings and topped on a quinoa, brown rice, chia combo.  I also packed a small spinach, kale and mixed greens salad with cherry tomatoes and a light balsamic vinaigrette just in case I'm still hungry.

I plan to do some pool running in the morning tomorrow, run a 10k on New Year's Day, and get another long trail run in on Saturday so it'll be a pretty active fitness week for me.  I'm feeling pretty good about how things will turn out for 2015!

What are your fitness goals to close out the year?  What do goals/changes do you have for 2015?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014 CIM Musings & 2015 Running Goals

Happy Christmas Eve everyone!  Hope you're all enjoying your time with loved ones.

It took me a little longer than I expected to decompress from what went down at CIM and figure out why it happened but what I wanted to do about it.  I was burnt out not only physically but also mentally and emotionally as well.  For the very first time since I started running I didn't want to run.  I didn't have any desire to get up before the break of dawn to pound the pavement or hit the trails and to be completely honest I didn't miss it.

In retrospect, I should have known this was going to happen.  I ran 22 races in 2013 including 6 full marathons and 2 ultramarathons and paid for it by being completely physically exhausted by the end of the year.  I vowed to give myself a break in 2014 by running fewer races.

I ran fewer races alright!  2014 was the year of the ultramarathon and I ended up running a total of 4 ultras including my very first 100 miler.  To be fair, I had no idea how mentally and emotionally exhausting running ultras would be.  I thought I'd bounce back just as quickly as I did after running marathons.  I know, ridiculous right?!  At the end of the day, I just didn't give myself the down time that I needed to reset and recharge.  How I finished all 12 races I ran this year I have no idea!

I'm going to use a completely different approach for 2015.  Race less, run less and more quality miles will be my mantra.  I have some major goals that I set for myself for 2014 that I didn't come anywhere near reaching and I'm determined to hit those in the coming year.

For those who are interested, here is what I'll be focusing on for 2015:

1) Rediscover my running motivation and pure love of the run.  This is my number one goal for the new year.  I miss being excited to go out and run.  I miss missing it.  So my focus will be rediscovering that love and passion for the sport and finding the motivation to get out and run.

2) Redefine my lifestyle.  This one will be hard.  Ultimately I want to embrace a truly healthy lifestyle.  I may run and workout fairly regularly however my eating patterns are horrendous.  My goal is to embrace a clean, healthy diet supplemented by running and cross training.

3) Run fast. Run far. But run FAST.  Full disclaimer: my fast is not anywhere near what the fast runners would call fast.  I want to run fast for me.  I want those numbers on my Garmin to stay closer to sub-9:00's versus the sub-10:00's that I'm seeing right now.

And those big race goals that I'll be chasing?  Here they are:

Half Marathon PR - the ever elusive sub-2:00. It's gonna happen dang it!

Marathon PR - A Goal: 4:15:xx
                         B Goal: 4:25:xx
                         C Goal: sub-4:30

50 mile PR - Anything faster than 12 hours

There you go!  Bring on the new year.  I'm ready!

See you in 2015!

Monday, December 8, 2014

2014 California International Marathon - Race Recap

I made a promise to myself when I started this little corner of the interwebs that I would always be honest to both myself and my readers.  I wanted to ensure that I shared everything (the good, the bad and the ugly) because let's face it, life isn't perfect.  So get ready for some ugly!

The 2014 California International Marathon was by far one of the worst races I've ever had.  The difference is that unlike all of my other bad races, this time I had no physical issues causing my demise.  This time my biggest problem was my mind.

Race weekend started with the race expo on Saturday.  I showed up at 10: 30 AM to meet-up with a friend and proceeded to stay for a total of 5 hours getting my social butterfly on.  Bad idea!  I had such a great time meeting and catching-up with fellow runners but being on my legs for so long was not smart.  No regrets though.  It was worth it seeing everyone!


Charles Wickersham, runner extraordinaire

John Saleem, Newton rep & The Treadmill friend 

The speedy guys 

The Monterey crew

Kim & Jon 

I Run 4 crew

After the expo I met up with my friends Kelly and Najoo and despite trying our best to find a restaurant to accommodate us for an early-ish dinner, we ended up hitting up the local Whole Foods and brought food back to eat in the hotel room.  Dinner in bed was the best decision ever!  Then I took some melatonin to help pass out early and was in deep sleep in no time.

In what seemed like no time my alarm was going off at 4:30 AM on race day.  After a quick change into race gear and grabbing some free breakfast from the hotel lobby (woohoo!) Kelly and I hopped on the shuttle to take us to the race start.  Thankfully the ride was a short one but they did allow you to stay on the buses as long as you wanted which was really nice.  We had plenty of time to hit up the huge row of porta potties.  Thank you CIM for having more than enough bathroom facilities for your runners.  I even got to use a pristine, unused one.  Score!

After my little bathroom break, I went out in search of my friends Kandace, Nichole and Peyton who were running their very first full marathon.  I knew my legs were fatigued from all of the standing and walking around I had done the day before so I was hoping I could run with them for the entire race.  I found them keeping warm at the 7-11 near the start and we eventually meandered over to find our spots at the start line. 

We ended up chatting with the awesome 4:40 pace leader and quickly decided to try to stick with her for as long as possible.  We even ran into Kristina from Live Laugh Love Run who was also going to be running with the 4:40 group.  Can I just tell you that this lady is AMAZING and ended up running a 20 minute PR.  Congrats again Kristina! You are a rockstar!

Anyhoo, in no time at all the race started and off we went right on pace with the 4:40 pace crew.  CIM is a net downhill course that is comprised of gentle rolling hills throughout the duration of 26.2 miles (for those on the east coast I would compare them to the hills you'd experience during the early miles of the Marine Corps Marathon).  For me especially this means a course that's chock full of potential for a PR since I'm a solid uphill runner and the gravity on the downhills helped with banking time.

Although fatigued, my legs felt pretty good and I kept fighting to keep myself from speeding up.  At around mile 6ish I had to hit a porta potty but luckily I was able to catch back up with my friends Kandace, Nichole and Peyton.  We lost the 4:40 pace group but it was ok.  We were still on pace for a 4:50/4:55 finish time.

At mile 8 we found our phenomenal friend Chantel who had driven out to cheer us on.  How awesome is that?!  Then at mile 10 we ran into Peyton's family who were cheering their heads off and proceeded to give all of us high fives and hugs.  There may or may not have been a little twerking action happening (from us, not the spectators). HA!

Unfortunately, it wasn't too long afterwards when the wheels fell off.  At around mile 12.5 I got a horrible side stitch.  Despite my very best attempts I could not get rid of it and at 12.75 I told the girls to keep going while I tried to walk it off and I'd try to catch back up if I could.  That never happened. Even while I was walking the stupid cramp would not go away and it wasn't until around mile 14.5ish that I got it to disappear.  By that point, I was mentally over it.  Going into CIM I knew that I was experiencing burnout.  I had lost my motivation and desire to train and skipped quite a few runs leading up to race day.  What I didn't know was just how burnt out I was!

From then on I literally walked.  Person after person and pace group after pace group passed me and I walked.  None of my usual tricks, games, or mental bribes could get me to start running again.  Even when I'd see running friends run up and pass me, I couldn't and didn't want to run.  That never happens!  I'm a chaser...I love to chase!  And if someone I know is in the vicinity during a race I usually do everything in my power to run with them.  But not this time.  

As I walked I chatted to people near me and did a bit of introspection.  I slogged (that's slow jogged just FYI) maybe a total of 2.5 miles during the second half of the race.  I couldn't even get myself to run the last mile of the race!  I only started running when I was maybe a quarter of a mile from the finish line.  Sad.  Really sad.  

When I saw the timer at the finish line I couldn't help but laugh.  Apparently walking for 10+ miles adds an hour to your marathon time. Who knew?!

Official finish time: 5:37:03

My mind quit on me that day in a way I've never experienced before.  I was completely over the race.  I had thrown in the towel and I didn't even care.  I knew I had done a lot of things wrong which impacted my race performance but I had no physical pains or injuries that were compromising my ability to run.  I was just mentally exhausted but hadn't known to what extent until it hit me halfway through the race.  See, although I "cut back" on the number of races I ran this year due to the physical burnout I had last year (running a minimum of one race a month, sometimes even a race every weekend, tends to do that to you), I actually ran more this year thanks to all of the ultra races and training.  I didn't take into account that the races that I ran were considerably further in distance and much more draining physically and mentally.  So much so, that I had hit complete and total mental burnout.  The truth is my head gave up.  I have no excuses.

Would I ever run CIM again?  Absolutely.  Despite my dismal performance, the course itself was fantastic.  There's magic there as evidenced by all the PR's my friends were posting.  I'll be back to conquer those hills again except next time I'll be bringing my A-game.