Thursday, June 23, 2016

Running Is Hard

I have to be honest, I've been struggling with my running lately.  I slacked off a lot on my running and training this year so I'm no where near my ideal running shape.  However, for whatever reason I had it in my head that I'd just pick it back up in no time.  Easy breezy.

What I didn't anticipate was how out of running shape I really am.  It's so frustrating to feel like I'm pushing pace just to look down at my watch and see I'm running up to 1 min/mile slower than my pace last year.  Not to mention the fact that I'm sucking wind and wanting to walk on single digit runs.  I'm supposed to be an ultra runner for goodness sakes!  Why is it so hard lately?

After a particularly suck-tastic run where I literally wanted to stop after one mile, I had a little sit down with myself to see what the heck is up.  Here's the thing:

1) I'm out of running shape.  Point blank. End of story.  I didn't run much or very consistently for months.  I did it to myself.  Why did I think I'd immediately be able to pick up where I left off?  It took time to get me to this point, it'll take time to get me back to where I was.  Time and hard work.  There are no shortcuts.

2) I'm working out. A lot.  I've been loving all of the new workouts I've been doing lately and I'm especially loving the results (hello arm definition!).  Unfortunately, the reality is the body can only do so much.  If I'm busting my tail to get back into running shape and working out like a fiend at the same time my body isn't going to be able to rest, recover and show results in the same way as it would if I was focusing on just one or the other.  That being said, I refuse to give up my workouts.  They've been a tremendous stress relief for me and I absolutely love seeing the changes in my body.  I just need to find that sweet spot when scheduling my runs and workouts to allow adequate rest/recovery and readjust my expectations on my progress.  No more "RUN ALL THE RUNS" and "DO ALL THE WORKOUTS"!  Easier said than done. 

3) I'm exhausted.  Work has been uber demanding lately and with the higher than normal stress levels I've developed really bad insomnia.  I'm talking 3-4 hours of sleep max on the daily.  No one can maintain a high level of activity without adequate sleep.  It's just not physically possible.  So naturally my runs have been more of a sufferfest than they should be.  I'm still trying to figure this one out since I've always had insomnia, just not to this extent before.

4) Poor diet and hydration.  I admit it, I am horrible at eating clean.  I love food.  All food. And quite frankly I lack the self-control and discipline that it takes to stick to a regimented clean diet.  I've also been really bad at drinking enough water for some reason.  I am getting better at eating healthier and hydrating consistently throughout the day but this has certainly impacted my ability to run.

5) Comparison trap.  I know I talked about this before here but I still struggle with this.  It's hard to see my friends cranking out amazing workouts and runs while I'm struggling with my own.  Trying to drown out the "I'm not strong enough" or "I'm not fast enough" or "I'm just not good enough" is a constant battle and it's HARD.  I end up grumpy and unmotivated and borderline depressed which typically ends with me sitting on my couch stuffing my face with junk.  Not helpful.  Tears have even been shed.  So dramatic! Lately I've even been logging in more solo runs than usual, even though I'm a consummate social runner, in part because I hate feeling like I'm holding everyone back from getting a good run in.  I honestly feel bad.  Thankfully my friends won't listen to any of that crap and insist I run with them anyway.  Still, I beat myself up way more than I should.

Hell, I even feel that way about workouts that everyone seems to love but I can't seem to get into.  I have to fight the "something's wrong with me" mentality.  Lord knows I keep trying to go to those classes/workouts in the hopes that I'll one day miraculously "love it" too.  Maybe I just have to come to terms with the fact that those workouts may not be for me and focus on the classes/workouts that I really do love and make me feel good.  And along those lines, I need to remind myself that I don't need to do 2-3 workouts and runs a day just because it feels like everyone else is.  As long as I'm cross training and running and doing it in a healthy way, that's all that matters right?!

Bottom line: STOP WITH THE COMPARISON TRAP ALREADY! Yes I'm yelling at myself.  I need to focus on doing me, regardless of what that means.  And if people judge me because of that then that's their problem not mine.

Ultimately, I just need to get it into my brain that my running (and workout) level is different from where it was.  It doesn't mean that I'm no longer a "runner", it just means that I have some work to do to be where I want to be.  In the meantime, I just need to be kinder to myself and allow myself some grace as I work towards where I want to be.  I'll get there.

And since you've been awesome enough to read through all of that, here are some really pretty pictures of my super early morning run the other day:





Tuesday, June 21, 2016

2016 Run In The Name of Love - Race Recap

Father's Day was a beautiful day in my neck of the woods. Since my Daddy is currently enjoying retirement in the tropical climate of another country I figured the best way for me to celebrate was by running a race on his behalf.  Makes sense right?!

Here's a quick description of the race straight from the race website:

"The original Run In The Name of Love was held in Charlottesville, VA, a benefit race memorializing Brian James Love, an outstanding young man from Carmel, CA. Brian was a scholar, musician, athlete and leader. He was captain of the University of Virginia’s snowboarding team. During team practice one afternoon he hit a tree and died instantly, three months prior to graduation. Brian had been secretly training to run his first marathon to surprise his “marathoner mom.”  In an effort to capture his generous spirit and contagious energy, the students, led by Melissa Georges, honored Brian and his dedication to the university and the community by organizing and participating in the first Run in the Name of Love 5K.

The proceeds were donated to the Arc of the Piedmont, an area charity with which Brian had been associated in life. The Arc of the Piedment is a non-profit organization providing advocacy, hope and support for people of all ages with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Significantly, Brian had volunteered his time and services to this organization and had risen money through student government to further its cause.

Brian’s mother, Susan Love, traveled to the university to lead the students in the race every year of its existence. However, she had a dream and a goal to move the race from the East Coast to Brian’s hometown. Through dedication and determination her dream is now a reality.

And with the creation of this celebration in Brian’s hometown, Run in the Name of Love has expanded in scope. In addition to organizing and implementing a first class event, the goal for Run in the Name of Love is to raise money for JUST RUN, the Big Sur International Marathon’s outstanding youth fitness program.  All participants are encouraged to 'Run in the Name' of someone they love, either as a memorial or as a tribute to someone who is loved in life."
 

Race morning was warm and I knew heat was going to be an issue for me before I even got to the race venue.  Once I got to the start line I quickly found my "running tribe" and said hello to everyone I knew along the way.  I also made some new friends as I waited for the race to start, including some of the cutest four legged runners I've ever seen (the race has a 2k which allows dogs and strollers.  This dog obsessed runner was in heaven!).  Nala the husky puppy was my favorite!

My running tribe
 
The start line

Once the race started, we were off!  The race is a net downhill point-to-point 5k that starts at the Sunset Center and weaves down along the streets of Carmel before hitting the finish line at Carmel Beach.  It is a beautiful course and the views can't be beat.

My original plan was to try to actually race since I haven't ran a hard 5k in about a year but the heat made me nix that idea really quickly.  Instead, I ran with my new friend Tessa who just started running again.  It was her first 5k in several years so it was fun keeping her company and getting to experience the race in a different way with her.  She killed it on the course and crossed the finish line with a much faster time than she expected!

So pretty! 
 
As soon as we crossed the finish line we found our friend Ben and all waited to cheer in our other friends that were still out on the course.
 

We did it!
 
I was practicing my senior portrait pose & sporting major runner's tan
 
After the race the entire group headed out for brunch to celebrate Father's Day. Granted, Kyle was the only dad but that's ok.  We cheered to all of our dads with our bottomless mimosas before we tore into our food.  Man, the rungries are no joke! 
 

This is why I run. FEED ME!

All in all, Father's Day was great.  Gorgeous weather, great event, amazing friends and good food.  I'd like a repeat soon please!

What did you do to celebrate Father's Day?  Hopefully you had an amazing weekend!


Monday, June 13, 2016

A Week In My Sweaty Life

It's taken me a little while to bounce back after Nanny Goat, mostly because I had to get healthy again.  Once I was feeling well it still took me a little bit to feel normal enough to jump back into my usual workout and running routine.  Man, being sick sure is draining!

This week I finally feel like I've hit my stride with running and working out again.  Instead of a full blown write-up, here's a quick synopsis via pictures:

Monday:
Stairs! 10 rounds of stair repeats to be exact.  My calves hate me.

Old pic 'cuz I'm a bad blogger

Tuesday:
Barre courtesy of Physical Kitchness where she kicked my booty.  My calves really hate me.

My legs were screaming

Wednesday:
Barre BURN courtesy of Staci.  This is my first time taking this class and I loved it!  I forgot how much I love this type of workout format. We did an outdoors warm-up that consisted of mobility drills including walking toe touches, toy soldiers, high knees, butt kickers and suicide sprints. Then we headed into the studio for a five round progressive workout (reps of 10-20-30-20-10) that consisted of push-ups, supermans, tricep dips and jump squats per round. We ended with a fun abs routine of russian twists, mountain climbers and uneven arm planks (which were new to me).  My arms (and legs) were J E L L O!

Staci killed me. I want her arms. #goals

Ended the day with a sunset 10k run + 1 mile cool down walk.

These are a few of my favorite things

As much of the sunset as I could get through the fog
Thursday:
4 mile hard run with hills followed by a 3 mile walk with the crew.

Run Happy
 
I love these faces!
 
Friday:
R E S T.

Saturday:
6 miles of trail running with Heather and Eric. So happy!

Sweaty post run smiles

Sunday:
Chrissa's last barre class.  She killed me.  I am going to miss her classes so much.  I'm bummed that she's leaving us to move to sunny San Diego with her gorgeous family but that just means I have to make a road trip out to SoCal to take her classes out there right?!  In the meantime I'll just stalk her blog.  Not that that's creepy or anything.

She's pregnant but still does better than me. I'm ok with it.

Also, ever since my dehydration scare at Nanny Goat I've been drinking water like crazy!  I have this lovely water bottle at work which is an obnoxiously bright neon color that screams DRINK ME.  It sits right in front of my screen and boy do I make sure to drink my water with that thing right in front of my eyeballs.

So bright!

How was your week?  Did you get all of your workouts and/or runs in?  What kind of workouts do you like best?

Thursday, June 9, 2016

2016 Nanny Goat - The race that wasn't

Nanny Goat. The course where I ran my first (and only!) hundo.  The place where I met so many amazing running friends who I still keep in touch with to this day.  The 28 hour party. The race that will forever hold a special place in my heart.

After massive burnout from running all the races in 2014 and trying to regain my passion for running last year by racing less, I was fully convinced that there were going to be little to no ultras over the 50k distance in the plans for 2016.  I actually had no intention to head out to SoCal for Nanny Goat this year however that changed after a night of watching the Barkley Marathons documentary on Netflix while simultaneously drinking a few glasses of wine and texting/chatting with some ultra running friends.  The next thing I knew, I was on Ultra Signup and registered for the 24 hour event. FOMO is real y'all!

Nanny Goat offers both 12 hour and 24 hour events.  Any runner who reaches the 86 mile cut-off within 24 hours then gets an additional 4 hours to complete 100 miles.  I figured since I signed up for the 24 hour event why not attempt another hundo.  I could use another buckle in my collection right?!

Unfortunately, life had other plans in store for me.  I couldn't get in the training or mileage I needed for proper 100 miler training but being the stubborn runner that I am I was fully convinced that I would be able to power through just on sheer determination and stubbornness. 

Then I got sick on Wednesday of race week.  Really sick.  No matter what I did or how much rest I tried to get I was still under the weather when I headed out to Riverside, CA on Friday morning.  Unfortunately for me, I underestimated the craziness of Memorial Weekend traffic and spent almost 7 1/2 hours screaming at crazy drivers from my car.  So relaxing...but not really. 

I made it to Riverside in one piece and met up with my amazing friends Terri and Louie who were so kind to let me crash in their hotel room with them.  We headed out to dinner at Applebee's and it was great being able to catch-up.  I could tell my appetite still wasn't normal since I only ate half my dinner (unheard of for me!) and I knew I was dehydrated since I didn't drink water consistently on the drive so I was a little worried for race day.  I told Terri I wanted to at least get a 50k in but I still had it in my head that I was going to try for another 100 mile attempt.

After dinner we headed back to the hotel to prepare all of our race day stuff and relax.  Terri is the best crew ever!  She helped crewed me when I ran Nanny Goat for the first time and she's also crewed me at other races since (including the infamous 2014 Run-de-Vous race that reached 104 degrees and I was *thisclose* to throwing myself on the ground and having a massive meltdown).  She literally has anything and everything that a runner can possibly want or need for an ultra and is always ready for an encouraging word or tough love as needed to get her runners to reach their goals.

As soon as we all had our race prep done, Louie was down for the count and fast asleep while Terri and I stayed up a bit having girl talk.  We both suffer from insomnia and the curse of uber sensitive hearing so we kept each other company while cursing the very loud hotel guests meandering up and down the hallways that were incapable of figuring out how to use their key card. 

After what felt like 15 minutes of sleep, we were woken up by the alarm.  It was race day!  As usual, race day excitement had me up and out of bed and bouncing around like a crazy person.  In no time at all, we had our cars loaded up and headed out to the race venue.
 
Nanny Goat is held at the Sexton Horse Ranch where the owner, Shelli Sexton, and her family have been kind enough to allow us crazy runners to take over every Memorial Day weekend for our shenanigans.  The excitement was palpable as soon as we arrived.  Runners were everywhere and I had the time of my life seeing and catching up with running friends and making new ones as well.

I'm always being asked why I put myself through the "torture" of endurance events like marathons and ultras and without fail I always say that there are many reasons that keep me coming back but ultimately the people are the best part.  It's the people that make the running community so amazing and they're truly what make every race fun.  The ultra community especially epitomizes that.  I have seen people hit the highest highs and lowest lows at ultras and I've seen complete strangers rally behind one another and pick each other up (sometimes literally).  If you've never been to an ultra I highly recommend that you go and at least spectate once in your lifetime.  It's such a beautiful thing to witness. 

Look at those happy faces!
 
Shrina, Terri, Me

Robert "Latin Heat" Manon, Momma T, Me

Michael, me, Karen "Eviltwin" Vollan and Deo behind us
 
Soon enough, the RD was ringing his cowbell to get all of the runners into the Goat Pen.  Nanny Goat has one of the most unique starts of any race that I've ran in that all of the runners are literally corralled into a horse pen and the gate opens to signal the start of the race.  Once those gates opened, all of the runners were off!
 
Diana, Marathon Mich, me in the starting corral/horse pen

Michael, me, Diana

Me, Diana, Jeff
 
I positioned myself towards the back of the pack to 1) keep myself from going out too fast and 2) prevent myself from getting ran over by the speedsters.  Luckily, I fell into pace with Diana and Giovanni and we all chatted for the first several miles. It's always great to have company as it helps the time pass so much faster.  Giovanni was nursing an injury so he was race walking.  What was hilarious was his race walk pace was just as fast as our run pace!
 
Me, Diana and Giovanni

I knew within the first several miles that it was going to be a struggle to make this race happen.  My body was fatigued and I felt really weak since I wasn't recovered from being sick.  Added to that was my allergies going berserk from all the dust/dirt/pollen/animal dander on the course.  I had to stop and walk much sooner than normal and quickly revised my race strategy to a walk/run.

Diana and Giovanni were going strong so they both took off but luckily I ran into Donna and Shrina and joined their party for several miles.  These two are hilarious!  If you ever have a chance to run with them at a race, I highly recommend that you do.  They were wearing Bitch 1 and Bitch 2 shirts and it seemed like they knew everyone on the course.  I felt like I was escorting running celebrities since everyone was yelling hi to the two "bitches".  It was great!  I also got to share some miles with my fellow Altra Ambassador Jenny (check out her Nanny Goat race recap here) which was awesome. 

Me, Donna and Shrina (their shirts said Bitch 1 & Bitch 2. Hilarious!)
 
At around 10:30ish the overcast skies dissipated and the sun started beaming down on us.  Heat is my kryptonite.  I just don't do well in it.  My run/walk turned into just a walk and I let the two B's go ahead since I just couldn't keep pace at that point.  The great thing about Nanny Goat is that inevitably you run into others who are either running or walking at your pace so I joined up with Robert "Latin Heat" Manon and Michael for a few miles.  I also entertained myself by trying to spot as many Altra shoes on the course as possible.  It was fun seeing so many out on the course!  

Somewhere around 2:30 or 3:00 I felt a little dizzy so I decided to sit for a little bit in a chair in the barn and wait for the weather to cool down.  I forced myself to eat and drink but it took a while for me to feel ok to get back out on the course.  It was at that point that I told Terri (a.k.a. Momma T) that I was downgrading to the 12 hour event.  There was no way that my body was going to make it for 24 hours, much less 100 miles.  The hardest part was trying to get back up and going.  There's a reason it's called the "Chair of Death".  Once you sit down, it's nearly impossible to convince yourself to get back up!

Thankfully, somewhere around 4:30 Shrina and Donna came back through the barn and Shrina managed to convince me to head back out with them.  I managed to hang with them for a few miles before I had to duck into a lovely porta potty.  That was when things got real. 

I'm going to get a little TMI here so sorry in advance to my readers who get quesy easily!  Anyone who has run an endurance event knows that trying to hover in a squat position over a porta potty so you don't touch anything is quite a feat on fatigued legs so that in and of itself took a herculean effort on my part.  Checking your bodily fluids and waste is also critical for endurance events as it's the primary indicator that you're fueling and hydrating properly.  So imagine how freaked out I was to notice that I had blood in my urine.  Blood in urine is an indicator of extreme dehydration and I have never had that before even when I ran in triple digit heat!  Then when I tried to stand back up I got really lightheaded and dizzy and I had to steady myself for several seconds before trying to walk out.  At that point I was done.  I still had time on the clock to keep going but I was too scared to go any further.  I walked back into the barn and told Momma T that I was calling it and immediately plopped myself in a chair pouting.  Momma T is an angel and immediately got me the most amazing tasting Cup o'Noodles ramen to eat and water to drink.  I swear at the time it was the best tasting ramen ever!

As disappointed as I was about my personal performance, I loved that it provided me an opportunity to spectate the other runners and cheer on/help crew them each time they passed through.  It was awesome to see the race from the other side of the fence so to speak.  I could tell which runners were feeling good, who was hitting a low and who needed some help (whether that meant fetching food, water, chocolate, ramen, etc.).  As my friend Leigh Anne and I discussed our respective races and cheered on the runners that came through, we reflected on how being the non-runner at that point offered a lot of perspective.  It was eye opening to see not only what the runners go through but also what sacrifices the families, friends and support crew make to ensure their runner makes it across that finish line.  It was one of my biggest takeaways from the race and for that I was grateful.

At the end of the day, my race may not have gone as planned but I still showed up and gave it all I had.  That day I didn't have a PR or another 100 mile effort in me, but whatever I did have I left it all on the course. I earned my finisher's amulet.  And for that, I'm proud.

Earned.
 
 Have you ever had a bad race or a race that didn't go as plan?  What did you do?