2017 Chicago Marathon Recap – Failure is Not Always the Opposite of Success

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Can you feel like you succeeded but also failed at the same time? 

..because I am pretty sure that is exactly how I feel about Chicago.

My mindset was the strongest part of the entire race. I never let negative thoughts take over and constantly reminded myself of the infamous Kara Goucher line, “Once you make the decision to not fail, your heart and body will follow.”  When my energy levels hit the wall, my mind stayed determined and focused.  I knew my PR pace was fading at mile 17 but I repetitively reminded myself that I wasn’t failing, I was learning. I was learning how to keep the pace strong when the goal was no longer part of the plan. I put my head down and chipped away at each mile and fed my mind all the confidence it needed.

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I didn’t fail at Chicago.  But I didn’t succeed.  I had my eyes set on a PR and this vision was new to me.  In all my past marathons, I just ran because I love the distance.  In my first 3 marathons, I was still so new to 26.2 miles and I was still exploring the territory.  I gradually let down my guards with each marathon resulting in consistently faster times and constant PRs.  I threw 2016 San Francisco Marathon spontaneously into the mix as my fourth marathon.  Although I wanted to attempt sub 3:15, I didn’t have much expectations because it was such a spur of the moment race.  I ended up taking a risk and started with the 3:15 pacers only to find myself diving head first into the wall at mile 18.  The problem wasn’t necessarily my legs inability to tackle the hills but my mind’s inability to stay composed when this scary feeling of complete fatigue took over.  I was experiencing the exact feeling I feared when I first started tackling this distance.  I lost complete control of my emotions and just cried my way to the finish.

SF Marathon was an utter failure but once again, I had no expectations so it didn’t sting much.  I easily shook off the experience and began to prepare for Chicago 2016 in the fall.  Ultimately, Chicago was the big picture and San Francisco was like a practice run that served as a crash course on how to NOT react when you hit the wall.  I still made silly mistakes in Chicago 2016, but raced my way to a 3:13 PR.  I was ecstatic and SURPRISED.  Going into the race, I just wanted another attempt at sub 3:15 now that hills were no longer in the picture.

Then there was Boston and Big Sur.  I don’t need to elaborate on those two much because I have done enough of that.  Let’s just say that snagging a medal at the end was the only pressure I placed on myself so despite running two of my slowest marathons (other than my first), it was still a success.

Chicago 2017 was the first marathon that I truly went into with a vision and a hunger for success.  My mind was stronger than ever and I believed and still believe that my body was just as ready to PR.  I was just ready.  When the gun went off, I felt great.  Bethany and I were hitting consistent 7:25s for the first 3 miles and we slowly crept to 7:20s with a couple 7:13/15.  I was weary of the pace but I knew we were being smart and I genuinely felt solid.  At the halfway point, I felt my mind wander to negative places but I reeled it back in quickly because when I scanned my body, there were no signals of crashing.

I had a little incident with my fueling which is why I think my mind started going negative.  I stupidly only brought one gel with me to take at the first 10k mark and intended on using the gel on the course for the remaining 10k splits…however I failed to look at where the fuel would be located on the course and what it was. I would say that it was a “rookie move” but rookies don’t even do that!!!  I had the course and the water stations memorized going into my first marathon.

When mile 12 was approaching, I was not seeing any fuel stations.  I started to worry, consequently switching my focus from consistent pacing to scanning the crowd/road for a gel.  When I race, I need to be in the zone to be successful and when I get taken out of the zone mentally, it impacts my mindset and my performance a bit.

I finally spotted a fuel station and was immediately relieved….until i saw that it was…CHEWS! yuck! Oh well..this is what I get for being stupid.  I took down the chews more easily than I anticipated and my stomach didn’t react negatively so I was able to get right back into the zone by mile 14.

Around 14-15, Bethany started to creep up and although we try to stay together, I felt that my pace was perfect for me at that point.  I was clocking 7:20-7:25 and it was a pace completely driven by my body.  If I have learned anything in training over the last couple of years, it is listen to your body and be in tune with what it is telling you.  I could feel that it was telling me, “This pace is just right at this point in the race and pushing for someone else was not how to run a smart race.”  It is hard to watch someone go on without you but I reminded myself that 1.) I need to trust MY process.  Being smart will pay off in the end and maybe we can meet back up later in the race.  2.)  BETHANY IS A STRONG RUNNER AND DESERVES A PR SO GO GET IT GIRL!

Around mile 17 is when the heat started to get to me and I could tell my pace was slowing but just tried to stay consistent around 7:30-45.  I was taking in lots of Gatorade and pouring water over my head.  At this point, I knew I lost my PR opportunity but I wasn’t about to lose my mental control like at San Francisco.  I reminded myself of how I went into the race and my readiness to fight hard. Although my original intentions were to fight for a PR, I asked for this fight and now I got it. PR or not, I better get fighting.

I kept doing mental body scans, something I learned in Chi Running, and despite feeling pretty zapped from the heat, my body wasn’t in pain.  I was certainly capable of finishing it out as strong as possible.

Mile 22 -26 was an all out 7:50 grind.  I was grabbing oranges and popscicles melted sugar-water from spectators just to keep my blood sugar up.  I am very sure that Jordan Hassay and Galen Rupp weren’t just grabbing random goodies off the side of the street in Chinatown..aka…this strategy is not something you will find in ANY marathon fueling plan.  But when the heat hits, I just have to do whatever I feel is necessary during the race.  Passing out is something I really worry about so I throw my fueling strategy out the window and just become a savage for electrolytes and carbs.  My stomach starts to really hate me at this point but I just ignore it.  I wish the camera man would also ignore it because it becomes a bloated and not-so-photogenic mess by the end.  But I’ll take a stomach ache over an unconscious self in the medical tent.

I eventually hit the 1 mile left sign and just put my head down and did what I could.  Getting from the 800m marker to the 400m marker felt like the longest part of the race!  Then the finish was in sight and I just took off as much as I could.

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When I finished, my Garmin congratulated me by saying, FASTEST MARATHON – 3:12…for a split second my exhausted brain believed that silly thing but the math teacher in me kicked in shortly after and was like nope, that can’t be right.  Sure enough, my mom texted me my time and a wave of disappointment passed through.  I met up with Bethany who ended up being within 45 seconds of me for the majority of the race and we hashed it all out.

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After spending the afternoon with her, I felt like the day was a success.  I posted about it being a success because my mental game was so strong despite all the unplanned/unfortunate factors that could have pulled it down. I felt more in tune with my racing body than ever before.  The consistent and fast splits in the first half felt good and although the heat caused me to slip, I still felt strong and solid.  I walked back to my hotel room feeling proud and happy.

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I don’t know what caused this all to change as the day progressed.  Maybe finding out that there were a lot of people who did snag a PR made me feel like the heat wasn’t an excuse.  Maybe I really did execute the race poorly despite feeling so strong.  The post race nausea made my body feel so bad and I think that drove my mind into a negative spiral.  I replayed the day over in my head and tried to dig to the bottom of this weird change in feeling.  How could I feel so successful earlier in the day and now the exact opposite?

Ultimately, I realized that this was the first marathon that I truly went into with an expectation.  I showed up confident and ready to push the boundary.  It may sound crazy that I have never set a goal for myself in all my previous 7 marathons but it is true.  I woke up Sunday morning feeling more than just READY…I was excited, scared, motivated, determined and hungry for success.

In the middle of the race I was thinking about confidence and what it means.  As a competitor, confidence is needed to push outside of your comfort zone and fight for a risky goal….but sometimes confidence is the reason you have to fight.  When you don’t have a challenging goal then the race isn’t as hard, the struggle isn’t as painful and the end result doesn’t weigh too heavy on your heart.

Maybe I went into the race over-confident and now I am dealing with the post-race sting of not meeting my expectations.  Falling short of something you want flat out stinks…but I am realizing now that my mindset and execution of the race, as risky as it was, is a sign that I am growing confident in my ability to take risks in this distance.  I am developing more concrete goals.  I am proud of how eager I was to get to the start and lay it all on the line.

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Reflecting on Chicago Training

 

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My Chicago Marathon mantra

My motto for Boston was “I can and I will” because simply finishing was something I doubted and I needed that constant reminder that I could and I would. 2 weeks later in Big Sur, my mottosniftd to “limitations only exist if you let them”… I spent so much time worrying for Boston but when I arrived and the gun went off, my worries faded and I was able to just run because I made it to the start line and ultimately that was all I wanted. Sometimes our greatest limitations are absent fears that our brain has created.

Chicago training was probably one of the most solid and consistent training cycles that I have ever done. In July, I focused a lot on speed, track work and 5ks.

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I wasn’t ready to tackle the heavy mileage and did not want to rush into marathon training. I may have tackled speed a bit too aggressively because my high hamstring got annoyed. That was my cue to lay off the track and hit the roads to start some mileage training. I started slowly and really focused on being smart this cycle. My only possible regret this cycle is maybe taking a little TOO smart and cautious.

I established a solid base and my first 20 miler was late August, giving me plenty of time to throw in a couple weekends of different long runs before my final 21-miler that I usually do 3 weeks out. In th past, I would have just filled the awkward middle 2 weekends with more 18-20 but I decided to switch it up and try different workouts this time around. I jumped in the Charles River Marathon with Nicole (@girlrunseverywhere) for a fun workout that was a 3 mile warmup, 10k @ 7:09 and 8 mile cool down. I have never done that type of workout and it was actually very hard but fun to maintain a decent pae while recovering.

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Both of my 20 milers had a 5k embedded in the middle of the run and despite everything I would say about “not racing”, when that gun went off, I picked up pace and my competitive side revealed itself. I often times shocked myself with how my body was able to respond when the 5k started and all of sudden the 14 miles that were already logged didn’t seem to phase me.

This training cycle was also the first cycle where I didn’t do CrossFit and supplemented my running with a mix of large group circuit work and small group personal training. I joined a gym that offers both styles and bought a package that allows me to do small group 2 days and unlimited large group strength and metabolic condition classes. The small groups are designed based on my request and needs. I have incorporated a lot of glute and hip movements, core and stability work and one legged movements into these small group sessions. Some of the workouts are not as intense as some of those brutal 10 minute CrossFit WODs but I think it is exactly what I need if I want to try and balance strength and marathoning training.

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Not only is my body correcting itself from muscle imbalances but I am also not putting my body through the CrossFit lifts that used to really break me down and sideline me for a couple days because of overtraining.

This cycle has not only been the most consistent cycle, it was the first cycle where I did not have to take any unnecessary rest days becuase of accidentally pushing myself too hard. Everything pretty much went as planned no matter how many time I feared it wouldn’t.

I am going into tomorrow’s race excited but very curious to see how these changes will play out. I don’t know if I am more fit than I was last year when I ran my current PR because many variables are different.  My average paces have been 10-20 sec slower but my long runs had speed incorporated in them.

So what’s better?
Consistently faster paces but little variety in terms of speed workouts and long run tempo miles? CrossFit workouts that push me to my limit but then leave me feeling overtrained at times? (Past cycles)
Or
Overall slower average paces but more runs that incorporate tempo and race pace? Strength workouts that are a mix of large group strength/ metabolic conditioning classes and less intense small group stability work? (This cycle)

I really don’t know and I wish I could say that I will find out tomorrow but we all know that there are many more variables that play into Marathon performance.

What I do know is that I am excited, confident and ready to run with every ounce of heart and determination!

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Goodbye 27!

Goodbye 27…here we go 28!

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Yikes! Already sounds frightening but I prefer even numbers over odd so I guess I have that going for me.

27 started off pretty awesome because my parents boought me Normatec Recovery boots for my birthday so my 26 year-old self was anxiously waiting for my birthday presents like my 6 year-old self.  I had Chicago marathon around the corner and wanted all the help/recovery I could get so September 26th couldn’t come soon enough.

This year, September 26th can come in slow motion because I am not ready for colder temps.  This 90 degree day has actually been the best birthday present!

In addition to kicking off last year’s birthday with some expensive fancy recovery boots, I also had a fabulous trip to Chicago and ran myself a nice and shiny PR.  I left Chicago with a medal, a PR and maybe a bit of an ego.

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I decided to find a coach and take my training to the next level.  So with my non-existent birthday money, I dropped Crossfit and put all my pennies toward someone who would draft up a training plan that ONLY involved running…not my typical style… but I still buckled in for the long road ahead of LOTS of running.  I scored a new 5k PR and my excitement of being coached and feeling super badass helped me get through the misery of running everyday and the jealousy felt when my friends talked about the 6am WOD.  Deep down, I knew this was not what I wanted but apparently being wise and smart wasn’t packaged up and given to me as a birthday present.

I eventually faced a little knee injury that at first, just bruised my ego and lessened my excitement for this whole ALL I DO IS RUN business but later manifested into a hip injury that left me feeling broke, useless and just plain sad.  I struggled a lot in the January/February time period and if you follow my blog/Instagram you probably are ready for me to GET OVER IT.

I try. I think I am.  I am 12 days out from Chicago and 40 days out from New York City so I will hit this topic at a later date because right now I am scared of jinxing myself by saying anything!

So I guess you could say that 27 was like riding one of those roller coasters at Six Flags – one that is scary, intense but manageable – when it ends, you look to your friend and say “Oh that wasn’t bad! Actually pretty fun”.  That was 27.  It was scary and sad during those times when I felt so broken and so defeated.

But I rode it out.  I made it to Boston.  I made it to Big Sur.  I learned some non-running related lessons.  I learned how to step back when you feel like you hit rock bottom and change your perspective.  Focus on the positive things and not the negative.  Focus on what you can do and not what you can’t.

Maybe I didn’t get ‘being wise’ as a 27th birthday present but I think I found it along the way.

I am pretty excited for 28.  I have a lot of things on my mind.  Things I want to do, things I want to share and things I want to try.  Right now my mind is fixated on a podcast and although it sounds crazy, intense and time-consuming…I know myself and I know that when I have a fire burning inside me, I will usually do it.

So here is a Goodbye to 27 and a Hello to 28!

Hello to all the amazing and memorable moments…

…..And hello to all the moments that will have me like…

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or like….  

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Things won’t be perfect but you just need to be patient and roll with it! 🙂

Don’t Be a “Must Be Nice”er

I have dedicated my Tuesday morning runs to turning off the music and turning on podcasts.  Sometimes they are health related, sometimes they are running related and sometimes they are mindset related but the goal is to have more knowledge and a better mindset at the end of my run.

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This past Tuesday I listened to an amazing podcast by Balanced Bites on female hormones, managing stress and the adrenals. I turned on this podcast to learn more about ‘Amenorrhea’ – something very common in female runners but is often pushed to the side or not spoke of.  If recovery and nutrition is an essential component to overall athletic performance then gaining control of these issues is just as important and should not be pushed to the side.  That being said, I am I am tackling this issue head on with as much knowledge as possible…but I will save that for someone else to cover because I want all audiences to keep reading this post!

STRESS.  We are aware that is can have a variety of negative affects on our body but why are so many people stressed? SOCIETAL EXPECTATIONS. I am not a mother but I see the pressure everyday. To be considered a good mother, you should be doing, X, Y and Z, even if you still have the entire alphabet to get done before you can even think about X.  But what’s wrong with saying NO to Z?  Is it the guilt that you will feel when someone judges your inability to tackle the entire alphabet in a day? Most likely.  

There are two pieces to this – WE ALL NEED TO STOP JUDGING and WE NEED TO IGNORE THESE JUDGEMENTS.

There are too many “must be nice” ers…..you know those people that look at your lifestyle or your choices and say “It must be nice to be able to…” without really having any knowledge of how you got there or what your daily life entails.  These “must be nice” ers cause guilt and make us feel like we should be doing MORE because apparently our life is so luxurious.  And that one extra thing we feel we need to do can put us over the edge.  Embrace what others consider to be “must be nice” and know that all the things you are doing are sufficient and enough even if it means you may not be getting to X, Y and Z today.

“It must be nice to be able to sleep in over the summer.”

“It must be nice to run and workout everyday.”

“It must be nice to buy all organic food.”

YES. It is.

 I make it possible because I stop making excuses and make time for the things that I consider NON-NEGOTIABLES.  I value my health and save my money so that I can feed it the food it deserves.  I wake up 2 hours earlier than most so I can start my morning doing the things I love.  I spend most of my summer and Sunday’s doing school work and lesson planning.  But people rarely know the behind-the-scenes when they make those comments which is why these comments can be so hurtful and rude.

The most insulting comment of all is “Oh Mel does not eat that..”

People throw this line out there ALL the time to people who have strict diets without having any clue WHY their diet is the way it is.  If you don’t know someone’s history or journey then you have no idea how much your words can inflict pain or triggers.

But lets get to the root of that comment.  Does me turning down your food make you feel guilty and now you are going to shame me? Are you trying to speak for me despite having little knowledge of what my diet looks like? …Please let me speak for myself, it is my body.

So to the irritating phrase, “Mel doesn’t eat that”… – I have simply learned to be confident with my choices and try to surround myself with people who respect my decisions…but I still hear it.  So let this be my universal response…

You are right, I MAY not eat that…and it is not because I am rude or above you.  I simply made a decision to feed my body with quality food and I am going to stick with that.

No one should have to force something down to simply please someone else.  Your body is the driving force behind everything you do.  I have learned that listening to the signals it is sending is the most important thing you can do for yourself and your athletic performance.  You need to give it the fuel it deserves needs because it pushes you through all your grueling workouts.

Please.  Think before you speak.  Don’t judge and don’t be a “must be nice” er.  If you find yourself saying “must be nice” frequently, step back and think about why you are saying these things.  Jealously and envy are natural feelings but they can be dangerous and hurtful if you don’t know how to reel them in and change your mindset.

I am not perfect and have my moments of “it must be nice.” but when I feel myself doing it, I work really hard to alter my way of thinking.  Sometimes when I am exhausted during the week, I say “it must be nice to go home and do nothing after work.”….but then on rest days when I do nothing after school, I am bored within an hour.  It serves as a quick reminder that my craziness of a life makes me happy and my brain is simply not wired to Netflix and Chill all afternoon.

When I was injured in January, I was BIG into the “must be nice to go out for a run.” Ultimately, I was so jealous and my envy was getting the best of me.  I had to do a lot of self talk – “it’s nice to have an obstacle that is making me mentally stronger.”…and it was .  Fighting through Boston was more memorable because of my struggles.  It’s not always nice at the time but find a way to change your thinking so your obstacles can make you a better person.

I will end with this….

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Bowls, Bowls, Bowls!

This is not one of my typical running-related blog post and is more down the food route.  But then again, nutrition plays a huge role in running performance and recovery so I guess it is running-related by association.

I have been on a HUGE bowl kick.  What type of bowls? ALL TYPES.  Vegetable bowls, greek yogurt bowls, smoothie bowls, lentil pasta bowls..the list goes on. The best part of these bowls…aside from the nutritional value, of course..is how quick and easy they are to put together.

I am going to throw a bunch of bowl photos at you and give a little description of each.  I hope in this photo bomb, you find something that looks delicious and something you hope to/eventually recreate in your own kitchen.

But first….let me give you some background info on how I got started on this bowl kick.  I was doing school work at my favorite cafe.  I was getting pretty hungry and eventually  succumbed to one of their delicious but over-priced bowl.

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It was definitely delicious but was $12 really worth a meager bowl of kale, quinoa, avocado, pickled, carrots, beets and pumpkin seeds thrown in a bowl? No. I made my way to Whole Foods and bought those 7 ingredients for about $30 and had enough to make over $100 worth of bowls if I kept buying them at the cafe.  Not only have I re-created this bowl for many lunches, I have become much more creative with each farm share pick-up.  My cast iron skillet and the fresh farm-share vegetables (tomatoes, beets, carrots, green peppers, kale) are the two key components for making the best warm bowl.  Once you have the staples, have fun with some toppings!

 

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Lentil pasta, kale, tomatoes, green peppers
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Red Lentil Rotini, beets, spinach, tomatoes, pickled carrots, pumpkin seeds.
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Chickpea rotini, kale, tomatoes, avocado

Now, if you are not into the savory foods..lets talk sweet and fruit bowls.  Smoothie bowls are one of my favorite post-run meals, especially after running in the summer’s heat.  Greek yogurt bowls are perfect pre-workout fuel.  Staples for a great smoothie bowl include Vital Protein Collagen Whey, frozen zucchini, spinach, frozen berries, and maple syrup (non of that artificial sweetener crap!)

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Added cacao powder for a chocolatey flavor.
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Greek yogurt, cinnamon, fresh berries and unsweetened coconut.

As you can see, I love to top these bowls off with some nuts, coconut, bee pollen and a variety of seeds.  Why?  Well aside from the added crunch and taste, each of these toppings add even more nutritional benefits to any bowl.  Here are some of my favorite toppings and their benefits.

Hemp Seeds – Rich in two essential fatty acids, linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) and 25% of their calories are from high-quality protein.

Pumpkin Seeds – Contain magnesium (often times low in runners), zinc and plant-based omega-3 fats and high in antioxidants.

Unsweetened Coconut Flakes – Flavorful addition to any bowl and adds fiber and protein to the dish.  Coconut is great source of iron which is crucial for getting oxygen to the body and can be low for many female runners.

Bee Pollen – Rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, lipids and fatty acids. Bee pollen also adds protein to the bowl as well as amino acids.

Pickled Vegetables/Tumeric Sauerkraut – Packed with probiotics, fiber and a variety of vitamins.

So next time you find yourself spending too much money on a bowl..look at the ingredients, grab them at the store and start making your own!  If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, go get one!  They are a game changer – they add so much flavor and make this a one pan meal.

 

 

Why I Blog…

I’ve been wanting to jump on here for awhile and just write away but time has been limited and I haven’t been able to properly organize and compile my thoughts and feelings…

The personal things/challenges that have happened in my life over the last few weeks has taught me some valuable lessons that I’ve wanted to share.

However, these personal matters involve people close to me and I value their privacy.  I’ve struggled trying to figure out how to write this without delving into too much detail and stepping over boundaries.

This morning I read The Athletarian’s blog post about her retirement from blogging.  Certain words that she wrote connected with me and after 6 miles of processing/organizing my thoughts, I’ve found a way to use her content to help me convey my personal message.  So strap in and lets roll…

The Athletarian wrote in her post that she used to be so dedicated to blogging but it started to consume her.  She wrote,

“I’d photograph everything, blog multiple times a week, respond to comments, spend time finding new blogs and leaving comments on them, obsessively watch my stats in Google Analytics, and the list goes on and on.”

I thought to myself, “WOW, that’s what I am doing wrong…that’s why my blog isn’t making it big time”….I don’t really do ANY of these things.  But then again, I just don’t care to.  Of course, I check my stats on WordPress occasionally after I post, but after a day or two, I never look at it.

However, I AM a little envious of bloggers who get all expenses paid for at certain races or events.  I’m still waiting for the day that Brooks sends me all the extra Launch 3s they have in stock with a letter saying, “Hey Fruitful Runner, we love your blog and find it so great/psychotic that you have purchased seven pairs of the Launch 3s in the last year so we just want to send you more…and pay for your hotel in Chicago and NYC this fall because we know your teacher salary isn’t amazing.”…..hey, a girl can dream!!! 

What I am trying to say is that, I would love for my blog to take off and I get so happy when people can relate and genuinely connect with the content. I’ve always said that if ONE person can be inspired from my Instagram or blog, that is enough to make me happy.

I started this blog because I enjoy writing and letting my thoughts just take off.  Three years later, that is still why I do it.  If my audience expands and grows, that is fabulous but if not, I will still keep writing away.  My posts are just as much for me as they are for you.  My Instagram is my virtual scrapbook/training log.  I frequently scroll back to see how I trained in past cycles.  Some pictures don’t have a long caption but the picture holds a thousand words to me.

Last summer, I posted a picture from the Vermont 100 on 100 relay race.

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It doesn’t look like much/you can barely see me, but that pictures holds a special place in my heart.  What you don’t know was how emotional and crazy this day and this run was.  My grandma was sick in the hospital but my mom and I thought we could still do the relay race and make it back in time to comfort her in her final hours.  In the middle of the relay, we got a call saying that she wasn’t doing well.  We decided to skip our last leg, planned for the my dad to meet us at the end of my second leg and rush us to Boston.  That second leg was a run I will never forget.  I was tired but hit sub 7s for those 8 miles.  I just kept my eyes in the clouds and begged my Grandma to keep fighting.  I promised her I’d run fast because I knew my tiredness was nothing compared to what she was facing.  I spent those 8 miles just talking to her and motivating her to keep going because I wanted to be there for her.  It is amazing what you can do when you aren’t focused on yourself and your own pain…when your competitive mind isn’t so selfish.

Here is where I will start to segue into my personal life and the lessons I’ve learning over that last couple of weeks.  I blog because my posts are my memories and if there is anything I have learned over the last couple of weeks, it is that making memories is so important in this crazy roller coaster called LIFE.

You will never regret spending extra time with family and friends but you WILL regret not doing so.  I am someone that is ALWAYS on the go.  I always want to improve myself and try to be involveed in everything.  My perseverance can send me straight into a stressed-out mess or leave me sidelined for a few days because my body couldn’t handle all the activities I decided to jump into.  But it also advances me in my career and my athletics and makes me happy and proud.

However, when Friday nights roll around, I just want to lay on the couch and catch my breath from the whirlwind of a week.  If a friend or family member asks me to get dinner or catch up, I am often torn between…’I really ought to spend time with them’ and ‘ohhh but this couch feels so nice!’….and I hate to say it, but the latter usually wins.

Well let me tell you something, life can throw a curve ball that you’ll never see coming.  These curve balls can come fast and rob you from a lot of things.  Even if you are not directly hit by the curve ball, you are still impacted.  In my case, I watched someone get thrown this curve ball.  I watched them not be able to do the things they loved.  I watched them have to watch others do things for them.  I watched the pain they went through everyday.  The physical pain they felt was nothing compared to the mental pain of seeing their life fade away.

We can’t control these curve balls. We can’t live in fear of these curve balls but we can’t live so freely in preparation of them.  But we can be MINDFUL.  We can say ‘I love you more’, stop in to say HI to someone more often, stress less and when we are feeling down….we can think of all the things we DO have.

I’ve spent the last week trying to help as much as possible.  Trying to visit more often and put other things on hold.  Trying to be patient and just listen.  I couldn’t make someone less sick but my presence could be valuable.  Giving my presence means giving up other things.  But it shouldn’t take a curve ball to be a better person.  I need to learn how to stop, step back and do a few extra things each day for someone else.

So to my future self who will scroll back and read this at some point. You are probably tired and did 100 things today and that to-do list is still going strong…but stop.

Do something for someone else before the day over.  Do something that will make someone else happy even if your tired.  Trust me, you won’t regret it.

 

 

Summer Goals – A Mix of the Past and the Present

Boston 2 Big Sur feels so long ago but occasionally, I like to just reminisce on the whole experience and the road that lead me there.

I think about all the strategies I used to pull me out of my down times. 

I think about all the doubt I had.

I think about how I will use this whole experience as a lesson. 

I think about how this will teach me to not overstress. 

But let’s be honest… I still stress….I still worry…. and the thought of Chicago and NYC training being right around the corner makes me cringe a bit.

…Not because I don’t want to train hard but because right now I feel something I haven’t felt in a while.  I feel GOOD. I don’t have to worry about a long run lingering over my head for a week.  I train the way I want. I run when I want.  I strength train when I want.  I go to hot yoga when I want. I rest when I want.

 

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Jumped into Murph with my friend

Lately, I have been doing two workouts a day just because I love not having a schedule and just doing a little bit of everything.  However, my body sent me a friendly reminder that I was starting to overdo it.  I listened, rested and was able to resume training with swapping hot yoga or strength with a massage or yin yoga.

I do love ‘Long Run Sunday’ and the excitement/fear/sense of accomplishment associated with the long run but I have been loving my new Sunday lineup…

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A short run around my hot yoga studio and end right in time (always a couple minutes late because you can never plan a run JUST right) for some vigorous flow.  I am not sure what sounds appealing about ending a run, walking into a 115 degree room and being suffocated by the heat…but I like the challenge and I try to remind myself that this tactic will help when I am struggling for air in the final mile(s) of a race….or maybe not and this whole thing really is crazy. But I enjoy the fun mix of everything.

This past Sunday, I ran in the Ribfest 5-miler with my running team and we placed third despite the heat and humidity.  You know that whole run/hot yoga tactic I just talked about??…yeahhhh..it didn’t work its magic when I was riding the mile 4 struggle bus in the race haha.

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I wish I could have contributed more to the team and clocked a time much closer to what I ran 3 years ago but I was proud with my 35:08. (I ran 32:24 in 2014!! WHO WAS I??)

My pace was respectable given my recent focus on just having fun with training but it did light a fire under me and got me thinking about some summer goals.  The past 3 years have been very marathon focused.  After a marathon, I would give myself a few weeks to rest/have fun with training but would quickly find another marathon to sign up for and would be back to marathon training.  With NYC and Chicago in the fall, a summer marathon is a definite NO.  The thought of not going back to San Francisco makes me a little sad but I am excited to set summer goals that are not just logging long runs and running a marathon.  Over the last 3 years I have improved greatly in the marathon and 26.2 will always be a favorite because of the dedication and mental strength it requires.  Although I have improved in the marathon over the last 3 years, I have slowed significantly in other distances.  I haven’t come close to my 10k PR of 37:31 that was set over 3 years ago and my half marathon PR of 1:26.34 seems unfathomable these days.

I’ve been scrolling back in my Instagram to see how I trained to get these times and the only significant and noticeable difference is that every run posted had an average pace of 7:10 – 7:30. Anything higher would have been considered slow.  NOTE** I only ran 3 times a week like I do now and did Crossfit and other forms of cross training on the other days.   If you just run everyday then YES…make sure you have easy runs.  For me, having the 3 days of running be key workouts was very important.  When I took the leap of faith into marathon training, the miles took priority of the quality and I drifted away from those key workouts.  However, I DID bring back some of these key workouts in the month before Boston this past year.  To save my hip from the miles, I decided to make my mid-distance run more of a shorter tempo run and found that my overall paces started to improve.  Instead of running 10 miles at an easy pace, I would do 5 or 6 miles at 7:00-7:20 pace (including warmup and cooldown) and I felt much stronger going into a 10k a couple weeks before Boston and then again IN Boston.

Another big difference was my final preparation before these shorter distance races.  I took the half marathon VERY seriously because at the time it WAS far for me and it WAS a big deal.  I tapered in the week leading up to every half and took extra rest days in the days prior to the race.  Ever since I started marthoning, I started to treat half marathons and 10ks difrerently.  I’ve developed a mindset of “It’s just a half so I don’t need to rest or taper.”  Every half marathon that I have run in the last three years, I have trained hard up until a day or two before the race and went into it as a workout or tune up.  Yes – a half marathon may seem short compared to the marathon but it is STILL 13 miles and if I want to run it fast and maintain a sub 7 pace, my legs need to be rested and ready to do so.  If I am not going to give my legs this rest then no matter how fit or well-trained I am, I will not get the times I used to when I tapered and prepared properly for the race.

As I start to draft some summer goals, I am planning to adopt some of my old training styles. I want to hit the track more frequently, include more tempo runs, and scale back my longs runs before I need to amp them up toward the end of August for my fall marathons. I want to have some goal 10ks and half marathons that I take seriously and taper properly.  August and September will be filled with miles so while I am free from a set schedule, I want to focus on having fun, building strength and pushing myself when I lace up.  And of course…I want to listen to my body and learn to chill out when the warning signs are being fired.

This can be especially hard in the summer because I have more free time..translation…more time to spend jumping into different workouts.  I love to workout in the morning and have the most energy at that time of day but when 4pm rolls around, I get another wave of energy.  I usually want to use this 4pm energy to get in an additional workout or a short run but I have learned through experience that if I make two-a-days a daily thing, my body will give me the overtraining warning signs.  I need to tackle the summer mindfully and make sure that I don’t go into ‘crazy mode’.

Here’s to a summer of enjoying the sun and time with family and friends, embracing the hot workouts, stepping up my speed work game and learning from my past whether it be from 3 months ago or from 3 years ago!

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“The past if your lesson, the present is your gift and the future is your motivation.”