Thankful for a Thanksgiving 5k PR and a Family Affair 10k

I am thankful for much more than a PR but I guess that was the start of a great Thanksgiving Day and Thanksgiving break so I thought I would start with that! img_0842

It’s only a 2-second PR but I will take it.  Stuff the Pantry 5k was an all around great race (festive and charitable) with a solid pack of women fighting hard.  I was supposed to run this race easy and save my energy for the 10k I had planned on Saturday butttttt I may not have listened to the plan for a couple of reasons.  I just mentally felt ready to race Thursday morning and was excited to feel the rush and the fatigue that comes with digging deep in a race.  I just felt confident and ready and I wanted capitalize on this feeling.

There are many times I show up to local races just not in a race mood.  The competitive side kicks in as soon as the gun goes off and I manage to pull it together and put up a decent time but the fight was never really there.  Thursday morning the mental game was on and I wanted to prove to myself that when the mental aspect is on point, I am capable of fighting for a time that may not even seem possible.  The gun went off and I took off with 3 other women.  The pace felt fast but manageable.  I remained relaxed and just tucked in with the pack.  At mile 2, my super speedy teammate (If you are reading this from Facebook, HI!!) took off and I just told myself to go with her.  It was fast, but I was ready to just hang on and see where it would take me.   I wasn’t totally sure where the other two females from our 4 pack were until one of them surged in front of me at about 2.75.  At that point, I just told myself that I came ready to fight, I have already put up a good fight, GET GOING…so I took off and in the push, I realized I could potentially fight for first but with a second between us, my teammate had a well-deserving win! It was a race where everything fell together perfectly. The leading females set a solid pace that was manageable but I definitely had to work, my mental game was in fight mode rather than, “mhmm maybe I’ll just run kinda fast and settle for 4th”, and my legs were ready and willing to go along with it all! 🙂 …kind of an important piece.

I may have also disobeyed my schedule because Fleet Feet gift cards were prizes and Thanksgiving was also my mom’s birthday!!….In case the 6 bottles of Ithaca wine wasn’t enough, I wanted to have a gift card ready to throw in 😉

Moving forward, I wanted to prove to my coach that I don’t always break the rules when I run races so I promised to not race the 10k on Sunday and keep it the progression run that we now had planned.  My intentions were genuine, but darn…progression runs are not easy to gauge and do not mix well in a race when the first mile is usually the fastest. haha.  

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The progression run wasn’t super specific but I have a feeling 7:02.4 to 7:01.5 was not the progression coach had in mind.  In the midst of semi-failing in the progressing aspect, I was getting overheated so I planned to ditch my undershirt at a specific spot around mile 3-4 so I think I was getting over-excited to shed some layers and unconsciously sped up. And of course, in the process of ripping my shirt off, I hit the pause button on my watch and didn’t realize for almost a quarter mile so everything was thrown off.  It was actually comical how hard I tried to follow directions but was failing in every way.  haha.  I even chatted with Beth (@babfitrunlife) the morning of the race to get her advice on how I should tackle it and we agreed on a strategy.  By the second split I just had to laugh because I knew Bethany was going to be like MEL WHAT DID YOU DO???..THAT’S NOT EVEN CLOSE TO WHAT WE TALKED ABOUT! haha.  Oh well. It was such a fun race and one where my brother, my mom and I were all on the course and my dad was at the finish.

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..these races are not as often as they used to be but they are the best races! 🙂

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In addition to being a little family affair, there was also a solid South Hadley Cross Country Alumni showing!

Adding to all this Thanksgiving running stuff, GapFit is killing it with running attire and I took full advantage of the 50% off Black Friday sales…

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GapFit leggings are the best and my mom can attest to that after I bought her a pair for her birthday and found myself back at Gap 24 hours later getting her another pair.  So YES, the Fleet Feet gift card stayed in my possession because I found something else to complement the wine.  The Neon vest was another GapFit purchase and was intended to be worn during dark, early morning and evening runs but I couldn’t help throwing it on for 4 easy miles when I saw how well it matched my Kinvaras!

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My Boston 2016 jacket does not match as nicely but it always feels nice to throw it on and be reminded of the accomplishment – especially during last Sunday’s longer run in the wind.  I can’t wait to see what the 2017 colors will be!!

Lastly, my favorite pre-run snack or breakfast has been a Frothy butter coffee with Collagen Peptides (blend up coffee, Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides) and almond butter & banana toast.  Quick, easy and full amino acids, energy, fats and carbs!

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I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and took a moment in the midst of the all the Turkey Trotting to be grateful for having the ability to run!

Starting Fresh..with a Coach!

Last weekend, I returned to my absolute favorite place to run…

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I was so excited to hit the hills and just get lost in the scenery. Some of my all-time favorite trainings runs have taken place on the Ithaca roads and I was definitely in need of a one those good runs. 60 minutes later.. I got exactly that! It left me feeling thrilled, refreshed and ready to take on week 4 of training.  Despite a 10 min first mile up hill, my legs felt great and my mind was in a peaceful running place.  I was able to reflect on this training cycle, finished the run with 7 miles under my belt and a better outlook on the upcoming training week and the next 5 months.

So lets back track as to why I was in need of a good run.  After Chicago, I was on that running high.  The wheels in my brain were turning and for the first time in a LONG time, I wanted to focus on JUST running and was eager to find my full potential in the marathon.  I always want to improve my running but I have never wanted to give up my Crossfit.  For the last 2 years, I have been willing to settle with average times for the sake of keeping Crossfit in my schedule.

Well, here I was contemplating taking my running to another level and found myself researching running coaches.  My initial searches steered toward runners with a Crossfit background. I contacted one coach but it pretty clear that this was not a coach with enough running background to take me to where I wanted to go…this was just a Crossfit coach that can run.  This is where my subconscious feelings surfaced and I knew that if I truly wanted to find my potential, I needed to come to terms that Crossfit and running do not mix in a marathon training cycle that would adequately prepare me for what I had in mind for Boston and Big Sur.  It was a realization I knew was true after having a real difficult time trying to balance it all in my Boston training cycle last winter. My coaching search continued and I was immediately drawn toward McKirdy Trained because of the raw honesty.  This is what I need. I will push the limits and over-train if given free rein to do so.  I need someone to pull me in and teach me that it is OK to just run short and slow some days.  A couple of days later I made the jump and fully committed to 6 months of training with McKirdy Trained.  I knew I had a long 6 months ahead of me so I asked to start the following week.  I need more time to digest this next step and come mentally prepared and fully ready to start a training cycle that will be entirely different from what I am used to.

A week later, I received my first week of training and was thrilled.  The first week was short and easy miles.  Something I rarely do!  It was a bit challenging to force myself to slow my pace but it felt good knowing it was for the better and in my best interest as I continue recovering.

img_0665So lets talk about week 3.  Still easy runs and just a tad longer.  Monday was a rest day so I started on Tuesday.  I went out in the morning hoping for a nice sunrise run but I failed to look at the weather report and my outfit choice made for a freezing cold and miserable run.  Thankfully I only had 30 minute on the schedule so I only had to hate my outfit choice for 30 minutes.  Thursday’s 45 minute was also not very enjoyable and unlike Tuesday’s run, I felt like someone put 1o843 layers on my body and sandbags in my sneakers.  In a less dramatic description – I felt tired and my legs felt heavy. I couldn’t help but think/dread that I still had 3 more days of running before rest day and my legs already felt dead.  I tried to stay positive and reminded myself that Friday was a holiday so I could sleep in, get some rest, have a nice stretch before getting out for my run which usually helps my mental and physical game.

img_0718It did.   But dang, 4 miles still felt long. What is wrong with me.  Saturday was just a 20 min warmup and since I was in Ithaca, I went to a gym and did it on the treadmill followed by some strength. Nothing to complain about but I was panicked for Sunday’s 50 minutes.  The sheer thought of being panicked for a 50 minute run made me feel even more uneasy. 50 minutes is usually a short run for me!  I was not only confused but also embarrassed and ashamed.  I have barely hit 16 miles this week…why is this SO hard.  I finally reached out to my brother’s girlfriend (they are both elite runners).  Her response was everything I needed to hear.  She told me that the numbers mean nothing.  My body is adjusting to running 5 days a week as opposed to 3 days a week.  I went from having no back-to-back running days to 4 in a row.  This is a complete schedule change and my body needs time to adjust.  She was so right.  I was focusing on the numbers and not trusting the process.  My body needs to move backwards in pace and mileage in order to move forward. It may not be high mileage at the moment but it is a big change in my training structure and that has a major impact on the body.  Her words and feedback were exactly what I needed to help relax my mind and mentally prepare for the 50 minute run I had planned.  With a more refreshed mental outlook, I was ready to do what I love and embrace the beautiful Ithaca roads. It was a mild, sunny and beautiful day.  I climbed up the first mile and reached the top feeling all sorts of happiness.

img_0772When I saw this view, I couldn’t help but think about the climb and how it reflects this entire running journey.  Every run in Ithaca starts with embracing the unavoidable, painful first mile hill in order to reach the insanely beautiful views. In this training cycle, I am going to have to embrace the painful workouts and the rough runs in order to grow into an even stronger runner.  The transpiring of these thoughts are easier to embrace and believe when I am just running easy, carefree, and staring off into the Ithaca views.  However, it is a mindset and a mantra I need revert to and repeat when times to get tough in order to improve my mental game.

To help ensure that I utilize this mindset during the hard times, I made sure to write it down in my newly received Lauren Fleshman “BELIEVE” training journal.img_0797  I dove right in and put my goals down on paper.  I love how this journal incorporates the reasons and steps. Reaching goals is more than just following a plan – it’s about being stronger than your negative thoughts.  My steps toward reaching my 2017 goals are much more than just running.  It is about toeing every start line feeling fearless and confident regardless of who is lined up next to me or how a run went earlier in the week.  Not every run will be easy and enjoyable.  The times when you want nothing more than to just throw in the towel but keep your goals in the forefront of your mind and fight – these are the times that grow your mind and body and separate you from the competition. I want to make sure the rough times never impact my confidence and I never lose sight on why I love this sport. Most importantly, I never want to forget how lucky I am to just have the ability to lace up and go.  The ‘steps’ are far more important than accomplishing the ‘goals’. 

So here is to changing things up, embracing the ups and down, trusting the process and loving my body for taking me through this journey 🙂

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