Sunday, May 22, 2016

Weekly Workout Recap #20

May 15 - 21  

I know I deserve a break and some recovery, but I also feel this sense of personal guilt. What a challenge, right? How do we let ourselves relax after reaching such a big goal? Especially for us who thrive so much on the thrill (yes, thrill), the accomplishment, and the satisfaction of such goals, why is it so hard for us to just back off for a bit and feel okay about it?

For me, I think it's because it became so engrained in me and my schedule, for better and for worse. It was part of my routine, my daily sense of being. And now - especially as my all-over-the-place summer schedule kicks off, it's even harder to have such a lack of routine. No commitments, though two halfs on the schedule, I'm running those easy-peasy and for fun. 

Molly and I hit the trails on Tuesday night and after five minutes of sprinkling, we were greeted at the top of the hill with a rainwbow that disappeared not long after our photos. I met up with a friend for dinner on Wednesday, so for the first time in a long time, skipped yoga.

And that was all I did this week. I also felt exceptionally exhausted this week, which doesn't contribute well to the idea of getting up with the sun to run, or even doing so after work! Sometimes you just need to let your body tell you what to do - and this week that was "eat, sit your butt on the couch and just chill." Chillin' also meant passing out before 9 pm most nights, usually on tGetting going without having a training schedule is tough. How do you beat it and get up to just GO?

As a fun bonus, I'm also linking up with HoHo Runs and MissSippiPiddlin for their Weekly Wrap! 

How was your week? Make sure you link up below!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

How I Ran a 33-Minute Marathon PR

I'm two weeks out from the OC Marathon, home of my new marathon PR of 4:19:20, which demolished my past PR of 4:52:52. A 33:32 PR, a time I'd dreamed of but wondered if it were possible. Was my heart in it? Were my legs capable? What if I can't? I think these are all games we runners play in our head (really, anyone with a goal or dream in mind). 

I had gone into the Phoenix Marathon knowing I was well under-trained and unprepared, but was determined to make the most of the race day that was handed to me. Recap: I felt pretty awesome until mile 20 where I was on track for a 4:30ish finish, my stomach flared, and I spent 1:38 walking the last 10K to finish in 4:55. Not the day I'd had in my head, as I was hoping for at least some kind of PR, but I learned a lot that day, too. 

When I got home from Phoenix, I took a full week off. I walked, did yoga, but didn't allow myself to run for a full week. And I missed it. I yearned for a run, but told myself that I need a week to rest, recuperate and fuel the fire that I knew I had. I treated Phoenix like a good long training run heading into OC. Mind you, I'd run two fulls two years apart and now I here I am running two just nine weeks apart. What was am I thinking?

Looking back at the struggle that my first marathon was in 2013, it's amazing to say I've come this far. I ran Surf City that year with a simple goal of finishing sub-5 and still standing upright. 4:58:42 later, I got to call myself a marathoner! I met both goals but was pretty certain it would be a long time before I got there again. Two years later, I was toeing the line of my second full, LA Marathon 2015, feeling infinitely more confident, prepared and trained, many thanks to the run club I'd joined and spent every Saturday with. The heat knocked me off my feet in the end, but still achieved a PR by 6 minutes. That's still a win, right?

So now here I am, jumping from a 4:58 first marathon to a 4:19, I've figured out how to make it all count. These are six things that - especially in this OC Marathon training cycle - I believe are the key to how I had the success that I did at OC a few weeks ago. I had 3 main points that I wanted to focus on during this cycle, some of which are reflected here. Shall we? 

1. Respect the Distance
I'm some 40-something half marathons into my running career and can confidently say I can run a half in my sleep, comfortably. I'm regularly running sub-2 halfs now, also comfortably. Throughout this training, there were several folks who mentioned that if I could run a sub-2 half so easily now, surely I could bust out a sub-4 or 4:00 marathon. Not gonna lie, while that idea sounded so great in my head, it was important to remember to be real - with myself, and with the race - that running a 2-hour half is a lot different than running a 4-hour full. Respect the distance. 26.2 is not the same as 13.1. 

2. Higher Weekday Mileage 
Throughout my other full training, I struggled with not only making it through more long distance (14+ miles) runs, but also didn't pack on miles during the week, which I thought worked. However, after completing this cycle and seeing how many runs were on plenty-tired legs but I pushed on and had some amazing runs in the process, I see the benefit of tacking in those miles during the week. I remember early on in the cycle when I had a #tenmiletuesday (also achieving a personal mid-week distance record), Catherine commented how much of a difference it made to feel prepared for a marathon by not neglecting the mid-week mileage. 

A #tenmiletuesday with Sandy!

3. Yoga
While only four months into yoga at this point, I admittedly suck at cross-training. Like, I'll be great at it for a week and then give up or get bored (mostly bored, let's be real). Yoga became a great place to not only use my muscles in different ways, but also to get my stretch on, because the other thing I suck at worse than cross-training is stretching. I'm a terrible runner, let's be honest. Though I only practice at my local Fleet Feet once a week and on some good weeks, once at home, is something I really do believe helped me immensely through this cycle: stretching out my chronically tight hamstrings and IT, forcing me to relax and breathe and focus on me just being me. 

4. More Quality Long Runs 
For my three previous fulls (Surf City, LA, Phoenix), my longest runs in training had been 16 miles. While 16 is a lot, there's a long way between 16 and 26. One of my major goals for OC was to ensure that I was packing on the miles and getting in the distance past 16 mles, my wall. I can say I successfully:
  • 15 miles (2:15 half marathon pacer + 2 miles)
  • 16 miles (9:50 pace)
  • 22 miles (Ragnar So Cal)
  • 21 miles (9:12 pace)
And many more weekends inbetween with runs ranging from 10 - 12. Feeling these extra miles out was most important for me mentally, as I allowed myself to break past the "13.1 is my happy place" mentality and fight for miles beyond that. 

5. Food Logging
Okay, so add one more thing that I suck at: food. I eat terribly, and regularly joke that I run so I can eat. If I ate the way I should  for the way I run, I'd weigh probably 15 pounds less. By no means am I overweight and know that I have muscle to show for 15 years of soccer and now long distance running) and that 5'6" and 145 is perfectly healthy. However, I am a little conscious about my weight and wanted to be more mindful of what I was fueling my body with and how it added up to race day. Logging my food on MyFitnessPal  from the end of February (just before Phoenix) all the way through OC did not necessarily lead up to weight loss (I don't know a scale), but it did make me more conscious about what I was putting in my mouth and fueling myself just a little bit better.

6. Believe 
It's so cliched and so true. But for the first time, I see where it got me and how much it meant on race day. After my 21-mile run and the energizer bunny that was my pacer Eric, and recognizing that we are our own worst enemies and that you, we, I  are more capable than we think. On race day, when I was at mile 17 on my own and still had energy to go, I had that 21-mile day in my head. If you can do it then, you can do it now... ... hey! Look! Mile 21 and you're still kickin'. Now finish those last 5. Al. Most. There. For once I had that belief, I had something to hang on to and knew that I had it in me from the start. 

Believe in yourself. You are more capable than you realize. 

For more tips and ideas for your training, also check out Run Far Girl's post of a similar nature. I love her tips and ideas and shares how she earned a 23-minute PR too. 

What are your best tips for marathon training?

Monday, May 16, 2016

Weekly Workout Recap #19

May 8 - 14 

While I know I deserve a break, I also feel like I'm slacking. I had a monster race, and I feel like my head is saying "Dude, chill out," but the the rest of me is like "Gooooo!" It's a tough battle, and currently the "chill out" vibe is winning. Last week I did a ton of nothing. Partially glorious, partially guilt-ridden. Why are we so hard on ourselves?

Sunday | Rest
After a long day volunteering at RunDisney's Tinkerbell expo on Saturday, Doug and I crashed hard on Saturday night and woke up decently early on Sunday, just to start being productive and doing laundry and all those super not so fun adulting things. I intended to go for a run but opted for breakfast, life productivity and then heading down to my parents' house for Mother's Day celebrations with them and my grandmother and uncle. Low key, chill day. Just the way I like it.

Monday | 2.57 miles 
First run post-OC. A solid 8 days off was wonderful. I was staying late on campus to get some work done and work with the newest sorority on campus that I'm advising, so I took an office break for a few laps on the track inebtween getting stuff done for the upcoming weekendI inteded to take it easy, but then finished up and realized I booked pretty good. My legs felt great.

2.57 miles, 23:47, 9:15 pace  

Tuesday | Rest 
Lazy. But exciting things happened on Tuesday. More on that to come!

Wednesday | 5 miles + yoga
Finally got to hit the trails! My favorite trail in the area adjusts hours based on season/daylight, so since later hours are finally back in season again, bolted there after work for some dirt time with Jacky and Monica!

And then booked back in the opposite direction for some stretch time. Hurt so good. I even convinced Linzie to join me! Yippee!

5.0 miles, 57:20, 11:28 pace 
Yoga, 60 minutes 

Thursday | Rest 
More of nada. Slept through my alarm, intended to get up, and just didn't care.

Friday | Rest
This day, I actually set stuff out in the bathrooms so I'd have clothes ready to hit the treadmill at the gym in the morning. Wrong. Friday turned out to be one of the longest days ever, so I'm glad I took the extra 20 minutes with my pillow, but whew. When will my mojo come back?!

Saturday | Rest (but the longest day everrrrrr)
Saturday began the summer season (aka. the season where I don't do much running at all). Khaki shorts, polos and 16-hour days will begin to run my life, especially on Saturdays for the next few weeks. It's orientation season! Don't get me wrong, I love it and love my job but it makes it hard because I pretty much just fight exhaustion all week.

Saturday was the first day of our transfer student orientation program, which we run the next five Saturdays before kicking off summer with welcoming our freshmen to campus. At work at 6:15 am, left at 6:00 pm. Bolted home, changed, got pretty and headed over to my parents' for our engagement party! 

Our parents, neighbors, friends put together an amazing party for us, filled with nearly 60 family and friends. We've never felt more loved or lucky than we did that night. Every time I fork through my photo album on my phone, I'm just all giddy and excited. It's pretty amazing that so many people came to celebrate us and I'm just totally overwhelmed. Now I just can't wait for our wedding!

Doug, Kasey and I got home about 12:45 am, so needless to say I was wiped! While Kasey and I had every intention of getting up for a walk that morning... ha! Sleep totally took over. But more on that next week.

I think my struggle right now is that - because this year started with two fulls, really, I "only" have two halfs coming up in the next six weeks (San Diego on June 5 and Seattle on June 18). While half marathons are far from anything to scoff at, I know I can do a half in my sleep, even if slightly undertrained or out of shape or whatever. So I know I don't necessarily need to put in a ton of work over the next few weeks to feel up to par in June. Sure, it'd help, but not mandatory at this point!

Getting going without having a training schedule is tough. How do you beat it and get up to just GO?

How was your week? Make sure you link up below!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

So... What's Next?

I've had this as my Facebook cover photo since January, knowing full well that I have some huge goals in mind for 2016. 

Namely, this one:

2. Marathon PR
I have a number in my head. A time on the clock that I would love to see happen by the end of the year, but I'm not ready to put it out there just yet. Last year in one marathon I ran a 6-minute PR in 100-degree heat and I've already got 3 fulls on the calendar for 2016. So long as I can maintain some effort, I think my goal is realistic. 4:52 will be demolished this year - demolished!

And yes, as it stands, 4:52 has been demolished! And I say that very loud and very proudly because a 33-minute PR is pretty massive. But - and get this - that number in my head is just out of reach. Running Phoenix and then killing my training for OC and killing the race at OC is just further proof and confirmation that this goal is more than attainable and with just a little more work (and mental fight at mile 21), it too will be demolished this year. 

I'm excited to get there. But for now... what's next? What's next on the to-do list, the massive list of goals for the year, and all that I'm ready to achieve? Well, aside from wedding planning, there's a lot! But that's a whole 'nother discussion for another day. 

In terms of running, here's what's next:

  • June 5: Rock 'n Roll San Diego
  • June 18: Rock 'n Roll Seattle (State #10!)
  • July 17: Griffith Park Trail Marathon Relay

And that's it. And those are going to be fun, chill, be silly, have a good time kinda races. I was tough on myself and my body these first five months of the year and while I've racked up the mileage to show it (459 miles down, 641 to go until another milestone for the year achieved!) and now it's time to just run and have a little fun. 

What does that look like? 

  • Keeping up with a regular habit of foam rolling, stretching, and Wednesday yoga. 
  • Intentionally get in some strength training.
  • Maintain 100-mile months but don't stress when I miss.
  • Get back on the trails! I miss them! 
I'm going to run for fun for a few months, until Long Beach Marathon training kicks off in July or August. Summer is toughest for me, not only because of our Southern California heat, but also with my work schedule being a hot mess and all over the freaking place in terms of hours and regularity. Hooray orientation season! I'll be stoked if I can rack up any kind of mileage in July especially (I did a whopping 30 last July), so there's something to shoot for too! 

So that's it - run for fun, enjoy not full-on training for anything and have a great summer doing it all. Excited to knock Washington off my list and daydream about the next state to conquer too! 

How do you re-set after a huge goal or PR is achieved?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Weekly Workout Recap #18: Recovery Week

May 1 - 7

Recovery week... the second best week of the year, only after race week! Sometimes it's nice to just totally back off. Sometimes I want to go out for an easy run (like after Phoenix), and sometimes you just want to do abso-freaking-lutely nothing. This week, I bounced back and forth between the two. I ate like crap. I partially enjoyed that, partially felt guilty. And then I decided I deserved it, so whatever.

Much like my race recap said, I'm still very much reveling in what I accomplished on last Sunday. While my ultimate A goal wasn't achieved (so yes, it's still a secret), I beyond destroyed my B goal and for that, I couldn't be more stoked.

Needless to say, I think I enjoyed my recovery week. Next up isn't a whole lot of anything, so running easy, enjoying the run and cutting myself a little slack because after all, I did just run two fulls in nine weeks. Booyah.

Sunday |OC Marathon
We hung out for a little after OC, and then headed home for a little post-race ice bath, shower, and nap before we headed out to a wedding venue appointment. I enjoyed my first alcoholic beverage in three weeks, opened courtesy of my new Double Dog Dare tag (DUH):

We headed out for our appointment, stopped for some totally necessary tater tots at Sonic, and upon spending too much time in line for gas at Costco, were going to be a little bit late for our appointment. I called, finally got a hold of someone, said we'd be there about 5:45 (we had a 5:30 appontment), only to find out that they close at 6, so a 5:45 wouldn't really work. Sad face. At this point, we were more than halfway to Disneyland, so my awesome quick-thinking fiance said, "Well then let's just go to Disneyland to celebrate a PR!" He knows me so well.

And so we did. Yes, I wore my medal, and yes mandatory I'm Celebrating button to commemorate such a freaking awesome day. Two drinks + a giant Ghiradelli sundae at Disneyland in two hours and then home. Is there any better way to celebrate? I think not. We were home and I was passed out before 10. All in a day's work.

Oh, you know....

26.52 miles, 4:19:20, 9:54 pace. HELL YES.

Monday | Rest
The day after a marathon is the best, isn't it? Totally guilt-free day of rest. Only the  more I sat, the more I hurt, but walking wasn't quite enjoyable yet. My shoulders started to hurt the worst, so I knew that I definitely had lost my posture when I got tired at some point in the race. When I got home, I rolled out some to try and work it out, and then took Molly out to the park for an afternoon in the sun.

Rest, foam roll + stretch 

Tuesday | 20 minute walk
I took Molly out again to the park after work. I really wanted just to walk around the neighborhood, but figured it was so nice out, I needed to take advantage of the extended daylight we have now and ler her get her energy out too. I walked laps around the park for awhile while she played and rolled around. Success.

Walk, 14 minutes, 0.7 miles 

Wednesday | 20 minute walk + yoga
You know what I've never really thought before? Walking is really nice! It's so relaxing. And chill. And an easy way to burn the pup out before I drop her off and head out to yoga! Molly and I headed out for a quick lap around the neighborhood just in time for me to sit for 15 minutes before heading to Fleet Feet. I could tell I was body tired, but wasn't sore... until yoga. Then it all went downhill from there! Stretching my toes? Forget about it. Quads? Hurts oh so good!

Photo: Veronica.
Walk, 24 minutes, 1.34 miles
60 minutes yoga

Thursday | Rest
Aaaaah rest days. I had all these grandiose plans to be super life productive on Thursday evening after work, but after running two quick errrands, I was home about 6:30 with a massive headache. Thought I'd lay down for a nap and then found Doug waking me up when he got home from football two hours later. Oops.

I guess I needed it?

Total and complete rest day. 

Friday | 30 minute walk
Happy end of the week! Doug and I both passed out on the couch early, woke up eventually, and then crawled into bed. Can you say wild Friday night?

Saturday | 3 miles easy
I was supposed to run 3 easy miles before mom and I headed out to Disneyland to volunteer all day, but after passing out on the couch on Friday night, that was the last I wanted to do. But it worked out because after being on our feet all day Saturday (a total of almost 5 miles walking), it kinda worked out and I was TIRED. Win-win.

Mom & me. She got introduced to the crazy that is RunDisney!
And that was all she wrote. Funny, unlike Phoenix, I'm not chomping at the bit to get out and run. I think because after Phoenix, I had OC to look forward to. And now (more on this this upcoming week), I don't have much to look forward to until fall, so I think mentally it's like I know I can take this break! But I still have mileage goals for the year that I'd like to hit and want to make that happen. Summer is my insane time of year, and I'd like to maintain some regularity in the upcoming months as that all comes down!

How was your week? Make sure you link up below!