November 10, 2014

100K Training Update

I am officially running the Gorge Waterfalls 100K on March 28th, 2015! Wooooooooooooooooo!

Husband is entered into the Gorge Waterfalls 50K lottery and we find out on the 12th if he will be running! I'm so excited! And scared. For him. And me. Mostly for me. Okay probably 98% scared for me, 1% for him, and 1% for our dogs.

I'll explain.

I'm scared for the dogs because they don't even realize what's happening; why mom will be hobbling most weekends, unable to keep throwing the toys around. Staying out all day on a Saturday instead of lounging around with them. Sleeping in later the day after a Saturday long run. Listening to me moan and groan about various things. BUT, they do get a giant salt slab when I get home from the long run!

Scared for the husband because he has to listen to me OBSESS about every tiny little thing I possible can for the next five months remotely pertaining to running. And the fact that if he gets into the race, he has to go through these long runs and all that comes with a 50K. And it was pretty much my idea that he enter the lottery...so if he hates it, that's just a lot of responsibility on me. If he doesn't get in, he won't understand to the same extent my moans and groans and will have to listen anyway instead of chiming in with me. Also, he might have to pace me at the race...and that could be dangerous territory given my mood swings while running :)

Lastly, scared for me because HOLY SHIT. Why did I sign up for a race that is 12 miles longer than my two failed attempts, and has 12,000 ft of elevation gain?!?!?!

That 12,000' gain is really starting to sink in now that I've been doing all trail runs. I justified it away when I wanted to sign up for the race by saying 'PSH, 12,000' of gain isn't really THAT much when you spread it over 62 miles.'

I don't see ANY logic in that statement at all. Oh the craziness that comes out of my mouth.

So now lets talk about my runs. I went for a three mile run around work. It was a glorious overcast and slightly cool day and I got the run done, sans walking and a pretty consistent run pace - finishing in 33 minutes.

Then I did an awful treadmill run. It was boring and I remembered why I enjoy running outside...but nevertheless, completed 3 miles.

Eventually, my first 'long run' had arrived. A seven miler that would make or break my attitude towards this whole training season. I decided to go out to Chautauqua Trailhead in Boulder. So did the rest of the state of Colorado. There was a Buffs game, and it was the most gorgeous Saturday, so the crowds were out tenfold. I could not find parking anywhere. I decided to head to Eldorado Canyon (because my memory failed me on how difficult it was last time I was there...) and barely found a parking spot. By the time I finally got to the trailhead, it was hot as balls. I only brought my handheld...thinking I wouldn't need my pack for a seven mile run. Well...the altitude and the elevation gain zapped my legs and lungs really fast. I could have gotten really grouchy, but instead I reminded myself why I was out there. Reminded myself to enjoy the smell of the pine trees, and yes, that bee sure has been following you up this mountain this whole time, but you're going to enjoy yourself DAMNIT! And then I ran out of water and decided it was smarter to head back down for a refill after only 2.55 miles. I thought I would just head over to one of the other trailheads I saw on my way to Eldorado and finish up my mileage for the day, no problemo. I finally found parking at Marshall Mesa and set out to finish this damn thing during the hottest part of the day now. It was a slog, man. I tell you, rough. My legs were shot and the smallest incline at the beginning of the run felt like Everest. But, I managed to finish the run without bailing out and I'm stronger for it.

In the week after that, amidst a full blown breakdown, I drove around the area and happened upon a trail not too far from work. All my problems were solved. At least that's what it felt like. It was like that glorious moment when you see the bright light and angels are singing and everything just clicks.

My first lunchtime trail run out there was a bit rocky. I enjoyed the hell out of every single minute, running with a heart full of happy. I had to stop many times to catch my breath, not being used to the elevation, but I was thoroughly enjoying myself. God, I missed this. I can't believe I ran for so long in that dark place of no enjoyment.  I ran three pretty slow miles that day, but haven't enjoyed three miles that much in such a long time, so I didn't mind one bit.

I returned again the very next day for another three miles. Tried a different route, whooped my ass even more with the elevation change. Really enjoyed myself and returned to work feeling tired and renewed.

I found my way to hit the reset button on bad days.

The problem? The days that I wanted to run but had too many meetings that I couldn't slip away left me grouchy and longing to go back out to the trail, biding time until my weekend long run.

I planned my nine mile long run to be at Staunton on my Friday off, and woke up at the crack of dawn to get out there. Turns out, gates don't open til 8am. By the time the gates opened, I had talked myself out of running at that crazy altitude. The run would top out at over 9,000 and it was just too much to wrap my head around, reasoning that I had a tough enough time doing my 3 mile runs at 6,100 feet. I decided on Meyer Ranch Park, and I wasn't disappointed. I loved almost every part of that day, though it proved to be a difficult 2.5 hours. The altitude varied between 8,000 and 8,600 and the overall gain for the run was 1,400 feet. I was tapped out by the end, but I loved the scenery. The trails are surrounded by trees and you feel like you're in a different place. It can't go without saying that I battled some demons on that run though. I had to fight to keep a positive outlook while I couldn't breathe for most of the run. I fought hard to get those 9 miles when my body was begging to stop much sooner. I wasn't going to let myself down. Not this time. Not this race. This will all benefit me in the long run.

The following week was a rough and busy one and I was only afforded one lunchtime trail run. I decided I would go for a trail run after work one of the days and logged 5 miles that really helped beef up my confidence. I didn't mind the slightly longer drive home that night because I was proud of myself. I had a happy heart full of clean trail air, and I had successfully worn myself out.

This past Saturday I went out to Highlands Ranch for the Backcountry Wilderness Half Marathon...a race I wasn't sure I wanted to do that day. My legs were still tired, my ankle a little wonky from tripping the weekend before, my knees a little sore from the altering terrain. Time to suck it up, Princess. This was the first run I've done since the first three mile road run where I needed my tunes to occupy my mind. I wasn't in a good place when the race started, and I needed something to simply help me survive the 13 miles. What a tough day... Around mile three I was pretty sure I wanted to quit at the 4.5 mile aid station. By the time I got to it, I had already told myself that quitting was not an option, and the volunteers lifted my spirits enough to help me forget about how tired I felt. By the 7.5 mile aid station, I had settled that it would just be a long day and I needed to suffer through the 3 hours and be done with it. By mile 8, I was whooping and hollering down this perfect, muddy section of trail, thankful to finally be in a more trail like setting instead of running on packed dirt in the wide open. By mile 9.5, I was regretting hauling ass through that muddy section because I was now in the middle of a 2 mile climb back up to mile 11, where the 7.5 aid station was. The cool thing about the day was that though I was exhausted and it was tough to breathe, I did not stop once to catch my breath (outside of refilling my handheld at the aids). That was a first for these runs at altitude.

Instead of following the routine of lunch time trail runs or after work runs, I am saving my legs until Tuesday for a 15 miler. I won't be in town this weekend, and I figured I would take advantage of having a day off before leaving. I'm praying my legs recover enough to make the 15 miles enjoyable, because the 20 degree temps and snow will not. It will be a great way to boost my mental game! Plus, hard to complain about my long run on Veterans Day when you think about the grand scheme of things.

It's been all about perspective, and being grateful for my opportunities.

So far so good over here!

Happy early Veteran's Day to all of you out there! Thanks for your service and sacrifice!

October 21, 2014

Spontaneous

Last year, I was really keen and confident that I could get an avocado pit to sprout so we could have our very own avocado tree and how cool would that be to have endless avocados even though Colorado is less than ideal to grow them?!?!?! (to your surprise, I'm sure, that did not work out for me....but now that I mention it again, I might need to give it another go!)

Sometime this past spring, I convinced my husband to let us buy all of these power tools because I was so sure I would have a natural knack for woodworking. I saw it online and it didn't seem so bad! (a couple wonky end tables and a LOT of scrap wood later....) For the record, we actually made a pretty kick ass dining table and entryway table! It just took a lot of practice, and I'm not good at patience or time.

There's also this time I went to the thrift store alone and came home with four end tables and a small round side table...all for a low, LOW price! I went out looking for just one table to go in our study, and ended up with five instead. I figured for how cheap they were, I could just fix them up and resell or put them in the house! (the projects are still sitting in the corner of the garage half completed because I've changed my mind on their color and purpose too many times...)

This just adds up to a girl who doesn't always completely think things through, but instead dives head first with full confidence that she'll be good at whatever it is... until she isn't.

(I know, you're saying to yourself: 'I thought this blog was about running, not avocados and furniture...')

There was the time that I thought I could be an overnight sensational triathlete. (this has yet to pan out after I signed up for a half ironman and THEN realized that I am shit at swimming)

And another time that I decided about a month before my first 50 miler attempt that it would be awesome to drive up to this 50K in New York that had insane amount of elevation gain and really tricky trails.

I get so inspired by a YouTube video of Killian Jornet flying off those crazy only-a-mountain-goat-can-actually-survive-leaps-like-that descents.

I watch Run Fatboy Run and get persuaded that Simon Pegg could actually be the character in that movie and manage to finish that marathon with basically no training outside of a couple runs while being swatted on the tush with a spatula as motivation.

I watch GingerRunner's videos on YouTube and I think, BAD ASS! YES, I TOTALLY want to run that really hard sounding Squamish 50/50 and be a bad ass too! Even when I hear him say in his video 'Don't do this race'.  I mean, runners are ALWAYS saying stuff like that after a race...AMIRIGHT?!  (gingerrunner.com or youtube, watch the Squamish 50/50 video. It's ahhh-mazing, or the Gorge Waterfall 100k video)((hopefully he's okay with me putting this on here))

I guess you could say I have a romanticized view of running and long races and my abilities to overcome any and every thing. A little humorous considering my track record with ultras.

In my last post months ago, I said I had signed up for MCM and I was going to do the right thing with base building and yadda boring safe runner yadda. I will not be running MCM due to some obligations and travel that would make attending the race a toughie.

Also, I will not be the safe base building yahoo that I've never been in my whole running career. It's just not who I am. Not to say I won't train appropriately and take certain precautions...I'm just not going to put my goals on hold until 2020 just so I can have the 'right amount of miles' before you can ever think about a race. Who comes up with that crap anyway? (Not saying people who eased into racing 'the right way' are yahoos, I just like that word.)

I am hereby (on Monday) signing up for a 100K race. I'm all in. I've created the training plan, researched supplemental exercises to try to keep me injury free and away from the usual hip pain, and I'm going to do things my way. And this time, I'm going to KICK ITS ASS (by way of me crossing the finish line after it completely has its way with me).

And then, I am pondering Squamish in either the Squamish 50 Mile way, or Squamish 50/50.

I'll be sure to keep up on my posts better this time around, and I'll let everyone know about my training plan since it is insanely difficult to find a 100K plan out there.

May 12, 2014

My Fastest Miles

Let's talk about the past couple weeks, shall we?!

4/23 - 2 miles @ 11:28 pace each mile. Never been THAT consistent before! Total run was 22:58

4/24 - 1 mile run for fast pace, completed in 10:10, fastest I've let myself run in a LONG time

5/5 - (long break thanks to weather and I'm a wuss) 1 mile run for fast pace, completed in 9:45, 9:35 moving time

5/6 - 38 minute run in HR Zone 2 = lots of walking to stay in the zone, completed 2.5 miles

5/9 - 1 mile fast pace, completed in a shocking (for me) 9:35, 9:22 moving time


Guys. I'm pretty sure I've never been in the 9s before! I'm also pretty sure I've never pressed myself that hard to see what I'm capable of...but this is amazing!!! I feel like I'm going balls to the wall fast and I have to turn my ipod up pretty loud to drown out my embarrassing breathing. I get this crazy runner's cough when I'm done that lasts at least the rest of the day.

That last fast mile I completed, I left the house with a bad attitude. I didn't feel like I could be as fast as I have been, my legs felt a little lazy and sluggish, so I wasn't sure what kind of number I would pull. I decided to just give all I have, and I pulled out that amazing mile. Then I about died after trying to catch my breath haha. It has to be a pretty amusing sight to see me trying to walk it off and catch my breath when people passing by have no idea that I almost just broke the sound barrier! ...Okay, I know I'm not THAT fast...but it still feels like that to me!

I'M HAVING FUN RUNNING AGAIN!

That is the biggest accomplishment out of all of this right now! Man, I've been needing that.

So now that I know I can compete in the Olympics, I will be throttling back on the speed for my mile fast run. Bringing it back to the 10s and going to try to keep consistent there. Try to figure out my range of paces again since I seem to only have two settings: balls to the wall, or sluggish sloth.

I'm also going to start adding in my zone longer runs so I can keep building my endurance capacity while getting faster at the same time.

With all that said, I am still very aware that I have a marathon to run in about 5 months. I'm trying to carefully build my base so I don't do something stupid and end up hurt and burned out again!

Took me a couple times of knocking my head against the pavement, but I'm finally learning!

Happy running!




Help me meet my goal and I will do one burpee for every dollar donated!

http://www.active.com/donate/semperfifundmcm2014/SFFSWalker

April 23, 2014

Exciting News!

I have some exciting news! Well, to me it's exciting! To you, it's probably just like 'oh okay Steph...you're cool....my goldfish is more exciting than that news you just laid on me.'

But whatevs. Not going to stop me from dropping the exciting news hammer!





YOU GUYS! WE GOT A VITAMIX!!! Thanks to the wedding gift cards and Bed, Bath, & Beyond store credit, we could afford this life changing piece of kitchen equipment. I've probably NEVER been so excited for an appliance. I think the only thing that can compare is when I got my Dyson. And I think I'm WAY more over the moon in love with this thing...and that's saying a lot because I vacuumed every day for a month when I got my Dyson!




 I thought I would have to do some major convincing with the fiance in order to even dream about getting a Vitamix, but he was completely on board! We got it last night and I immediately jumped at the chance to see how this baby performs. I threw an extremely large handful of spinach and two strawberries in there with a little water and let it rip. The SMOOTHEST liquid came out. NO STRAWBERRY SEEDS! It's mind blowing to me. The day before, I used my Ninja to blend up some kale, fruit, and other yummies only to have to semi-chew through the drink.

It came with a really big selection of recipes and I can't wait to use it. Every single day. Every day. All day. Foreverrrrrrr.


As exciting as that is (for me), that's not what I was really referring to. The exciting news is that I am considering running Marine Corps Marathon this year as a charity runner with Semper Fi Fund again! The soon-to-be hubs and I want to make a trip to DC, and I love race trips! What better way to let me get my fill of my old running routes and have him sight see all at the same time?!

I'm still trying to decide. I want to do a long race in the Fall, so it's either MCM or a 50k about 40 minutes away from my house. I'm leaning towards MCM because it's still my favorite race, it's a great charity, we get to visit with my friends and see my 'hometown', and the friends we will stay with have a hot tub. Haha. Yes, it comes down to that. The hot tub.

And the fact that those two friends are the best spectators I've ever had.

So then it's settled. Glad we had this chat! You guys are the best listeners!

Alright. So let's talk about running and what I've been up to since I've been slacking on the updates. I decided to buy a heart rate monitor and a foot pod to help me become better, stronger, and more efficient. I also put my crossfit membership on hold for a while and the man and I bought a barbell and some weights for me to continue doing stregth training at home. I miss the people at the gym, but it was the only way I could focus on getting back into running shape and keeping my body from falling apart. I have been religiously foam rolling when I feel tightness and after runs to help with my hip, and I'm working on strengthening my gluteus medius.

My runs have been faster pace. I'm not sure where it's coming from, but I'm rolling with it!I'm drafting up a training plan now, and I'll let you know how things are going!/

Hopefully I look better during this year's finish!

Iwo Jima Memorial, here I come!

March 21, 2014

Spring: Rebirth of Running

Yesterday, I cleaned out a big stack of papers that have been lingering from 2013. Among the pile was a little sheet with a list I made of races I would love to complete in my lifetime. I won't list them all, but they are all ultras to include big names like:

JFK 50 - the race that inspired the ultra itch to begin with but has never been attempted

Leadville - an obvious choice previously but now I'm not so sure I want to run it

Bull Run Run - a race that I've longed to complete ever since I volunteered and BRR in early 2012 and spent time with the awesome members of Virginia Happy Trails Running Club

Hardrock - because I guess I had a death wish when I made this list. I am one of the most terrified people of lightning you will ever meet, and yet I wished to go run this already extremely difficult race, where it's known most years to have thunderstorms at some of the high points....hmm...no thank you

Bear Mountain 50M - the 50M version of the first 50k I completed and vowed to never return because it was the most brutal thing I have ever encountered

Muddy Marathon - still thinking it would be an awesome time


I can't recall why I put some of these on my list, other than I was really foolish ambitious at some point last year. It had to have been before my latest 50M attempt in San Francisco, since that seems to be what shattered my running mindset and ruined me for running for the past four months. So much so that I haven't even wanted to go to the gym for the running wods. Sad.

If I get really introspective, I guess I could say that the 50M didn't ruin me, but that I was already ruined before that race. I went into it very resigned to my fate, and frankly just didn't give a damn anymore.

That's not true. I did care and felt that whole spectrum of emotions a runner feels when they decide to pull out of a race.

Disappointment, failure, some kind of sick relief - the kind where you see one of the course's monster hills after dropping and say to yourself 'Boy am I glad I don't have to go up that now!' and then immediately hate yourself for saying it... anyone with me on this?

I'm not going to go down the long disappointment road again...don't worry. Many non-runners don't understand, and I suspect maybe even some runners don't get it. It is usually devastating to me when I have to DNF...which unfortunately has been more often than I would want in a lifetime.

SO. What am I going to do to fix that? I have the Spring training itch that is moving in with the warmer weather and longer sunshine-y days, along with needing to get in shape for the wedding.

I have signed up for a very local half marathon in June to get me going again and I am resisting all urges to be my usual foolish self and sign up for something much longer. I need a plan.

1. Get good at running.

1. Stop being a chickensh*t and actually get out there and complete some runs. Without a watch. For the hell of it.

2. Get faster by doing tabata runs, hills where I can, and sprint intervals. Goal to get consistently under 35 minutes for a 5k (yes yall, I really am that slow)

3. Get a PR in the half marathon, so under 2:40.

4. Reassess progress in a couple months and entertain the idea of a late year marathon, with sights set potentially on a 2015 ultra as either a 50k or 50M. Everyone calm down. I'm going to ramp up properly, and make sure my hip doesn't fall off before I enter into that realm again.

I will admit that lately I've been incredibly homesick for my old running routes. I don't so much miss other things about DC (other than friends and ironically my old job), but damn do I miss the route from my apartment in NW DC down to Haines Point and around on Ohio St, across the bridge and over to Arlington Cemetery...running through Rosslyn. Even more so I miss the Potomac Heritage Trail a stupid amount. I miss the safety I felt out there since I knew the trail so well. Seeing the deer in the ridiculous early morning, getting slapped in the face with spiderwebs because you are the first runner out there. Those trails will always be my first love, and I thought that I would be ecstatic to run out here in the Rocky Mountains, but instead I feel a little hollow on their trails. I loved feeling the green lushness around me and the feel of the ground. You don't get the same atmosphere here. Maybe in time I'll learn to love it, after I get over my fear of rattlesnakes being everywhere.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that a VA ultra is probably highest on my list because I miss it so intensely. Maybe I rematch North Face DC, properly prepared and finally conquer the distance that eludes me on the same course as my first attempt. Time will tell.

Oh yeah, I get new running shoes in the mail tomorrow! Going to try out some Newtons and see how I fair! Pretty damn excited.

Be on the look out for a Couch to 50 Mile Plan - the over a year and a half long edition ;)