Returning to running

It’s been awfully quiet on the blog lately and that’s been somewhat deliberate. I never got around to writing my Chicago Marathon recap (although I swear I still will!), mostly because I got burnt out from the marathon training process. I made the mistake of signing up for some post-marathon races since I thought that would keep me motivated. In reality, I should’ve just taken a break and focused on yoga, spinning and the occasional winter run. I pushed myself too hard after marathon training and ended up with some pretty bad pain my glutes, which kept me sidelined for a while. I finally started feeling better and made a gradual return to running in January but had to take a few breaks due to my international trips to Guatemala, Belize, Mexico and Colombia. Those are all fabulous countries filled with beautiful places and people but some of the destinations in those countries are not very runner-friendly. That’s for a separate blog post.

It’s hard coming back from losing almost all my running fitness after marathon training. I’ve learned that I’m not a runner that can continue to push my body after the marathon distance. I also experience burnout after marathon training and not only do I end up with physical problems, running becomes a chore instead of something that I look forward to every day. I look forward to marathon training again somebody but for the near future, I plan on taking a break and focusing on shorter distances. I have some events in the near future that I’m really excited about, including:

  • Golden Gate Relay in May with some good friends of mine

  • Ragnar Northwest Passage in July with team #sixpackracks

  • Oiselle #birdcamp in August (the week of my birthday. Yeah!)

  • Oatmeal’s Beat the Blerch at the end of September. Birthday cake and nutella? Sold!

  • Rock n’Roll Vancouver at the end of October. Pretty sure this is going to be my sub:2 goal race

 I also look forward to posting on a more regular basis. When I can’t run, I neglect my blog and sometimes even Twitter. It’s not purposeful. Even when I can’t run, I still want to cheer for my running friends and Oiselle teammates. As much as I don’t want to admit it, it’s difficult to log on to Twitter and see the constant bombardment of PRs, race recaps, etc. I’m trying to be a bit better about logging on, even when I’m not able to run as much as I’d like. I miss connecting with my running friends.

#SixPackWithaRack

I’ve never run a relay so I decided for my very first one, I might as well make it an ultra. On July 19th, my Ragnar Ultra Team will be covering 200 miles as part of Ragnar Northwest Passage, starting near the Canadian border and continuing down to Whidbey Island. Lauren pulled together the team and Rira, Robyn, Bethany and Jessey were all crazy enough to join the fun. I’m runner #3 and will my legs are 12.6 miles, another 12.6 and 8 miles. I’m in awe (and thankful!) of my fellow teammates that took the hard mileage. I think Robyn and Jessey have a 16 or 17 mile run, in addition to all the other miles they have to run. I’m not going to lie… I’m perhaps a tad nervous about this one. I know it’s going to be a blast hanging out with these ladies for 30+ hours but I’m hoping that I don’t slow us down too much and/or pass out on the side of the road in the heat.

Sidenote: Special shoutout for Lauren to being such an organized team leader. Thanks for all your hard work!

Oh, and here’s our meetup photo from May’s Miles and Margs where Lauren suckered/convinced Robyn and Rira into signing up. (Photo stolen from Stacie).Image

So about this training for Ragnar thing. I googled “train for a Ragnar ultra” and there isn’t exactly a Hal Hidgon “run an ultra relay race” plan so I’ve just been following my scheduled marathon plan. I did come across another runner’s blog that said you shouldn’t run an ultra relay unless you’re already in marathon shape. I am nowhere near marathon shape right now. Gulp. I reached a total of 26 miles in training last week and rearranged my weekend run to do longer back to backs. I skipped a 3-mile run during the week and combined it with my Sunday 3-mile run, for a total of 10 miles on Saturday and 6 miles on Sunday. I woke up at 6 am on Saturday to get my run in before it got too warm, despite the fact that I love sleeping in until 7:30 or 8am on the weekends. I let myself sleep in on Sunday which meant I had to do my 6 miles at the gym since it hit 95 degrees in Redmond.

My mileage is increasing to 28.5 this week, with 4 miles tomorrow, 6 on Wednesday, 4 on Thursday, 11 on Saturday and 3.5 on Sunday. I’m going to attempt to run my 4 miles outside in the 80 degree weather since it might be good conditioning for Ragnar. I grew up in Florida and my fellow native Floridians would be ashamed of me if they knew what a heat wimp I’ve become. In my defense, I haven’t lived in Florida since 2002 and my body has definitely adjusted to Seattle’s moderate temperatures. 

If you have any tips for surviving an ultra relay race, let me know. These are a few of the tips that I’ve read on other blogs:

1) Eat as much food as possible for an ultra relay, especially protein
2) Bring Immodium to help with stomach issues
3) Baby wipes. We won’t have time to shower so this will help reduce the stink
4) Put outfits into zip block bags and label them for each leg

I’ll post my full packing list when it gets closer. Any other tips?? I’d love to hear them!

Too Much Cowbell

Instead of running the Seattle Rock ‘n Roll this year, I decided to help hydrate runners with Nuun and cheer with some blog & Twitter friends. I’ve never cheered or volunteered at a race this big and it was so much fun. Can I please do it again this weekend?

Anyway, to recap the day: I woke up bright and early at 5:45 (insert Grumpy Cat face here). I made it over to the International District pretty fast, despite the fact that many roads and exits were closed. I decided to wear some capris and my long sleeve Marine Corps Marathon shirt, thinking it would be chilly most of the morning. After all, it’s June in Seattle. After standing around for 15 minutes, I realized how warm it was getting and I felt bad for the runners, especially the marathoners. It was so cool being able to see the elite runners pass by and I even got to give some of them Nuun. Boy were they flying. Once the elite runners passed, the Nuun station was slammed. It was hectic but also a ton of fun. I saw Stacie at the Nuun tent and gave her a quick hug (Stacie, you looked great in your Nuun singlet).

After we wrapped up at the Nuun tent, we headed over to mile 10 to cheer on the runners. Lauren kept cracking me up with her “you look like a mermaid” and “you really like running” cheers. Here’s a photo of us, courtesy of Sarah:

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We were able to see Lauren and Stacie go by but I never saw Robyn, unfortunately. I also saw the man below, who was running the half marathon on prosthetic legs. Amazing! You can read the full story about him here.

Man running on prosthetic legs

I kept shaking my cowbell and didn’t want to stop cheering, despite the fact that it was killing my fingers. I probably should’ve stopped when I noticed blisters forming and after I noticed blood on my fingers. This is the first cowbell injury that I’ve sustained but at least I had fun doing it.

Is anyone racing this weekend? If so, I want to come cheer for you but maybe this time, I’ll wear protective gloves or something.

Worst Race Photo EVER

Because of my work schedule and crazy travel schedule for the early part of 2013, I wasn’t able to run any of the races that I had signed up for. May finally rolls around and my coach asks me to sign up for a 5k as kind of a fitness test so that she could give more accurate pacing guidance on future runs. My instructions were to go all out and if I didn’t feel like death when the race was over, I did it wrong. I’m not a fast runner by any means but I’m in much better shape now than I was when I set my previous 5k PR at 28:56.

I searched the Internet for last-minute 5ks in my area and decided to sign up for the Kirkland Half Marathon 5k, well-known in this area for its hills. Hills, shmills. I wasn’t going to let some hills keep me from setting a shiny PR. The race started and the first half mile was flat and I was flying and I felt great. I looked down at my Garmin and saw my average pace was 7:15 and I was like (*&(@*#)(%)*&%#. I didn’t realize I was going that fast and I knew that I couldn’t keep it up for very long. During training runs, I’ve sustained an 8:15 ish pace over a 3 mile distance but not any faster than that. By the time I realized how much I effed up, it was time to tackle the first big hill. I don’t know what the total elevation for the course was (need to go look it up again) but I do know the hills felt giant and never-ending, especially when I went out of the gate at a pace that I knew I couldn’t sustain. Despite the fact that I felt like dying only 1 mile into the race, I kept running, albeit much more slowly than my start pace. Continue reading

Three Things Friday

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The sun is shining through the window at work, it’s finally Friday and I have two more days left of work before I leave for Jordan and Turkey for 2 1/2 weeks. Without further ado, let’s get right into Three Things Friday:

1. I love bright colors. I especially love bright colors during the spring and summer in Seattle. Today I’m wearing a bright green lace top with a coral necklace and it makes me happy. We don’t really get much of an opportunity to celebrate the sun around here so all things that are bright cheer me up.

2. Knotty Yoga. Unfortunately I haven’t done Knotty Yoga in over a year but the workout you get is incredible and it’s so much to hang from the aerial ropes. They’re offering a great deal on Amazon Local right now. If you pay $19, you get to attend an hour and a half intro workshop and one 30-minute class. Let me know if you buy the deal so that we can sign up for the workshop together.

3. Oiselle. I went to the sample sale a couple of weekends ago and picked up so many amazing pieces to add to my Oiselle collection. I’ve run or worked out in almost all the pieces I purchased and they’re all stylish and functional. I wonder when Oiselle will have their next sample sale 😉

Hope everyone is able to get outside this weekend and enjoy the sun. I have a quick 4-mile run on my training plan and then the rest of the weekend will be spent packing for my trip.