Virtual Half-Marathon Recap

Last Saturday I wrapped up my Boston Marathon training block with a virtual half-marathon.  This of course was definitely not the way I imagined things to end.  I imagined loud cheers and bright red numbers illuminating my goal time of 2:48.  In my head, it was all pretty glorious and memorable.  

That vision will have to be saved for another day.  My virtual half was the next best option. And here’s the thing, it was entirely unglamorous.  It was actually pretty painful. When you start hurting in a race, you can really rely on the crowds and people to carry you through.  When I started to hurt at around mile 9, there were no crowds or expectations, and part of me just wanted to stop. Thankfully, Lance pulled me through and got me to a time of 1:23:45. 

Before I dive into the miles, I just want to say that Lance is amazing. I would not have been able to run that time or probably even have finished if it was not for his even pacing and encouraging words.  He is so even-keeled and I can be so dramatic.  The last 4ish miles, every word amount of my mouth was a complaint and a whine.  Lance is so good at not letting my negative thoughts or complaints change what he believes in me.  The whole time, even when I started to half-cry, he said you got this, you are going to run an amazing time.  I am so thankful God gave me a husband that not only cheers me on, but that believes in me more than I do.  

The Course

For this 13.1 mile course, Lance and I started at Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes and ended at a random street in Manhattan Beach.  The course was actually a really fun and beautiful one. It would have probably been even more enjoyable in an actual race setting. As a whole, there was a good amount of downhill, which I desperately needed.  The first 5 miles were all in Palos Verdes and there was a good amount of rolling hills. Every time we hit a hill, I lost contact with Lance. I used to pride myself on being a strong hill runner, but I am really struggling on the hills. My glutes are so much weaker and I much prefer the free speed from a downhill.  

Once we got out of Palos Verdes, it was mostly downhill + flat, but these were the miles I also struggled on, so a lot of this section of the course was about holding on and just making it to the 13.1.

We drove the course a few days before, so we knew we would finish right around the Manhattan Beach Pier.  It was just about a quarter mile past the pier. Since the strand and beach is currently closed, we finished on Ocean Drive.  

The Miles

Mile 1- 6:15

Mile 2- 6:20

Mile 3: 6:17

Mile 4: 6:34

Mile 5: 6:09

Mile 6: 6:16

Mile 7: 6:01

Mile 8: 6:14

Mile 9: 6:33

Mile 10: 6:38

Mile 11: 6:30

Mile 12: 6:44

Mile 13: 6:38

The mile splits were a bit all over the place, but the average was 6:24 per mile.  Right when I finished and hit stop on my Garmin, I smiled when I saw the 6:24 average.  That was my exact goal pace for the marathon. Obviously I ran only half the distance, but I was proud to be on that pace in a non-race environment.

Miles 9-13 were rough to say the least.  Aerobically, I felt great. I had the capacity to complain and whine to Lance.  It was all in my head and the right side of my body. I was feeling pretty good up until the 9th mile.  Then, began to mentally check out. Running hard on quiet streets is mentally tough!!! My whole right side of my body was also beginning to tighten up.  My right leg was definitely in pain. And because there were no other racers or crowds, it was the only thing I could focus on. The pain really got in my head.  I am a pretty tough runner, but I was so mentally and physically tired that I began to shed a few tears. People we passed at the end probably thought I was crazy.  I definitely had trouble pushing through the pain and it definitely slowed down my last few miles.

The Finish 

Still, I finished.  I definitely did not sprint in like I usually do.  I was maxed out. 1:23:45 was all I had on that day.  And I am really proud of this time. Not only, is it the easiest PR to remember: 1-2-3-4-5, it is a time that I can say I fought for.  I pushed through. I did not give up. I adjusted when original plans fell through. I kept going because here’s the thing, running Boston was never really about running Boston.  It was about honoring God. It was about chasing dreams. It was about remembering I can still fight and run hard.  

All of this ended in a very different way than I had imagined it would.  But in some ways it all makes sense. It ended on an alley. There was no music (headphones stopped working a few miles in), no people, no cheers, no finish line.  Yet, in this place of quiet, in this place of literally being in the shadow, I put one foot in front of the other. I hit my Garmin exactly when I saw 13.1 and I immediately went to sit on the curb.  Done.  

As I was finishing in this quiet alley, my reflective self could not help but think that this is how I want to continue to live out my days for the rest of my life.  I hope and pray that regardless of the stage, whether it is an alleyway or Boston or the Olympic Trials, I can run my heart out.  

The same is true with my own life.  Whether it is writing to an engaged audience of thousands or just one girl that needs to hear the words, I pray that the performance and the heart behind what I do always remains the same.  The reality is that I have only an audience of one.  This seems to be a theme in my own life.  I wrote about this concept nearly a year ago.  This is when I can actually act out what I write.  It is easy to write it out, but I am convinced the real transformation happens when we actually live out the words we preach.  

These past few weeks, I have had to really dig deep.  What do I do when really no one is watching? How hard am I willing to push myself when the cheers are silent?  Will I keep writing when it sometimes feels like only one sweet friend reads my words? Yes. I will keep running, writing, pushing, dreaming; until God says otherwise.  

This is the freeing part.  It was never about the stage.  It was never about Boston. It was about saying yes to the dreams and visions God has put on my heart.  Whether we are in a pandemic or not, I will continue to say yes to God even if that means running for 13.1 miles on empty streets.  

In typical fashion, the words are running away from me.  The point of this post is to share about my virtual half-marathon, but more so it is to encourage you to not be afraid of saying yes to God when the stage looks dim.  To not be afraid to treat things like they are really, really big deals, even when you are running in the shadows.

With this goal virtual race complete, I am going to take some time away from running. I am feeling a bit burnt out. I am ready to take a bit of a break, but I so look forward to my next season with running.

P.S. SO thankful for my husband, coach, pacer, and encourager. You were the best coach because you know me so deeply!

Final Marathon Monday…For Now.

3/16- MANY WEEKS Until Boston. 

Well, a sure lot has changed in a week.  Last Monday as I typed up my weekly recap, I remembered feeling concerned with a cancellation, but still confident that there would be enough time for the virus to be contained and for the race to still happen.  I also was not super informed or in the know about what really was happening and the seriousness of it all. Obviously, I was wrong and the marathon has been rescheduled to September 14th.  

And I have some feelings about it. 

Initial Feelings

I want to start with the fact that I 100% agree and understand the postponement.  I also understand that with everything going on in the world right now, the fact that the marathon I personally have been training for and dreaming about for the last year, is actually quite insignificant.  Trust me, I get that there are much greater concerns and there are many people that are dealing with more significant loss and more difficult situations.  Yet, my heart still feels disappointment. And I think that is okay for me to admit. It seems pretty small, but I can still be disappointed.  

I keep the same Google document for all of my “Marathon Monday” posts.  Even though it has been a few days to process the fact that Boston will not happen in 5 weeks, as I scrolled down my document, I did become emotional.  Seeing all the numbers, the podcasts, the protein bars, and the people that played a role in the last several weeks of training, got me. I am human and quite honestly as I scrolled through I was brought back to all the miles, the sacrifice, the extra help from family and friends caring for Hudson to make this dream happen.  Being brought back to this place with the knowledge that things are not going to play out the way I envisioned does make me a bit sad and makes me question well, what was even the point? 

After some reflection, I can tell you this, there actually was a whole lot of purpose.  

The Dream to Run the Boston Marathon

First, I want to backtrack a bit.  It was actually almost exactly a year ago that the idea of running the Boston Marathon became a dream.  As I have written about in the past, it was not until about a year ago that I fell back in love with the sport of running.  I write all about it in this post where I recapped my first real race postpartum.   I titled it “Running to Remember” because the race really was an act of remembering why I loved running in the first place.

That first race back, coupled with the buzz around the marathon, made me certain that I wanted to run the Boston Marathon.  The only problem was that I needed a qualifying time before September 15th. By the time I decided this was my goal, a lot of the fast spring marathons were already happening.  This is when the plan to run the San Francisco Marathon was born. Again, you can read all about what that race meant to me here.  In my love for creating alliterative titles, that one was called “More than a Marathon.” It really was more than a marathon.  In this marathon, I got the outcome I wanted: a BQ, however, it was the process of training and having a reason to get out the door that really brought transformation. 

After qualifying and a few months of getting out of a good running rhythmn, January began the process again and I had my eyes set on a clear goal of running a sub 2:50.  Even though at first, I was not feeling as excited to begin marathon training again, by February I was all in and was beginning to feel more fit and excited about the ambitious goal I had set for Boston.  This training cycle I definitely struggled with energy, but as a whole I am really proud of the solid work I put in. In last week’s training, I had some of my most effortless runs and a really strong track workout.  

Process Over Performance

I want to take a second to talk about that track workout.  I did this workout on Wednesday. Going into the workout, things were not looking good.  It was looking like the race would most likely get cancelled or postponed, but there was no official word, so we still went to the track in the evening.  And I am really glad we still did.

The track is one of the most painful and beautiful things to me. Every time I do a track workout it makes my whole body hurt, but it also sharpens my brain in such a way that I often am struck with really insightful realizations in the midst of pain.  I know, weird, but stay with me. This workout was no different. It hit me around the 7th interval. At this point, I was fully feeling the pain and still had 4 more 1,000’s to go. Part of me was wondering what is even the point. No coach, no team, probably no race. But the bigger part of me, refused to quit. It no longer mattered.  This was about something bigger.

This whole past year of training has been about something bigger. I was determined to finish all ten of those 1,000’s. I was determined not because I had a coach pressuring me to do so or because I had a bunch of teammates that were doing it. No, I was determined to do it because I could and because I have learned that it is not always about the applause we receive or the medal we get swung over our neck, it is about the process.  It is about doing hard things. It is about pushing yourself and seeing how good you can get.

Don’t get me wrong, the cheers, the finishing line, the official time, those are really nice elements to work towards, but I am convinced it is actually the process towards them that are even more important.  

Looking Ahead

Boston 2020 likely won’t happen for me.  As I always write about, I love to run, but it is not everything for me.  Training for a marathon is a big commitment and it takes a lot of squeezing in and sacrifice.  It is absolutely worth it, but I don’t think I have the mental capacity to start that cycle over again so soon.  I am most certain that one day I will run it, I guess 2020 is just not my year to do it.  

That is a lot of words, to ultimately say this: I am sad I won’t get to run Boston this spring, but I am ultimately really thankful for this process.  Through the process, I fell back in love with running, and if I am honest, I fell back in love with myself. I know, I know. So cliche. But it is true. Life post-baby was SO HARD on my spirit.  Early motherhood shook me to the core, and running came in at just the right time and helped me feel more normal again. It took my hand and gently became a dear friend again.

It put no pressure on me, it was fine with stopping, it was fine with days off, but it slowly began to reveal the pieces of myself I thought were gone were in fact still there.  It showed me that I can still be competitive and serious and focused and fast, but I can do it in a way that works with my life. With that said, how can I be too sad? Boston 2020 gave me exactly what I needed, hopefully future Boston, will give me the time and the celebration. I can wait for it.  

So, do I just stop training?  NO. I am in really good shape right now, and I am still curious to see what kind of time I can run for a half-marathon.  On April 18th, I am going to run a virtual half-marathon race.  Lance is going to pace me and my goal is to run 78 minutes.  More updates on this as it gets closer! Who knows if I will be able to run that pace solo outside of the race environment, but I am going to try! 

To end, here are 3 major takeaways this unexpected marathon training ending has given me.

Major Takeaways

  1. God’s plan for my life is always better.
  2. God is working even in the hard times.
  3. There is much more to life than the marathon.

Okay, glad I got all that out there.  That is all. Now, let’s run a fast half-marathon…alone!

Marathon Monday: The Miles to Boston Pt. 7

6 Mondays Until Boston!

6 weeks out.  Fitness is really beginning to develop and the realities of the race are beginning to feel more real.  The past week of training was solid. There were no major bumps or extra pain. I can tell that my lungs are becoming more efficient and my legs are feeling stronger.  This past week I hit 60 miles, ran a strong 6-mile tempo, and hit my longest long run by doing the Drives Loop in Palos Verdes (21 miles).  

Every week it seems as though I have some major highlight and some major complaint, but this week, I really don’t.  It was one of those solid weeks of training where nothing really went wrong, but there was nothing majorly exciting.  It was very much a put your head down and grind it out type of week.  

The workout was a good one.  I actually have yet to do a tempo that long in this training block.  6 mile tempos were essentially the only workouts I did leading up to the SF Marathon.  With some convincing from my coach (Lance!), he agreed to let me do an effort-based tempo.  It was supposed to be more of a mile pace-changing workout, but I was feeling pretty tired heading into the workout, and it felt like my body could really use a nice steady state run with minimal looking down at the Garmin.  It felt so nice to just run for 6 miles based on my effort. I rarely looked down at the Garmin and pace was all under goal race pace, so to me that was a success.  

The Miles

  • 8 miles with jogger on strand 
  • 7 solo park loop miles
  • 10 miles with 6 mile tempo (6:09, 6:23, 6:28, 6:17, 6:26, 6:18) 
  • 8 miles with jogger on strand
  • 6 solo miles on the road 
  • 21 miles on the Drives.  Hilly loop in Palos Verdes with very few stops.  I felt strong.  I only did this course one time in last training cycle.  I was hoping to be quite a bit faster, but was only about 1-minute faster.  But hey, I’ll take a minute. We also stopped way less than last time. 

What I am Listening To

  • I spent most of my runs listening to recaps of the Olympic Trials.  Of all the recaps I listened to, the one that definitely hit me the hardest was Sarah Bishop’s interview on The Road to the Olympic Trials.  I have mentioned my love of her before on this blog, but this interview was so emotional and resonated so strongly as another mom who at times struggles with the guilt of chasing after running goals and dreams.  It was so beautifully captured and it literally made me cry as I was running through the foggy roads at 6 am in the morning. This is worth a listen.  
  • Also on the topic of the trials, I was really moved by Molly Seidel’s performance of making the team and getting second place in her debut marathon performance.  I wanted to listen to a podcast interview with her and discovered the Running on Om Podcast.  This episode with Molly was recorded over a month prior to the trials.  The podcast episode was made even more powerful as I knew how the story went with her making the U.S. marathon team.  All of her struggles with depression and an eating disorder were parts of her story that I was unaware of. It was a really powerful episode showing that the external success we see does not always tell the whole story.  

You need to be mentally well in order to run your best. Winning these titles in of themselves mean nothing. Like I was unhappier than I’ve ever been probably after those two national championships, it just felt like nothing. And like some of the greatest joys in my life have come after races that I didn’t even necessarily do that well, but you have people surrounding your life that you care about and your body feels good and just like things that bring you joy.” -Molly Seidel

How I am Fueling

  • Perfect Bars (new bar obsession)
  • Beet Juice from Trader Joe’s.  In college, I always got beet juice the day before a big race.  I am pretty sure it makes you faster! 
  • “Orange Crush” this was the name of the pressed juice, Hudson and I shared after our Thursday run.  It was from a juice and vegan foods stand at the farmer’s market and it was the most delicious juice I have ever had.  It was an immunity blend with turmeric, ginger, mango, oranges. 
  • More berry crisp. 
  • Spicy Mendocino Farms sandwich post-long run. 

Recovery

  • Park stretches 
  • Earlier to bed
  • Staying inside more.  Typically, I try to do a lot of things outdoors with Hudson.  Training has definitely hit my body and I am finding that it is really helpful to keep our days more simple.  It basically has looked like this: run, small outing, nap, stay inside, bed. I really can tell overexerting myself affects how I feel on my run and my attitude towards L + H.  Working on keeping our days as simple as possible until race day.  
Buzz Lightyear wanted the matching band!

Cross-Training 

  • Yoga membership is officially done, so no more strength classes!  
  • At this point, my cross-training truly is pushing the stroller (great for core) and chasing and lifting and playing with a 21-month old during the day.  Not your typical cross-training, but I truly feel like just living out my life outside of running keeps me moving and gets me strong.  
  • It has been fun to do planks and band exercises with Hudson on the mornings I run early.  It doesn’t last long, but it is so cute to see him trying to mimic the exercises I do. He actually has pretty good form when he attempts a plank.  This is a total side tangent, but one of the many things I love about marathon training is that it is setting an example to Hudson. I love that he gets to first-hand witness the hard work that mommy puts in.  I love how he gets to watch us pass guy runners on the strand. I love how mommy can be the one that cares for him, but also the one that chases her own dreams.  

What I Keep Telling Myself 

Press In. Press In. Press In.

Maybe it is all the pressed juice I have been consuming, but there has been something about this word of “press” that has really resonated with me during this training block.  When I was beginning to get the tinges of being uncomfortable during the end of my tempo, the words press in got me to lean in a bit more and dig a bit deeper.  When I was in the last 10 k of my 21 miler on Saturday and my hips were again on fire, press in got me to stay mentally in it.  

It is easy to check out the moment things get tough or uncomfortable or too hard.  This mantra of press in is changing things for me. It is acknowledging that yes, this is in fact hard, but it also is saying I am not afraid of it and I want to see what I can do in these hard places.  This is the mentality that great marathon times are made of. Press in is carrying me through these last 6 weeks of training.  

The Long Run 

For this week’s long run, I ran the Drives Loop in Palos Verdes, which is one big loop that is 21 miles long.  I actually really enjoy this loop because it is challenging with lots of rolling hills. There is something about running one big loop that mentally actually makes the whole run feel not as long.  I also had a sweet running friend agree to meet me three miles in and run 18 out of the 21 miles with me, which was so nice of her and made 21 feel way less lonely.

Overall, I felt really strong and controlled.  The hills still felt challenging and the last 5 miles or so my legs definitely got the fire, painful feeling, but as a whole it was a good run.  

This loop ends on a downhill, which is my favorite way to end a run.  It felt good to let go in that final mile and get some faster turnover in.

I did not do an intentional workout in this long run.  To me, this course and the length is enough work, but I tried to stay as steady as possible. 

In terms of nutrition for this long run, we just ran out of our Maurten Gels, so had to use Honey Stinger Energy Chews.  Not my first choice, but Target has a really terrible selection of energy gels.  It worked well though and settled in my stomach fine. Continuing to practice taking the Salt Stick Fast Chews towards the end of these long runs and loving the extra kick it gives me when electrolytes are low. 

Here are the stats:

  • 2 hours 37 minutes
  • 21 miles
  • 7:30 per mile 
  • Mile 11 and mile 21 were the fastest in 6:50 and 6:51

Marathon Monday: The Miles to Boston Pt. 6

7 Mondays Until Boston! 

Another week of training in the books.  This week did not feel particularly good, but I hit most weekly mileage for this training block, made it into 2 strength classes with Petra, and had a solid 20-miler.  So while things did not feel great (low energy, throbbing legs, tender toenails), hard things still got done. This past week felt like an important week of pushing through and getting some solid work in.  I know there are really only a few solid more weeks left of really hard training before the taper will begin. I want to take full advantage of this time to push myself and run hard and long.  

Even as I type up this recap, I can tell my enthusiasm and motivation to do so is a bit lower than it was last week.  Last week, I just wrapped up a great week of training where I felt amazing. This week is a different story. My toenails feel like they are going to fall off.  My head feels foggy and tired. The fatigue is really beginning to set in. With that said, I am going to keep this short and sweet so I can maybe lay down for a few minutes before Hudson wakes up!

These easy sunrise runs are some of my favorite miles of the week.

The Miles

  • 8 miles on the strand with jogger
  • 7 solo park loop miles
  • 10 miles with a workout (3 miles of slightly faster than goal race pace, 6:15ish + 4 x 1 K, these were supposed to be 5:40ish pace, but I was dying and did not hit pace) 
  • 8 miles on the strand with jogger
  • 6 solo park loop miles 
  • 20 miles! Solo.  Headphones made it a bit less lonely. This one hurt, but after the fact, I was pleased when I saw overall stats for the run.  More on this at the end!

The only part I want to expand on is that Wednesday workout.  I am the type of person that hates changing a workout. I am pretty determined to hit all my splits and finish a workout in its entirety.  This was not the case for that Wednesday. It was supposed to be 5 Ks, but I texted Lance after 3 and asked him what I should do since I was dying.  I was already way off pace and felt empty.  I ended up doing one more and calling it a day after 4.  This is so not me to cut it short, but I also know my body really well and on that day, my body was done.  There was nothing left. After recovering for a couple miles on the way home, I tried doing some pick-up 100 meters to make for the shortened workout, but even that felt hard.  

Besides the fact that my body is still adjusting to more mileage, it was also super hot out (hello, February in Southern California) and I am not very good at changing pace.  The 3 mile tempo part felt totally fine. It was right when I started the thousands that my legs felt like bricks. I need to work on getting better at changing gears.

What I am Listening To 

I listened to a lot of different interviews this past week.  There were a lot of solo miles with headphones. Of everything I listened to there was only one episode that really stuck with me and inspired me.  It was an interview with Veronica Jackson and Alex Bernardi on the Ali on the Run Show.  They both ran at the trials! They are two friends that pushed each other to believe in this shared goal of qualifying amidst full-time jobs and families.  I love their story. I love their dedication to dream big together. This episode was a treat to listen to and it made me really want to find a group like the women that run at 5:45 in Central Park.  Maybe, we just need to move to New York.  

How I am Fueling

Really it is all the same.  The only thing I need to add is Trader Joe’s cold brew latte dessert bars made the perfect mid-afternoon pick me up as my energy was really dragging in this hot week of training. 

Also, salt sticks, which I mentioned last week, has been a real game changer for me on my long runs.

Bowling with family really was the perfect way to spend our 20 miler.

Recovery

  • Sunday Nap 
  • Stretching at parks, while Hudson plays
  • Bowling? After our 20 miler, we bowled with Grandma Jo! It was a good reminder why I run and I don’t bowl.
  • Clearly, not a whole lot of recovery being done.  I really need to commit to rolling before bed. 

Cross-Training

  • 2 strength classes with Petra.  This will probably be my last week of these classes, since my membership just ended. I am likely not going to renew it.  I am going to have to figure out a way to supplement these classes in the weeks of training ahead.  This will probably involve some creativity and planks in our living room.

What I Keep Telling Myself 

You will eventually feel good.

This was not my week.  Things are hurting. The workout nearly killed me.  However, I still have confidence that fitness will come together in the remaining weeks and I will eventually wake up actually feeling good!  The time will come.  

Also, telling myself that the whole Boston experience is going to be so much fun.  It is beginning to feel closer and both Lance and I are getting more excited. We both will have family coming to watch, which is super special and just last week, we all got tickets to a Red Sox game.  Maybe not the best pre-race activity for a pro, but hey, that is not us, so anything goes, really.  

High + Low

HIGH

  • Hudson has finally gotten used to being back in the jogger and he has been an angel on our 8 milers.  My pace has been real SLOW on these jogger runs, so he has been extra patient to hang out in jogger for a bit over an hour.  
  • 20 miles! It did not feel perfect, but 20 miles is 20 miles.  It always feels like an accomplishment to get these 20 miler training runs in.  

Low

  • So tired!
  • The workout 

The Long Run

Thankful to have a community of loving family and friends that help out with Hudson so we can get our long runs in! Also, Hudson learned to say “Google.”

This long run was a bit different from the typical one.  Since family friends were watching Hudson, we decided to save a bit of time and run from their place in Hermosa Beach and just go out 10 miles and back 10 miles.  From Hermosa, we both made it pretty far into Palos Verdes.  

The run itself was a good mixture of flat, road surfaces and hilly trails.  It was a bit lonely, since we both did the run solo, but I think it built some good mental toughness.  

The last few miles were definitely a bit painful.  My hips felt like they were on fire. I pushed through and even got some faster mile splits in as I was on a flat surface.  While, I chose to not do an intentional workout, I did focus on staying as controlled as possible and getting faster in the last half.  

Here are the stats: 

  • 2 hours 31 minutes
  • 20 miles
  • 7:34 minutes/mile average.  
  • Fastest mile was the 19th mile at 6:36.  

Okay, I am exhausted.  This is all I got for this week.  Hopefully next week I can report with a bit more energy and enthusiasm!

Marathon Monday: Miles to Boston Pt. 3

10 Mondays Until Boston!

The thing I love about running, is that it almost always seems to be teaching me something that goes far beyond the miles on the road.  Of all the things running has taught me so far, the biggest lessons are in commitment and discipline. On the windiest days when you are pushing the jogger into a literal wall of wind.  On the days where your whole body is aching and the thought of cutting those 17 miles down keeps cropping up in your head. On the days where stepping out the door feels like a great mental battle.  It is on these days where you still show up, still follow-through, that the real training begins.

This past week of training was the first week where I really struggled to hit my mileage.  The excitement of the early stage of marathon training has already faded within me and I have been hit with the reality of the simple fact: training for a marathon is hard work.  Just like an actual marathon, it is those first miles that are easy and fun. Then somewhere in the middle, you are hit with the reality that you still have 13 miles to go and things become a little less fun.  I am officially over the honeymoon stage of marathon training and not quite yet at the exciting tapering stage. This in-between spot of training can be tough: mileage is increasing, workout intensity is increasing, and long runs are increasing.  The finish line still feels far away. 10 weeks is a bit too long to get super excited. All this to say, last week was a good week in training in the sense that even when I wasn’t feeling it, I pushed through.

I can get so obsessed with what my Garmin tells me.  I want to hit the exact mileage every single time. I want to be within a pace frame.  I want to hit my faster miles when I am doing a workout. This past week, my garmin was not my friend.  It died on runs. I forgot to start it after stopping it. It kept telling me “6:10” when all I wanted to see was “6:00.”  It told me “12” when I still had 5 more miles.

With all these Garmin issues, this week I learned to be okay with being flexible.  I stopped when I knew I was right around 8 miles, even though my Garmin told me otherwise.  I was okay with that 6:07 mile that was supposed to be 6 flat. I stopped at 6 miles on the windiest running day of my life as Hudson just kept screaming.  I am all about pushing through, but sometimes when there is another little guy involved, you have to stop. Similarly to what I wrote about last week, things don’t revolve around me as the runner, but as the mom that runs, which is very different.  Cutting weekly mileage by 2 miles seems like no big deal, but it really bothered me.  I was planning on running 2 miles sometime later in day, but it just never happened and I never had the time to add it on to the other mileage in the week.  2 miles will not kill my training.  

So, in that case I adjusted, but later in the week on the long run when I was dying at mile 12, I pushed through and hit the 17 miles.  It is all about knowing when to push and when to stop. Monday, I needed to stop. Saturday, I needed to push.  

This is a lot of reflection to say one thing: running felt hard last week.  Once I hit 50 + miles, all my typical issues start rolling in.  My mind starts telling me how tired I am. My right leg starts flaring up.  My right hip starts tightening up. My feet start feeling extra fragile. It is on weeks like this, that the commitment and discipline start to really develop and for that, this week of training can still be deemed as a good week.

The Miles

53 miles was spread out like this:

  • 6 miles in the WIND with JOGGER.  Big mistake. 
  • 6 miles of park loops solo.
  • 10 miles with 2 miles at race pace and one mile faster.
  • 8 miles with jogger. Long. Some extra cardio involved as I had to sing to H to stop some of the crying.  Running with a jogger is WORK! 
  • 6 miles of park loops solo.
  • The big 17 miler with lots of uphill trails. 

One quick tangent on mileage.  This week, I was hit with mile comparison.  Sounds weird, but this is totally a thing. Let me explain.  I was listening to a podcast interview with this one runner who was trying to get an OTQ last fall.  She talked about running 90 mile weeks and how this is basically the mileage you need to hit to be super competitive in the marathon.  This got me feeling a bit panicky. I am still building in mileage, but even in my peak for this training cycle I will not be anywhere close to 90 mile weeks.  For one, I feel like I would really struggle being present to Hudson and secondly, I know my body pretty well and I think that would put it over the edge.  

I was struck with the fact that mileage comparison can even steal your joy when it comes to running.  The doubt immediately began to sink in and I began to question if some of my future running goals are even possible with running 60-70 miles at my very peak.  All this to say, weekly mileage is such a personal thing. The numbers that work for one person, might be way too little or way too much for the next. Run your mileage.  Do workouts that make sense for your season. Don’t get too focused on what all the other fast people are doing.

Really loving these sunrise runs. It is hard to see but there was a beautiful layer of fog on the field.

What I am Listening to

Not as much to say in this section this week.  Nothing that really stuck in my mind like previous weeks.  I will say, I had one solo run where I could not find my phone so just had a silent sunrise run and it was refreshing.  Especially with all the noise in my days, it is necessary to have some runs with nothing going on in the background.

More so than the podcasts I listened to, some of the conversations I had on the run stick out even more.  With all the solo running I do, I am always thankful for the miles that are made up with conversation and company.

How I am Fueling

  • Already over the bagel and cream cheese phase.  
  • Still into the coconut water.  
  • Trying a new protein powder, Orgain Organic Protein Powder.
  • El Gringo’s breakfast burrito post-17 miles.  

Recovery

Things are beginning to hurt.  Recovery is becoming more and more important.  As I alluded to before, when my run is done, I need to jump into mom things and don’t have a ton of recovery time.  With that said, here are a few things I have been doing this week to recover:

  • Hot showers. I know, weird type of recovery, but hey it’s practicable. The heat helps with my muscle tightness.
  • Epsom salt baths every Sunday night.
  • Lower back pain and tight hip flexors has brought me back to rolling out before bed.
  • Two words: Yoga Toes.  I have used these for years.  I put them on for a few minutes before bed.  I deal with a lot of foot pain and have a pretty bad bunion, so the yoga toes really helps provide needed relief! 
  • Naps.  Usually only get one per week, but this weekly nap really helps with my energy levels.

Cross-Training

The same.  I realized on my long run that my usual weak glutes are beginning to affect my hip flexors and lower back.  Hoping that continuing to go to Petra’s strength classes will help my very, very weak glutes. I am planning on incorporating even just 5 minutes every other day at home to use the bands and do some targeted glute strengthening exercises.

What I Keep Telling Myself

Stay in it. Stay in it. Stay in it.

This might be the mantra for Boston.  We will see. This is what I said when I kept looking down and seemed to not be able to break that 6:10 barrier on my tempo.  This is what I told myself at mile 12 when I wanted to cut the long run short. Stay in it. Yes, physically, but more so mentally.  When the pain sets in and things start to get really hard, it is easy for me to check out. I really want to focus on this and stay in it, mentally, even when the pain starts to settle in.

I am already picturing myself running up Heartbreak Hill and the words: stay in it, stay in it are pounding in my head and propelling me up.  

High + Low

HIGH

  • Pushing through and running 17 miles.
  • Wednesday workout and feeling controlled and confident.

low

  • Monday’s run in the wind and my sister and mom having to pick us up! True story.
  • The last painful few miles of my long run.
  • Overall more tired and less excited.

The Long Run

17 miler in Palos Verdes on Telephone Trail.  This is the last long run I will run on this trail.  There is so much soft-surface uphill. It is brutal. There is also a lot of rocky trails and I almost rolled my ankle multiple times.  These early hard miles put a greater fatigue on my body and made the final miles a real challenge for me.  

Even though it was a bit painful, I am proud I finished it.  I was very close to rounding up.   It will be nice to drop a bit next week and come back in two Saturdays and run an 18-miler and then the big 2-0.

The long run in numbers (there was a a few meters that I forgot to start up Garmin again, but I did do 17, I promise!)

2 hours 13 minutes

16.91 miles

7:54 minutes/mile average 

Fastest mile at mile 12: 6:49

Marathon Monday: Miles to Boston Pt. 2

11 Mondays Until Boston!

Another week of training in the books!  This past week of training was good and consistent, but did take a weird turn with the long run, which I will explain at the end. 

It was a week marked by 50 miles, stroller runs, tempos that felt like I was running faster than my Garmin told me, graham cracker snacking in the middle of the night, and a strange 16-miler that was fueled by kid’s fruit snacks- but hey at least it was organic!

The main take-away from training this week, is the reminder that I want to take this training block as seriously as possible, but this is also not my main priority.  I am a mom first, running quite honestly comes after quite a lot of things. And this is exactly the way I want it to be, but it means training will simply look quite different for me. 

I will always make the mileage for that week happen. If Lance says I have 50 miles, I will run 50 miles, but it is more of a squeezing in, rather than a true incorporating. For example, I will make arrangements to get that 10-mile tempo in and I will do my best to recover by drinking coconut water and devouring a protein bar quickly, but then the day will progress and we will run around at the park and check-out stacks of library books.  There will not be an elaborate stretch routine or an ice bath or rolling right after the fact. When my garmin beeps and I hit my daily mileage, my mom hat goes right back on. My days revolve around Hudson, not my runs.  

mom and son running with jogger
We had some really enjoyable runs out there together!

The Miles

Weekly mileage looked like this:

  • 7 miles with the jogger
  • 5 miles solo
  • 10 miles with 4 miles in the middle at goal race race solo 
  • 7 miles with the jogger 
  • 5 miles with the jogger
  • 16 miles solo with 2 X 2 mile pick-ups on 8 miles back 

As a whole, all the runs felt pretty good and I definitely am continuing to feel more fit.  The race pace work is still not feeling as comfortable as I would like. On Wednesday, it literally felt like I was flying, but then my Garmin told me numbers that were not as exciting.  Like I wrote about last week, the fast and thrilling miles are coming. I am just not quite there yet.

What I am Listening to

This past week did my similar soundtrack of running podcasts for the easy miles + Taylor Swift for race pace miles.  Side-note: I am in the midst of watching the Taylor Swift documentary, Miss Americana and I am so intrigued and moved by it.  But that is another story, let’s get back to my soundtrack on the road.  Here are a few of the podcast episodes that really stuck out to me this week:

This is a really great and motivating episode for a longer run.  It is about an hour and 30 minutes long. There was a lot that I really loved in this episode.  I loved how she ran a 2:42 and got that OTQ. The part that really resonated with me was within the last 7-minutes.  She talks about running with joy and the motivation to keep training and chasing goals when running is not your job. She talks about the girls she trained with and did park loops with in the mornings and all the people that made her goal happen.  Listen to this whole episode, but especially listen to those last few minutes. I was heading back from my tempo and her words struck such a cord. I want to run with greater joy as I train for Boston and appreciate running’s place in my life right now, and not run out of obligation or guilt.

I listened to this episode on parts of my long run and again was very much motivated by Sarah’s story.  I love a good running story, but I especially love it from the perspective of a mom with a full-time job and a lot going on.  As I was climbing a dirt trail from Malaga, she said something that I loved and felt very deeply as well. She talked about how postpartum, running was not an option for her, it was a necessity.  It wasn’t something that she should try to make happen, it was a non-negotiable. The thing that made her more herself.

I love her grit and determination to make things happen, even with less than ideal schedules and a big family. I could go on and on. Sarah’s discipline and overall enthusiasm for getting better, will be yet another story I will certainly carry with me into Boston. 

I loved this particular interview with Neely because not only did it focus on her getting the OTQ at Houston, it focused on the struggles that come with postpartum running.  I really appreciated Neely’s perspective of openly sharing how difficult it was even as a professional runner to get back into running after baby. This particular episode was so good and raw and very much mother runner focused, which I always love.  

If you haven’t noticed, I really only listen to two different podcasts on my runs.  It felt like a special treat when I was going out for my Friday run and saw this new monthly series that my two favorite running podcasts hosts will be doing together.  I really enjoyed listening to this conversation. It was a perfect collision of two worlds and the perfect way to spend my Friday park loops.

How I am Fueling

This week I hit 50 and my body just wants to eat and eat and eat.  I have had an insatiable hunger all week. I even woke up in the middle of the night feeling so hungry that I literally had to make myself a midnight snack.

  • Continuing to hydrate with coconut water, which is my new obsession.
  • Trying to avoid coffee in the afternoon, so I have been mixing it up with an occasional Health Ade Kombucha in the afternoon for a pick-me up + probiotics.  Currently loving the Tropical Punch flavor.
  • I love Maurten Gels for long runs, but I totally spaced and left my Maurten in the car this past Saturday, so I had to take Hudson’s organic fruit gummy pack at mile 10, which I would not recommend. At least I got some sugar to get me through the last 6 miles!
  • Food wise, nothing new, but definitely have been trying to incorporate a bit more red meat as mileage in increasing.  We did ground beef burgers one night + steak salad another. 
sunrise at a park on morning run
Loving my sunrise runs on Tuesday before Lance leaves for work!

When I am Running

Sticking with the normal routine.  Trying to get out the door when I have my runs with Hudson as soon as possible.  It has been really nice to get the run in before 10 am and then end with some time to play at the park.  The quicker we get out the door and make it happen, the better.   

Cross-Training

Same as last week! This week, I was sore from Petra’s strength class, which makes me excited!  I know this extra strength work will be the difference from a good and great result. It is not super exciting getting to the studio at 6 pm, especially as I am beginning to get more tired from the mileage, but I know this stuff is important.  Also still very much enjoying restorative yoga Friday nights. This week, I did not fall asleep in class, so I am taking that as a good sign that my body is recovering quicker! 

What I Keep Telling Myself

Run your pace, run your pace, run your pace.  

It is easy to get caught up when a fast song comes on or you hear paces other people are running or that person passes you on the strand and you feel that urge to shift gears. 

I take a lot of pride in knowing my body really well when it comes to running: I know my limits and I know the pace that makes sense. Right now in training, I am hyper-focused on that goal time of 2:48 and 6:24 pace.  As I run workouts, I literally see these numbers in bright red lights. It is really motivating and pulling me through the miles.

I have never been number-goal oriented, but this goal time and the pace that goes with it is really keeping me focused.  I know with almost certainty that there will be a great temptation to run way too fast at the start of Boston, so hoping this focus on my pace will keep me from blowing up.

High + Low

HIGH

  • Hitting 50 miles
  • Knee has healed 
  • Hudson has been pretty good for our stroller runs
  • Beautiful 16 mile long run 
  • Mid-week 10 miler with 4 miles at race pace.  It felt good to get a 10-miler done during the week, even though the tempo part did not feel as easy as I would have liked.

low

  • Post-long run.  I will explain below. 

The Long Run 

When both you and your husband are training, long runs can be logistical challenges with kids.  It is way too long for Hudson to be in the jogger, so we usually drop him off at my parents’ house. This past Saturday they were out of town, so we developed a plan.

Lance would leave early and run 8-10 miles solo and then meet me back at the park.  I would give him Hudson and he would finish his run with the jogger, as I did my 16 mile route out and back.  

The plan actually worked really well.

I started my run from Valley Park and ran 3 miles with Lance and Hudson.  He flipped it and I continued to go out. We usually do our long runs in PV, but it was actually really fun to start in Hermosa and make it all the way out to the trail cliffs in Palos Verdes, since I had to go out 8 miles.  It was also nice to get in some dirt. Not to mention, Saturday morning was absolutely gorgeous.  

As I was heading back down, I stopped at mile 10, took those fruit gummy snacks and began a couple miles at goal race pace.  Those two miles actually felt great and I was surprised that going back down to race pace felt pretty natural even at mile 10 (I literally hit exactly 6:24, which was encouraging). 

Towards the end of that 2 mile segment, I was feeling fatigued, so I stopped and ran half a mile at normal long run pace. After this half mile of recovery, ran 2 more miles with the aim to be at race pace.  I was slightly off, but it was a good two miles of staying mentally tough as my legs were really beginning to fatigue as it has been months since I have run this long and at that type of pace. This run really worked my legs, but it also was key in building a mental toughness, that I will absolutely carry with me to Boston.

Overall, great long run. 

Then, it took a turn as within 5-minutes of coming home, Hudson tripped on a rug and his sippy cup split his head.  With blood on my shirt, we rushed to the ER, only to wait hours before the stitches.  

Normally, I would like to think I would handle this situation better, but a 16-mile workout does not set you up to be in the best state for waiting in an ER with your baby.  I definitely did not fuel properly after this long run. I had grand plans of a big egg and bacon breakfast when I got home, but that quickly changed. So the long run started great, but then quickly went downhill and was fueled by stress and waiting and cookies.  Hey, not every post-run will be ideal recovery. Things will be okay.

And Hudson now has 5 stitches and is totally fine and looks extra tough! 

If you are still with me and curious, here is my long run in numbers: 

2 hours and 4 minutes

16 miles 

7:45/mile average

8:07 first mile, 8:26 last mile 

Fastest mile: 6:24 aka GOAL RACE PACE

Marathon Monday: Miles to Boston Pt. 1

12 Mondays until Boston!

In college, of all the responsibilities that came with collegiate running, the thing I always dreaded most was keeping up a training log.  I hated the pressure of remembering to log my mileage, cross-training, and comments every single day. Some runners live for these training logs, but it is just not my thing.  

I am more of a weekly reflective person when it comes to running.  I like looking at the big picture from that week’s mileage and putting to words the common thread of that week’s training. Now that I have full control of my running and my husband now is my coach, I can do things differently.  Starting today, Monday January 27th, 13 Mondays out from Boston, I will be posting weekly with mileage updates, workouts, fueling, things I am listening to, goals, and overall reflection to how I am feeling leading up to the big race.

Honestly, this is mostly for myself.  It is my open training log; a way for me to look back and see progress.  It is a way to keep me accountable to actually record all the training that I am doing. While the motive is entirely selfish, I do hope it can provide some interest to you, whether you would like to run a marathon in the future or just generally curious what training looks like for a post-collegiate, postpartum gal that still has running goals she is chasing after.

Training Catch-Up

Since this is my first Monday post, I want to do  a quick catch up on training so far. Since Christmas it has been all about base training.  I am definitely starting this training cycle at a higher fitness level compared to last year.  That being said, since July (SF Marathon) my mileage has been very low and inconsistent. I love to run, but I have realized my motivation to run comes from having a goal and something to actually train for.  I don’t think I will ever be that person that runs just to run. There needs to be something on the calendar to prepare for. That is just how I operate. I am not going to run a tempo workout just for fun, it needs to be for a purpose.  

This Boston Marathon training cycle really began right after Christmas, Dec. 26th, just under 4-months from the race.  With lower mileage leading up to this point and only a few short tempos in preparation for the local turkey trot, I needed to first build my base back.  Lance is coaching me, and I trust him completely. Every Sunday before bed, we will fill in the calendar together and he gives me my daily mileage and workouts for the week.  

I am still pretty low in mileage.  Last week was 45 miles, week before that 40, week before that 40, and the week before that 33.  This whole month of January has been about building up a base and February and March will be all about getting to peak mileage and incorporating longer tempos and SPEED!  

Base Training + First Workout

The reality of base training is that it not very fun or exciting.  It is a lot of slow and painful miles. Like with a lot of life, it is the base phase that is essential for the more glorious and glamorous aspects.  The boring and hard and slow miles lead to the fast and thrilling miles. Like a marathon, this early stage of training requires a tremendous amount of patience.  These slow miles will lead to the fast ones. You just have to keep showing up. Keep logging those miles day in and day out. The exciting miles are on the horizon.  They are coming.  

Last week, I did my first workout. 

2 miles warm-up, 4 miles tempo-ish pace, 2 miles cool down. 

I say tempo-ish because for my goal marathon time, which I am just going to go ahead and put it out into words or I guess numbers…2:48, tempo pace would need to be around 6:04 pace.  I am not there yet, so I ran goal race pace. Those four miles I was anywhere from 6:24-6:30 pace. And the truth is, it did not feel easy or natural or very comfortable.  My normal logic of thinking is wow that is the pace I am expecting to hold for 26 miles?  But after the workout, I felt confident.  I know this is just the beginning. I have a confidence that in the next 3 months of training, I will get to the point where I can hold 6:24 for 26 miles.  It will come together.

What I am Listening To 

I have never been a fan of running with music.  I have always taken pride in my ability to go out on a solo run and not rely on the company of a playlist or audiobook.  This is all beginning to change now that I have AfterShokz headphones. I could literally go on on and on, but to keep it short: these headphones are seriously amazing.

Since getting these headphones, I have really been enjoying listening to things on my runs. It is making running feel a bit less lonely since I do the majority of training solo.  So here is what I have been listening to during last week’s mileage: 

The Playlist of My Miles

  • Road to Olympic Trials- Jared Ward- Ep. 39  This one got me excited about my own goal and reminded me the power of goal-setting, especially for running.  He talks about creating exciting goals that get you out of bed training, but also do not produce anxiety. It is a balance of creating goals that feel like big reaches, but also at the same time feel obtainable.  He also talks about his mantra for Boston 2019, which was “Because I Can.” This inspired me to come up with a mantra I can use to pull me through the tough miles in the race. Still need to figure out what that is.  
  • Road to Olympic Trials- Ann Mazur- Ep. 36 As I listened to this and ran park loops at 6-something am, I felt so inspired.  She just qualified for the trials with a 2:44! The part that really inspired me was how her mileage is more similar to mine.  She does not run crazy high mileage and does a ton of yoga. You really should listen to this. It is a great reminder of the importance of being an overall well-balanced athlete and human.  It is not just about the miles.
  • Road to the Olympic Trials- Peter Bromka- Ep. 33 This episode was another powerful one for me in my training 2 weeks ago.  It reminded me of the beauty in chasing after dreams and it also reminded me of the heartbreak that can come when you fall literally 2 seconds short.  A beautiful episode that I will definitely carry with me to Boston.
  • Ali on the Run Show- Ep. 199 This is my other go-to podcast to listen to on the run.  She usually interviews runners, but this one was about looking ahead to 2020 and I can specifically remember running up a hill with half a mile left in my run and feeling inspired and thankful for her own intentions and goals that got my on wheels churning.  
  • And last, but most certainly not least, Taylor Swift’s Reputation album on shuffle for the segment of miles I ran a bit faster.  Literally, when “Ready for It” comes on, I start sprinting. 

Can you guess a goal I may or may not have for 2024 from what I am listening to?? Not quite ready to type it into words, but you might be able to connect the dots.

How I am Fueling

  • Coconut water every day. 
  • Kirkland protein bars.  
  • Coach’s Oats with brown sugar + banana pre-run. 
  • Toasted everything bagel with whipped cream cheese post-run (emphasis on whipped!).

When I am Running

  • 6:30 am park loops to get in soft surface and get a run in without the jogger.
  • Later morning runs with our NEW BLUE BOB jogger.  If you have run with me with our old orange 2008 BOB, you know why this is so exciting.  I have written about running with the jogger in the past, so you can find running with baby tips here. Now that I have an active toddler, those tips have changed slightly, so I plan on putting together a running with toddler guide soon!

Cross-Training

Goal is to make it into my local Yogaworks studio 3 times a week.  This past week I went to 2 TRX, core-based classes and Friday went to restorative yoga.  This is a perfect balance for me. It is the perfect blend of intense and relaxing. The restorative class with the essential oils and long-holding poses is my new favorite way to enter the long run.  It gets my body ready for the long, grueling miles less than 24-hours in my future.  I actually am attributing the restorative class to be a key factor in my 14 miler feeling so good.

What I Keep Telling Myself

Slow Miles Lead to Fast Miles. 

My biggest focus at this point in training in to stay patient.  I am getting a bit antsy with such slow and low mileage, but I know this is all part of the plan.  

High + Low

With any week, there is always the good and the bad.  Training is no different.  

High

  •  First workout back and the deep confidence it reminded me I have.
  • The long run.
  • NEW stroller!
  • Naps

Low

  • Falling on my run home and crying.  Hello, Buzz Lightyear bandaid! 

The Long Run

Last Saturday marked the first 14-miler of this training block and it actually felt really great.  I can distinctively remember how I felt after my first 14-miler for the SF marathon training block. And let’s just say, I was on the couch for most of the day and was whining to Lance about how terrible I felt.  This first-time 14-miler was a different story. I drank some coconut water, ate my bar, picked up our boy, and we were off to the Children’s Museum. These miles did not stick me on the couch, like last time! My body is definitely more used to the miles even at this earlier stage in training, so this is encouraging!

One of the great joys of the long run is getting to look over all the miles after the fact.  It is always amazing to me that I run significantly faster on these runs compared to my regular run in the week.  There is something about these long PV runs. It could be the extra company or those beautiful cliff views or the fact that the long run is ingrained as super important in my brain.  Whatever it is, I love it.

The Long Run in Numbers

1:48

14 miles 

7:46 average 

9:20 first mile, 7:00 last mile 

As I was looking over each mile, I noticed that the first mile was the slowest and the 14th mile was my fastest mile.  If you run in PV, you know this is partially because that first mile is an uphill trail and the last one is downhill and on the road, but still, I love how I am starting slow and finishing fast.  This is definitely going to be goal for all the long runs in this training block. Finish strong.  

More Than a Marathon

26.2.  This is the number that has pushed me out the door.  It’s the number that reminded me of my strength and endurance that I thought I left behind in college. It’s also the number that filled my postpartum days with rhythm, cadence, hope and a sense of purpose.  Don’t get me wrong. Being a mother to Hudson is purpose enough, but training for a marathon gave me something that was just for me. It pushed me to prioritize my own sanity and well-being. It gave me goals. It gave me something beyond changing diapers and making meals.  In many ways, the choice to sign up for the San Francisco Marathon, allowed me to finally feel more like myself.

I get it.  Running a marathon might not be your postpartum remedy.  Maybe for you it looks like going on that yoga retreat that you have been dreaming up.  Or drafting that book idea that has been roaming in your head for years. Or taking up gardening, cooking, knitting.  Whatever it might be, I am convinced that as new mothers, it is essential for us to find something beyond our roles as moms, wives, and workers. Find the thing you are most passionate about and chase after it.  It is so easy to say, I will pursue that passion when the kids are older, when I have more time, when I actually sleep through the night. A few months ago, before I signed up for the marathon, that is exactly what I said.  Running a marathon doesn’t make sense now.  I have a baby, I barely sleep, I will run one later. The more I thought about it, later was not going to be any easier to train for a marathon.  Later, likely means, more kids, more schedules to balance, and even less sleep. I realized that right now, was actually probably the simplest our life will be.  Now was the time for 26.2. Life would not become any less crazy if I waited. Postpartum life is exhausting and draining, and in a lot of ways it might not feel like the best time to pursue that passion project that has been brewing in the back of your mind; however, I am convinced this is exactly the right time.  Pursue that passion. Set personal goals for yourself. And chase after it wholeheartedly. 

The marathon has been much more than just a marathon.  In a lot of ways, it was never really about the marathon.  Not fully. It was about me. It was about that girl I used to be.  The one that was competitive and driven and passionate. It was about running back to her.  It was about getting back some of those traits I seemed to let go of for a bit. It was about re-meeting her, but also about showing her this new woman I have become.  It was getting back some of the fierceness I had let go of, and showing the old me the strength and confidence new motherhood has given her. In a lot of ways, it was a blending of worlds.  It was never about getting back to that girl I was in high school or college. I would never want that! My life now is a million times more full and beautiful; however, it was about grabbing back that thing that drove me and pushed me and made me better.  It was about reaching out back to running and squeezing it to fit back into my current life of diapers and nursing and baby snuggles.

It hit me the most about how different my life is compared to when I used to compete and race, when the couple days before the race, I was concerned not about a sore hamstring or calf, but my chest, specifically my left breast.  My body seemed to just not want to give up on producing milk, so even though I stopped nursing nearly a week before the race, one side was entirely still engorged leading up to the race. And I was freaking out about it. Every time I ran, it hurt.  After prayers and hot showers, it ended up being fine for the race, but this is the perfect picture about how things change. And I love this change. I still can compete and race and train my heart out, but there are realities of my life, like milk supply issues, that keep me grounded and remind me that running is a good thing I can still enjoy and pursue, but it is not the thing. Being a good mother is my focus right now, but that doesn’t mean I need to throw out my other passions. It just will look different.

As I ran the marathon yesterday, I felt very proud. Of course, I was proud to finish it and finish well with a 6th place female finish and a sub-3 hour time, but my pride went far beyond that.  I was proud I stayed committed to the intense training even when my life of less sleep and chasing after a toddler, is not the best training conditions. I was proud that I could run competitively and put myself in the race, but still smile throughout.  I was proud of those countless runs with the jogger that made both my arms and mind stronger. I was proud of those longer tempo runs where I pushed myself into uncomfortable places and was reminded that I still have speed left in these legs of mine. I was proud of those 20 milers completed in Malaga Cove and always hitting the mileage even when my legs wanted to stop.  

In the unpredictability of motherhood, it is nice to have one thing that you can control.  While racing and running can also be unpredictable, you still have control leading up to the race.  You have the control whether you complete the runs or not. You have control of the pace. You have control of the moments you push yourself and the ones you hold back on.  Those first few months postpartum, I was drowning and overwhelmed by the fact that I felt I had lost all control. I could not control when or how he wanted to eat. I could not control when he slept.  I could not control when he decided to cry. This loss of control brought me down on my knees to the bathroom floor. Motherhood has been my very needed lesson and reminder that I am not the one in control, God is.  It showed me how I needed to let go of my very tight grip on things. While my ever-controlling heart learned to let go of things outside of my control through motherhood, running reminded me that there are certain things I can still have control of.  I still have control of my attitude and whether I step outside and push myself or not. Attitude and miles. I have control of that.  

So if you have recently entered postpartum life and are drowning, like I was, I hope this can serve as encouragement to sign up for something! It doesn’t need to be a marathon, but it could be! Sign up for any race distance. Sign up for that retreat I mentioned above.  Sign up for that hip hop class. Sign up for that calligraphy class or that ceramics class or that knitting class. Sign up for something that fills you up and reminds you of your unique giftings.  You are more than a mother. You are more than a wife. You are a daughter of the King and he made you with a great purpose. Live out that purpose. Sometimes to follow that purpose and His will, all it takes is signing-up.  He will take it from there.

10 Things To Do Week Leading Up to the Marathon

This is the week.  Marathon week. As promised, this is the final post in my Marathon Wednesday Series.  This post was originally going to be a compilation of marathon inspiration from interviews I gathered from people who have completed marathons, but life happens and that idea never happened.  So instead, I am sharing a few things I am intentionally incorporating into my week to help with my performance come Sunday. While at this point there is not much more I can do that will change my fitness, there are a few small intentional choices I have made this week to help me feel both physically and mentally ready.  So, if you are gearing up for your fall marathon and have all the weeks of training carefully laid-out, but feel a little less certain about what that final week should look like, this one is for you! Here is a checklist of 10 things you should consider doing the week of your marathon.  

1. Run Less Miles

Depending on who you ask, people will have different opinions of what your mileage should like in that week leading up to the big 26.2.  Most schools of thought can agree that cutting back on mileage is a good and necessary thing; however, there are some that don’t believe in a full-on taper.  The thing with training is that especially after all the major miles and workouts have been put in, the final week is more about your mental state. For some, they might feel better if they don’t cut back a ton in miles.  For others, a significant cutdown helps them mentally feel ready. While I was initially resistant to cutting back a ton on the mileage, I have cut my runs this week down to either 4 or 5 mile runs. This is about 3 miles less per day.  I am also taking the Thursday before the race off. This is putting me at about 21 miles before I race the 26.2. While there is definitely still a temptation to squeeze in a few more miles this week, I know that those miles won’t help. If anything, they could keep me from fully recovering and feeling my freshest in the race.  

2. Run a Workout that Brings Confidence 

While there is no need to run a crazy workout during Marathon Week, a very short and easy workout, is a good thing to incorporate to help give you confidence going into the race.  I ran a workout on my normal workout day, Wednesday. It was just extra short. I ran a 2 mile warm-up, 2 miles at my goal marathon pace, and a mile cool down. This workout was solely for confidence.  I ran the two miles about 10 seconds faster than my goal pace and that was intentionally trying to go really easy and controlled. This was a huge boost in confidence. I finished those 5 miles feeling amazing. I highly suggest creating a light workout, like the one above, to help remind you that even in your tiredness, all those miles and hard work paid off. You are fit.  You are ready.

3. Drink Lots of Water

This is an obvious one, but especially if you are not great when it comes to hydration, this is the week to be extra intentional about it. Carry that bottle everywhere. Have a cup of water by your bedside.  I used to be really great at drinking water, but ever since becoming a mom, I so easily forget to drink water for myself. I am constantly putting Hudson’s sippy cup in front of him, but don’t do the same for myself.  This week, I am all about the water. I just sit and drink whole glasses and actually think about how that water is getting my body ready for the race. 

4. Take an Epsom Salt Bath, Sleep In Compression Socks & Roll

I just wrote a post about the importance of recovery, if you missed it, you can check it out here.  Recovery is essential throughout training, but this week, especially, I have been making sure I dedicate daily time to recovery.  We just had our bathroom remodeled, so we can now take baths! Taking an epsom salt bath is a great way to relax your muscles and allow for blood flow.  Every night this week, I have been sleeping in my compression socks. Again, increased blood flow. While I have not been great at rolling out during this whole training block, I am trying to spend a few minutes rolling out before I go to bed.

5. Listen to Inspiring Marathon Stories

While I typically listen to a variety of different podcasts, this week my ears are being filled with inspiring marathon stories.  While who knows what I will be thinking about during the race, I like to think that I will carry bits and pieces of the motivation and inspiration I have listened to throughout my week.  

6. Try to Conserve as Much Energy as Possible (early to bed/naps)

I like to keep my days full and busy.  While we still have had relatively full days with getting runs in and then going to our church’s Vacation Bible School, I am working really hard at trying to not use up too much energy.  I am letting certain things go this week. I know they will be there for me next week. While this one is harder for me, I am also trying to get more sleep in. We are working on going to bed slightly earlier.  While I am not really a nap taker, I am taking my afternoon rest time seriously this week.

7. Focus on Nutrition (but still eat cookies!)

Since I am really just running for fun right now, I haven’t been going crazy with nutrition, but this week I really am focusing on making sure I get good, healthy calories in.  Lunches are the hardest for me. I always make Hudson a nice, big lunch, but for some reason I always find myself just snacking or eating random leftovers for lunch. This week I am trying to put together more comprehensive lunches for myself.  Our dinner meals are usually pretty healthy, but we are especially focusing on getting in good proteins and healthy carbs. Think salmon, chicken, steak, rice, quinoa, pasta. Like I mentioned in the title, I still am eating sweets! Those cookies are necessary. They won’t ruin a race. 

8. Visualize the Race 

All week there has been a background track in my mind of me racing the course.  I am present, but there is still part of me that has my mind racing. I am playing out different situations. I am imagining feeling super strong. I am thinking of scenarios that could go wrong and how I will respond. I picture running in a pack and holding on when the pace changes.  A healthy dose of visualization, regardless of the type of runner you are is important. Even if time does not matter to you, and the major goal is to get to the finish line, thinking about running through the course, is important. Think of any big, important thing you do. You visualize how it will go, you plan, you prepare.  Running a marathon is a big, important thing. You must visualize. Also, if this will be your first time on the course, I highly recommend finding a YouTube video or resources that takes your through the whole course. We watched the course video a couple months ago, but we will definitely watch again the night or two before the race.

9. Break In Race Shoes 

If you plan on racing in marathon flats, be sure to break them in! My pretty white and pink New Balance flats just came in the mail last week.  Each day this week I have been wearing them. I did one workout in them and the other days, I have just worn them for a few days out on errands. 

10. Do Strides 

Last, but not least, do strides.  These could be longer strides, like a minute or they could be super short, like 20 seconds.  The idea is to give your legs a little feel of moving quicker and getting some turnover in. I also use strides as confidence builders and work on my form.  This week, I have not had a ton of time to do strides after my run, so instead I have used the last portion of my run to incorporate a few strides where I pick up the pace. This is a great sharpening tool. It is the cherry on top to weeks and weeks of hard training. Side note: strides are a great idea to do throughout training, but it hasn’t been something I have been very consistent at during this training block.  

To those running San Francisco this week or to those running a fall marathon, best of luck! Enjoy this final week of training.  As my college coach used to always say, “The hay is in the barn.” It is. You’ve done the work. You’ve got this. Enjoy it. Push yourself. Believe you can. 

5 Ways to Recover When You Aren’t a Pro Runner

One of the things I miss most about college running is having the access to the training room. I took it for granted back then. I could finish a hard workout and then just walk over to the training room and step into the ice bath. Not only was this facility easily accessible to me, it came with a whole team that was also going to the ice bath or rolling or stretching, which further motivated me to do the same. It is one thing when the ice bath is a social event with good friends and an entirely different thing when you have to buy the ice, fill up your own bath tub and painfully enter the cold water all by yourself. I much prefer an ice bath that is already set up for me and comes with friends to chat with. Needless to say, I have done zero ice bathing in this training block. I have done a fair amount of ocean dips. And sure, not the same benefits, but a dip in the relatively cold and salty ocean is better recovery for my legs than not. When you no longer are running in college and are not a professional runner, it can be logistically more challenging to get in proper recovery. Recovery is essential and it matters, but for the non-elite runner, it can feel like too much. For me personally, it feels like enough just to get my runs in. It can feel overwhelming to also figure out a way to spend time recovering post-run. Recovery for the non-elite will look different, it may even involve some ocean dips, but there are small and easy things you can do to help ensure you are still allowing for proper recovery.

1. Bring a Bar

They say the ideal window for allowing your body to recover post-workout is within 30 minutes after completion. If I don’t plan ahead, I will often miss this window and not even eat anything for an hour or so after. This is not good. Bringing a bar with you is a really easy way to allow for recovery. I try to always leave the house with a bar packed in my bag, so I can have easy access to it. If I am home right after a workout, I will typically try to make a smoothie and blend in protein powder. This is the ideal recovery drink, but a bar is definitely always the better option than an empty stomach.

2. Sleep in Compression Socks

When time is the limiting factor, this hack of sleeping in compression socks, allows for increased blood flow to your tired muscles as you do what you need to do every night: sleep! If you’re anything like me, even this act of putting the socks on before you go to bed can be difficult to remember. Set out your compression socks on your bed to help remind you.

3. Incorporate Rolling into Evening Routine

The hardest part of recovery is finding time for it. We find time to brush our teeth every night, so why can’t we prioritize our muscles? Remember, routines do not need to take a large chunk of time. I know I easily have 5-minutes in the evening that I waste on social media that I could put to rolling out before I go to sleep. Make this a routine. Make it something as routine as brushing your teeth. Leave out your roller by your bedside to help make this actually happens. If you don’t have a roller and are serious about recovery, I highly recommend that you get one. Here is the one we have and love.

4. Ask a Friend or Spouse

When you no longer have access to trainers to massage out your tried legs, you ask your husband. At least that’s what I do. Most of us average, everyday runners will not have access to trainers, nor do we want to spend the money on weekly massages or adjustments. The things is, you don’t need to be a professional trainer to help muscles recover. Use the people in your life to help you out.

5. Ocean Dip

As I alluded to in my introduction, oceans can be your ice bath. I can sense the eye rolls, but in all seriousness, spending sometime swimming around in the ocean post-workout, especially if it’s in the winter and extra cold, is a perfect, easy and fun way to allow for recovery. I live near the beach and I understand that this is not possible for everyone, but if you don’t want to go through the hassle of buying ice and making an ice bath, get creative. Take a really cold shower. Put ice packs on your calves. Freeze water bottles and roll out those tired feet. Is this always going to be as effective as those ice baths in training facilities? No, but it is so much better than nothing.

Recovery is just as important for the pro runner as it is for you! It is just going to look a little different and might involve more trips to the ocean. Recovery does not need to be overwhelming or expensive. Make a few small choices that gives your body the recovery it deserves.