Category Archives: running

And now we run…

We’re here. Two days out!

It’s time to think less and feel more. To trust the training and know everything that could have been done has been done. It’s time to calm the crazies and just enjoy these few short days in the District. Feet up, mind off. Heart and legs? Jumpy, filling up on a steady adrenaline drip, and totes ready to go.

2014-10-17 06.28.12

—–

The Coach passed along a quote that encompasses the decision made multiple times throughout any race, if not pretty much every second of every mile:

Courage or comfort.MCM 2014

—————

Those two truths are coming along with me to starting line on Sunday morning. The only thing that’s left to do? Run.

To all racers joining the MCM party this weekend – run strong! Have fun! High-five the Marines and spectators! Remember the hills at the beginning, the bridge in the middle and the sweet finish line that’s waiting for you at the end. See ya out there!

Leave a Comment

Filed under DC, Goals, marathon, running, things I Love

Marine Corps Marathon Training: The Things We Did Differently

Let’s say the training for this fall marathon actually started in January, with an e-mail to a friend-turned-coach that included some stubbornness on my end and a LOT of patience on hers. Let’s look back at life one year ago and question whether/not I’d ever choose to be tied to my HRM and the numbers and science of running? That’s a definite “No, thanks!” 

Let’s just call it like it is – things are a bit different around here these days.

- I frequent the (once-boycotted) gym, and know how to properly do a dead-lift so that I can walk normal the next day.
- I haven’t looked at, or thought about, my total weekly mileage in months.
- I have an entirely different running vocab in my brain now. (MAF!)
- I know a lot of math and science go into a sport that I once considered pretty simple. (At least I’m not the one doing it, though.)
- I ignore my pace on most runs, and usually couldn’t care less about it.

image

What does that mean? All of the following made up 16+ weeks of training in a way I’ve never fully trained for a full(-marathon) before:

imageBuilding the base, and dedicating an appropriate amount of time to the 26.2 mile distance.

image Strength-training workouts, twice each week. Exercises that focused on building the running muscles we need when fatigue really sets in.

image Running mostly by time, and allowing my heart to become more efficient so that within that time frame, more and more miles were covered.

imageKeeping stress really low, as much and as often as possible. Life stress affects training stress, which means you either progress or regress – your choice.

imagePaying very close attention to nutritional detail. See above: stress.

imageTrusting the whole process. All the time.

BONUS image: Reading through this book to do a little self-education on the training method that was running my life. Pun-totes-intended. That was a game-changer.

One thing has stayed the same: I have a lofty goal, and I’m pretty damn excited to chase it down.

Marine Corps Marathon Goal 2014

—–

It’s worth mentioning that this central California lifestyle we’ve adopted is also quite different than that of DC living. Our little Monterey community is slow and quiet, sunny and peaceful. Not better or worse than DC (you know I love me some District days!), but nowhere close to as busy or bustling.

Then we went and dumped California trail races on the calendar, because oh-my-god they happen all the time and we gotta run on all the dirt! Big thanks to the Coach for letting all of these sneak in there.

2014-09-06 10.58.05 2014-09-14 14.11.45

2014-08-02 07.27.05 2014-08-18 06.45.31-2

——

And now…

My brain is absolutely in taper-mode-overdrive, dripping little doses of anxiety here and there every time I think about running for 26.2 miles yet again. It’s a funny thing our memory does – to mostly forget the worst, but remember just enough of it to invoke panic in a moment of weakness. Taper becomes a focus of pushing those moments into the dump, and being like “Brain, CHILL OUT. We know what we’re doing!”

There were so many things done differently with this training cycle, and therein lies just enough mystery for wonder. But either way, I wanted to be more dedicated, run stronger, run faster and run MAF into the ground. Check! 

1 Comment

Filed under balance, cross training, learning, marathon, running, training

MCM Training: Maintaining the Machine

This past Saturday was my “Last Long-a** Run”, as defined by the Coach and our current standard for “long”. For the fourth week in a row, I had over 3-hours to kill on the run with a lot of specifics in between. My legs know the GMP well, have courted it successfully and are moving quickly to the next phase of their relationship.

I’m in that place where I think about the race and instantly feel my heart-rate increase (enhanced by the fact that I am now very well aware of when and how quickly my heart is pumping blood). I feel anxiety, excitement, nausea and impatience to just GO all in one very fleeting moment.  It’s marathon month. Before I know, it’ll be marathon week – DC, I can’t wait to see you! – and then, just like that, it’s marathon DAY and, for the third time, I’m staring at the familiar red arch.

image

Photo source: csnwashington.com

Last Saturday’s run wasn’t my strongest, but I finished all three hours + thirty minutes and 22 miles. Press Stop; complete the run; instantly remember that this is possible and I am capable.

But in the middle? Oh, yep there were familiar moments of sheer panic with a few mind tricks I know all too well; remember how fatigued you feel at miles 20, 21, 22….remember how you question your sanity every time you get close to the end but couldn’t feel farther from the finish…remember how much it hurts to run for 26 miles?! I don’t, really. At least not well enough to throw in the towel. Because if memory truly served us well we’d never do any of this again. Instead, memory puts up a good fight but loses to adrenaline 10 times out of 10.

——

For the next 20 days the key is to remember I’m not looking at that starting line just yet, but I’ve taken all of the BIG steps. For 20 days, I maintain, recover, build, eat and sleep. I listen acutely to every message sent from every system. I do my part in Coach K’s plan to “not accidentally kill” any part of the machine we’ve carefully put together!

And when the anxiety predictably loses its battle to my insane excitement and adoration for this race, I remember this:

mcm 2014_I Will

Doing what these legs do best – run DC.

Leave a Comment

Filed under learning, marathon, running, training

Convert Confessions: Why I Train+Coach by Heart Rate

If I could talk some sense into 24-year-old me, who gave the “heart-rate training” a try but promptly dropped it because ‘why the heck would I run SO SLOWLY?!’, I’d do it. In a heart beat.

I confess: I’ve been converted. I’ve become dependent on twice the gear and technology that you would have found me wearing as early as two years ago. I’m that runner who checks my watch, quite frequently. I’m the gal who you’re probably passing on the trails, but won’t let it bother me. I’ve become a slave to the training plan, the slow and easy runs, the long hours on the road and the philosophy that “less is more”.

Because it works.

——————–

Dictionary:

HR: Heart rate.
HRM: Heart rate monitor.
MAF: Maximum Aerobic Function (Threshold).

——————–

Polar-HRM_running
((My gear: Polar RC3GPS watch and HRM))

I started this year off on a totally different path, wanting a Coach to guide me and teach me something new about the sport of running. I reached out to a friend, curious about how this might work, and promptly answered “okay, I’m in!” when she said, “Work with me!”.

Trickster: she said it would just start out with some HR, a little bit of running by time vs. mileage, and we’ll just see how it goes.

What actually happened: I trained for the Charlottesville marathon solely by HR, MAF and a lot of TrainingPeaks logging. You’re smooth, Coach. Really smooth.

cvillemarathon_done.coach

Was it my fastest marathon? Holy geeze, not even close. Was it my best executed? No. Doubt. Whatsoever. Would I have done my training differently? Yep, and it would have done more harm than good.

I learned what it means to build your aerobic base, prioritize training needs, minimize stress, listen to the body, and train my legs to run no matter how ridiculously fatigued they felt. And that meant that in mile 24, as we climbed another ridiculous hill and, mentally, I wanted it to be over 10 miles ago, I was passing people.

While I wasn’t thrilled with my time, I had faith in what brought me there. Left to my own devices, that race would have destroyed me even more than it did.

2014-07-28 15.36.13

What’s all this HR, HRM, MAF stuff about, anyway?

For endurance athletes in any sport, training your aerobic system is more important than anything (aside from managing and minimizing stress). Monitoring your heart rate allows you to objectively measure individual runs and your progress throughout training. Shutting pace out of your head for 90% of your training runs, and basing everything on effort, allows your body to do what it’s capable of on that day and in that moment.

Running at or below your Max Aerobic Function/Threshold allows you to develop your aerobic muscles and systems. The more time you spend doing this, the better. (Don’t worry, there’s some speed, hill and interval work thrown in there when you’re ready!) Your aerobic system functions primarily off of fat for fuel, meaning it’s got juice for days! Your anaerobic system relies on sugar, meaning you tap out quickly. When you give your aerobic system just enough stress, through training, you build its efficiency, therefore, your speed.

There ya go!

Uh, why would I run slow to go fast?

I had a come-to-your-freaking-senses moment in March, about one month out from my Spring marathon and far from any shred of sanity related to this HR crap. Coach gave me a 3-hour long run on Saturday with some GMP-work mixed in and it was one of my favorite runs. I felt exhausted at the end and thought, “OMG FINALLY.”

Then, the next day, I had an 8K race (which Coach knew about, of course). My instructions were simply, “warm-up for 20 minutes, STORM THE CASTLE, then cool-down and do a shake-out jog for 10 minutes”. And my brain was all like, “This chick is crazy.”

I ran 30 seconds off my 8K PR, which was set while chasing Kate two years ago and seemed almost untouchable to me on that day. Until it wasn’t.

I had been running so So SO slowly, and yet I could still run fast.
OH, GOT IT.

————-

Fast-forward to June: I had thoroughly recovered from Charlottesville, raced a trail 5K, a road 10K and started packing up for a cross-country move. I also found out I got into the Marine Corps Marathon Lottery. Time for another rodeo!

This time around? I honor it. I trust it. I know how my body will respond, when to listen to it, when to shut the tantrum up and when to just give a little and leave the watch at home. I know how to be truly disciplined, discovering more and more things about a sport that I love unconditionally.

I put in the work, walk when I have to and mentally talk myself out of the days when it just doesn’t click. Something, some system, is trying to say I’M TIRED or THAT ROAD TRIP WAS TOO LONG or I DIDN’T ASK FOR THAT FROYO and because these are all my actions and it’s okay, I will listen.

2014-08-09 10.22.06

————-

To solidify my convert status, I’ve taken my RRCA Running Coach certification and added in MAF/HR-based training. I’m coaching my first few athletes this way and having a small internal party every time I see progress for them. Go, go, go! It just makes sense. So far I have my favorite dude training for a Boston Qualification, and winning local trail races in the meantime.

This type of training requires a lot of you, the athlete: patience, discipline, and perhaps most importantly, faith. It means you have to bury your ego, until it’s ready to toe the starting line (and then let it get all of that pent up energy out!). It means you have to be ready to see what else your sport has to teach you. And then let that work some sciencey-magic!

————-

It’s not easy, but why should it be?
What will challenge you, will change you.

4 Comments

Filed under learning, marathon, new things!, running, training

Henry Cowell Redwoods Trail Race (10K): Up, on the ‘beach’ and along the river

Way back in April I coincidentally discovered a little piece of heart rate-training magic; do a long, ridiculous hike (read: the Incline) and reap major  cardio rewards! I don’t fully understand the science quite yet, but what I do understand is loving a crazy-low heart rate on an easy run just days after spiking that thing WAY UP THERE while enjoying nature’s best playgrounds.

Obviously this a win-win situation,  so we must pursue more of these!

Coach gave me the go-ahead to “race” 2-3 trail runs in August. If you’ve done a trail race, run or ‘leisurely hike’ of any kind, you’ll know it feels anything but relaxing to the muscles (heart included). But your mind is all kinds of distracted and at peace and happy because the world surrounding you is all kinds of wonderful.

8.9.14 Mizuno Hayates_HCP run

Our first foray into northern California’s state parks set the bar high. We found an option for round 2 even closer to ‘home’ and hopped right on it! The Mizunos were pretty pumped to get dirty again.

Another run off of the flat pedestrian trail, another new state park, and another 10k challenge: check!

8.9.14 Elevation Chart

In an uncharacteristic move, I  studied this chart well and good before heading to the starting line. Yes, there’s a nasty climb right between miles 1-2.5, but that sweet rolling descent at the end makes it all right. Another big feather in this race director’s (RD) hat is awarded because this was not an out-and-back. We only had to retrace a few steps (beginning/end), but otherwise followed an extremely well-marked loop around the Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.

Before we started, our RD gave the quick recap of what color flags to look for, where to turn, what to expect*, what to be on alert for and where to dash through the finish line. *On the list: steep climbs, single-tracking, a jaunt near the river and one along the ‘beach’.

Well, by “beach” he meant the section of the trail on top of that first climb. And “trail” is a term used lightly here – yes, there’s a section etched out for running, walking, mountain-biking, what-have-you, so sure it’s a “trail”. But it’s actually that deep, soft, can’t-find-your-footing sand you run on the beach for all of 30 seconds before calling it a day and listening to your calves call Mercy! and you’re like I KNOW, man. I hear ya! The kind of sand where you run, walk or crawl at the same pace. We ‘ran’ up, along and down that for just shy of a mile.

8.9.14_HCP trail run 1

After this rare form of calf-torture, we were guided right onto a paved fire-road. So, at least there was that. On this, we had the pleasure of those serious drops, literally pounding the pavement and letting the legs turn over so fast I felt like there was good reason to have worn a helmet (maybe next time…).

Here I finally gained some ground on the gal who had passed me somewhere back in mile 2 where I stumbled up a sand-climb (kudos!). Luckily she was still ahead of me when there was a sharp left-turn off of the pavement and back on the trails – my strength is not attention-to-detail. She shot her arms out like an airplane and floated right onto our next adventure and I gratefully followed her. We went UP, and I kicked it in gear enough to make a move.

8.9.14_HCP trail run 3 8.9.14_HCP trail run 4

This new gear pushed me up far enough to finally catch up to two guys who had passed us way-back-when. I saw the “one mile to go” sign and thought alright, we know it’s ‘downhill’ from here. No more conservation, legs! Do it.

I passed both of them at a clip just under 7:30 min/mile and thought of that fresh watermelon waiting for me. Go, go , go!

8.9.14_HCP run awards 8.9.14_HCP trail run food 1

This guy took 2nd overall (and AG), breaking the male course record and finishing almost 10 full minutes before me. Geeze, dudes!

52:58 – 10K (clocked in at only about 5.7 mi)
3rd AG (F 20-29), 4th Female OA

———

Thanks to Tim Stahler and the Inside Trail Running crew for an extremely well organized event! We couldn’t have had a better day under the Redwoods, and can’t wait to come back for another round!

2 Comments

Filed under race report, running, trail running