Saturday, February 28, 2015

2015 Racing Kicks off Tomorrow

Tomorrow is scheduled to be my first race of the year. I signed up for the =PR= Running Reston 10 Miler in January, thinking it would be warmer after reviewing the temps around this time last year.

Nope. When I got back from my 8 miler today I discovered that the afternoon snow that was forecasted is now expected to start at 8:00am tomorrow. I'll be running in snow and 21 degree weather.

I'm not a huge fan of running in the cold so it is no surprise that the thought of racing in the cold is killing me. I won't lie - I have considered not running many times today, but there are a few reasons to go: I don't know what Boston will be like (but it better be warmer that 24!) and being part of a race team means that there are others that will be out there too. I can't wimp out.

If I have to get in 16 miles tomorrow I might as well do it with some company instead of waiting until later in the afternoon when it will be warmer, but "ice pellets" will be falling from the sky, according to Weather Undergound.

I wanted tomorrow to serve as a gauge for where I'm at for Boston. I was originally hoping to attempt a PR. My speed workouts are feeling good and my body seems to be running faster and stronger than it was last year. Knowing that the temperatures are going to be so low, however, is forcing me to readjust my plans.

I'm not going to go into tomorrow's race expecting a fast time. I'm not even going to attempt it. Maybe it is good that I know this already, because I won't feel bummed when I finish with a slower time. I'll let tomorrow's "race" serve as my tempo workout for the week.

My biggest stress isn't actually the cold itself, it's what to wear. 21 can feel cold or warm depending on the sun (which there won't be tomorrow) and the wind. I know I'll need to wear regular winter mittens because my Raynaud's will totally freeze my hands and I don't want to have to worry about that in the middle of a race. Warm hands equal a happy, and warm, Dani.

In other news, my PR racing singlet came back a few days ago with my Nuun logo printed on it! It's official now - I'm really part of Team Nuun!

I am also really happy to be able to run for Honey Stinger this year. I've been using their products since moving to DC. Usually I have a waffle before a long race (10-milers to marathons) and their gels during longer races. I love knowing that there aren't the same crazy ingredients found in other energy products, and as I've mentioned other times on the blog, I really enjoy munching on something like the waffle, which tastes great and makes me think I'm eating a dessert instead of an energy product.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

2014 Monthly Recap - July through December

Hah - so remember back in December when I posted about the first half of the year? I wrote a post on the second half of the year immediately after but didn't post it, wanting to add December's progress it it. December ended. Then so did January. Here I am, the middle of February, and I'm just pressing publish.

If you care, read ahead. If you don't care, I won't be offended. Part of keeping a blog is just documenting my journey through running so I can look back on it in a few years. Here's a look at the second half of 2014.

July: 142 miles, 1 race
I am surprised to see that I got in a fair amount of miles for a month that seemed so hectic. Our wedding was on July 12th. We spent the most beautiful week in Vermont leading up to the big day and got to see all of our family and friends. It made leaving so much harder.

A few weeks after returning to DC, Tom and I both ran in the Crystal City Twiligher 5K. It was strange to race at night and I sort of lost motivation as the day went.

The race drew a lot of fast runners and the atmosphere was a ton of fun. While I didn't get a PR, I wasn't too upset with seeing a 19:29. It was nice to know that I still had speed in me, and that I was racing better than I did in college. Getting old isn't a bad thing after all.

August: 177 miles
Throughout this month I began to follow the Hanson's Method half marathon training program even though I only had one month left of training until the half marathon. The cross country season began half way through the month, and school shortly followed. I loved running and the heat of each day, and tried to soak it in as much as I could. There was still sunlight in the sky when I got home from work and practice, giving me enough time to get in my mileage each night. Life and running were good.

September: 99 miles, 1 race
After a month of solid training in August, this month started with the Parks Half Marathon. It was a gorgeous morning and the race was going splendidly well until my calves cramped up at mile 9 and became nonfunctional. I still got a PR (1:28:26), but was hoping for more. My body, minus the calves, felt great. Good news: I got 5th place and a little prize money with it!

October: 115 miles, 1 race
Cross country season was in full swing. A bet made two years ago was put to the test in a 5K late in the month. I signed up for a local road race with our cross country kids. It was fun to warm up with the kids and experience a race with them. Almost all of them walked away with PRs. By running this road race, they also got to experience another type of racing, not just the trails and fields they were used to. I got an unexpected PR, a 19:09, and a 2nd place female finish, but knew there was still more in me.

November: 95 miles, 1 race
Cross country ended and the track season began. I had one race this month - a 10K, that took place on a gorgeous fall morning. What made it better was being able to experience the morning with coworkers. I'm thinking that I have a mental block and should throw away my watch. I ran a 40:04, a one second PR, but still not the sub-40 that I wanted. It's expected: I hadn't gotten in a true speed workouts since the half marathon in September. To be speedy in a race you must get in speed workouts during training.

December: 109 miles
This month consisted of some down time and lower mileage runs before Boston training started half way through. Tom and I headed up to Vermont for almost two weeks, focusing on family, friends, and training. We didn't head to the gym like last year and got in some solid workouts in the cold. While it was not my preference, it became valuable when I returned to DC.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Boston Training 2015: The First Two Months

It's been fun to compare my training this year with that of last year's. I can't tell you why I am so much more excited to get out and run, and why I'm actually excited to be out each night, after work, in the cold and dark, to do so.

I'm getting in most of my runs and I haven't been making up excuses like I did all last year (except this week because work was mentally draining and demanding). I really think it has something to do with the fact that I am working with such dedicated kids this winter by coaching the indoor track team. I leave practice feeling like I HAVE to get out there and work after seeing them put in such an effort. Those kids work hard and are strong and to see them improve every time they race has been fuel for my own training. I want to get stronger, just like them. Core work, miles, and dedication.

I've been going home most nights to get in my workout, no matter the temp or how much wind, and have been adding core and strength almost every day. I know I won't be in this city forever, so I look forward to running the streets each day. In fact,  last week I ventured out a few times to explore areas that I hadn't been to yet.

Last Tuesday morning I got to run with Tom because we had a 2 hour delay. He took me to a totally new part of the city I hadn't yet seen. It was invigorating to get out of the door and be done a 10 mile run BEFORE work!

Last Friday, after an interesting end to the work week, I reluctantly put on my shoes and headed out. Half way through my run I found myself going on an actual trail in Rock Creek for the first time since being here. I got to the top of a hill and stood there for a few minutes letting the setting sun hit my face, the wind blow around me, and the peacefulness of the woods consume me. I was in my happy spot. I was thankful. Running has saved me so many times over the years and has given me a huge appreciation for the planet we live on. It saved me on Friday from the stress of life and gave me a break from reality.

I headed back to the trails the next day and felt actual warm air radiating up from the bare dirt - a feeling I haven't felt in weeks. Again, I just stood there, letting the heat consume me for a few seconds before journeying on in the cold.

What is different about this training from last year's Boston training is my first two weeks. We were in Vermont again for the holidays, but rather than going to the gym every day we ran outside: in snow, in ice, in rain (my first speed workout was at the end of a rainy day), in cold, and in some warmth. We saw it all, and it all came back to fuel my workouts upon return to DC. If it was 22 degrees after work I knew I could still run outside because I had done it in Vermont. I'm mentally tougher this season and as a result, am psychically stronger as well.

Like everyone else and their sister, I ordered the Believe Training Journal and started it before my Boston Training. Once the New Year started I said goodbye to my online running log on DailyMile, yet somehow converted to Strava while trying to stay away from duplicate records. I love the Believe Journal: I now record more details like the fruits and veggies I'm eating each day, my more personal thoughts, pains, strength and core work, and running routes. The training has become more personal - I own it. I'm not comparing myself to anyone else.

Here's a look at my training for the firs two months: 

December 18th (start of training) to December 31st: The Buildup
109 Miles
10 easy runs
1 track workout on the roads (12x400s)

January: Build the Mileage and Strength
175 miles
12 easy runs
2 Track workouts on the road
4 Tempos (6-7 mile tempo runs plus warm up and cool down)
4 "Long" runs (that aren't that long)
1 intense core session with the track team
1 circuit day inside due to bad weather
4+ core sessions per week

I haven't been doing any track workouts on a track. Right now my thinking is this: I'm racing marathons. I don't run track. I'm racing Boston, which is full of hills and mostly down hill elevation and it is a course that goes in a straight line.. Why should I get my body used to running fast, in circles, on flat ground? Instead, I'm choosing to torture myself by picking routes on speed days that are full of hills. I need to feel the pain on the hills, both up and down, to get my legs used to those Boston hills. I also find that I run faster because I'm not concerned about hitting times on a track. The track holds me back, but on the road I can run free - except during rush hour when the sidewalks are packed with people - but that is a whole 'nother story.

This week was my lowest week. Demands at school left me mentally drained each night, not to mention the fact that I had been doing work since 5:00 am. By 7:00 pm, I was done. I'm not upset though, knowing I need to take care of my body. Starting this weekend I'll get back on schedule and will stay focused for the next 72 days that remain.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Choose Your Motivating Words

Last summer I had an epiphany: I needed to find a saying that I could repeat to myself during workouts, easy runs, and races and it needed to help me refocus and be in the moment. I wanted a saying that would help me run faster or check on my form. It had to be easy and it had to have personal meaning. It needed to motivate me to work harder.

Running fast hurts. 

That was it. I've repeated that to myself on plenty of runs now. Each time I go out I say it, even if I'm running a slow, easy workout. It does what I needed it to do: I can focus immediately on what I'm doing in that moment but it allows me to remember that each step I take is for a purpose. I want to race faster than before. This saying is even more helpful in a race, where you have to push through the pain that is telling you to stop. It is important to remind yourself that everyone feels pain, but that a race is won or lost by how you deal with that pain. A PR is achieved by pushing through pain. This saying has reminded me that I can always push harder than what I'm doing at that moment. Running fast hurts, so run faster. 

A new saying was born in the last month:

Get s**t done. 

I started using something like this, without the s**t part, with the track kids. The girls work so hard each day. You give them a workout and they do it. They don't complain. Because of this, they see the results. They have realized that to run fast, you have to suck it up and train. Train hard, train right, just do it. It's my own version of Nike's "just do it" saying, but it provides more personal meaning because I chose the words myself.

I had to use that saying the entire time I was in Vermont. It's 17 degrees and the wind is blowing? Well I have a workout to do, and therefore, need to get s**t done. I think that by saying this to myself it makes me feel 'tougher'. I focus on the moment, rather than the "dread" of running, and then I realize that the cold isn't that bad. I instantly become thankful that I'm out there, getting the workout in, and feel better after. To see results, you just have to buckle down, and get s**t done.

Finally, a new 2015 saying, and one I have to work on, is:

Eat like an Elite. 

I suck at eating the right foods. I probably eat more servings of chocolate in a day than fruit. No joke. It's a new year and it's time to get serious. This phrase has more meaning to me than "eat more veggies".  I want to become a faster runner (not an elite). What is one thing I know that I can improve on every day? Nutrition. I know I feel better with higher quality food and refuel properly after workouts. In the last two days since I came up with this saying I've actually walked away from chocolate to pick up fruit a few times. I had to pat myself on the back. It's a small feat, but it feels good. I just have to repeat it over and over.

Why am I sharing my motivating sayings with you? Because I want you to find your motivating words. I often repeat the certain phrases or words to my kids at practice. If I say it enough then they can start to hear me in their head when I'm not there. If you don't have a coach, then you need to become your own coach. We all have goals for this new year. Maybe yours is to stay injury free, to get a PR, or to attempt a new distance. Maybe your goal is to forget about splits and to run for pleasure, or it's to forget about running all together. Whatever the goal, choose some words that you can repeat to yourself to get you there. Repeat it to yourself enough and it will begin to come naturally.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Looking Ahead to 2015

Happy New Year all!

We (Tom and I) spent two weeks in Vermont over Christmas and during that time I was unable to connect my computer to the internet. While that could have been a problem, I was totally OK with it. The break gave me plenty of time to disconnect, and didn't make me a slave to the screen. It also meant that I wasn't able to write up my end of the year recaps like I used to.

No matter what, it is a new year, and there is plenty to look forward to in the next few months. Here are some excited things happening in my world:

Last year was my first year running for Potomac River Running, which also goes by =PR= Running. I was able to squeeze in more races, run for them at the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler and the Boston Marathon, and become more motivated knowing that I was representing a team of runners. That was helpful for those days that I didn't want to get out the door. I knew that I was running for something larger.

I'm excited that I'll be able to run for them again this year. More races, hopefully more PRs, and a chance to meet more runners.

ambassador_TeamNuunAnother exciting addition to my running this year is the opportunity to represent Team Nuun! I've used Nuun since I ran the Nike Women's half in 2013. The flavors are great and it never leaves an after taste in my mouth like Gatorade did. It's a great option for getting electrolytes in after a workout or a run on a hot, summer day in DC.

I have only one race on my schedule for 2015 that was not planned for. BOSTON!

For months after last year's race I swore that I wouldn't run Boston, or any marathon, for some time. That all changed one week before sign up opened, when I realized that there wasn't anything holding me back. I actually wanted to run Boston. There was no outside force making me feel like I should do it like last year.  Knowing this, I feel like I will be even more into the training this year and will be excited to be there running.

What's even cooler is that Tom is also doing Boston this year! He had also sworn that he wouldn't run Boston or another marathon but someone must have put a spell on us or something to make us change our minds last minute. I like the idea of us both training. We can push each other to get out and do the workouts, and don't have to feel bad when we are tired and want to stay in during the evening.

It's nice to be back in DC after a few weeks in Vermont. Yesterday's run was in the 60s, which felt heavenly compared to the 20-30 degree weather in VT. I know I won't be down here forever, so I fully appreciate the warmer running days during the winter down here.