100K Relay Recap & A New Direction

Remember how that one post I warned you all that it would be a long one? Same this month, same theme. So much has happened but I will start off with the good.

Early this month I had one of the most fun race experiences I’ve ever had. My friend Kellie and I were originally slated to run the inaugural Virginia Beach Distance Races 50K relay as a 2 person team.  As the race date grew closer and friends were looking for teammates our team of two turned into a team of four running the 100K distance. The more the merrier!  The course is a 2.3 mile loop, so we names ourselves “Team WTF, Another Lap?!?”  Ben agreed to start our team off in the dark, cold morning (while I was still at home sipping coffee).  He destroyed his goal pace and Kellie, our second leg, texted me so I could arrange for my babysitter to come a bit early (Go Ben!).  Then Kellie ran and also ran ridiculously fast! I thought we were running a casual long run pace…nope. Ben and Kellie set Thomas and I up for success. At this point our team was in the lead by a small margin and Thomas took over.  The second place team was made up of a bunch of great guys who in retrospect, planned their laps smarter than we did. They broke the laps up so they could each get more rest instead of runners running 15+ miles straight and also they were better at trash talking than I am. I’ll remember that next year!  Thomas ran 3 laps and handed off to me and then he and I switched once more to give each other a break in the 70 degree heat.  I was thankful to Thomas for giving me a lap break.

In a "WTF, Another Lap???" moment.

In a “WTF, Another Lap???” moment.

Our final hand off of the race bib (used as a wearable baton) went well and even though I was worried about myself losing our team lead, we won! It felt great and I loved running with my teammates and the other competitors. Honestly the loops made it even more exciting because you were constantly running with others. I was pleased with my splits, I averaged 6:47 pace for the first 17 miles then crashed a bit in the heat and ended up raising that overall average to 6:54 for my total 19 miles….yikes. Still it was so fun and I had zero calf pain. My entire face was covered with salt but I had a smile on my face. Everyone on our team worked  hard that day.

Just want to give a huge thanks to John Price for organizing and directing this amazing new race. Also thank you to the Running, Etc. crew for managing, organizing, and supporting.  The race went off flawlessly! It is on my must-run list for every year on out.  The 50K and 100K is a very fast course for Ultra runners looking for speedy qualifying times and the relays are pure fun. Also a big congrats to friends Stephanie Manny and Steve Speirs for their 50K wins!

Team WTF, Another Lap?!?

Team WTF, Another Lap?!?

Now time for the bad of this blog post.  My personal running life has been difficult lately. Just as I seem to heal from one injury another pops up. This has been my reality on and off for the last 13 months. It’s been hard.  For personal reasons that I am not comfortable sharing online, my non-running life now requires more of me than it has during other training periods.  Something has to change. So changes were made that scare me.  I am no longer with Elite Marathoning. Mark Hadley was/is an amazing coach. I am very grateful for everything he has done for me. I ran a PR in EVERY distance under his program. I loved his training philosophies and believed in them.  I honestly believe if my body could hold up to the work, that I was completely willing and wanting to do, I could run sub 2:43 in his program.  That didn’t happen though and it took three injuries for me to see that I was putting my body through more than it could handle. If I was a full time elite runner it would be one thing. I’m not. I’m a mom of 3. Family is my priority and I will never sacrifice a proper balance for a faster marathon time.  Leaving his program was an incredibly difficult decision. It was a decision he understood and I left on good terms with a huge appreciation for the time & effort he put into my coaching.

After I made that decision, I had no idea what I would do.  Honestly I felt overwhelmed & disheartened.  Thoughts of transitioning to Ultras (something I have a strong desire to do) sooner that originally planned crossed my mind.  There were quite a few emotional phone calls/texts with best friends. Quite simply I felt a bit rock-bottom when it comes to my little running world. I had no plans at all to ever get a new coach. I figured I coached myself to a high 2:50 at the Twin Cities marathon, so maybe I can do that, with the extra knowledge I have learned the last two years, and pull off a few more PRs.  Then an opportunity arose and I took it. It’s too new to elaborate more than saying- I’m working with someone new; Jerry Frostick, Owner of  J&A Racing.  After sitting at his offices (that are about two miles from my own home) a few times for things completed unrelated to coaching, we would talk and that’s how it started. It is a different style program and that scares me but I’m very excited too and appreciative of the opportunity. A good friend pointed out that a program that makes me do things I am unfamiliar with is good, because it would bring a perspective that I lack. So a few weeks ago I felt hopeless and now I’m feeling hopeful.  I realize all these new decisions seem rash, so please believe me when I say none of them were made lightly.

As far as my Spring plans.  Everything is up in the air. I know what I want to do, and that’s everything, but I also need to resolve this nagging lower leg pain. For the next 2 weeks I will be cross-training and starting a new strength plan. Boston is NOT off the radar but I’m not putting pressure on myself either. I still have a huge endurance base and a little speed so nothing major has or has not been decided.  Tomorrow is an off day and my training partner, Megan, and I have big plans of walking to the nearest bakery and earning our calories back that we’ve burned this week. That’s about how much I have planned into the future.

Thanks for all who stuck through this long blog post.  As always, I appreciate the support.  Wishing all my snowed in friends (including my neighborhood) lots of warm love!!

Patience and Faith (Boston Marathon Training)

Marathon training is like putting together a 1000 piece puzzle. You know what you want the end result to look like but when you dump the pieces out of the box, its’s entirely overwhelming.  You keep working anyway and every once in awhile you look and realize you have a part of that picture made and it starts to make sense. Then you (hopefully) gather a nice momentum and flow until the end.  The end being race day then that day is a whole other puzzle in itself.

This past week was the first week I felt like I put a few of those marathon pieces together and saw a glimpse of the bigger picture and how I was going to get there. It wasn’t without a hiccup or two but it was a confidence booster.

Boston Marathon Training Week  1/26 -2/1

Monday-  3 mile warm up, 5 mile tempo averaging 6:17 pace, 3 mile cool down. This tempo pace is far from where I need it to be but after two years under Mark Hadleys program, I know how I roll. It’ll take a few weeks of stubborn tempos then all of a sudden I’ll bust one out and surprise myself. Hadley told me a PR at Boston will require patience and faith; I have both.  In training don’t worry about the pace, just keep the head up, & keep working! 

Tuesday- 8 watch-less miles.

Wednesday-  8 miles @ 7:38 pace.

Thursday- 17 miler averaging 7:19 pace. This was a solo run where I ran loops of the biggest hills near my house.  “Biggest” meaning a quarter the size of Heartbreak Hill. Virginia Beach is 95% flat.

Friday-  Easy 9 on the trails with friends. I rarely wear a watch on these days. Later that night a crazy stomach bug hit me out of the blue. It wiped me out! Just have to take these hiccups in stride.

Saturday-  An 8 miler was planned but after 3 miles I turned back for home. The stomach bug left me weak and it was pointless to trudge on. I did 30 minutes of Yoga and tons of stretching.

Sunday-  Track Day. Warm up, 10 by 600 (averaging 5:33 pace), Cool Down. My kids are in CCD for an hour on Sundays and, lucky for me, there is a  newly remodeled track 800 meters away. I scoffed when the Navy tore down the old track that was here and replace it with this gorgeous rubberized track with a turf infield, thinking of all the areas that money could have went towards, but admittedly I love running here!  I wore the racing flats I will wear on marathon day (Nike Streak 3’s), did not listen to music, and  also I switched directions half way through the workout to try to limit any possible irritation on any lingering troublesome spots.   This session went fantastic which may have been attributed to that rest day I took from the stomach bug.

63 total miles

*Core work, Stretching, Rolling are completed Daily.  3 days a week I complete drills that are strength & form based. I am also “that mom” always doing crunches, stretches, etc. randomly around the house/playground/etc. through out the day. Get whatever you can in, when you can!

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Little Creek Naval Base Track

One of the biggest differences in this marathon cycle as opposed to a cycle I had run 1 or 2 years ago is that I am paying much more attention to my body.  It seems that weekly something is popping up here or there that never bothered me before or if it did, I ignored it. Maybe its age, maybe its the fact that I’ve been running at a high level for awhile, but I’m certainly listening to my ART therapist and hydrating constantly, rolling EVERY DAY, and stretching at any given moment. After the track yesterday I felt a huge knot in my calf and I spent a good 20 minutes working that thing out (talk about painful!).  In the past I would have ran with it for weeks.

Another thing I’m working on is getting back on track with my nutrition. I love food.  I’ll say that again; I love food.  The holidays were an excuse to eat tons of cookies and drink tons of wine.  Then January my mileage creeped up so that was an excuse to keep on eating and drinking.  Then I faced facts and realized I’m a full 5 pounds heavier than I was before the Philadelphia Marathon.  This is definitely a sensitive topic with female runners, so its normally one I avoid, but I also know that I love reading blogs that are honest and honestly its not a sensitive topic for me. I’m not even close to “racing weight”.  Do I think I’m fat or out of shape?  Absolutely not. But do I think I can PR at Boston with an extra 5 pounds around my stomach?  Probably not wise to risk it.  So I am cutting out wine (unless I’m out with friends) and watching my portion sizes.  More importantly, I am meeting with my nutritionist & friend, Crystal Witte, this Wednesday to try to figure out a wise plan of action. Last time I met with her she let me know how disproportionate my protein and carbs were.  I was carb starved! So I’ll try to write a blog post soon with some of her advice and how I go about using it.

Next Sunday is a day I’ve been looking forward to for awhile.  Months ago my friend Kellie and I did a course tour with the Director of a new race in Virginia Beach called the Virginia Beach Distance Races.  (Our pics are on the link)  and this Sunday, Kellie and another friend, Ben, and I will be running the 100K relay.  It’s a 2.3 mile loop, designed to be a fast Ultra course, so our team name is “WTF, Another Lap!?!”  :)  I’m pretty excited about this. It may be the most boring course that I’ve run 20ish miles on but the friends will make it the most exciting. I’l be sure to give a good recap.  Wish us luck and have a great week everyone!! Thank you for reading!