fun run and almost PR….

just a mini break from the 25 page paper I’m writing right now. (SO fun. ;) )

I have never said “fun run” and “almost a PR” in the same sentence. Until now!

On Sunday, I ran the Kona Hot Chocolate run as the final race of the Kona series. I won a contest through Renewal by Andersen Detroit and they sponsored me for the series, which is 4 races.With my student budget, I was super fortunate to win (thanks all for voting for me!) This race is known for having a hot chocolate fountain station at the end with lots of amazing, chocolate-y goodies. I didn’t get the chance to do this one last year, so I was looking forward to checking it out.

Anyways, for this race, I decided to go into it as a fun run. My paces have been picking up in the past week, and I definitely feel like I’m recovered from the full. But I didn’t really feel race ready. After discussing it with my coach, we agreed that I could just use it as part of my long run (8ish miles that day).

I slept pretty crappy Saturday night. McKenna (my little dog) had emergency surgery Friday and stayed overnight at the vet, so I kept waking up to check on her. For some reason, I just could not sleep for long periods of time. 45 minutes here, 30 minutes there. It wasn’t race jitters- I knew I wasn’t racing! But my sleep just was all around not good. I almost considered not going, and doing my long run later. But I didn’t want to not show up for a race I was registered for and totally fine to run, so I dragged myself up at 6am, and left out by 6:20.

I got there just about 6:50, and waited in the car for a little bit (the race started at 7:30) while I finished my oatmeal and cashew butter. Can we just talk about how amazing cashew butter is for a second? please do yourself a favor and go buy some. unsalted, no sugar added cashew butter. you’ll thank me later.

Once I got out, I tried to look for people I knew, but couldn’t find anyone. I decided to get my warm up mile in, and just ran around the start line, clocking a super sand bagger pace of 10:23. I didn’t really care, I was just running to get warmer (it was about 25 degrees) and get my mileage in. I lined up at the start, far enough back so I wasn’t in the way of anyone racing, but not so far that I would hit tons of walkers.

at the starting line

at the starting line

This is the first race EVER that I didn’t listen to music (at least I’m pretty sure). I decided that I would just run based on feel and not really pay attention to my garmin or let music affect my pace. I took off nice and easy, feeling pretty good. When I hit mile 1 and my garmin chimed, I was a little surprised to see 8:46. That felt super easy. Whatevs, I kept it moving and just ran along, looking at the pretty houses in Plymouth. Mile 2: 8:23. HAHA. I’m just like seriously? this feels so easy! Whee! and then mile 3 hit: 8:12. After that, when I knew I had about 5k to go, I decided to push it a little bit, but not anything crazy where I felt winded. Mile 4: 7:51, Mile 5: 7:35 and then Mile 6: 7:30. I did push it at the end and sprinted the last .5. I ended up crossing at 50:13, total mileage on my garmin was 6.30 (about a 7:59 pace). I was shocked! My 10k PR is 49:09 and I remember that day – I was exhausted after. Now, I just felt like whatevs! I actually ran another easy .83ish after.

And that second half 5k? I almost ran my 5K PR. Literally just off by seconds. I was so so surprised! My legs felt like they were a little fatigued, and a little sore but NOTHING like when I actually hit those PR’s. for a second I started to feel bummed that I hadn’t pushed it a little harder and PR’d. but honestly, I had no idea I was going to have such a great run. I think this just means my marathon training conditioning hasn’t left, and this next training cycle is going to ROCK.

The next day I felt no soreness. In fact, I ran yesterday and today. I am seriously looking forward to what’s to come.

OK. really gotta get back to this paper. Bye for now!

Managing Stress

Despite the last couple entries being on running/races, I thought I would address something that I’ve had quite a few people ask me about in the last couple weeks- managing stress.

After running GR, I got many questions about how I manage my time and stress levels. Let’s just say that I don’t have a perfect system, but I’m working hard every day to improve. I wish I was one of those lucky people who don’t get fazed by anything and just breeze on by. NOPE. not in the least.

First off, I’m in law school. I think part of the curriculum is stress 101.

Basically.

Basically.

The law school format is completely different from any type of schooling. You have no homework (although you do have required reading, that you get “cold called” about in class- and let’s just say you better be prepared. I average 30-40 pages of reading per class. I’m in 4 classes.) and then one final at the end of the semester. That final? It can be on any and everything discussed throughout the semester. Oh, and that’s your only way to get graded for the class. You don’t bring it for the final? Your GPA goes bye-bye. So just around finals, we have “reading” week- basically where you are making an outline and trying to cram as much info in your brain as possible.

None of that sounds stressful, right? Of course not!

In addition to that and running, I work part time and have a slew of volunteer boards/projects I’m on. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE doing it. But I definitely feel the pressure and sometimes like I bit off more than I can chew.

So, how do I cope?

1. Routine. I pretty much do the same thing everyday. Get up early to run, read a little before class if I have time (depends how long the run is), go to class/work, and then read when I get home. I also try to prioritize reading by class order on the weekends. Right now I’m writing a 25 page research paper for my seminar class (the only law school class where instead of a final, you have a paper. Which has it’s own set of fun stressors ;) ), so I’m juggling that in between. BUT. I try to do the same thing without exceptions. I watch hardly any TV.

2. Prioritize. You will not have time for everything. This was very hard for me to accept at first. I wanted to get allllll the reading done. I have one class where we are on call every 4th class. I try to read for every class, but if it’s not a time where I’m on call and I am pressed for time? I skip it. Or I skim the material. Then I pay attention like mad in class and take detailed notes. You just have to accept that you have to put pressing matters first, and deal with the rest when you can.

3. That said, prioritize the right things. I did not miss ANY runs due to scheduling issues (only illness or injury prevention). Running was not only important for me because I was training for a marathon- it is also my stress relief. I feel the most sane when my running schedule is consistent. I made running almost like a class schedule- it HAD to get done. I also made sleep a priority. I need sleep to function. I would rather get up early to read, and find time throughout the day to finish reading, than stay up late and miss sleep. In addition, if I missed social events or something like that, I didn’t really mind. Missing a few social events was much less important than missing a run or sleep.

4. Reach out to people. I have many friends at school that are in the same boat, and we help keep each other on track. I tend to not discuss when I am feeling stressed (I withdraw, don’t know why, but it’s just something I do). But I do reach out to others who I feel may be having a hard time. For me, sometimes helping someone else cope reminds me that I also shouldn’t be so hard on myself.

5. Speaking of being hard on yourself, know when to give yourself a break. Law school is a huge part of my life right now but it is not my WHOLE life. Sometimes you have to let your brain shut down, curl up with your boo and relax for a couple hours. Even if it means you miss a couple pages of reading. I have had probably 3 instances this semester where I just stopped what I was doing and laid around with Nate. While I may have not been the most productive, my emotional sanity was more important.

6. Cry, accept where you are, and move on. I don’t typically cry very much (as a child, I was taught that it was a sign of weakness), but sometimes I feel the pressure mount and a few fleeting tears fall. Sometimes I wish I was in a period that I didn’t have a zillion obligations. I allow myself to be angry, feel sorry for myself, whatever the emotion is, for a few minutes… and then I move on. I remind myself why I’m doing whatever it is and that this moment of time is only temporary.

7. Find reasons to be grateful. When I am feeling low or stressed, I try to count all the things I am grateful for. I start to realize that I am much luckier than I am stressed.

Basically, when I feel negative feelings set in, I try to counter them with positive ones. I make small, manageable goals (finish criminal procedure reading, then you can take a break and read admin law tomorrow- that kind of thing).

It is not always fun doing as much as I am doing right now. As a matter of fact, just today, as I was driving home from work I felt so angry about what I still have left to do. But I realize that this is only temporary. I have 1.5 weeks left of class, and then it’s time to prep for exams. Next semester, I plan to have a lighter load (I took more credits this semester than I needed), and I use that a motivation to get through this semester now.

It’s really just about how you face a situation. If you think negatively and feel like you can’t do it, you won’t. How you respond to an event changes it all. And ultimately, I am so grateful to have all the opportunities I currently have, and welcome the new ones on their way.

But I’ll be pretty happy for a break in a few as well ;)

What’s Next?

It’s been just about 2.5 weeks since the Grand Rapids marathon and I’ve had some time to reflect. I took the first 4 days off completely, then biked 2 days and did a shake out, creaky 2 mile run on the 7th day.

My return to running was a bit slower than I’d hoped. When I ran Bayshore, 5 days off was no problem. I think I assumed that would be the case here. Only thing I had to remember was, I ran GR about 78 minutes faster than Bayshore ;) yeah, that may change things just a bit.

just after Bayshore :)

just after Bayshore :)

 

Last week I ran 10 miles. 10 miles!! that seemed like nothing compared to the 40+ mile weeks I’ve been pulling. and you would think I would relish in the break- nope. At first I thought I’d love it, but that quickly turned into disdain and wanting to run fast. I am so fortunate that my coach was giving me post-race instructions, because I may have been tempted to get out there and do something I wasn’t ready to do, causing an unnecessary injury.

This week, I’m slowly heading back to normal. I’ve already ran more than I did last week (yay!) but my pacing is still a bit off. I’m able to run the paces I was before, my easy pace.. but it isn’t feeling quite so easy. At first I was feeling frustrated by this, but I figure as long as I’m getting out there, that’s what counts.

So now that I’m slowly getting back into the swing of things, I’m thinking forward. If you would have asked me 4 hours after GR when my next full was, I probably would’ve slurred something along the lines of “no more fulls, EVSSSS”. I basically told Nate 17 million times that I would never run another full on the way home from GR. I was a very captivating conversationalist on that 2 hour drive home, trust.

maybe that's why he's doing this during race weekends?

maybe this is why he’s doing this during race weekends?

Seriously, I mean why would I do another full? I hit my goal. I wanted sub 4. I was praying for 3:59:59. I got nearly 5 minutes under that. It’s AMAZING.

And yet, now I’m curious as to what else I can do. You see, even though GR was my 2nd marathon, in many ways it felt like my first. My training was derailed by injury when I trained for Bayshore, and I ran the actual race in pain from mile 9 & up, also stopping whenever my friends needed to. I don’t regret that at all (they stopped when I needed to as well!) but it’s hard for me to reflect on that training. Obviously going into GR I was like “duh, don’t get injured aka don’t go out on a race trying to PR like crazy and do something stupid”. Which I didn’t, I am so proud of myself for that. (Seriously not racing at actual races isn’t so bad).

my AG win for my first 25k back in may. I ran it as a training run partially for marathon training purposes and also because it was my anniversary and I didn't want to be coma ridden for the day.

my AG win for my first 25k back in may. I ran it as a training run partially for marathon training purposes and also because it was my anniversary and I didn’t want to be coma ridden for the day.

Because Bayshore was so rocky, I had no idea how my training for GR would go. My coach helped a lot, but sub 4 just seemed like this elusive, greedy dream. After all, going from a full in the 5 hour mark to completely sidestepping the 4 hour range? Kind of crazy. I’m so grateful, truly. The body is a wonderful thing.

BUT now? I’m thinking about what else I’m capable of. And how I can tweak things that I noticed during GR to help for future races. After all, it wasn’t like GR was just easy peasy street. I left everything on that course. Even though I stopped and walked, I truly believe I gave it 100% my all. I fell apart at mile 14 when I lost all that time using the bathroom, for sure. Maybe I could’ve gotten those few minutes back, had I not had a meltdown and started panicking. But the walking during miles 22-23? that was straight fatigue. I don’t think I could’ve gotten out of that.

I want to eliminate that. I set out basically hoping I could maintain a 9 flat pace for a marathon. and I did just that (actually 8:59 if you want to be technical, which in this case, LET’S). Now I want to work on getting faster, not needing to walk, and making that somehow not terrible during the latter half of a full. So I’m coming up with a few things after discussing with my coach.

First, incorporating core work into my weekly routine. Some of you know I used to be all about the planking but that became a thing of the past because of my schedule. Really though, I’m not satisfied with that for an excuse. Core work doesn’t take a ton of time. I did find an extremely awesome core workout thats about 25 min (thanks SMCC!) that I plan to do 3x a week, in addition to planking.

Secondly, speed work. Only way to get faster. Gotta keep it amped up. My coach primarily followed the Hanson plan (lots of miles, most of them easy pace.)This for me correlated to about 30 seconds slower than my desired race pace. paid off big time. Now? I want to drop that pace so I have to get used to running faster, WHILE doing lots of miles at an easier pace that will likely end up resembling my race pace from GR or faster. I hope that makes sense. I don’t want to do numbers, because I’m just not sure.
Why am I not sure? because my coach and I haven’t discussed a sensible goal for the next full. My amazing kickass beautiful friend Karly got a BQ at GR. Sure, that would motivate me to want to BQ next year. But in all honesty, I’d have to shave 22-25 minutes off my time. I am not sure how long that will take me to achieve. So I’m going to make practical, realistic goals for myself (especially with my hectic schedule, because law school isn’t going anywhere right now) with my coach. To be continued.

Lastly, run the F out of hills. I did NOT do this enough during my training cycle. But hills build up your endurance and muscle which make you faster. GR was not hilly by any means (a few rolling, for sure), but I know that hill work would have helped me avoid some fatigue. I’ll be on my game for this next one.

My plan is to do a spring marathon and then a fall one next year to see how far I can get. Do I know for sure that’s the plan and have my races committed to? no. mainly because I have to see how my school schedule is going to be (I’ve got some things in the works that I’m just finalizing. I will do a post on them once I have). But that is the plan for now.

Today, a friend of mine told me how it is impossible to put my name and complacent in the same sentence. and I realized how true that is. Am I happy with my time? Immensely. Being able to say I ran a marathon in 3:55 is a dream come true for me. I used to be embarrassed about my marathon time, when people would ask me (I know, I know, just doing a full is an accomplishment. but I gotta keep it real). So yes, I am extremely happy and grateful. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t look ahead for the next one while enjoying this victory. It’s going to take a lot of work, just like this one did. But I’m up for the challenge. And I’m looking forward to it.

Grand Rapids Marathon & a little (lot) of reflection

First off, I owe somewhat of an apology for my huge lapse in blog posting. When I first started working with my coach, I had all these plans of writing about my progress and keeping everything nice & orderly. Little did I realize my schedule was going to be so crazy that I just lived through each day and completely forgot about blogging. I realize I have some people that actually read here (imagine that ;) ) and that’s why I’m writing this post now. Plus I want to memorialize what these last few months of training have taught me, and where I hope to go from here. There will be a lot of numbers in this post and I apologize in advance.

Without going too much into detail, my life this year has been crazy busy. I’m currently taking 4 classes, 2 co-curriculars (basically they are like additional classes but you don’t meet regularly and teach yourself the material), working part time, volunteering on 3 boards at school and one in my city. I think I knew going into my second year of law school that I would be busy but I definitely underestimated how much. Add training into the mix and well- it’s been one heck of a ride, that’s for sure.

My training this year actually was so solid. Since May, I’ve logged 100+ miles per month, peaking at 170 in September despite missing a few runs from being sick. I am proud to say that my schedule did not cause me to miss any runs. I was dedicated to being prepared for this full and not having a disaster like Bayshore. So I missed a lot of family/social events (I had to get some studying in between all the running!) but I am really happy that I did. My monthly average for running was always around 9:00-9:10 which was on par with my goal for the full.

When I first started working with my coach, I told him that I thought I had a 4:20 in me for a full. 4:20 is about a 10 min avg pace, and while I thought that was doable, it still seemed so crazy in comparison to my first full time (remember, that was 5:12). Since I was injured and ran with friends, I really had no clue what to expect or even predict for a time.

selfie during a 25k this past May... which I placed 1st in my AG for

selfie during a 25k this past May… which I placed 1st in my AG

Around June, after I did a couple races as training runs (re: not actually racing- one of the hardest lessons I had to learn this year), my coach suggested that I start looking more at close to 4 or sub 4. THAT SOUNDED TERRIFYING. But I deferred to his judgement (after all, he’s the expert), and I incorporated the modifying training runs without a hitch.

12 mile training run on vacation in Petosky. take me back!

12 mile training run on vacation in Petosky. take me back!

if I’m being honest with myself, the closer I got to that race, the more I really really REALLY wanted to hit sub 4. Friends would ask me my goal and I would be evasive, mostly because I was afraid of falling short. So much can go wrong in a marathon. at night before I went to sleep, I would close my eyes and visualize crossing the finish line and seeing 3:5X:XX on the clock (I was merely praying for 3:59) and how that moment would make me feel. I didn’t want to, but I was getting totally caught up in it. Which made it even more scary because I didn’t want to fail. I know, there’s always another day, another race. But human nature sometimes doesn’t follow that logic. ;)

When school really started ramping up in September (aka my highest mileage month– I’m the best planner ever for training purposes….), I definitely felt the pressure. But I also decided to eliminate anything that could contribute negatively to my time management. I stopped drinking 7 weeks out from the race, tried to go to sleep at a decent hour (I’m like a grandma so this wasn’t a hard sell), and got up even earlier to make sure I fit my runs in, so that I could do my readings at night after class/work. It wasn’t always easy but I just kept thinking about the ultimate goal.

September I also ran the Capital City River Run (my 3rd time- I just love this race and it has a special place in my heart because it was my first half), as a training run. I was just getting over being really sick (and I’d run an 18 miler while sick, which exacerbated it- not the best idea), so I didn’t look at my watch at all and was gentle on myself. I ended up running 1:53:19, which according to the McMillian calculator put me at a 3:58 full. I knew it was going to be close- I was either going to be just under 4 or over. But all I could do then was get through my 20 miler and then taper!

at Capital City, around mile 12

at Capital City, around mile 12

During taper, I was in denial for awhile and my nerves did not get to me. I just kept thinking like I had no upcoming race, no major dreams happening on October 19. That worked until about a week before, but then I just got so busy at school I still didn’t have time to think about it. Truly, working with my coach and doing 98.9% of the runs (remember, I got sick), I could not have felt more prepared going in. Looking back, there is really nothing I wish I would have done differently EXCEPT run hillier routes. But mileage wise, I was as solid as I could be.

I am flying through a lot of this stuff because this post is already going to be so long, so I’ll just jump right to the race. I started out strong- coach and I had discussed pacing and he said if I could try to maintain 9 flat for the whole race I would be golden. I started with the 3:56 pacing group (they were supposed to be going 9 flat), but I quickly realized a couple miles in that they were going more like 8:20/30′s and I didn’t want to burn out too quickly so I hung back about 30 seconds behind them. I was following my time on my garmin and everything was going well. First 7 miles I ran in 63:01, then I hit the halfway point right at 1:57:18. I was on target for a perfect pace. It didn’t feel hard or anything.

Then, I started having to go to the bathroom. UGH. I actually started feeling that way around mile 10, but I kept passing porta potties because there were lines and I didn’t want to wait ( that cost me 5 min at a 25k I did earlier this year). Finally, just around mile 14, I saw a porta potty that one person had gone in so I stopped, figuring it wouldn’t take that long.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. SO wrong. I waited 2 minutes just for them to even come out! I was SO angry, I was saying a lot of really choice words while I was waiting (I feel bad for the volunteers at the aid station nearby). When I got out, I could no longer see the 3:56 pace group. In my head, a small voice said “you just lost your sub 4″ and I started sprinting to try and catch them, but I quickly realized that was a dumb move. This was not a 10k where I was almost done, no, this was the halfway point. If I sprinted now I would surely burnout and crash.

I started frantically doing the math in my head and realized I had basically lost all the time I’d saved by doing 9 flat the first half. My mental mojo went way down…. I was running and still going along, but I just felt beaten down. Of course, then the pain started to kick in, right around mile 16 (it wasn’t that bad, but coupled with my negative mental energy it really didn’t help). I was so angry, in my head I just knew I was going to be over 4 hours. and it was all my fault.

I saw 2 of my friends running (who were much ahead of me- one BQ’ed ((HOTSKIRT!!!)) by 5 minutes and another got a 12 minute PR ((SMCC))), and seeing them gave me a little jolt back into reality. As I approached 18 miles, I looked at my garmin and realized if I could hit 20 miles by 3 hours I still had a chance at sub 4, as long as I ran faster than 10 min miles for the last 10k. I pushed it as hard as I could and hit 20 at 3:00:12. OK IT”S GO TIME NOW.

I decided to just take it mile by mile. Literally I was repeating to myself “just get to mile 21″ over and over until I did, then I moved to 22. By 22.5 I had to stop and walk for about 30 seconds. I kept looking at my watch to calculate how much walking would set me behind. I ended up walking probably 2.5 min in that last 4 miles (off and on), never taking my eyes off my garmin. Who said law students can’t do math? ;)

I was hurting at that point. My legs just felt stiff, my left foot hurt and felt like it was bleeding (it wasn’t) and I was SO tired. I started to feel a little lightheaded as well, so I took a GU, some water and gateraid. When I hit 24 miles I kept trying to run but had to stop and walk for another minute. I decided at that point I had to give it everything I possibly could, I knew I was going to be under 4 but I wanted to guarantee it. so I took off like a bat out of hell and held it until I crossed the finish line.

My splits (according to my garmin, which said the course was 26.41):
Mile 1: 9:10
Mile 1: 8:55
Mile 3: 8:51
Mile 4: 8:52
Mile 5: 8:55
Mile 6: 9:00
Mile 7: 8:44
Mile 8: 8:47
Mile 9: 8:49
Mile 10:8:39
Mile 11:9:01
Mile 12:8:48
Mile 13:8:53
Mile 14:10:26 (<<<<< Bathroom mile)
Mile 15:8:43
Mile 16:8:53
Mile 17:9:06
Mile 18:8:47
Mile 19:9:04
Mile 20:8:32
Mile 21:9:03
Mile 22:8:33
Mile 23:8:42
Mile 24:9:16
Mile 25:9:07
Mile 26:8:51
Mile 27:3:25

Time: 3:55:50 Official
Average pace: 8:59 (according to the GR website). PERFECT splits, despite the mishap.

Cannot describe the feelings of accomplishment I felt after (much later….. when I crossed the finish line I was pretty much wiped and had to pull it together a little haha). My friend Karly (who BQ'd! I just love bragging about my awesome friends) met me at the finish and I'm pretty sure she had to drag me to the medal station where she medaled me. I was way out of it and did not even think to take my own pictures, aside from the ones I took with my friends lol.

I'm going to save my post about what I learned from this race for next time, this post is crazy long already. I do want to say thanks to my family and friends who supported me throughout this journey (and asked when I was going to post a blog about it ;)). It makes me feel so special and honored to have you on my team!

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#Vega Pre-Workout Energizer Review, thanks to #sweatpink!

I’ve been a huge fan of Vega products (I use the recovery protein powder all the time), so I was really excited to get to review the Vega Pre-Workout Energizer as a SweatPink ambassador.

From the Vega website: 

Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer is a pre-workout drink mix sporting a unique blend of 13 synergistic plant-based performance-improving ingredients, like green tea, yerba mate, coconut oil and rhodiola, specifically selected to:

Provide immediate and sustained energy
Increase endurance, aerobic and anaerobic capacity
Enhance mental focus and recovery

veg00726_preworkoutenergizer_single_acaiberry_us_1

This product is part of Vega’s #Fuel Your Better campaign to help athletes perform better with solid nutrition. I love how vega products are vegan and free of chemicals/processed ingredients. It’s so important to make sure you are getting quality ingredients and nutrition to fuel properly for running. This has become even more apparent to me, as I’ve increased my running over the past few months.

I don’t usually drink coffee before runs for fear of being top jittery, so I was a little leery. You mix this with a glass of water 20-30 minutes before working out (It seemed to work best for me 30 min before). I’m going to be totally honest, this powder is not the best tasting. I’m sure if you mixed it with juice instead of water that might help, but I’m not much of a juice person.  I just tried to drink it fast, haha.

I used this before a run and a couple other cross training workouts (biking mostly). I liked that I did notice an increase in energy that was not the same kind as coffee, just more of a boost.  I didn’t feel jittery at all, which is was a real relief. It just felt like I was more focused and revved up for whatever activity I was doing. For me, I found that this helped me more with non running workouts (I think I just have a system that works for me, and I am a creature of habit).

I would definitely keep these in my fuel basket, next to my GU’s and vega recovery protein powder. :) If you’re looking for something to get you a little pumped up for workouts, definitely give this a shot!!

Disclaimer: I did receive Vega pre-workout energizer complimentary for writing this blog post. The views expressed are my own.

done with my first year of law school! & Novi Half Marathon Review

I’m back!! I survived my second bout of law school finals and have a little time to breathe. The past 2 weeks have been intense, stressful and amazing all at the same time. I am truly grateful for all of the opportunities I’ve received during my first year of law school. But I won’t lie, I’m welcoming this little break ;) I have 2 weeks off before I start working full time as a student attorney/ law fellow for an Elder Law firm. I’ll also be taking 2 classes and beginning marathon training. What am I, crazy?! haha.

Back in December, I signed up for a half marathon the weekend following my last final. I figured it sounded like the best way to celebrate being done with my first year. Plus it was a very reasonable price, so double bonus. This was before I started working with my coach (which I owe an updated post on, as well as like a zillion other things), so I had no idea where my training would take me.

Truly, working with my coach has given me a new perspective on running. Learning to not try and PR every race, pushing myself out of my comfort zone with different speed workouts, and most importantly, having someone to answer to every day has really helped me so much. I have noticed that my long distances have been more consistent in splits, and I haven’t felt as zonked by them even kicking up the pace a little bit. But, when this half marathon came around, I was nervous. For 2 reasons: 1. I was in the most stressful week of my law school career, thus far, and; 2. I had only ran 9 miles this year as my longest run.

The last week of school was especially stressful because we had a 72 hour take home exam. I spent most of that time working on that exam, and very little eating/sleeping. I went for what should’ve been an easy 4 mile run on thursday and it was devastating, to put it lightly. I was very bothered by it, even through Brendan (my coach) told me not to be, that because of my stress and lack of sleep it was expected. BUT it was not how I wanted to go into the race. Saturday I had a tryout to be an attorney for mock trial next year, so that was my last little bit of stress to deal with. Saturday night I ordered a pizza, drank a ton of water, put on a face mask and watched Sex & The City re-runs. I am the coolest person you know, believe me. ;) might sound lame but it was exactly what I needed. I felt well rested and back to normal race morning.

at the starting line

at the starting line

I went into this race with only one expectation- to be able to finish. I saw Karly and Jeff at the start and both of them were all “you’re going to go really fast aren’t you?!”, which always hypes me up to want to be like hell yeah!! BUT I knew I had to think of this like my coach said, as a training run. And adding 4.1 miles on to your longest run this year at once is nothing to mess with.

The race had the Star Spangled Banner to begin and then we were off. I knew the course was mostly flat and on some dirt roads (not nearly as much as I found out to be). I felt really good and settled in without looking at my garmin until the first mile. I ran it in 8 flat. Oops. A little fast for me to be using as a training run, especially when I had no clue how my legs would feel after 9 miles. I slowed a little and settled back into the groove. Ran the 5k point around 25:xx. I felt really good and strong. Around 5 miles I hit an aid station for water so I could take a GU. Walked around 1 min to do so and still hit 7 miles in under an hour. I figured I would keep my pace maintainable until 10 miles because if I felt good then, I’d push a little harder.

on the course

on the course

running through some pretty nice neighborhoods

running through some pretty nice neighborhoods

Just around mile 8 we hit the dirt roads. Man, they were pretty awful! Winter was rough on us Michiganders and the roads. Tons of pot holes you had to dodge, felt like I was playing hopscotch while running! I was looking down the whole time. The mental aspect was also a bit rough because it turned around just after the 10 mile mark, so you could see runners coming back. Sometimes thats a positive thing, but at this moment, it was not. I ended up hitting an aid station to take a second GU somewhere around the 9.5 mile mark and walked about 45 seconds or so again.

better part of the dirt road

better part of the dirt road

By the time we turned around, I was over 10 miles so I just kept telling myself “only 5k to go”. At this point, my legs were started to go “wait a minute…” because clearly they haven’t ran over 9 this year, lol. But I was still maintaining a decent pace. When we got to 11 miles it just became complete headwind. It was ROUGH. There were quite a few little uphills that wouldn’t have been so terrible without the wind, but felt really hard with it. I ended up walking up one of the last hills just to take a break from fighting the wind. Another 45-60 seconds. At that point I decided I was going to run, even if I had to slow down, but I was going to run to the finish. Turns out that a guy had been keeping on pace with me (we kept zigzagging each other), so we chatted a little bit which was a welcome distraction. Once I got past 12 I just had tunnel vision. As soon I started to see a glimpse of the starting line I gave it my all and kicked it into the 7 min range. I just wanted to hit that damn finish line! haha.

I crossed at 1:51:54, not a PR for me, but a damn good time considering everything. I met up with some runner friends after, including my girl Karly, who got a killer PR! (1:48:14 I believe?). And of course pictures, because obviously.

a few of us after the race! thanks to Jeff (Detroit Runner) for the photo.

a few of us after the race! thanks to Jeff (Detroit Runner) for the photo.

I didn’t see my friend Dee (the races started at different times), but she also ran the 5k and got a killer PR AND placed first in her age group! I love having such speedy, awesome friends to motivate me!

Overall, I am happy with where I’m at in my training. I’m a little sore today, but nothing like last year when I ran almost the exact same time at the Nike DC half, so I know I’m improving. I’m really excited to see where full training takes me this year!

Did you race over the weekend? 

What is your favorite way to celebrate a milestone? 

products I’m loving (skincare edition)

I have 3 specific blog posts I need to get up, but as I’m in the middle of studying for finals, they just aren’t happening as fast as I’d like. I appreciate the patience :)

 

Some of you may or may not know that I am a licensed esthetician. The study of esthetics includes skincare (facials, masques, other treatments), waxing, and makeup. After high school, I attended esthetician school and passed my state boards to be certified. At the time, I really wanted to open my own spa. 

 

I absolutely loved beauty school and all that I learned. I am still friends with people I went to school with, now 10 years ago (!!). I tried to find pictures from school, but they are in  an album, and I’m just too lazy to scan them.

this is basically how we were everyday

this is basically how we were everyday

Because I wanted to open my own spa, I wanted to learn from the “ground up” about skincare, so to speak. We practiced all kinds of treatments on each other, and then actually worked in a salon before graduating. Ahh, I miss those days.. I could go for a hot stone back treatment right about now…..

Anyways, getting off track. After I graduated, I attempted to look for a job with little avail. I also was in the process of trying to start another business (which is a whole different blog), and I ended up just utilizing my esthetician knowledge for more personal uses. I practiced on my mom, friends and other family members all the time. I really just enjoyed doing it, it was super relaxing.

Throughout the years, I have had excellent skincare habits and then not so excellent ones. It’s easy to put off certain things because you “don’t have time” or are tired/lazy/etc. But it is SO important to keep a good skincare regime, especially as we get older.

Within the past 4-6 weeks, I started testing out some vegan & organic products on my skin, to see their results compared to higher priced lines. My makeup style has drastically changed in the past several years- I went from rocking the smoky eye 24/7 to preferring a much more natural, clean look.

(This doesn’t mean I won’t rock a killer fantasy makeup look. Make up artistry was one of the coolest things to learn, and I will still do up any of my friend’s faces on random occasions).

This picture was taken about 4 weeks after using my current products. I have zero make up on, but one of my classmates asked me what kind of foundation I used. That's what sparked this post. :)

This picture was taken about 4 weeks after using my current products. I have zero make up on, but one of my classmates asked me what kind of foundation I used. That’s what sparked this post. :)

I want to be clear- with skin care products, you really just have to research and find the best products for your skin type. We all have different issues, but there are general commonalities that I can suggest things to help. However, I think that people believe they have to spend 100′s of $ to find a great line, and that’s just not true. You can if you want to! But it is not the only way to have a great line. Since I was professionally trained, I am fortunate to have tried a wide array of products and learned about them in that setting. Also, since I try to keep what I eat and put in/on my body as clean as possible, I have found some products that are giving me a lot of success currently (and don’t break the bank)

My products I currently use:

Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil Soap Bar

Kiss My Face Pure Olive Oil Soap Bar

I use this every day, twice a day, to wash my face. I have sensitive skin so I try to stay away from anything with added dyes/perfumes. What I love about this bar is that it really works if you have combination skin, which most of us do (different parts of your face have different needs). For me, my cheeks are generally more dry, but my T-zone area is a little more oily. This bar is great at moisturizing both areas and I have noticed that my skin feels much smoother. I got this for around $6 at Target.

Lavender & Aloe Toner

Lavender & Aloe Toner

I use 2 products as toners- this and Apple Cider Vinegar. I spray this all over my face and use it to remove any makeup. I use ACV whenever I have a blemish. It clears it up, with no scars, in like 2-3 days. I love it! I also take a shot of ACV because I just can’t get enough ;) I purchased this on Amazon for $19.

Coffee Bean Caffeine eye cream

Coffee Bean Caffeine eye cream

Ohhh my goodness, I love this cream. It smells delicious! I am young, but I like to be preventative so I have started using this cream to keep my eyes looking fresh and avoid fine lines. I was skeptical about this cream (I worked as a marketing consultant for a plastic surgeon and know how big of an issue this becomes), but I have definitely noticed that my under eye area looks fresh. The only issue I have is it comes in a teeny tiny bottle. You are supposed to use it twice a day but I only use it once because I’m doing it as a preventative. It’s on Amazon for around $20.

Then I have a moisturizer I made that I also use, but don’t have a picture of (sorry).

Top Tips I learned from Esthetician School:

1. (this is in order of importance)- start taking care of your skin TODAY. even if you never have in your entire life, you can still benefit and reverse damage from previous years. of course it is easier to start young, but even if you are a little older, start NOW. your skin will thank you.

2. drink water. my teacher told us that our skin is in a constant state of dehydration because of the other beverages we drink that are not water. if you drink 1 coffee/tea/pop/etc your skin needs 6-8 additional ounces of water PER DRINK just to make up for the hydration it’s losing. So try to drink as much water as you can.

3. if your skin is feeling really dry, try an egg white masque. these are super easy and you most likely have the ingredients in your house! all you need are several egg whites (no yolks). whisk them until smooth and then apply to your face. leave it on until it becomes dry and you look kind of wrinkly (sorry, no better description), and wash & remove. Some people save the remainder and use it for a couple days in a row. It really doesn’t matter, but you will notice an immediate difference after.

4.DO NOT GO TANNING. I tanned too when younger so I’m just as guilty, don’t worry, I’m not judging. Tanning beds are becoming the #1 reason for skin cancer, which is no joke. Even tanning outside is really a no go. Use sunscreen and avoid the booths. Also, on a related note, get a full body skin check from your dermatologist at least once a year. Always better to be safe vs. sorry.

5. As I said, skincare is not a one size fits all. The products I listed above have worked great for me, but you may require something different. Don’t be afraid to do a little research or read other reviews about a product. And feel free to contact me with any questions!!

I hope to help some of you find a great product line for you, without breaking the bank. If you have a favorite product you love already, feel free to list it in the comments! I love trying new things. I’ll have to do a post about all the different face masques I’ve used/created ;)

working with a running coach

so, I’m in the middle of my 7th week working with my coach, and I figured it’s time for me to do an update. when I first started working with Brendan, I really had no idea what to expect. I had a zillion goals in my head (get faster at EVERYTHING is how I like to do things). what I’m learning at this point is that there is only one major goal that I really wish to achieve- that sub 4 hour marathon.

last year at the start of my first full!

last year at the start of my first full!

Having a coach in the same state as you is really cool because I actually got to go meet him and discuss my goals/issues/worries face to face. I also got to learn more about him (like the fact that he is currently training for Boston and his PR marathon is 2:18- holy canolli).  Anyways, that is something I really liked. Nothing against out of state coaches who you just e-mail/skype etc, but I feel like our in person meeting was really helpful.

Disclaimer: the advice given to me by my coach has been based off of my training, feedback, ability and what works best for me. That being said, I will be posting some of my paces/workouts. If you decide to try them, that is at your own risk.

The main thing he told me was he wanted me to be comfortable running a lot of miles at my easy pace (which ranges anywhere in the 9′s) and then some tempo runs. He told me that the interval training I was doing was okay, but not really going to help me get to where I want to in the marathon distance.  This really surprised me, and disappointed me because I loathe tempo runs. Figures.

After meeting, he sent me a Google docs spreadsheet that consisted with workouts for the next couple weeks. I was actually surprised that most of the runs were at easy pace, with the exception of a few hill workouts. How am I going to get faster going easy?! Where is the speed work?! He laughed at me and told me that will come with time. (time is something I have a hard time dealing with- I always want instant results haha).

The first 4 weeks were mostly easy runs, a couple hill routines and then a long run with 2-3 miles at tempo pace. At this point, he was not specifying any paces for me, because he wanted to see what came naturally to me. For easy & hilly runs I primarily stayed in the 9′s, shorter distances or tempo’s anywhere from high 7′s to mid 8′s. By the end of February, I ran 75.4 miles (which is not too far off from my normal monthly average, usually 80… but feb is a shorter month too).

March is when I feel my routine really started to get going. Brendan has been slowly transitioning me to running 5 days a week (I normally do 4, because anytime I did more in the past I started getting achy). The very first week I was supposed to run a 5th day was the week of the Shamrock 10k. As you recall in my last post, I started having sore calves so I skipped that extra day. It proved to be smart because I ended up being totally pain free just a couple days later. Whew.

March is also when he started specifying my paces for speed work. My first speed style run was 6 miles: 2 easy then 3 in cutdown style: 8:15, 8:00, 7:45, then 1 easy. This run was a little hard just because I didn’t fuel right, but also that last mile was killer. Who knew an easy mile after some hard ones would be so exhausting? But I kept going with it and the following week’s speed work was longer, but felt much easier. This one was another 6, including  1 easy then 4 at tempo (right around 7:50) and another easy. In that run, I ended up PR’ing my 4 mile distance by over 30 seconds! My most recent speed workout was 2 days ago and was 7 miles-  1 warm up, 2x 2 miles @ 7:45 pace with 1 mile in between, then 1 mile cool down. I was surprised how my legs didn’t feel tired in that 7:45 pace. I didn’t even need a GU this entire run. I won’t say it was easy but it felt much more controlled. I also ran 99.3 miles in march, a big switch from February. I haven’t had a close to 100 mile month since marathon training.

Additionally, Brendan has been having me do planks and hip strengthening exercises, since I had issues with my IT band last year. I feel like that has helped me get stronger and have better endurance.

I definitely feel like getting a coach was the right move for me. I get daily feedback from him on my runs and answers to questions I have (which I have often haha). I can tell that I am getting stronger because I have really not had any issues or pain except for that minor calf issue (which was my own fault for not running easy on a day I was supposed to!). I feel as though working with him has also solidified that while I would love to PR in every distance, this year it really is all about the 26.2 for me.

One thing that has been a struggle is fitting in these runs with my schedule. The other day I ran 7 miles before class, and normally my range is 3-5 during the week. I felt like I was back in marathon training again, haha. There have been some times I’ve had to get up earlier than I would even when planning to run, in order to get it in. It does worry me for when I’m actually training for the full, and working full time, as well as taking a summer class. I know, I could go in the afternoon but truthfully I like getting it done in the morning so it doesn’t weigh on me the rest of the day. So I’ll just have to get it done. I know I will.

 

This post is getting pretty long so I’ll leave it here for now. But if you are considering getting a running coach, I say go for it! It is so worth it and I am happy I did.

 

I’m still here!

Whew, the weeks keep flying by and I keep meaning to write an update. SO much has gone one!

1. I am less a little over a month out from finishing my first year in law school! This year feels like it went by in a mili-second, and I have mixed feelings on it. While I am excited to almost be 1/3 of the way done with school, I am sort of sad to see my 1st year come to close! I’ve met some really special people in class and have gotten involved with some amazing causes. I was so nervous about starting school, whether being a lawyer was the right move for me, but this year has shown me just how much it really is. I am really looking forward to the rest of what school and then my career will offer!

Some of my classmates and me at a networking event for school :)

Some of my classmates and me at a networking event for school :)

2. Speaking of school coming to an end for the semester, I have lined up my summer work plans! It was the craziest feeling in the world quitting my full time job, with benefits (like paid holidays! haha) and going to school full time. I have never not worked while in school ( I did my undergrad in 3 years, while working 2 part time jobs and an internship for 6 months as well), so this was a weird transition. Overall, I am so happy that I did because I was able to focus on my studies and get involved on campus. I was fortunate to do well in my first semester and that helped me with finding summer work. I had 3 serious offers that to choose from, and I picked the one that will give me exactly the experience I am looking for! More on that later ;)

3. My brother is going to be finishing his final year of law school in a few short weeks! Yes, we are twins, but I decided to wait a little before going to law school… I’ve always been a little rebellious ;) I am so proud of him and cannot wait to see him walk across that stage!

Ok, enough with school stuff, on to the fun stuff….. running of course!

So, a little while back, I entered into a contest with Kona races (not the Ironman, haha) and won an entry into their series! this is great for a full time grad student on a budget ;) I ran my first race of the year with them, Shamrock, on March 16.

You may remember me talking about this race last year, it’s my current 10k PR and I had a blast! (the picture of me on the right is from that race, and I think accurately shows just how much fun I was having).

When I first started working with Brendan, my coach, I was dead set on PR’ing this race again. I mean, who runs their PR course and doesn’t set the bar a little high? Plus we all know how I love to PR every race I can (doesn’t everyone?). BUT he kept reminding me of my main, major goal- sub 4 hour marathon. So what we have been focusing on is increasing my weekly/monthly mileage in addition to adding some harder workouts in.

A few days before the race, I had a couple hard runs and then one easy 3 miler schedule. The day of my 3 mile run, I woke up and my calves felt a little sore. Not when I walked/ran, just when I stretched them. Thinking nothing of it, I ran my 3 mile at a pace that I wouldn’t call exactly easy but I also wouldn’t call it hard (right in the mid 8′s).

this was pretty much me the day before the race. stellar way to prepare, I know.

this was pretty much me the day before the race. stellar way to prepare, I know.

Well, the next day (the day before the race) I woke up to some seriously achy calves. Uh oh. I shouldn’t have pushed it that hard when they were feeling a little worn already. So I did what anyone would do- I skipped the short run I had for that day, foam rolled, ice, wore compression socks and stretched. But I was nervous. I didn’t want to make my calves worse during the run. For a minute, I almost thought about not doing it. I mean, it was going to be 15 degrees for the race anyway, not ideal running weather.

But when I woke up Sunday morning, my legs felt MUCH better. The pain was almost nonexistent. Thank you body for bouncing back so quickly! I also made a decision- I was not going to try and PR. I wasn’t going to go all out and risk injury. No, for once I realized that my larger, down the road is much more important than the immediate gratification of a PR. Especially when I wasn’t ready, and let’s be real, I wasn’t.

So Sherri and I got to the race and lined up. I started my garmin, but made the executive decision to not look at it the entire time I ran, and just go by feel. THIS IS ONE OF THE HARDEST THINGS I HAVE EVER DONE. I have never not looked at my time while running. But it was also one of the best experiences for me. I didn’t pay attention to people who were passing me, or who I was passing. The miles felt easy, and controlled.

my finish picture

my finish picture

I ended up crossing the finish line at 52:37, which is about 3:40 minutes slower than my PR. But I felt great! What was even better? My calves didn’t hurt at all. A few more easy runs the following week and they were back to normal. And I realized just how important this marathon training is to me. A valuable lesson I’m glad to have learned prior to even official training.

I’m going to do an updated coaching post since I’m now in my 6th (!!) week. Stay tuned for that in a few days. With finals looming, the infrequent posts my continue for just a bit longer. But hang tight! Over the summer there will be some more fun stuff going on, so stay with me! :)

3 weeks in…

Wow, I can’t believe 3 weeks has flown by since starting to work with my coach! Life has been a little crazy. Between school and being involved with a million other activities on campus, and Nate & the pups, and setting up my summer work (I can’t believe it’s been 5 months since I left my full time job!), it’s been chaotic. But I am very grateful for all of the opportunities that have been presented to me, and really grateful that all those hours of studying are paying off :)

ANYWAYS, because I talk about school enough, I wanted to do an update on working with my coach. I originally was nervous about getting a coach. Now, I think it is the best thing ever. I don’t even have to think about what I’m doing because he lays it all out. I know which days I’m doing what run and the style.

Image

I don’t know why but I thought this was hilarious

What immediately surprised me was how many easy runs he scheduled me. WHAT?! I’m supposed to be getting faster, so intervals, mile splits, come on! what gives?! But the first few weeks have been easy runs (generally for me in the low to mid 9′s) with 1 tempo run each week. But what was crazy is I noticed that on my 2nd tempo run I knocked 30 seconds off my pace, despite it being longer, and didn’t feel tired or anything. He has also had me doing a lot of hip strengthening exercises (something I work dilligently on since that helps keep the IT band strong, and we all know I want mine nice and strong ;) ) and planks. Which I’ll admit, I totally had been slacking on. So I’m back on my #plankaday grind.

Also, I have been doing hill work more frequently. Let me tell you something, I thought I disliked tempos…. NO. I hate hill work. Especially 6 miles of it, like this past Thursday.

Image

this is all I think about while doing hill work.

Even there… I did a 3 mile hill run my 2nd week training and this past week did 6 miles… and knocked 9 seconds per mile. To me, that’s a really telling sign to be able to not only run longer, but faster while doing hills.

I do struggle with feeling like I should just be able to run my 5k pr pace for an 8 mile run…… but I am trying to think long term here. While I would love to PR in every single distance this year, to be honest… the marathon is my major goal. I am just going to announce it here and to the world (which is terrifying despite the fact I’ve told numerous people this already): I’m trying to go sub 4.

This is a huge goal for me. I know that my half times make it look like it should be easy, but my first full marathon time was 5:12. That is saying, okay I want to knock 1 hour and 13 minutes off my marathon time…. no big deal, right?! I know I was injured, but even without being injured, a sub 4 is a lofty goal. This is one of the reasons I wanted to start training earlier (vs just doing a 20 week plan), so that I can get comfortable running longer distances as the pace I need to for a full before I even start actually training.

So, back to the update here….. because I struggle with wanting to be faster and faster at a more immediate rate, it can be hard for me to think about the long term. This is ironic because it’s completely opposite with how I am in normal life ( I like to plan ahead most of the time…. run dates, career goals, what I’ll be making for dinner… etc). but it’s hard for me to think big picture with running. I just want results yesterday.

So, this is also teaching me about patience :) But I am very fortunate to have found a coach who understands my desire to see immediate results WHILE training for my long term goal. So these runs have shown me progress in just a few short weeks, while giving me the confidence to know I’m properly preparing for the future.

Next week I transition into a new block routine (2 days back to back running, rest then 3 days back to back running) in addition to him giving me actual times to hit (these past couple weeks I’ve just ran based on feel, which makes me feel good to see the improvement without any speed requirements), so I’m excited for what’s to come. ALSO my husband ordered me the treadmill I’ve been eying so bye bye gym membership fees :)