what I can control.

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. Finishing my 2nd year of law school, finalizing summer plans, and taking a moment to reprieve have been really positive for me. To that end, I’m really grateful.

Oh the other hand, it was also a really rough time to deal with my ferritin issue. On the surface it sounds so silly – low iron? Ok, just go eat a steak, 5 lbs of kale, etc. But by the time I finally realized what was going on, it really affected my running. So much that I was starting to think something was seriously wrong with me (cue melodrama).

Even after learning it was most likely due to low ferritin, I still was feeling pretty negative. In many ways, I felt like an imposter – is this even a real injury? I have friends dealing with stress and complete fractures right now that prohibit them from running. Me just being low on iron? Seriously? <—- these are the thoughts I had. I also felt disappointed in myself. Why couldn’t I just suck it up and push through it? Why did I have to miss my marathon? I’m strong in so many areas of life, I’ve pushed through so many challenges. Why not this one, now?

Finally, after a couple weeks of feeling sorry for myself, and blaming every possible thing I could think of, I realized that wasn’t working. I only felt more miserable and that’s not what I want.

Instead, I made the conscious decision to change my thoughts and focus.

focus-on-what-you-can-control

Life is a series of events. Jack Canfield (who is one of my favorite personal development mentors) talks about a formula E+R=O. Event + Response = Outcome. Often, we have no control over the E (the weather, economic climate, broken bone, low iron, etc), but what we do have control over is the R. How we respond. And that can change the O.

When I first was struggling, no matter how I tried, my runs never felt good. Even ones where I didn’t care about pace or distance – I was just miserable the whole time. That’s because my response was treating myself negatively because of the event I was currently facing. I knew that had to change if I wanted to make any sort of progress.

So now, I’m focusing on what I can control.

-I can’t control how long it will take to boost my ferritin. What I can control is what I do to increase absorption – such as, avoiding calcium and coffee when taking iron, and trying to take vitamin C with it.

-I can’t control how every single run is going to feel. What I can control is working on being a better runner for when my training comes back. I’ve been doing cross and strength training about once a week and already noticing differences.

-Other things I can control include working on things to make me a better runner, even where I’m currently at. I knew that my form wasn’t the greatest, and had it in the back of my mind to work on it. I bought Meb Keflezighi’s book Meb For Mortals, and in it, he talks a lot about form. I have started doing form drills and implementing those changes in my runs. It’s actually easier to do so right now, where I’m not as focused on target pace. It allows me to slow down when needed to make sure I’m making the changes correctly.

-The biggest thing I can control? My attitude. For a long time I started feeling like maybe I just wasn’t meant to run anymore marathons. I figured, cut my losses and be happy that I at least achieved sub -4. WRONG. This is a set back, a road block, a hurdle. It certainly slowed me down but it won’t stop me. I visualize myself running, feeling happy, free and energetic. I know I will run another marathon one day. And I will be better for it because of this current time period in my life.

– Lastly, I focus on my successes, whether big or small. This week I ran more miles than last. I also had some decently paced runs. Instead of comparing my training to my pre-ferritin drop training, I focus on the now and being better than the week or day before.

I feel happier overall since adopting this mindset. I will keep moving forward. The only thing that can stop me is me, and I refuse to allow that any longer.

plan of attack.

yesterday marked the end of my second year of law school! I can’t believe how fast it’s going. When I first started 2 years ago, I remember thinking 3 years was so far away. Now I’m nearing my last year. Crazyness!

I really couldn’t be happier with how this year went. The first part of 2L year, I successfully trained for a marathon which I had a massive PR and finally went sub-4. I also somehow landed the internship of my dreams this previous semester. I won awards for trial advocacy skills, and was selected to represent the national mock trial team for my school. All while staying (moderately) sane!

The downfall for sure was Glass City. Having to back out of that during taper sucked. On the plus side, I did manage to get through my highest training cycle EVER feeling relatively well, aside from the whole iron issue. Which leads me to where I am now.

You might think that because it’s summer vacation that I’ll have a bit more free time. Well, probably not (big surprise, eh?! I don’t like staying busy ;) ). I’m taking 2 summer courses as well as transitioning into full time employment in the next two weeks. So I get 2 weeks of play! And I plan to live it up. Starting first by actually blogging!! haha.

Where does that leave running? I am slowly starting to feel the affects from supplementing iron. As I said previously, I met with a dr who has been counseling me on the issue. I’m currently taking a pill and liquid iron supplement. I will likely just transition into the pill, because it’s a higher dosage (and liquid is expensive) but I’m on the liquid for the time being because it usually kicks in faster.

I am taking my runs day by day. Last week was the first good week I’ve had probably since before the half I DNF’d. Not as much fatigue, legs weren’t achy, no breathlessness. However, I ran significantly less mileage than I was in training. At this point, I’m not training for anything, so it doesn’t make sense to put pressure on myself or beat myself up for losing momentum. I am where I am. And if I can actually enjoy the run, that makes me really happy, because I was starting to dread running.

I ran 4 days last week and felt 80% good for the week. I also biked for cross training and took one day of complete rest. That’s another thing- I’ve changed up my workout routines. I’m not going to just rely on running. This iron thing kind of reminded me that, hey, I need strength and cross training as well. Because of that, I bought a pilates package and aim to take one class a week, as well as bike one day a week. If anything, it’s been helping me to not go crazy with the lower mileage.

I was leery to try pilates but I actually love it! I”ll have to do another post about it…..

My plan of attack is simple – keep trying to run while being easy on myself. I’m not doing any hard workouts or speed right now. I’m not eyeing my garmin and getting frustrated. Some of my runs have ended up much faster than I anticipated, but for the most part, I try to just run what feels comfortable. The only time I looked at my garmin was during yesterday’s shake out run because I wanted to make sure I was going slow enough. lolz.

In all actuality, I’m not going to lose a crazy amount of fitness/speed/endurance if I keep doing things that keep me strong and active. Even if it’s not running. So until I feel 100% better all the time, it doesn’t make sense to force it. I plan to try to transition into 5 days of running a week, low mileage, gradually increasing. I have a one month checkup with my dr to re-check my iron and evaluate my progress. If things continue to go well, I hope to build up my comfortable base to around 30-35mpw by June. At that point, I’ll start to think of other things. For now, I’m just happy to run and not feel exhausted.

I also want to continue to make strength and cross training a priority. EVEN if I feel amazing, those things can only help my running, not hurt it.

I’m sorry I don’t really have any pictures or anything, this is a lot of words. I’m very happy with how I’m doing, and willing to be patient and give my body the time it needs to heal.

Thanks again for all the comments, tweets, messages etc about this. It’s sounds so silly but it’s been really frustrating and heartbreaking for me. So I really do appreciate it.

Talk soon!

an update on my marathon training.

let’s be real, I haven’t been looking forward to writing this. And right now, I’m studying for finals so I don’t have a ton of time. But I figure it’s time to make a post, and maybe I can (hopefully) help someone else if they ever face the situation I did.

I was supposed to run the Glass City Marathon last Sunday. Emphasis on supposed to. My training was going well, I was working with my coach and hitting great milestones. I ran 2 twenty milers, both of which were faster than my 20 in the Grand Rapids full last year. I was feeling good, confident, and well prepared.

Fast forward to about 4 weeks ago. I ran a half marathon as a training run- I was supposed to hit my marathon target pace for a few miles, then kick it up if I felt good. That didn’t happen. I started off immediately feeling tired, and assumed it was just because I had stayed up later than I should have the night before, and had a couple glasses of wine. Figuring I could push through it, I kept on. But I was still feeling pretty fatigued, and it caused me to not pay attention to the roads, which had tons of potholes. I mistakenly stepped in one and felt a muscle in my quad immediately seize. Not wanting to sabotage my training, I pulled out. My very first DNF. I wasn’t *too* upset about it because I knew it was just a training run and not my goal race. I knew another run was on its way to bounce me right back.

That better run never came. In fact, even after resting 2 days to allow my quad muscle to heal, I still felt tired while running. It felt like I was running with an open parachute behind me. It was my last week of hard training, so I figured my body just needed to get into taper. I struggled through those runs, even having to stop and catch my breath at times. I ran my last 20 miler, came home and took several naps and went to bed early (this never happens to me on long runs – I usually am full of adrenaline all night). I just figured it was because I never ran 2 twenty’s in a training cycle before.

The week leading into taper, I knew something was off. I was struggling on 3 mile runs. A couple of my friends have had issues with low iron so I finally decided to check mine out with my dr.  I had a physical in February where everything was fine, so I was hoping to just re-confirm my iron numbers. Except, my iron was never tested in February. It rarely is unless you ask for it.

My dr wasn’t a great help (he asked if I was getting enough carbs/water/sleep/had realistic training goals etc) and I kept insisting on checking my ferritin levels. After speaking to my friends who struggled with anemia and iron deficiency, I knew that was test that would give me the proper answers. I got bloodwork done and they called me with the results the very next day. “Good news, you’re not anemic, everything’s fine!” the nurse told me over the phone. “What is my ferritin level specifically?” I asked. “Oh, it’s 11. The range is 10-80. You’re normal.” That still seemed odd to me, so I asked to have my results mailed to me and then began doing my research.

I won’t go into the ridiculous amounts of research and discussions I’ve had with running coaches and now my new running dr, but a ferritin level of 11 is very iron deficient for a female runner. Runners generally should strive to have ferritin levels of 60, and can have severe affects to their training when under 20 (check out here, here, here, here and here if you want more info). Women are at higher risk of iron depletion because we have periods, and lose blood every month. Also, the more you run, the more you lose iron in your feet from foot strike hemolysis, which essentially destroys red blood cells with every foot strike. Obviously, if you’re running or running high mileage, you can appreciate the irony (ha, a pun!) of losing more iron with every strike.

My mileage this year has been higher than any training cycle, maxing out at 224 miles in March (right around when this started happening) – nearly 50+ miles more than my max month for GR. I had no idea that I could deplete iron so quickly. If I had, I would have begun supplementing.

I started taking liquid iron a little over 2 weeks ago. I noticed marginal improvement but basically could only go for short, easy runs. I still felt tired and took more rest days than normal. A few days before Glass City, I started my period, which seemed to throw all my progress off (makes sense, low iron + losing more iron = not a great combination). I hated to make the decision that I did, but I didn’t want to put my body under more stress than it is. So I decided not to do Glass City. Who bails on a race during taper? *raises hand*.

I did go to the race with my friend Karly, who is also sadly benched from an injury. We walked the 5k and just enjoyed cheering people on. Our friend Amy ran a massive PR, after dealing with anemia early in the training cycle and getting those numbers boosted from supplementation. So proud of her!

I also got to see my friends Janet and Matt, who did the half, and I haven’t seen in forever. Sounds like they are right on track to begin training for their fall full :)

during the 5k with Julie and Karly

during the 5k with Julie and Karly

This past week I found a dr who is a Boston runner and deals with runners regularly. He told me the liquid iron was good, but due to my levels, I need to supplement even more. I’ve begun to take a pill along with the liquid iron, and seem to be feeling a little better. It should take about a month to notice a big improvement, so I’m not going to put more pressure on myself until then.

Am I bummed to miss the marathon? Of course. But I want to be able to keep running, and well, so I have to take care of myself now. Hopefully, I can find another race in the future to train for once I’m feeling like myself again.

If you are feeling exhausted a mile or two into runs, breathless, higher heart rate than normal, or just excessively tired that you don’t attribute to training, please go get your levels checked. Had I done that when I bombed that half, who knows? I maybe could’ve made it to GC. Hindsidght is always 20/20.

So, I better get back to studying now. Hopefully next time I update I’ll have more good news!

my next goal

January flew right on by without any entries. Sorry, friends!

I knew the first month of the year was going to be crazy, and it didn’t disappoint. Crazy in a good way. But crazy. I managed to log 181.3 miles (and that’s missing 2 runs due to a weird stomach issue) – my highest monthly mileage YET. My last month PR was 170 in the midst of training for Grand Rapids (we’re talking I ran 18-20 mile long runs at that time). Right now my longest run is 14. So yes, the miles are adding up. And I’m feeling surprisingly good, my easy pace has gotten a little faster. And I’m able to hit my speed work for the most part (save some crazy headwind and snowy days).

long running in the snow fall was surprisingly fun! the novelty has since worn off ;)

long running in the snow fall was surprisingly fun! the novelty has since worn off ;)

I’ve already mentioned that I’m training for a spring full. What I was vague blogging about last time was my goal. Since then, I’ve discussed things with my coach and we have a target in mind BUT I’ve decided that I don’t want to be so limited in the way that I was last time. Last year, my really (REALLY really) big goal {for me} was to run sub 4. It was all I thought about, hitting that target. It was a really great breakthrough goal for me to accomplish.

Now? Obviously I’d like to do better than my 3:55:50 time, but I’m not going to just focus on the number. Instead, I’m focusing on being the best version of myself I can possibly be, one mile at a time. We’ve had a tough winter here in Michigan. My treadmill and I have rekindled our on/off again relationship. I’m putting in the work – some days I have crazy energy and push past the paces my coach sets for me and others I’m a little tired and barely hit them. I’m not going to work the “full time law student/part time internship” excuse for that. We are all busy, and time management is something I’m working hard to perfect these days.

Another thing that I’ve welcomed back into my life? Planks!! Oh how I missed them. I joined a plank challenge for January and am happy to say that I completed it. I also learned a bunch of new planks that I’ve continued to work into my routine (instead of just holding a plank for as long as I can). I have noticed more results from these exercises than I ever did just holding the plank. It also seems to be complimenting my running so it’s really win/win/win.

So my goal is to try and beat my time for sure, maybe even by a lot, maybe by a little (who knows?), but I really just want to be the best version of myself every single mile. Even the miles I hate, when I’m wind burned and freezing. My mantra so far has been “one mile at a time” and it’s working for me.

And just remember:

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;)

Wrap up 2014 and thoughts on 2015

It’s that fateful time of year when everyone does their “Year End” blog post. I am no different.

2014 was a really productive year for me, in all aspects of life. I finished my first year of law school, got an amazing fellowship where I worked as a student attorney over the summer (and appeared in court on behalf of clients!). I started my second year and despite having a somewhat overloaded schedule, I made it through (still working on my last research paper ;) ) and accepted a dream internship. I also just recently found out I was awarded an additional scholarship for excellence in trial advocacy! That was a nice little way to conclude finals.

The real highlight of this year, of course, was running. (Are you surprised?).

with my GR gangstas

The only picture I have from GR finish (funny how distracted you are after 26.2 ;) )

This year was definitely the most serious for me, in terms of running. Last year, I had 5 goals, and hit all of them. This year, I really only had one (huge) goal.

I began working with a coach and trained for that pretty crazy goal (for me), a sub 4 hour marathon.  When I first met with Brendan, I ran ~4 days a week and probably averaged 70-80 miles per month. Which was fine for me, it was a manageable base. Now, I run ~6 days a week and average 100+ miles per month. What’s crazy is that doesn’t even seem like a lot now. I remember thinking it would be so hard to handle, but in reality, you just keep one foot in front of the other and things kind of click.

I definitely battled minor setbacks this year, getting sick and also having such a heavy course load this past semester. There were some days that I was tired and didn’t necessarily feel like getting up earlier to run. But I had tunnel vision and kept my eye on the prize.

And then I hit it! On October 19, I ran my second marathon in 3:55:50. There was a brief period where I thought I wouldn’t do any more marathons. That period has passed. Haha!

For next year? It’s going to be busy busy again. I start my internship in January, I’m taking 3 classes and also will be competing nationally with the mock trial team at my school. I love having all these opportunities to lead me in the right direction for my career!

Also, I’m planning to do more marathons in 2015. I’ve begun training for the spring already. I am working with a different coach (Brendan has since qualified for the Olympic Trials, so I’m working with his assistant who I love!) and my running routine is getting a little more intense. But I’m up for the challenge because I’d like to see how far I can go from here.

_________

The above was written before the New Year (oops, forgot to publish). I just want to add for those of you reading who may be ready to go and resolution-energized: inevitably, there will be times that you don’t feel like running. I hate when people just act like “I love to run all the time no matter HOW crazy my schedule is!” I do love to run. Most of the time. Not every run is stellar, speedy or pretty. I don’t always want to wake up super early so that I have time to run and wash my hair before class/work. I find that the times that I hate running the most are when I’m feeling overwhelmed by fear of failure or stress from other areas in my life. As cliche as it sounds, these are the most important times to get out there.

Don’t wait for Monday or the New Year to start chasing your dreams. Sure, given the time frame, New Year is a perfect time to start. But if you fall off the wagon? Brush yourself off and get back on it (even if it’s March). And no matter what happens, don’t be too hard on yourself. As long as you’re moving forward, you’re making progress (even if you can’t see it yet).

 

I hope you all had a safe and fun New Years Eve. I look forward to seeing what 2015 will bring.

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

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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.