First Long Run PR!

This past Saturday was the Lake Monona 20K race. Last year, that race was the worst. I struggled from first step to the final step. However, this race was much different. I went out a bit fast — faster than I should have. I started off running with friends Kate and Jaime. But after mile 2, I realized I could keep up that pace for long. So I slowed back and ended up finding Kristin and Anne Marie. They were doing intervals: 4 min run, 1 min walk. I ran with them at this tempo until we hit the massive wind at mile 6. Yikes that wind off the lake! I took it easy at this point, and got my speed back up around 6.5 to mile 8.

It was here that my feet started to hurt. They hurt with each pound on the pavement. I was struggling. Instead of walking which I wanted to do, I’d run then walk for a moment to give my feet reprieve and then run again. It was a tough few miles from 8-11. I’m not sure if this means I’m in need of new shoes but I’m leaning that way.

My legs felt great, my pace felt great and my mind was in the perfect space for most of the race. If I hadn’t had issues with the pain in my feet, the end of the race would have gone a lot better. My half is in two weeks and I want a good experience. My first and only half was last year and it was awful. I want a redo. And I think I’m ready. I just need to figure out the feet issue.

I had a 6 minute PR on this race.

I’m so very proud of that. I went into this race preparing to DNF. My foot was really sore after my 10 miler a few weeks ago and I have been struggling with it since. But I was pleasantly surprised. The weather was perfect: 50ish, sunny and not a cloud in the sky.

Drinking PBR at mile 9! Woop!

The moments when the voice in my head was wishing I was closer to the end, I would look around and remind myself to enjoy the scenery (Thanks, Collin!). It is beautiful to look across the lake and see the Capitol. I love this city. Running really does teach you to enjoy the journey. One foot in front of the other.

Not only did I PR, but my pacing was going great. My pace was a good minute or more than I’ve been doing in training. I wasn’t forcing it. It actually felt good to be at that pace. I was proud of that.

I’ve really been putting in the work between the weekend long runs. And Saturday’s race showed me the results. While I am still a little disappointed in my time knowing it could have been better if I hadn’t had issues with my feet, I am proud of what I did accomplish. Running is such a mind game.

I signed up for a membership at the work weight room that starts next week and I’m excited to turn my focus to strength/weight training. I’ve been doing strength training a few nights a week the past two weeks. Hoping that an increased focus on strength will help with my speed and muscle.

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Found: Running Euphoria

I started training the first weekend in February and so far, I’ve done great sticking to the plan. I’ve figured out the best time for week runs is early in the morning before work. I have zero motivation after working all day, cooking dinner, getting kids ready for bed and cleaning up the kitchen. Plus all the other stuff like laundry that happen in between there. I am not a morning person but I have been finding joy in the peaceful, quiet time of 5 a.m. before the chaos starts.

Ice on Lake Monona

Ice on Lake Monona

Since starting back, my running has been short and slow. But I’ve done a good job of not getting too discouraged with myself. I keep telling myself at least I’m putting in the work and eventually I’ll see it pay off. That happened yesterday!

I went out for a three-mile run with Amanda yesterday. We chose the Lake Monona path because the weather was going to be beautiful. The run was perfect. It felt effortless and amazing. My legs felt good and happy. The distance was good; the pace was good. I haven’t had a run like that since last spring. I was missing that feeling. All runners know that feeling. It’s what keeps us running. Pure euphoria. I was on a high all day from that run.

Training with Fleet Feet starts Sunday and I think I’m ready. This week’s runs should help for Sunday’s four miles. It feels good to put in the work.

I had a rough fall. I was unemployed. Unsure of what was next. I struggled with everything as one does when they are unemployed. I was frustrated with my ankle. I gained weight and felt down for most of the season. It feels good to be back to myself. Feeling motivated at work and motivated in my training. The mental state is a tricky thing.

Blessed and grateful for where I am now. So excited to kick off spring training and setting my sights on the Madeline Island Half May 20th.

Starting Over: Forward Is A Pace

I fell off the blogging train. My legs ended up needing about four weeks to recover from my half, and then when I did start training again, I ended up tearing my tendon. I sprained my ankle at the end of my 8 mile run at the beginning of July. It didn’t even hurt when it happened. Never turned black and blue. Never got swollen. Just hurt 24 hours after it happened. I took a few weeks off, got evaluated by sports medicine doctor who determined I sprained my ankle.

My goal race was the Madison Mini. The whole reason I wanted to do a half in 2016. I ended up having to go down to the 5K. Which now looking back, I shouldn’t have even done that. My ankle hurt so much after that short run. I took a break from running until October. Tried to run at the beginning of Oct and it still hurt. That’s when I figured something more had to be going on. Sport medicine doctor agreed and scheduled me for an MRI. And the result was a frayed peroneal tendon. It was bad enough to need to stop running, but not bad enough to require surgery. Yet. The plan was to take a break from running or any intensive activity until Feb and see if it will heal on its own.

I’ve been walking a mile or so on my lunch breaks at work as a way to work my way back to running. I decided to try out a run today to see if my ankle was healing. Read: I really REALLY don’t want ankle surgery.

Today was myimg_20170122_131459827 first run since all of that business. One mile out non stop. I ran the whole mile PAIN FREE. I didn’t know that was possible. I can’t remember the last time a mile didn’t hurt. My stamina is definitely not there and I’m definitely frustrated with that. I know I gotta give myself time to get back to it but it’s so hard to see where I was and now struggling to run 2 miles.

I alternated walk/running for the mile back and I did experience some pain. Now sitting on the couch an hour later, my ankle is definitely sore. I don’t want to push it but I also really miss running. I want to be able to do Fleet Feet’s spring training again. I signed up for the Madeline Island Half as a way to redeem my first half experience. That is May 20th.

My goal is Feb. 1 to see how my ankle feels and know if it’s possible to sign up for the spring training. Trying really hard to be patient.

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Legs are revolting against running

Running and I are going through a tough time right now. Ever since my half, I’ve struggled so much. I don’t have that excitement or enjoyment in running right now. I did my first real run since the half this past Thursday. It was only 3 miles but my legs were tight, calves were sore, and my overall mentality sucked. I felt pretty discouraged after the run. Then today, I had my first summer training run. Another bad one.

Legs just don’t want to run. They felt like lead. At about a mile, I had to stop to stretch my left calf. It was so tight and sore. The full bladder didn’t help take my mind away from how uncomfortable I felt. Thankfully, we found port-a-potties about a mile later. That helped the comfort level a tad.

We were running one of my favorite — among many — Madison running routes: The Capitol Lake Loop around Lake Monona. It’s a super easy route but my legs did not want to be running, which lead to my mind feeling discouraged and longing for the happy running feeling. It never showed.

As we were about 2 miles from the end of our route, we saw lightning in the distance. Nothing makes you kick your butt in gear than seeing lightning — especially as you’re running around a lake.

This afternoon I stopped in Fleet Feet to get new shoes. I think a bit part of my leg pain is my shoes have about 300 miles on them. I was so grateful to Curtis who helped me find a new pair of shoes, rolled out my tight calves, showed me how to care for those issues, and most importantly reminded me that I am coming off of a half marathon. He told me I completed a big accomplishment and I should be proud. Then he told me it’s OK to take some time to recover — to not feel guilty about not running right now if my legs aren’t into it.

I also really appreciated him telling me how different that race was compared to our training. Almost every long run we did during training took place in 30 degree weather. Then on race day, my body had to run 13 miles in 70+ temps and humidity. And it was hard as hell.

I’m grateful for his pep talk. It was what I needed to hear right now. Running is HARD.

Running is a fickle b*&$%

Do you ever stop having self-doubt as a runner? Does that exist?

This morning, I logged into Dailymile to see what my mileage was for May. Forty-six miles. So with that, I decided four easy miles were the plan today so that I could have another 50 mile month. But then my legs and the dog had different plans.

My shins started acting up as did my right Achilles when we hit the first mile mark. My Achilles started to hurt at the end of the half last week, and now seems to be a thing. Seems like it’s probably a good time to get some new shoes; I’m probably close to 300 miles since I bought them last year.

I was going to push through it since I was only doing four miles, but then I looked down at my pup. She was HOT. It was hot and humid out and her tongue was showing me she was feeling it. I was worried that if she was this hot after only a mile, how was she going to do three more. That’s when I decided between my legs/Achilles and my girl, we should just walk the mile back. Sometimes, it’s just not time for a run.

But once I got back, I felt pretty disappointed in my legs. Why can’t they do more? Why do they have to get shin splints? Why isn’t running easy? How was I able to run 13 miles last week, and struggle to do 1 mile today?

Running is one fickle bitch and I can’t figure her out. Is this always the case, or will I eventually understand it?

My First Half Marathon!

13239374_10100941464097051_1407493874333160079_nYesterday I ran my first half marathon! I started this goal shortly after the new year. I did spin classes and running through the month of Jan and Feb. Then my Force Of Orange training program started Feb. 28th. It has been one hell of a journey — to be covered in another post.

I met Amanda, my running buddy, around 7. We talked around Lambeau for a bit, stretched and got ready for our race at 8. Our corral was the very last one. But we quickly realized we should have moved up a few corrals. Everyone in our corral was walking. They literally walked over the start line. It was weird.

The first 5 miles felt fantastic. I felt good with our cadence. I was enjoying the moment. I focused on drinking both Gatorade and water at the fluid stations. I didn’t want to repeat the overhydration/lack of salts that I experienced after the Lake Monona 20K.

I’d look down at my watch and be pleasantly surprised that another mile had passed. It was going great.

And then the wall came. Both Amanda and I struggled emotionally from miles 5-7. Mile 5 felt like the longest mile known to man. At mile 7.5, Amanda was hoping for some Guu but they ran out. She was quick to notice there were two Guus on one of the water tables, thankfully. I think that gave her a good second wind for the rest of the race.

I focused on eating a Shock Blok at miles 4 and 8. I’ve tried the Guus and I’m not a fan. I’ll stick with the gummies.

This was the point where it just felt so damn hot. We spent nearly the whole race on hot asphalt and after mile 8, we could really feel it. I was trying to only drink when I was thirsty but I was so hot that I was so thirsty. I ended up drinking at every fluid station – both Gatorade and water. I cut down on the amount near the end of the race because I could feel the fluid bogging me down. I did try to just chew on ice but that didn’t quench my thirst.

Mile 10 was a hill — a Green Bay hill not a Madison hill — and at the top was a nice family handing out little dixie cups of Heineke. I took it. It tasted amazing! It was cold and refreshing. And not water or lime Gatorade!

Then we got to mile 11 and I hit the struggle bus hard. All the fluid in my stomach plus the heat made me almost come to a halt. I had to walk so much of those last two miles. I was trying so hard not to puke.

Amanda tried her best to get me to run mile 12 — which I really really wanted to do. But as soon as we entered Lambeau, I started shaking and got that feeling in my throat where puke is imminent. Puking on Lambeau was the last thing I wanted to do. So we walked around the Lambeau Loop and I actually soaked in the atmosphere. I’ve done that loop a few times now but this is the first time that I just walked, looked around and lived in the moment. Also trying to keep from puking on the field. Although my Bears’ fan husband said that would have been OK.

We came out of Lambeau and all we had left to do was run up a slight incline — in the massive heat — straight to the finish. It was the longest finish of my life. This is where I thought for sure I was going to lose it. Thankfully, I held it together and ran across that finish line. I quickly found a mist machine next to a fence, rested my head on the fence and let the mist cool me down. I slowly started to feel better.

I was a bit disappointed that my last two miles — especially the last bit to the finish — ended the way they did. But today I am feeling proud. I actually ran 13 miles. I remember being amazed that people could do that and now I’m one of them.

I don’t think I would have done anything differently. I was cognizant of the fluid intake but I think it was just so hot.

Yesterday around mile 11, I thought to myself, “why did we do this? this is so stupid.” But today I’m finding myself on the runner’s high and looking forward to starting my summer training program. My only goal was to finish and that’s what I did. Now my new goal will be simply to do better at the next one: The Madison Mini.

I am so thankful for Amanda for keeping me going, stopping with me when I had to walk, and being a great running buddy. I’m also very grateful for all the volunteers, the people who came out to cheer us on, the funny and motivating signs, the bands, and the residents who put out their sprinklers and played music for us. It made it a great race.

Last “long” run before the half

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Post-run coffee is the best.

Today I headed out for 6 miles — my last long group run before Cellcom Green Bay. It’s weird to even call 6 miles a long run at this point. Just a month ago, I was so intimidated about running that distance, and now it feels like an easy out and back run. It’s weird how mentality changes during training.

I was not into running this morning. I slothed my way to the meeting point, and kept to myself during stretches. I was grateful when my running buddy, Amanda, showed up with her cheerful self. It took about the first 1.5 mile for me to stop looking at my watch wishing for the run to be over. I just wasn’t feeling it. Everything felt fine, I just wasn’t in a running mood.

But like always, once Amanda and I got to chatting and laughing, the run flew by. It was cold this morning but there was no wind and LOTS of sunshine. I’m so glad I forced myself to go to the run.

Now I feel like I’ve done all I can do at this point in my training. Only one more run on Wednesday before the big day. I’m starting to get really nervous — which is also making me nervous. I don’t want to syke myself out. I need to remember I’m light years ahead of where I was when this training program started at the end of February.

Bring on Cellcom!

Lake Monona 20K: Hills and Wind are Four Letter Words

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Never been so happy to see a finish line.

Saturday I ran my longest run — and race — ever: 12.4 miles. This was a hard race. Started with hills and wind that never seemed to end. How we ran INTO the wind the whole race is beyond me. Hills and Wind became four letter words.

I had moments where my legs felt good and I enjoyed the pace. Then I had moments where I was second guessing why I decided to do the run. I’m two weeks out from my first half marathon so this was to be a test race/run. Made me more nervous for my half.

I am proud I accomplished the huge goal of running 12 miles. I’m impressed my legs can do that. But at the same I’m quite frustrated with my pace time. I know I need to let it go, but I continue to remember my 11:30 pace pre-baby 2. I feel SO SLOW. It’s hard not to feel a bit demoralized when you see you’re one of the last few people to cross the finish. I know I need to let it go, but that’s easier said than done.

I should be proud that I did the race. That I ran around the whole “damn lake” as my running buddy so aptly called it. But I’m having a hard time doing that. Am I really that slow, or is Madison just that fast?

I’m going to focus on my training for the next two weeks and hope I feel a bit better mentally by the time Cellcom Green Bay arrives.

Other notes: I need to figure out how to replace salts during these long runs. I had a horrible headache and nausea Saturday night. I need to figure out something so I don’t experience that again. It was awful!

Running is such a mind game.