It’s been a while…

I haven’t written a post in quite a while. There has been plenty going on worth writing about, but I have been happy to just embrace the experiences for myself instead of rehashing each and every one in its own blog post. Now that the year is (WAY too quickly) winding down, I felt like catching up the blog would be fun. So here’s what I’ve been up to during the summer and fall:

I tried some new things in the running/racing department through the summer. Coming out of training for the Wrightsville Beach Marathon, I was surprised to find that I wasn’t remotely sick of running. But I knew my mind and body needed a break from strenuous training. So I ran a few races for fun including my first trail race (a 7k in 37:35), a local half marathon (1:44:39) my first 8k (36:54), and a 5k (25:07). I learned that I am certainly not as strong at short distances as I am at half marathons and marathons. The 8k and 5k were both in some pretty ridiculously hot temperatures. But even if the temperatures had been ideal I doubt the results would have been impressive. The feeling of trying to sustain faster paces for a shorter race proved to be pretty foreign to my body and I could never maintain my pace in the later miles.

'Please just kill me now...'

‘Please just kill me now…’

I ran a new half marathon PR. Several of my Bull City Track Club teammates were traveling to race the Lehigh Valley Marathon in Pennsylvania in September. I jumped at the chance to make the trip with them and race the half marathon, knowing that an early fall race would be my best chance to train for a good performance since the later fall months were booked solid with wedding and honeymoon plans. I ended up running a really solid race. I perfectly executed negative splits, starting around a 7:37 average pace at mile 1 and ticking down to 7:25 average pace by the time I reached the finish line (my last mile was 6:51, which surprised the hell out of me). The end result was a shiny new half marathon PR of 1:37:11 and I couldn’t have been happier.

A new PR and third in my age group. And beer, of course.

A new PR and third in my age group. And beer, of course.

I was accepted into the Boston Marathon! No explanation is really necessary except to say that, after over two years of very hard work, it felt so incredible to get that acceptance email.

 

I helped pace somebody for the first time. Last week I ran the Richmond Half Marathon alongside my friend Amelia. It was her second half marathon and she was hoping to improve her time from last year of 1:46:30 to somewhere around 1:45. I had a great time running with her and even felt like I was a helpful motivator at a few points along the way. We crossed the finish line together in 1:43:12 – an incredible new PR for Amelia!

 

Most exciting and hands down most importantly… On October 24th, a perfectly beautiful day in Wilmington, NC, Jeremy and I got married! Part of me wants to go into great detail about each and every part of that weekend, but every single time I try to do that the words that come out don’t seem to adequately capture our happiness and gratitude. The best I can do is say that we couldn’t have asked for a better weekend celebrating with all of our friends and family. The ceremony and reception were fun, stress free, and fit us completely perfectly. At the end of it all, we both agreed that we felt at peace, like everything was exactly how it should be now that we were officially husband and wife.

Announcement

Reception

We topped off a great wedding weekend with 8 days of complete relaxation in Jamaica. We enjoyed plenty of quality time together unplugged from email and social media, ate all the food, drank all the adult beverages, and simply enjoyed the view.

Jamaica

The view from our room. I definitely still miss it.

It’s good to be back on the blog after an extended hiatus. Now that I’m somewhat caught up, maybe I can do a better job of making this into a regular thing again!

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Fall race season fun

I’ve been pretty negligent blog-wise over the past few months. It’s a good thing I’ve been doing the occasional race update here and there or else I may have dropped off the map completely.

I’ve been doing some real important things like working, wedding planning, and training. And even more unimportant things like watching too many episodes of Revenge and Breaking Bad and getting completely sucked into Gone Girl. I’m very close to finishing the book so if you’ve read it or seen the movie and are dying to comment about the ending just keep it to yourself until tomorrow, I beg of you.

Somewhere in there, the fall race season crept up on me. I’m running the Bull City Race Fest half marathon on Sunday which should be a good time. I got a free entry for volunteering last year so it was an easy choice to give this race a try. There’s also a food truck rodeo at the post-race party so I would probably have shown up even if I wasn’t running just to eat all the food.

Bull City Race Fest

I’ve heard it’s a pretty hilly course which I’m not REALLY worried about but I’m not NOT worried about. I’ve been doing some hill workouts this training cycle which is beyond shocking for me. You see, usually my game plan is to deliberately hunt down and sign up for races that have no hills instead of attempting to train myself to run up them with any sort of skill.

I also signed up for the Richmond half marathon recently, which is November 15th. I loved the Richmond marathon, so I thought it would be nice to run the half and be able to enjoy the race from start to finish instead of spending a couple of miles in between cursing the sport of running and my poor, aching legs.

AnthemRichmondMarathonLogo

I have no idea how these races are going to turn out. I have progressively felt mentally stronger after spending the last months of summer feeling less than stellar about my training. But I am not so sure where I am physically or how it will translate on race day.

I would love to get close to 1:40 in either one of my fall half marathons, but I won’t be crushed if it doesn’t happen.

How about you fine people: What races are you running this fall? Or, if you think running is just for crazy people (and you’re right), what is something else big you have planned this fall?

Making a come back is hard

Running back to back marathon training seasons in fall 2013 and spring 2014 took a toll on me. I don’t regret that it did because both of those races are memories I wouldn’t give up. Since running the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in April on a whim, the longest I have run is 6 miles. And most runs I’ve called it a day at 3 or 4.

I’m certain all of that is a good thing. I’ve repaired damage and regained strength in my right IT Band, piriformis, and hips after pushing them a bit too hard. I’ve done a lot of strength training and discovered I like spin classes (even though I hate bikes… who knew). I’ve also lived my life, enjoyed my summer, drank a lot of delicious IPAs, and ate a lot.

Taking off-seasons from running or any kind of intense fitness training is correct (even the professionals do it). It’s healthy.

But that doesn’t change the fact that making a comeback is hard.

Over the past several weeks I have been easing back into regular training – running four days a week, a weekend long run, etc. I have loved running regularly again and having a plan and some races to work towards. What I haven’t loved is how hard running feels… at least compared to how it felt 6 months ago.

6 months ago, I could do this…

Run

Now, it seems like a mid-week three mile run can totally wear me down. My legs feel heavy and my breathing feels less controlled. The whole process of running is not nearly as effortless as it was months ago.

Dog Meme

It’s been hard not to be disappointed when I see my paces or when I have to stop and walk mid-run. But I am trying to keep these positive thoughts in the front of my brain:

1. Trust the process. I can’t stay in peak marathon shape all the months of the year for as long as I continue running. If I did that, I wouldn’t be running very long because I would burn out or end up injured. There are cycles to training and therefore there are inevitably going to be points in the cycle where I need to go through the struggle to rebuild fitness.

2. Just because I’m not running my best now, doesn’t mean I will never run my best again. I was hitting PR’s less than six months ago. There’s no reason I can’t get back to that level, and even surpass it.

3. The heat has an added impact on my abilities. As long as temperatures and humidity are high, paces may be slower and running may be more difficult. But that’s normal.

4. The only pressure on me to perform as a runner is the pressure that I put on myself. I’m always going to have goals that I want to achieve in running but, when all is said and done, I am never going to be disappointed with my outcomes in the sport if I can tell myself that I gave it my best effort.

5. Whenever I’m feeling grouchy about my performance, I like to think back to when I first started running and it always makes me feel awesome about how far I’ve come. Am I really that annoyed that I can’t run 10 miles at a under 9 minutes per mile right now? Didn’t running 10 miles, no matter what the pace, used to feel like the unattainable holy grail of distance running to me?

Have you ever struggled to regain fitness after taking some time off? What are the positive thoughts that help you when training isn’t going as planned?

Getting serious

I guess with the half marathon being less than three weeks away and the training I have put in up to this point, I can’t really say I wasn’t serious about it. But you can’t call yourself truly serious about a race if you haven’t even registered yet, can you? Well, now I have finally forked over the cash and officially registered for the half marathon. Even more serious is the fact that I also registered for what will hopefully be my second successful marathon in November. Price increases can be extremely motivating. I may put off signing up for a race for months and months, but if I can save 15 bucks you better believe I will go ahead and register.

Entering my payment information for the marathon was both exciting and unnerving at the same time. The days of training for my first marathon seem to be a distant memory now. However, I do have a really vivid memory of finishing my first 20 mile training run ever, then eating an entire 12 inch pizza by myself and still being hungry. Best. Pizza. Ever.

I’m feeling good about these races overall, though. I feel like I have become a faster and more intelligent runner in the past several months. As long as I can stay injury free, I have pretty high hopes for this year.

Speaking of staying injury free AND being a serious runner, I bought myself my first foam roller last week! I understand it is probably weird that I had not already invested in this contraption at some point in the past three years. Honestly, I wish I had. Because I am in love with my foam roller. Seriously. No one has ever been quite as enthusiastic about a chunk of high density styrofoam as I am right now.