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All Life Training

XC, Maui, and Modeling

January has been all about strength building, prepping for a national-caliber cross country meet, and landing my first gig as a runner model!

 

After enjoying some time off during the holidays, I got straight to work at the beginning of the year. I decided to sign up for the USATF National XC Championship taking place in Boulder, Colorado on February 7th. It will be extremely competitive and I may be a bit out of my league, but it will be a good racing experience to learn from. My coach built a training plan for me leading up to the race, and as he’s also planning to compete in Boulder, we’ve been meeting up on Fridays for various hill workouts in McMinnville, Oregon. McMinnville has some pretty incredible scenery. Our first workout took place in a cemetery with a sweeping view of Mt. Hood at sunrise, with fog rising over the surrounding grassy hills. The second workout took place in Miller Woods, surrounded by dense and dark trees with every footstep seemingly muted on the dirt trails covered in pine needles.

I spent this past week in Maui on vacation, and little did I know what a valuable training experience it would turn out to be. With the combination of the humidity and hilly terrain I was unaccustomed to, I was huffing and puffing through almost every single run. I had two fartlek (speed play) workouts scheduled during my time there, and “half marathon effort” and “5K effort” took on whole new meanings. Sometimes those efforts would mean 8:30/mile on an uphill and 5:45/mile on a downhill. My actual splits became meaningless, but I did my best to keep my efforts honest.

The only “flat” run I did during my time in Maui was at the Maui Oceanfront Half Marathon, an out-and-back course on a coastal highway. I had been planning to run 12 miles for my long run that week, but when I found out there was a half marathon happening that weekend, I decided it would be way more fun to add another 1.1 miles to my run with the benefit of having people to run with and water stations along the course. While I went into the race with the mindset of running for fun, I couldn’t help but scope out the competition and wonder who I could keep up with. As soon as the race started, some runners took off right away, including a woman that I saw for maybe all of three seconds, seemingly sprinting into the pre-dawn darkness. She went on to win in a blistering 1:18:41- that’s just a hair over six minutes per mile! I found a good group to run with, but noticed my breathing was becoming quite labored in only the first two miles. I let them go and trailed behind a bit, opening up a gap of about 20 seconds. I didn’t like the seeing the figures ahead of me get smaller and smaller, and I really didn’t like it when I got passed by two runners during that time. As I continued to run, my breathing wasn’t getting any more labored, and my legs, despite being quite sore from all of the hills that week, weren’t feeling more tired than they already were going into the race. I decided that I was better than where I was at and threw in a little surge to catch back up to the group over the next two miles. I began to pass runners one by one and eventually settled into a pace I felt I could maintain, finding that sweet spot between gliding and red-lining. I finished the race feeling strong and ended up placing 2nd overall female with a time of 1:29:32. I felt great about it. Just one or two years ago, that would have been an all-out race effort. This time, it was a training run in January!

Also this month, I got an unexpected invitation from Sarah “Mac” Robinson to come up to Seattle to model Oiselle’s Spring 2015 collection! I was more than thrilled, and of course said yes. I don’t have modeling experience, but Sarah explained that Oiselle hires their athletes as models as often as possible because they have that “healthy, strong, runner look.” How cool is that? I ended up spending a day in Seattle in the studio with the fantastic crew from Oiselle HQ, modeling the new looks and having an absolute blast. Some of the photos have appeared in the new arrivals section on Oiselle’s online shop, with many more to come!

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All Training

Need for Speed in Nebraska

It was a perfect, sunny day in Omaha, NE. From my starting point at the Hilton Hotel, I laced up my bright cobalt running shoes and reveled in the fact that I had an entire afternoon to run wherever I wanted for as long as I pleased.

In the past two weeks I had logged 135 miles of running and played in ten rock concerts in ten different states and one Canadian province. Two days before, I completed my longest ever training run of 24 miles on the lake shore path of Chicago. I had been feeling good to a point, but I could feel my body beginning to revolt. My recent easy runs had been slower than usual by 10-20 seconds per mile. In the previously mentioned long run, I felt ready to stop at mile ten. Eight hours of sleep per night was no longer enough.

As I set out to run around the city, I told myself that I wouldn’t look at my watch, I wouldn’t worry about pace, and I wouldn’t even worry about where I went. It would be a run purely for the joy of running. I explored downtown, ran along a river canal, and looped around a pond. The sky was clear, the temperature was right around 50º Fahrenheit, and I had all the time in the world.

While I was enjoying running for the bliss and fun, I couldn’t help but think how perfect the weather would be for a speed workout. I had planned on waiting another day or two to give my legs a break, but it seemed silly to not take advantage of the day and the weather.

The workout was 8 x 1K repeats @ 10K pace with a 400m jog between each. Since the units of measurement on my watch aren’t set to the metric system and I couldn’t find an open track, I decided to do 0.6 miles on; 0.25 mile off. I found a long enough stretch of bike path by the Missouri RIver to run the intervals back and forth on. My goal pace would be 3:44.6.

The first rep flew by in 3:42.9. It felt effortless.

I turned to face the other direction for the second rep and got smacked by a blast of wind. So THAT’S why the first rep felt so easy… I had 12mph wind to my back the whole time! The next rep was head-on into the wind. It did not feel effortless. 3:44.9.

Third rep, 3:42.5. Right on.

Fourth rep, I battled with the wind again, finishing in 3:45.7.  I began to feel sorry for myself for having to face such windy conditions, and told myself it was okay that I missed my goal and that if things kept going that way, I could still easily average out in the end to my goal pace.

Fifth rep, 3:43.5. My slowest wind-aided effort yet. Was I really already slowing down? It was then that I told myself to snap out of it. Wind or no wind, 6:13 for six tenths of a mile should not feel hard. 6:13 is the pace required for a woman to run an entire marathon in order to qualify for the US Olympic Trials. I also thought that if this was the hardest part of my day, I have a really freaking good life. Perspective is everything.

I snapped out of whatever funk I was in, took a deep breath, and ran directly into the wind with my fastest split yet- 3:39.9. Take that, wind! You don’t own me!

7th (wind-aided) rep, 3:39.8. Easy peasy. I thought of how amazing and wonderful it would be to run an entire marathon at that pace. 6:06 per mile. That’s a 2:40 marathon. Some day?

8th and final split, with what I swear were the strongest wind gusts yet and yet nothing for me to lose. I pumped my arms and focused on taking short, choppy strides and light steps. Wind? What wind? 3:37.7.

Running for fun is great and all, but this little impromptu challenge came at a perfect time. I may be a little tired, but I feel confident in my fitness. My taper for the Philly Marathon has started. My legs are awake and ready for what’s to come.

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All Training

Adaptation

There’s something different about my current training regime for the Philadelphia Marathon. I feel like a marathoner. Every marathon I’ve run in the past I either signed up for on a whim, or trained for while working through an injury just to make it to the starting line in one piece. This time, I’m not rushing. I’m not hurt.

I’ve always thought of marathon training to be this long, grueling process. In fact, the past few months have been a natural progression, all thanks to a new coach I started working with. A little more mileage here. A little bit faster there. Recover. One step at a time.

When the mileage crept past 55 miles per week about a month ago, I could feel my body undergoing some kind of change. I had some major hunger attacks and emotional moments. It’s like my system was resisting what I was demanding of it. But somehow, just since last week or so (my peak mileage week), I feel that finally, I am adapting. My appetite has evened out. My clothes fit just a little bit looser. My muscles look a little more defined. Running 22+ miles feels doable. A mid-week 14 miler is a breeze. I know exactly what my goal marathon pace, 6:50 minute miles, feels like.

I feel more prepared than I ever have been for a marathon. It’s evident in the training and it’s evident in how I feel. I have my longest run yet in this training cycle coming up on Sunday, November 1st, then it’s just 22 days of tapering and fine tuning. Philly. I am ready for you.