March 6, 2016: 12 weeks and counting

Training Log for 2/28 to 3/5 – 44+ miles

Why is it still cold??


  • Sunday: Pacer for Hot Chocolate 15k (9.3 miles)
  • Monday: 7 miles
  • Tuesday: 3 miles
  • Wednesday: 4.24 miles (5×800 plus warm up/cool down)
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: 7 miles – 3 miles at GMP
  • Saturday: 14 miles – with 4 short fartlek interval

I won’t lie – by the time I showered yesterday morning, after the 14 miles, I was totally spent. It was a tough week – I haven’t done speed work in months, and my legs/shins/ass sure felt it the rest of the week. I wish I could say something funny, or clever, or inspirational, but I’m just not feeling it this morning. Sometimes, to get to a goal, it’s just about getting the work done. And you don’t always have rainbows and unicorns flying out of your ass while you are staring down a big goal.


Running in 90+ weather and longing for the 20s. Be careful what you wish for!
I was looking at my “run selfies” from last summer, when I was training for Santa Rosa. How did I remember feeling during those workouts? Miserable. Hot. Slow. But when I look at those pictures now, as I emerge from a chilly winter season, I see them much differently. I look triumphant. I look tough. I look bad ass. But that’s how the memory works right? I’m freezing, so hot weather running seems wonderful. In a matter of weeks I’m sure I’ll be longing for freezing cold weather. Or…maybe not.

So to get through these mentally challenging, physically taxing weeks, to get the work done, I start doing countdown math. I’ll often do the same during a race, but for training the countdown is spread across weeks instead of miles:

I have a super-early (read sorta-long run) morning tomorrow. Seven more super-early Monday mornings until Mountains2Beach.

I’ve got a midweek hill workout. Four more hill workouts until Mountains2Beach.

I’ve got a long run at the end of the week. Six more runs of 16 miles or longer until Mountains2Beach.

You see, those numbers: Seven, Four, Six – they are much easier to stomach, right?

January 2, 2016: Trippin’

January 2, 2016 Training Log:

  • Type: Fast Finish Long Run (fast finish didn’t happen)
  • Miles: 10ish
  • Time: 1:41ish

What’s with the “ish?” Just past mile 9 of this morning’s run, we were crossing a street and I tripped and fell.

Okay, let me flesh out some details there; we did not cross the street at the intersection that I ALWAYS cross the street at. Why? My hubby, who I was running with, didn’t want to wait for the light. Since it was early and there were few cars on the road, he wanted to cross further up (like, as in jaywalking). So when the street was clear, we dashed across the street. And I tripped and fell.

I am a notorious tripper. I just am. It happens when I’m tired, or when I’m zoned out on music or a podcast, or when I’m otherwise distracted and not paying attention to the path below my feet. I’ve tripped on the tiniest pebbles. In fact, I have tripped on a crack in the sidewalk. Today, I think the very idea that we were jaywalking (my rule-following brain was short-circuiting from the idea) was such a distraction than when it was time to cross, seeing that there was no traffic anywhere, I decided that I needed to dash across the street as if my very life depended on it. And in my sloppy, tired (mile 9 of 10), partially-blinded-by-glaring-sunlight attempt to cross, I failed to consider the various lane markers and bumps that sat between me and the other side of the road. And just like that – SPLAT!

And then I totally freaked out. Splayed out face down on the ground, I rolled over and cried for help. I think it sounded like HELP ME UP – HELP ME UP – GET ME OUT OF THE STREET – WAH WAH WAH!! Something like that. Because that split second fall happened in slow motion for me, and it seemed like many minutes had already passed from the time I’d left the side of the road to the time I hit the ground; as a result, I was certain there must be a car approaching, ready to barrel over me!

Once at the side of the road, I sobbed like a baby for a minute – I was FREAKED out. My hand was throbbing; my knees were throbbing; my chest was throbbing. As I assessed the damage, I figured that the places on my body that were throbbing had actually landed on the lane markers when I fell. I figure I must have hit those lane markers – and the asphalt – at about 6-7mph. DAMN those hurt!

It was a shitty way to end an otherwise beautiful run. I posted a run selfie on Instagram from about mile 3 of the run. The sky was clear, the weather gorgeous, and I was feeling great and loving my run. I prefer to remember it that way, even as my body stings with pain hours later!

Are you a tripper?

January 1, 1016: Deconstructing dreams

I know, I know, it’s New Year’s Day, 2016. I should have a list of goals I want to accomplish. And in particular, running goals.

So far I have one: Qualify for the 2017 Boston Marathon.

I have been really struggling to find a new goal to work toward. Boston was last year’s goal, after all. And I did qualify. But I didn’t make the cut. So I’ll try again. And in trying again, the Boston goal has all sorts of mini goals, such as:

  • Strength train at least twice per week.
  • Eat a clean diet; cut down on alcohol, up the water intake.
  • Slim back down to 130lb; try to race at 128lb. (I ran the Wine and Dine Half Marathon and literally ate my way around Epcot for a week; I have yet to drop that weight.)
  • Get plenty of sleep.

But I haven’t gotten anything new. And I know why.

The real problem, (it’s nothing exciting), is that I find myself smack-dab in the middle of a bonafide mid-life crisis.

I know, right? Big deal. Everyone goes through it. Having just turned 48 years old, I probably should have gone through this a few years ago. But I was too busy. And now I’m in the middle of this big, fat, ugly crisis. It has manifested itself in the form of a metaphorical, 10,0000-piece Lego world. A world I constructed over the course of the last 40 some-odd years, one Lego brick at a time; a world that represents my dreams of the kind of contributions I wanted to make in this world.

In one part of that world, I constructed a dream where I was a writer – there was a fiction writer area, a journalist area, and even a technical writer area.

In another part of that world, I constructed a dream where I was an attorney – I built little areas where I brought justice to unjust situations.

And in another part of that world, I constructed a dream where I was a programmer – in this section of my masterpiece I wrote code that made people’s lives better.

And like any world, there were small corners scattered here and there, representing short-lived bursts of passion for this or that. Photography. Graphic Design. Academics. Even running.

Well I “woke up” recently, and I realized this world just isn’t going to happen. And I’m really okay with that. This is not a self-pity party, I promise. I can look back at my life and see where I made mistakes and bad decisions, didn’t properly prepare myself for opportunities, and at times simply ran into bad luck. And as a result of these things, I won’t be saving the world.

But that’s okay.

If my contribution to the universe consists solely of raising three healthy, happy, educated, compassionate, productive young men, being a loving and supportive wife, and being a kind and dependable friend (and citizen of the world), that will be a life well lived.

But in the meantime, I think I owe it to myself to give myself the space and time I need to deconstruct my old dreams, to carefully take my Lego masterpiece apart, and to put the pieces away.

So you see, surrounded by thousands of these bricks, it’s difficult to think about setting new goals. After all, these bricks represent goals and dreams that will not come to fruition.

But once each brick has been put away, I think it will be very important for me to hone in on a new goal. And without all of that mid-life crisis clutter and it’s accompanying emotions (and that would include ALL the emotions), I think I will be able to wrap my mind and heart around a new goal. Or two.

October 18, 2015: The New and Improved Boston 2017 Plan

I’ve decided to go for another, faster, BQ time. My target race? Mountains2Beach in May 2016. I’m also signing up for the Utah Valley Marathon in June 2016 as a back-up race, in case I want/need to take another stab. There are three weeks between the races, enough time to recover and still take advantage of the conditioning. I’m not up for two separate marathon training cycles.

On my run this morning I came up with this plan, and thought about the areas I’d like to work on before I begin formal marathon training next February.

Speed: Oh, man, oh, man. I need to get faster. My new goal time requires a pace of 8:35; my fastest marathon was run at an 8:50. Can I take 15 seconds per mile off my marathon pace? I would like to try. But I feel like I’ll need to train my brain as well as my legs; I think of 10:00 as a very relaxed pace, and 9:20 as my basic training pace. Anytime I see an “8” in my pace I freak out – like I must be going way too fast. Once upon a time I never would have imagined a 9:20 to be a comfortable pace but eventually I got there. I need to do the same with the “8” paces. I know how to do speedwork to get my legs there; I also want to get my mind there as well.

Strength/Cross Training: Yuck. I’m not a strength training fan. Or a cross training fan. I tried to do strength training while training for Santa Rosa but it left my legs sore for key running workouts, so I dropped it (since I hate them anyways it was easy to drop). But since I have 3-4 months before I begin marathon training again, it would be a good time to take that up again. I might even take a spin class.

Weight loss: This is big. I did drop about 5lbs for Santa Rosa – which came right back on after the race. I live at right about 135lbs (well, fluctuates from 132lbs to 136lbs). I’d like to run Mountains2Beach at 125lbs. Since I know losing weight during marathon training is nearly impossible, I’d like to use the next 3 months to drop the weight.

So that’s the beginnings of The Plan.

Have you ever tried to get faster for a marathon? What worked for you?

October 11, 2015: Missed it by this much…

38 seconds.

I missed the mark by 38 seconds. That mark being the cutoff for the 2016 Boston Marathon registration. Over the last 10 months I’ve run three BQ times – squeaker time, but BQ’s nonetheless. My fastest time put me 1:50 below the BQ time for my age and gender requirement of 3:55:00. I felt pretty good about that time – not great, but good. And like the thousands of others who sat back and watched the first week of Boston Marathon registration see a significant increase of faster registrants, as that first week ended my heart quickly sank with the realization that my time, most likely, would not be fast enough.  When week two registration began I went through the motions and even gave myself permission to feel good about that for a few minutes. But then I almost immediately began consoling myself on what I felt was inevitable; that my time would not be fast enough.

My biggest fear was that I would be off by just a few seconds; it would have driven me crazy thinking about the tiny things that I could have done to come in a second or two faster. It’s easy to find 1-2 seconds when you look back at a marathon.

Nothing left in the tank at the Santa Rosa Marathon
Nothing left in the tank at the Santa Rosa Marathon

But in the end I was a good 38 seconds below the mark. At Santa Rosa, where I clocked in my fastest time (3:53:10), I definitely did not have an extra 38 seconds in the tank. On paper I ran the race I trained for. I’d aimed all summer for 3:52; if you look at my Garmin you’ll see that I actually ran 26.35 miles in 3:53:10, which I take to mean that at the actual 26.2 mile mark according to my Garmin I was just under 3:52. In many ways it was a perfectly executed race. My goal was simply not fast enough.

The moment I realized I blew it
The moment I realized I blew it

On the other hand, I could look back at Mountains2Beach in May (3:53:36) where I fell apart over the last 2 miles; I overheated and had no water, and my pace crumbled. My overall pace for that race was 8:52; however the last two miles were run at 9:39 and 9:40. I can definitely find the BQ cushion that would have gotten me into next year’s race if I could have maintained just a 9:00 pace over those last two miles.

I'm off to find my inner wild...
I’m off to find my inner wild…

In the time that has lapsed since “The Rejection” (that’s what I’m calling it) I was, fortunately, distracted by another event, Ragnar Trail Vail Lake, which consumed my time, energy, thoughts and emotions for the week up to and during the event. And was I ever grateful for that distraction. After training for and running 3 fast marathons between June 2014 and August 2015, I was burnt out on marathon ANYTHING. Racing. Training. Conversations. Whatever.

But now that the dust from Ragnar has settled (literally), and as my sore legs slowly recover, my thoughts about running another marathon have returned. I realize, when I think about it, that I’m not done trying to make it to Boston. A couple of friends suggested that I wait until I age up (that window would begin after next year’s registration). My reaction? Fuck that! No way!

My first BQ - when I didn't even try.
My first BQ – when I didn’t even try.

No, I don’t want to do that to myself because it feels like, I don’t know, like a cop out. Qualifying at age 48-49 to run at age 50? I know, on paper it looks like the logical thing to do if my goal, above all, is to run Boston. But first, lets just assume that the BAA does not increase their qualifying standards for 2018, an assumption which, I feel, is questionable.

The fact is, I came so damn close this past year. If I am going to qualify, I want to qualify in my current age band, as difficult or impossible as it may be to do.

So that is the epiphany I woke up to over the last 48 hours. I’m going to rest for a few months, and then I’m getting back to work. And I’m not going to aim for 3:55, or 3:52. I’m aiming squarely for…wait for it…3:45.

I know, I know, that would be an 8 minute drop over my current fastest. That’s right.

However, knowing how I think about things, I cannot help but wonder if by focusing so hard on 3:52, I never gave myself a chance to run faster. On my training runs if I was supposed to run at an 8:50 pace, even if I felt good enough to run 8:45, I kept at 8:50. My brain sees a number on a training plan and it locks in. So now I’m going to lock in at something much more uncomfortable.

More details to follow…

August 7, 2015: Running Easy

I’ve been listening to some running podcasts and I keep hearing, over and over, this idea that my training intensity should be split into two categories: really easy, and really challenging. In fact, they recommend that 80% of mileage be run at an easy pace (super easy to carry on a conversation) and 20% of mileage should be at maximum intensity (in the form of intervals, hill repeats, and tempo runs). Above all, my training runs should avoid “The Black Hole” at all costs. They describe the black hole as “…an enjoyable, moderately taxing workout intensity that falls somewhere between a piece-of-cake recovery pace and a hellishly intense interval session. It’s vigorous but not aerobically painful—which is why so many athletes are sucked into its vortex.”

This describes probably 90% of my training mileage.

After a brief downpour, the sun broke through, and I ran…

Turns out I’ve been running in the Black Hole for years because it feeds me happy endorphins. Even today, during what was supposed to be an easy 10 mile run (10:30-11:00 pace) I threw in an 8:12 mile, just because it felt so good. I do this all the time; start out easy, warm up, go fast at the end – but never so fast that I’m breathing really hard. Yet at the same time, I’ve always wondered why my pace never seems to improve much.

So I’ve decided to re-think my training after the marathon and really try to stick with this 80/20 intensity training (so in a 30 mile week, only 6 miles would be at high intensity, the other 24 would be at low intensity). I may need to go with a heart monitor until I start to understand what a low intensity pace feels like. You would think that, after the many years of running I’ve accumulated I could just instinctively “feel” the intensity and adjust accordingly.  But for me it’s been years of going for an endorphin glow (which feels great). So I suspect this will be a tough habit to break.

August 4, 2015: Hold back