This means stopping there would be crazy, right?
Right? Really…that must be what it means….
Today I did 22 miles on The North Face course. I started at Algonkian but not at the actual start line…probably a mile in… and ran out 11 miles which got me almost to Great Falls. I didn’t take my phone out until the way back. I decided I wanted some music and that I would actually take a few pictures….ahem, a lot of pictures.
Overall the run was absolutely amazing. I crushed it. No matter what happens on race day I know it’s about the journey and today’s journey was great!
Here’s the course preview:
After the disastrous Week 2 I really needed a better week for Week 3 and I think that happened. I was finally able to get out and run on Monday. My office building was closed due to unplowed streets and parking lots so I got the day off. I was scheduled for 2 miles and I decided not to attempt to make up the 16 miles I had missed over the weekend. The roads were plowed near me but the conditions were still pretty bad and due to the extremely large piles of snow getting around corners was scary. My plan builds pretty quickly and I didn’t want to push myself to make up miles when I know it will never hurt that I missed those miles. AND – did I really miss them? Running miles missed but shoveling miles done!
So I headed out on my street and then headed towards the hospital. I’ve mentioned before that the hospital is cleared during storms and typically a safe place to run. I was surprised at how bad it actually turned out to be. The path for the ambulances was good but the rest was pretty messy. I did a loop but had to slow down in quite a few locations to jump over snow or run through icy sections. It was worse than I expected but this storm really was huge for us. I ended at 3.11 miles. So I did more than the 2 I needed but not so much to set me back for the rest of the week.
Tuesday I went back to work and was glad to be out of the house. I did 2 miles that night after work. I was scheduled for 4 miles on Thursday but had a dentist appointment after work. If the roads weren’t covered in snow I would have run in the dark when I got home but there was just no way to safely run. It’s pretty dicey during the day because of the piles so I couldn’t take a chance at night. No treadmill here and I just didn’t manage to get on the elliptical. Do you always leave the dentist with a headache? I do. My head was pounding and I just didn’t have it in me. I shouldn’t have skipped working out but it felt good at the time.
Since I do not think I’ll be seeing the trails for a while I had to find roads for my long runs this weekend. Kim invited me to run on Saturday. I’m sooooo glad that she did. I had 12 miles planned and she had mentioned that she would be up for 5 or 6. I decided to go early and run my extra miles ahead of time. There is a super secret road here where runners go when there is snow everywhere else. It’s normally plowed and about 1.5 miles long so it’s decent for going back and forth to get a long run done. It’s not really secret…it’s one of those worst kept secrets. Runners know about this spot. I ended up running 7 miles before Kim arrived and then I did some high knees to stay warm right before she showed up. It was wonderful to know that I only had to make it through the first two loops by myself. I then ran the extra mile to get to 7 because I had started a little too early. Once Kim joined me the run was so much better. No more lonely miles. Kim likes to do 3:1 intervals which was perfect. I like the structured walk breaks. I never do that on my own but it is a really good way to train. During the race I will be walking/hiking. I don’t think I will plan to do it based on set intervals. For trail running I’m not sure if structured intervals work as well. I will need to walk the hills. There is no point in even trying to run those hills. I will try to line up my walking with the hills and the aid stations and then run as much of the flat sections as I can. Anyway, I’m so glad that I was able to run with Kim. Looking forward to it helped me getting through the early miles and having her by my side helped me finish the rest of the run.
Today I decided to just run from my house and see where I could find roads clear enough. I was treated to a beautiful sunrise when I went out but I didn’t stop to take a photo. I’ll have to keep that as a memory. It was warmer today but there was still ice on the roads. I ran out of my neighborhood and through the hospital. I really didn’t feel like doing hospital laps so I tried another street. It was icier than I wanted and I kept having to slow down. A crazy thing happened….I said “morning” to a lady walking two dogs. She recognized me and yelled my name. I looked back and realized it was someone I had run with during summer DTP. I had no idea that she lives so close to me. I told her we should run together sometime since we are so close. Because of the ice I ended up heading back to my neighborhood. I came in with about 3.5 miles and I knew I would have to run every single road to get to 8 miles. So I did that. The main road is a high spot so I went down and then back up each street. So.many.hills. Towards the end it became really painful. I was walking bits of the hills. And I was struggling to just stay upright.
Back on my street I had to run past my house to get to 8 miles. I had so much trouble calculating how far I had to run to get to the correct distance. I was counting on my fingers to make sure I wasn’t messing up the math. I even talked through it out loud to make sure I was doing it correctly. Math while running is hard!
In fueling news….I’m trying new things and it’s going well so far. I’ve been doing Fig Newtons. 2 at time. I can easily fit 2 bags of 2 in my skirt pockets and still have room for other stuff. I had some Clif Shot Bloks that I got with a goodie bag of running stuff and I tried those yesterday. I think they were actually easier to take than GU and my stomach was ok. I think I need to alternate food and GU or shot bloks. Fig Newtons give calories but I think the other stuff has electrolytes that I need. I’m still just drinking water. I drink nuun for recovery but I haven’t tried it while running. (No one is paying me to mention these products….this is what I really use. I’m not trying to sell anything.)
So I would say Week 3 was way better than Week 2.
In a moment of complete craziness back in August, I signed up for The North Face Endurance Challenge Series DC 50k.
I didn’t want to give in to all the people asking when I will run a marathon so I decided to try an Ultra. A marathon actually sounded harder to me. This is just a play day in the woods. If all goes well and I make it to the start line I get to attempt to run from one park to another, do a loop there, and then run back. And hopefully I can do this in less than 9 hours and not get taken off the course. Given that the most I’ve ever run in one day is 15 miles, this is a big challenge.
Like any big challenge I’m starting with a plan.
Training officially starts today. I talked to some friends and coaches that have done these Ultra races and they recommended following a plan with back to back Saturday and Sunday long runs. I’ve been told that time on your feet is important along with the ability to run when you are tired. Saturday is the longer run of the two days followed up runs that start at 6 miles and later build to 10 miles on Sunday.
One thing that I wanted was to not run equal or greater than 26.2 miles in training. I want my first marathon to happen in the process of the race. I don’t know why….I’m weird. That’s just what I want and this plan maxes out at 24 miles in one day.
When I started thinking about this race, one of my friends (and a coach) promised to run with me and do the training with me. Unfortunately since then she has had to change that plan. That leaves me more alone than I ever expected to be. So far I’m doing a pretty good job of finding others to run with when I put the effort in. I’ve done two trail runs by myself and I’m gaining confidence that I will be ok out there all alone. And I might even enjoy it. I still think for longer runs I’m going to try to find people to run at least a portion of it with me.
When I think about the whole thing I feel overwhelmed. The big picture is a bit scary. When I think of one run, one mile, one step at a time I feel calmer. No matter how long the training run or race it can only be completed one step at a time. I’m trying not to look too far ahead but I’ve looked enough that I only have to do 6 training runs and 1 race that are longer than anything I’ve ever run. That’s not so bad, right? AND, I will be running slower and incorporating hiking. I will hike up the hills and gallop down. I will try to run as much as I can in between. I will enjoy the beauty and the silence of the trails and I will get to explore many new places along the way through this journey. No matter how this turns out, I’ve taken the first step and accepted the challenge. I’m going to fight my way through and try my hardest to make it to the finish line.
dead shoes! The last couple of weeks my legs have been hurting in weird ways. The sides of my feet were the first. It’s not uncommon for me to get calluses there but they were getting worse. I asked one of my coaches about my shoes and she said it was probably time to get new shoes. For whatever reason I didn’t take the new ones out of the box right away and instead ran in the old ones for about two more weeks. Bad idea! Never do this! If shoes are done, they are done! If you think they are done, they are probably done!
I’ve started to develop weird pain in my right calf and the top of my left foot is hurting. I’m not positive that this all relates to the shoes but I’m thinking the shoes are dead and aren’t helping at this point….they did have about 370 miles on them.
Last Thursday I tried to run wearing a different pair of shoes. They have low mileage but just haven’t been my favorite lately so I haven’t been rotating them in. My legs felt horrible….like I could not even run horrible. I took a short cut home and decided I had to get out my new shoes before Saturday’s long run. I typically don’t like to use a pair of shoes for the first time on a long run but they were the same model I had been wearing.
I took a walk Friday in the new shoes and they felt good. I was still in a lot of pain on Saturday morning but decided to just go with the new shoes. The pain in my calf was concentrated to one spot until I started running. Then the pain shifted around. This is a good sign. Moving pain is soreness, tightness, probably not a major injury.
I was really scared to stop running. I didn’t want to walk at all because I had so much trouble starting again on Thursday. I thought if I could just keep running I would be better off. My running buddies weren’t there so I ran by myself but decided to play it safe and only go out a short distance in case things went way downhill. I ran out 2.5 miles and turned around so that I was at 5 miles when I passed the coaches. I let them know that I was going to keep going. I ran out another 1.5 miles and turned back for a total of 8 miles. No walking, no stopping at intersections (I got really lucky with a lack of cars)! My legs were tight when I stopped and my foot was hurting. The outside of my left foot was horrible. It was starting to go numb but mostly just killing me. I ran through it because I was so concerned that if I stopped I would just be walking back.
I had a foot problem last summer (I think it was the other foot but I’m not positive). At one point I was convinced that my foot was broken and I took a week off. I started running again (through the pain) and one day stubbed my toes super hard on a raised section of sidewalk. I felt what I can only describe as white, hot pain. The world went blank for a second and then I had total relief. My foot was magically better. I must have knocked my bones around to the right place. I don’t know how to recreate this and I wouldn’t even consider trying but I’m hoping this foot issue clears up soon ….or else I will break down and see a doctor.
I should have given up on the shoes two weeks ago. I can’t be certain that this all would have been prevented but I know those shoes weren’t helping anything.
has started! Saturday was the kick-off meeting for the next round of the Distance Training Program (DTP) at Potomac River Running. We met at the store at 7 to meet the coaches and go over the program details. It was followed by an optional run. Since I was driving over there at the time I would normally run I decided to do the optional run. Unlike many others I was not racing this weekend.
The group of running buddies that I made during winter training were not there. I think one of them might be joining again but I know the others are not doing the summer/fall program. That’s ok though…it will give me an opportunity to meet new people. And there were plenty of other people that I knew from the winter program.
The coaches spent a bit time of talking about the details of the program and the “rules.” They also introduced themselves.
After the speeches were completed it was time to run. Since my regular running group wasn’t there I decided to just head out and see if I fell into a pace near someone. When I got out the door a lady came up to me and introduced herself. This was her first time doing the program and she was looking for someone to run with. It just happened to work out that we run around the same pace. Given how many people were there it was pretty amazing that it worked out that way.
We headed to the trail and started chatting. We started too fast as always but I quickly slowed her down. I know I have to run my pace. If someone else’s pace isn’t working for me I tell them I am slowing down and they can go ahead. She was ok with slowing down so we continued to run together for a while. We eventually caught up to another lady who was running pretty close to our pace. We introduced ourselves and became a group of 3. We were all chatting and getting to know each other.
Unfortunately it was extremely hot and humid and I just could not keep up. They wanted to do 4 miles which was ok with me even though I had initially intended to go further. When I got out there I was more than happy to turn around at 2 miles and I knew I could go back out at the end if I wanted to. Around 3 miles I needed to walk and told them to go ahead. I was overheated and fought my way through the last mile. I feel so out of shape. Two months ago I was coming off my goal races and I felt pretty good. Then I
slacked off took a much needed break, and now I need to build back up again. It will be a process but I know I can get my distance up again. With the summer weather I’m not sure what my speed will be like. I need time to adjust.
At the end I was just glad to be finished. I ended up walking back to the store with a guy that I recognized from the winter program. We chatted a little bit about our race goals.
One thing that I know I must focus on is my own goals. It feels like everyone else is training for a marathon while I’m only doing a half. I know that doing the half is what I want to do and I know that I could do a full if I wanted. I’m not any less of a runner than everyone else in the program just because I’m doing half the distance they are. I am running my full race distance and I want to focus on doing it well. I’m happy to be able to support the other runners in the program and I know they aren’t looking down on me for doing a half. We all run the distances that are right for us and we all support each other.
Sunday night I received the training plans…and it was totally overwhelming at first (as expected). I decided not to look too far ahead and to focus on getting through this week. I know I will have to ask for a modification to the plan for the end because my race is after the program ends but for now I can do quite a few weeks before changing anything.
Tomorrow is track night…and the workout looks hard but I’m ready for a challenge. I love running on the track so I’m going to go out there and do my best. Every running step I take is a step towards my next half marathon and about 5 races in between.
After completing some big races and taking a bit of a break it’s really time to move forward. I think it was over a week that I wasn’t signed up for any races….that’s just crazy! So I signed up for a few and I have a few more planned. You can see the entire list here.
I haven’t run a 5k since New Years Day so I thought it was time to work some short, fun races into my schedule. This first race is the Run with Dad 5k.
I think the last father’s day race I did was with my dad a few years ago. It’s time for another. I haven’t run this course before so I’m looking to it for that reason. It’s local and I don’t think it will be too big. Those are features that I love. No getting up at 4am! No fighting huge crowds.
After that will be Firecracker. I ran this race last year and did quite well. I’m hoping for another good race this year. I’m also hoping to see lots of friends at this race. It will be a bigger 5k but still relatively small and it’s also local. I’ve run the course multiple times. It’s used for a couple of different races throughout the year so I’m really familiar with it. I even convinced my buddy to come out of retirement for this one.
And then the big one….I did it ….I went half crazy and signed up for another trail half marathon. I’m doing the CCT Half Marathon. This race has the unique challenge of being on a Wednesday. I’m not quite sure how to prep for a Wednesday race. Hopefully the day before will be a light day at work.
I’m going to do a 10 miler….I think. I keep getting scared and not signing up but I’m holding a race pass so that I can sign up for it.
How am I going to train for these races and the others that will no doubt slide into my schedule? Well I’ve joined the distance training program again at Potomac River Running.
This means once a week group long runs and once a week track workouts. I enjoyed the Cherry Blossom training so I figured I would try this out again. I’m going to do a couple of things differently though. I’m going to keep racing throughout training. I focused heavily on training for Cherry Blossom and North Face and didn’t race at all. I think that was fine for the winter but there a bunch of summer and fall races that I enjoy and don’t want to miss to focus on just one race. I’m also planning to cut myself a break when necessary. I might miss a week or two due to vacations or short road trips. That’s ok. I’m not going to force myself to be “perfect.” I want this to be fun.
I plan to rely heavily on the coaches’ advice on how to get to my ultimate goals….the 10 miler and the half while still racing. I know I will need to make adjustments to the training plan and some weeks will involve shifting a long run or doing extra miles before or after a race.
I’m also going to work strength training into my schedule. Those heavily weights have been waiting for me to pick them up again and I’m going to do it!
On Saturday my buddy and I headed to Burke Lake for a run with the =PR= Trail Series. This was the second run of the spring series this year but the first that we were able to attend.
We thought the weather was supposed to be nice but it was actually misting a bit when we got there. Because it was warm it was ok with us but we decided to leave our phones in the car since neither of us brought bags to keep them dry. I wasn’t planning to make any calls while running anyway! But it also meant that I didn’t take any pictures.
The leader of the run gave a brief overview of the trail. It’s really simple – there is a lake and the trail goes around the lake. You keep the lake on the same side of you at all times and you do not get lost.
The group headed down to the trail and got started. My buddy ran with me for a while and then decided to go ahead because running faster is more comfortable for him. There was a couple in front of me running a nice pace so I started talking to them. They hadn’t done much trail running so I was giving some tips and information about places to go. They were running a bit faster than I wanted since I knew I needed to save energy for my race on Sunday so I let them go and slowed down to make sure I could conserve energy.
I decided to take it easy and just enjoy the trail. I really want to focus on having more fun while running and enjoying my surroundings so I did just that. I was passed….a lot…and at one point I thought I might be last but I honestly just didn’t care. And later found out that I wasn’t last and I was never lapped. Since I was doing the race on Sunday I had already decided to do only one lap. It’s just under 5 miles. I ended up taking a small short cut and getting off the trail a tiny bit sooner than the starting point but it was fine with me.
I went back to the group meeting spot and found my buddy talking to some friends. We hung out for a little bit chatting with some runners and grabbed a couple of snacks before heading out.
The run gave me so much energy. I spent the rest of the day doing work at the house including mowing the lawn, pulling weeds, washing the deck, cleaning up the garage, prepping food for mother’s day….the list just keeps going. I accomplished so much and was so glad to have started the day with a run. The weather improved throughout the day and it turned out to be nice and sunny.
I really enjoy these informal runs. I’m glad PR organizes these free events to get runners together and introduce them to trails. Through these events I’ve made some new friends and was encouraged to run the North Face race which has been one of the most fun races I’ve ever run. I overheard a couple of people complaining about the lack of organization and was sad to hear it. First of all, it was organized. Meet at this time and follow the trail around the lake. How much more organization do you need? And second of all, trail runners are laid back. This was not a race….it was a free run! Where they provided refreshments. This seems generous to me. I’m going to be grateful for this instead of complaining. I’m looking forward to doing the next two runs in the series and luckily those do not fall on weekends that I’m planning to race so I should feel comfortable running a bit harder.
There are so many thoughts swirling around in my head right now and I’m trying to just let everything go. Cherry Blossom wasn’t the dream that I was hoping for….but it was a good race. I was slower than I wanted but I did ok and I kept moving forward….and I crossed the finish line.
We got up early….no, make that super early. The first alarm went off at 4:01 am and the other two quickly followed. Yes, I set three alarms. I did not want to miss this race. For some reason I moved really slowly getting ready. Everything was out but I wanted to double check things and I just could not move. I finally got my stuff together and we got out the door a couple of minutes later than I hoped. It was ok though because at the last minute I made plans to meet people downtown instead of at the metro. We got to the metro in plenty of time but missed the first train ….that’s ok because I was aiming for the second train and we made that one. My poor buddy slept on the train…he was not happy about getting up so early.
It was still dark when we got downtown. We left the station and headed over to the group meeting point.
Of course no one was there and it was chilly. So I suggested we go back to the station and wait there. I exchanged texts with one running buddy and let him know where we were. While waiting for him the group from the Reston PR training arrived at the station so we all ended up together. We head back to the race staging area. 3 of us decided to try to run together so we stayed together and then headed to the corrals. While we were hanging out we heard an announcement about an accident that was causing a change to the course. The course would be shorted by about half a mile. We would all get PRs!
The course adjustment caused some stress for my buddy because we were pretty sure it was going to impact his spectating spot. I told him good luck and that I hoped to see him but in the back of my mind it stressed me out. He headed off because he knew he had to cross the course before the elites got there. I knew he had time but he was worried.
One picture of me before the race in my throwaway fleece. There is a story behind the fleece but you have to ask me in person. Just can’t share it with the world.
I hung out in the corral with two of the men from my training group. We planned to try to run together and to run with a pacer. I dumped my throwaway fleece after the race started and as we started walking to the actual start line. I was super nervous but felt better once we started running. I tried to stick with the pacer. It was tough because she was speeding up and slowing down to find the right pace and fight the crowds.
There were soooooo many people. It was crazy. We were fighting to get around people and it was very hard as a group. The pacer yelled at people to let them know we were coming through but most didn’t care and I can understand. If I was running alone I would have kindly told them to find a way around. We made our way across the Memorial Bridge and I realized I was spending too much time looking at the pacer’s back and not enough time enjoying the course. I tried to look around.
Around mile 4 there was a water stop and I really wanted water. BIG mistake. I got caught in a huge mess, only got a tiny amount of water, and then got stuck behind a wall of people that weren’t moving around a turn around. In my opinion the water stop was way too close to the turn around and the flow was bad.
One of the men from my training group stuck with me and had an eye on the pacer. I looked at him and said “just go. I can’t close that gap.” It was going to be too much weaving and I was already starting to burn up.
I knew I was headed to the altered section of the course and I was hoping my buddy found a way to see me. He was supposed to be on the right but I knew because of the change if he was there he was going to be on the left. Thankfully he had adjusted and I found him. And let me just tell you…that’s amazing! Not that he adjusted but that I was able to see him. There were so many people all around but luckily I could pick him out.
After seeing him I started to really struggle. I was headed into the long Hains Point section. I was hot, tired, and my foot was starting to hurt. I started to alternate walking and running. Eventually I realized that my pace was slowing and that I should try to enjoy the scenery and not kill myself. I knew I had another big race coming up and it might be worth it to save a little bit for that. No point in getting hurt. I was going to PR anyway because of the weird course change.
I took my time and looked around at the people and the cherry blossoms. I finally made the turn at the point and saw the famous Oreo and beer guy but I didn’t stop for either one. I kept fighting my way through the course and getting water whenever I could. As I was making my way towards the end I heard someone call my name and turned around to see one of the women I had been training with. She had started behind us because of issues with meeting in the morning….but she was running fast. I was dying but she was feeling great and she pulled me along. We saw my buddy again and I was so excited to tell him how she had caught me.
We fought out way up the last little hill and then down to the finish line. I was so happy to see her. She really helped me finish strong. And what are the chances…..among 15,000 people….she found me. She recognized my skirt!
We walked through the finishing chute and I was desperate to find water. It took way too long to get some. Too many people and it was too far away. We then fought out way to the “food.” I use the term food loosely because the fast runners had eaten all the food and only left a few bananas for the rest of us. I hate this. It happens too often. I wish the fast people would think about how long the rest of us are running. And how nice we were to stay in the back out of their way so they could run fast. Anyway, enough about it, but it really bothers me.
I went to the medal tent to pick up my beautiful medal and somehow my buddy ended up right behind me….in a crowd of 15 million people he found me…that’s amazing! I’m so glad I saw him two times on the course as planned.
I then headed to the PR meetup spot….to find no one….after exchanging some texts I found out there was a tent and headed there to meet others from my training group.
I saw my favorite coach, Kim! She is an inspiration and I can’t wait to train with her this summer. She is going for the big one – 26.2!!! I’ll be training for “just” another 10 miler ….and most likely another half marathon.
So overall, I learned that I must carry my own water because trying to fight the crowds to get it did not work out well and really slowed me down, but it was fun. I enjoyed parts of the course and I ran a new distance….9.39 miles officially. So it’s a PR….sort of, if you want to look at it that way.
And I learned (again) that I really like smaller races. While it’s fun to run with so many people once in a while it’s much more fun to run with less elbows flying in my face and less people stepping on my toes.