Running in Santa Barbara and the Vernonia Half Marathon!

Today was the Vernonia Half Marathon, the race I have been training for over the last 10 weeks!  After such a magnificent run last weekend in Santa Barbara, CA, I was skeptical about experiencing an equally beautiful course this weekend, but Vernonia, OR did not disappoint.

My training for this run was better than my previous runs.  I was consistent, mixed in a lot of cross training with p90x and Insanity, and didn’t let school, work, or the rain become an excuse to slack off.  I also learned to recognize progress and not allow my perfectionism to get in the way of appreciating my hard working body.

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101N, driving to my grandparents’ house

Breakfast at Grandma and Papa's

Breakfast at Grandma and Papa’s

As mentioned above, I got the opportunity to sneak in a training run in Santa Barbara while visiting my family there, and it really made me fall in love with running all over again.  After 9 weeks of running about 4 times/week, it was starting to feel like a bit of a chore and some days, I wasn’t running simply because I wanted to.  Do you ever feel like being tied to a schedule makes activities just a part of your ever-growing to-do list?  That is what happened during training this time around.  The run in Santa Barbara, however, gave me sweeping views of the ocean and mountains, a calm quiet atmosphere with the soothing sound of the ocean, and an adventure through the town where I met the love of my life.  Nick and I met while attending college at UCSB and revisiting it with him is always filled with nostalgia.  After the run, we did some push ups on the grass and got smoothies at a local favorite, Blenders in the Grass.  The rest of the day was spent with my grandparents, mom and cousin.  It was a centering and rejuvenating weekend, for sure.

A laid back run with lots of time to take pictures

A laid back run with lots of time to take pictures

Always being silly.

Always being silly.

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The Vernonia Half Marathon did not have incredible views of the Pacific Ocean, but it provided a beautiful run along a paved path surrounded by green mossy trees and a lake.  Unfortunately, I did not get many pictures of the course because I was concentrated on knocking out my best time for 13.1 miles!

On the bus from the parking area to the starting line.  When was the last time you were on a school bus?!?

On the bus from the parking area to the starting line. When was the last time you were on a school bus?!?

I had set out to complete this half marathon in 2 hours or less and after the first 9 miles, Nick and I were definitely on track to do just that.  However, a short time after passing mile marker

Walking to the starting line.

Walking to the starting line.

9, I was painfully reminded that I had obtained some pretty gnarly blisters last weekend while running in Santa Barbara and I had forgotten to put mole skin on those spots for this run.  For some reason, I got blisters on the insole of each foot last weekend and, because they had healed quickly last week, I completely forgot about them!  Although I had forgotten, my feet definitely did not and at the crucial part in the race, my insoles were on fire and each step was becoming increasingly painful.  As usual for me, when one thing goes wrong I immediately start thinking the entire project is ruined and my mind went into self-doubting, quitter mode.  The last 4 miles were a brutal combination of growing blisters and Debbie Downer thoughts, until Nick patiently walked with me, listened to my frustrations, and said, “This is just for fun and you are doing amazing.”  He also reminded me not to push so hard that I can’t do another run and I started to feel better although I could feel the minutes ticking closer and closer to that 2 hour mark I had set for myself.

Super gross foot picture!  It hurts a heck of a lot worse than it looks.

Super gross foot picture! It hurts a heck of a lot worse than it looks.

We ended up finishing in 2 hours and 11 minutes, which is by far the fastest I have run 13.1 miles.  I completed the Columbia River Gorge Half Marathon in October 2012 in 2 hours and 24 minutes, and although this course was a lot less hilly, I am still so proud of those 13 minutes I shaved off my time!  Looking at my splits, I am also stoked about how the race started out and am ok with the abrupt slow-down at the end given the pain I was in.  This was “just for fun” and I continue to learn things about long distance running to apply next time!

After the race, we met up with some friends who just completed a two day bicycling excursion for some beers (none for me, I had work this afternoon/evening!) and ridiculously huge burritos!  I am now hobbling around work with bandaged blisters and a tight IT band, but am feeling accomplished and looking forward to my next fitness adventure: p90x 2!  …and maybe another race 🙂

Refueling to the extreme.

Refueling to the extreme.

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Appreciating Progress

Dave's Killer Bread Good Seed Bagel, cream cheese, capers, smoked salmon and lemon pepper.

Dave’s Killer Bread Good Seed Bagel, cream cheese, capers, smoked salmon and lemon pepper.

I woke up Sunday morning amped about my long run in my half marathon training schedule.  My training schedule called for 12 miles, which is the longest run until the race.  I have reached week 7 of my 10 week schedule and in the next few weeks leading up to the race, my runs are a bit shorter.  Because Sunday’s run would’ve been the closest distance I will run to 13.1 before the big day, it was my opportunity to test out my pre-run meals, clothing, chews or gels, and gauge where I am in my timing.  So with great anticipation, I prepped delicious oats and half a bagel with cream cheese and smoked salmon, picked a good Slacker Radio Station on my phone (lately, my running mix has been courtesy of the Of Monsters and Men Slacker station), and headed out for my half marathon test run.

Mile 1 went by with ease in 8 minutes and 49 seconds.

Mile 2 was similar.

Mile 3 slowed down a bit to 9 minutes 37 seconds.

Then things got ugly.  My legs felt like lead and my ab workout from Saturday left my core, especially my hip flexors, too fatigued to traverse the hilly neighborhoods I had chosen.  By Mile 6 I was at a 10 minute 15 second pace and negative thoughts about my ability to even finish a race started to creep in.  By the time I got to 10.5 miles, I was walking frequently and my mind and legs were on fire.  I was worried if I continued to push with poor form I would injure myself and that would really put a wrench in training.210

I finished the run at 10.8 miles and an hour and 50 minutes.  I felt defeated and frustrated about my time and my inability to finish.  I was angry and immediately began to go through all the ways I may have messed up in the last 7 weeks.  After the anger and frustration subsided, I realized mentally beating myself up was not going to help me improve my running or prepare for this race.  What would help, however, was reflecting on things I might do differently before a long run.

  1. Sleep: I worked until 3am that morning, and although I slept for 8 hours, it was still not my normal sleep schedule.  My work schedule has really been throwing me off, leaving me exhausted during my work week and I can definitely feel a difference in my natural energy level on the nights that I can go to bed at a more reasonable time (10pm).  The few days and night before the half marathon, I will not be working so I can get sleep at the times that feel most natural to my body.
  2. Exercise:  I missed a 4 mile run on Friday of that week, so I moved it to Saturday and decided to do sprints during those 4 miles.  I also did p90x Ab Ripper X prior to that run.  When I woke up Sunday, I had the usual soreness in my core from doing those workouts.  This soreness, however, was just enough to make my muscles fatigued quickly and I learned my lesson in taking rest days before a long run.  The day before the half marathon, I certainly will not be doing any strenuous exercise.
  3. Inner Peace: When I started to slow down on Sunday, my mind immediately filled with thoughts of self-doubt.  I thought about how “unprepared” I was and I recounted all the miles I might have missed in the last 7 weeks and which muscle groups I should have been strength training.  I truly believe these thoughts made me quit long before my legs were ready.  It wasn’t until I was home and stretching that I was able to think about the multitude of positive changes I have seen in my body and my fitness.  I realized that taking time to appreciate how far I have come already will be the most important thing I do as I finish training and run that race in 3 weeks.

IMG_3626When I started to take stock of all the progress I have made, I remembered that just one week prior, I had completed the Portland Shamrock 15k (9.3 miles) SIX MINUTES and 18 SECONDS faster than I did in 2012.  That is a huge improvement!  Also, I was upset about not finishing 1.2 miles on Sunday after already running 10.8.  When I put things into perspective, I felt a little ridiculous about being such a downer on myself, and started to appreciate the hard work I have been putting in to my fitness and health.  This appreciation led to a new confidence in my ability to not only complete this upcoming race, but dominate it!

Don’t forget to appreciate your accomplishments, no matter how big or small, and continue to look forward to just how far you’ll go.

With love ❤

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Half Marathon Training

I just started training for my third half marathon.  For each one, I have always followed this 10 week training schedule:

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This schedule is for individuals who can run for 30 minutes without stopping prior to starting.  For those who have very little to no running experience, there are 20 week or longer schedules out there to help you prep for those 13.1 miles.  I simply Googled training schedules and found a wealth of information!  I am still doing p90x and some Insanity, and this time around I am concentrating more on my speed so I’m trying sprints and interval runs as well.  I’m still figuring out how this will all work, but I’ll let you know when I nail down the perfect schedule!

Training hard last summer

Training hard last summer

I’ve never thought of myself as a “runner.”  You know the people who will run for fun or those who

can simply run for hours without much training?  That was definitely NOT me!  Yet, I continue to sign up for half marathons and other “fun runs” because I love the challenge and the reward.  Signing up for a run forces me to buckle down and stick to a training schedule, which produces some amazing results in a relatively short amount of time.  Over time, however, I have come to enjoy running as a form of stress relief, as a way to carve out time to clear my head and listen to music.

 

A group of coworkers motivated each other to complete the Columbia Gorge Half Marathon in Oct. 2012

A group of coworkers and friends motivated each other to complete the Columbia Gorge Half Marathon in Oct. 2012

I have several friends who love to run, so running can either be social and a way to spend time getting fit with others, or something I can do alone in a challenge to beat my previous times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

View from the Fremont Bridge during Portland's Bridge to Brew Run in 2012

View from the Fremont Bridge during Portland’s Bridge to Brew Run in 2012

Seeking out runs in other cities has given me the opportunity to explore gorgeous parts of Oregon that I may not have seen otherwise.  Various runs around Portland have let me see my own city from new and exciting points as well!

Columbia River Gorge Half Marathon

Columbia River Gorge Half Marathon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thousands of running buds at the Shamrock Run 2012

Thousands of running buds at the Shamrock Run 2012

It also doesn’t hurt that many of the runs in Portland end in super fun gatherings that involve craft beer, live music, and folks dressed up in all kinds of costumes!

 

 

I will be running the Shamrock 15k on St. Patty’s Day (March) and the Vernonia Half Marathon in April.  I will keep you posted on my training!  🙂

2012 Shamrock run medals were bottle openers :-)

2012 Shamrock run medals were bottle openers 🙂