Friday, April 24, 2015

End of the Week Updates

Two days until the trail marathon. Gulp. I have been watching the weather like a crazy obsessed maniac, and it has changed over and over and over. Currently it's look perfect (again), so we'll see what happens! 

It has been an interesting week of training. I am staying on top of all of my workouts but haven't been walking quite as much as I usually do, which isn't worrying. When I saw my chiropractor I complained of just being worn out and frustrated about my hamstring soreness. She asked me about my cut-back weeks in training and I realized at that moment then only thing I ever cut back on was my long runs, assuming that was enough. I see now it probably wasn't and should have been scaling other things back, as well, so I will file that away in my brain for my next training cycle. We also talked about things I did differently in my 30k training and I mentioned that back then I did two yoga sessions a week. Now I am down to maybe one since I had to cut my yoga sessions at my favorite studio out of the budget. Boo hoo for me. But hmmm . . . . coincidence? I am going to start doing yoga again twice a week on my own or at my gym and cut out one strength session and see if there is any change. I also need to focus less on trying to foam roll my hamstring and focus more on stretching my hip flexor, which is very tight on that side. 

Barre and one strength session should suffice right now, however. Barre is so hard. I was still sore on Thursday from my Tuesday barre class! 

After this marathon I am in a three week taper and will focus on stretching/yoga and just really tapering. Hay will be in the barn and I want to make sure my hamstring will carry me through the 50k.

On another note, I have been thinking about what I will carry with me for fuel on the 50k. While picking some things up at Super Supplements the other day I found these cookies:

This particular cookie is about 400 calories and is pretty good sized, so I cut it in to 4 wedges for 100 calorie snacks. SO YUM. The only issue is poppy seeds in the teeth afterwards, which is annoying. 

I have also been thinking quite a bit about what I will focus on after the 50k. Summer isn't good for a heavy training schedule, plus I NEED to scale things back for a bit, so I think I will focus on less running and also more on strength and nutrition. I have been reading a great book called Racing Weight and while I am a bit too overwhelmed with training right now to seriously put the ideas in to practice, this summer might be a great time to give it more effort. Get me ready for a fall training program, perhaps? Will be writing more about Racing Weight in a future post. Just love the ideas (my favorite: endurance athletes need carbs!)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Spring Break

Typically our family doesn't do anything too big and exciting for spring break- no tropical trips, or really, no trips at all. We used to try and do fun little get-aways when the girls were much younger, like to Whidbey or Orcas Island, but haven't made it a priority in a few years.

Last year spring break really sucked. Our kitten passed away on that Monday and despite our best efforts to lift our spirits, the break was shadowed in grief. 

But this year we stayed at home and had an absolute blast! Every day held a bit different adventure, nothing crazy, nothing spendy, but it was all a lot of fun. 

We spent one day organizing the girls' big bedroom/playroom. It was a total mess and while cleaning doesn't exactly sound like it would be the most enjoyable thing ever, cleaning a huge mess that you have been putting off for a while is quite gratifying. Of course we had to follow the big clean up with some Menchies (ice cream was a theme this week!).

Matt stayed home from work one day, which was helpful, because he was travelling for work for three other days. I took the opportunity to get in a barre class AND a run, which I ended at Marination, one of our favorite places to eat but rarely go to because Eloise only eats the fries. Since she was away at a playdate, Matt, Iris and I stuffed our faces outside on the patio! 

My goofs after lunch.

The next day we brought my 3 year old niece to the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma. Usually activities with my niece are tricky because all my girls do is fight over who gets to dote on her the most-- but this trip was (almost) perfect. And it gave me a vision in to what life would have been like had I had one more. Exhausting! The girls got to touch sting rays, sharks and a two-toed sloth. Fun, fun.

End of zoo trip treats. 
If you look to the right of Iris you can barely see Mt. Rainier!

Matt was kind enough to make a plan to have a friend come and hang with the girls (NOT babysitting, as Eloise would have you know) so I could get in my mid-week longish run. It was an absolute win-win because our friend is super cool and brought the girls on a fun trip to the International District and Alki while I was away.

My view of Lake Sammamish and Mt. Baker on my run.

And then . . . the girls and I had a gorgeous hike up the side of Tiger Mountain to Poo Poo Point (and yes, hilarious name, no end of jokes there!). I decided to invite along Iris's BFF on the hike in hopes that would distract Iris from, well, how much she hates hiking. My bright idea worked, there was no whining from anyone . . . until the blisters on Eloise's toes became too much to bear. Poor girl. But I now have very, very high hopes of bringing the girls out on more hikes over the summer! 

Checking out the spot where the paragliders take off on Poo Poo Point.

The best thing about this week is that we discovered we could have such a wonderful time here at home and not once feel bored. We had lots of down time (and Minecraft time), sure, but no one once uttered the words "I'm bored". I personally appreciated getting to sleep in late, and lounge in bed even later, every day. Who needs a tropical vacation?! 

Monday, April 20, 2015

50k Training Survived Spring Break


Thankfully I was able to fit just about everything in this past week without issue. The girls being home plus my husband being gone for three days made me a wee bit worried, but it ended up being a non-issue. A hike on Tiger Mountain subbed for my usual yoga day and a booty-load of walking around the zoo subbed for my swim and strength day. 

Unfortunately my hamstring has been crankier than I am 100% comfortable with. This is an issue that I have struggled with since I first started running and the increase in miles and elevation seems to be no bueno for the ol' hamstring. I did two runs on Alki this week, a 6.5 miler and then a 13.1 miler for my long run in hopes the super flat wouldn't further aggravate things.

I'm nervous heading in to my biggest week of training-- not only of this cycle, but in my life! If all goes as planned I will be close to 50 miles total for the week. There is also the matter of a full marathon to run next Sunday, and my hamstring needs to hang on for the ride. Speaking of the marathon . . . I've been checking the weather obsessively, and it has just been looking amazing. And then, suddenly there's a 70% chance of rain, as there is the two days before. I really hope this forecast changes again. The marathon is the same park where I ran the half last winter through puddle after puddle after puddle. It was fun, but . . . it would make for a long day to run a full that way. I am also a bit worried because Sally is running the first half with me, and I think that would be extremely tiring for someone not that experienced in trail running. 

We shall see!

Training for this past week was 33.3 miles run/walked with a total elevation gain of 3275. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Weekend on Vancouver Island

A couple of weeks ago our family went on what was one of my most favorite weekend getaways ever. We loaded up and headed to Vancouver Island on Friday to visit Tara and her family, who live on the south end of the island.

This trip was a very, very long time in the making. The biggest hurdle was that for literally YEARS I was hung up trying to get the documents I needed to get my girls' passports. Finally last summer we secured our passports and then FINALLY the trip came together in March. 

It was worth the wait.

Matt, the girls and I set off on Friday morning to drive north to the U.S./Canada border. It was a lovely drive, the border crossing was very easy. Then we had to get to the B.C. Ferries terminal and board a giant boat for the 95 minute sail to Vancouver Island. 

The ferry was so much fun. We were tickled by Canadian money and I spent a ridiculous amount of time on board figuring out the U.S. cost of things with the exchange rate. The boat snaked through a bunch of tiny islands on its way and the ride felt much shorter than it actually was.

Boarding the ferry.

Matt and Iris on the ferry.

Of course, we were welcomed to Tara's family's home with open arms. I almost immediately had a fancy espresso drink in my hand, courtesy of Tara's husband. It would be the first of many over the weekend! Then it was time to explore the area a bit. We ventured to a beach and chatted and searched for critters under rocks. Hooray for low tide!

Exploring the beach as the ferry goes by!

Soon it was time to head to dinner, Thai food!, and then a drive through Victoria with a stop for ice cream before heading back to our friends' house in the rain and heading to bed. Tara and I had a big morning planned!

Iris hanging with a peacock in the park.

We woke up semi-early to head out on a 16 (.75!) miler.. After the run Tara's husband had a never-ending supply of pizzas that were cooked on the grill, which were insanely delicious. I don't think I am exaggerating when I say I may not have ever eaten more pizza in my life. Post-long run hunger is no joke! 

After lunch we lounged, played games, then set out on an all-family walk. The area where they live is insanely beautiful. I would absolutely move there tomorrow if I could. Surely my husband can telecommute from Canada?

Matt leading the kids on a game of "walk like me".

After the walk is time for dinner-- homemade soup and foccacia. And after that? Movie time! With fresh popped popcorn-- half regular, half caramel corn. SO GOOD. And then time for bed.

On Sunday morning we had a lazy time hanging out and playing video games and eating some of Tara's husband's homemade blueberry white chocolate chip scones. I keep bringing up the food because holy cow, it was amazing. I learned a few things, too, and hope to try some of their recipes at home! 

It is so fun to spend time with their family because we are all "evenly matched" moms, dads, big kids and younger kids. Usually that is how we all pair off on our shorter visits. This time we had more time to do some things all together, some things in small groups, and the kids got to each spend time with different kids doing different activities. We could have probably spent a week there (don't worry Tara, wouldn't actually do that to you!) and never run out of things to chat about. It is incredibly easy to get along with their family. 

Good friends, good food, good running, what more could you want out of a weekend? I can't wait to go back again!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Slacking Off

It's been a week of cutting workouts just a wee bit short. Nothing insane, but still, I felt the enthusiasm waning a bit. 

Strength on Monday was a few push-ups and whatnot (focus on the whatnot) at home. Over and done in about 8 minutes. Typically I am at the gym for this workout. I did the scheduled 6 mile run, however. 

Barre on Tuesday seriously kicked my butt. The class is really interesting-- it is very different each week I go. Sometimes yoga focused, sometimes pilates focused, but this week was ballet focused and it was so. freaking. hard. It's kind of tricky to cut a class short, otherwise I might have considered it!

On Wednesday I was supposed to run 9 miles. I did 8.5

My strength and swimming workout on Thursday cut out the deadlifts and 5 minutes of swim time. I had places to be, so maybe that's an excuse, but really, I should have started earlier. 

Friday I skipped yoga all together. I did a lot of stretching at home, but it's not the same for me as an official yoga class.

Met my spirit animal in the middle of the trail on Saturday's run. 

Saturday's run was a doozy. 16 miles on the schedule, which I did in the afternoon at Cougar. I didn't plan a route before hand, but it was kind of sort of the backwards version of the really rough 17 (supposed to be 18) miler I did several weeks ago. In hindsight, I am not sure why, but I thought it would be easier going the other direction. Um, it isn't. It ended up being about 90 less feet in elevation gain, in two fewer miles. It hurt. A lot. Not in a shooting pain, limping sort of way, but in a way that my whole lower half was sore for the second part of the run. I usually walk up hills, but on this run I kept full on stopping to catch my breath, which isn't so usual. In keeping with the theme of the week, I also cut the run short at 15 miles. 

The totals for this past week were 38.2 miles run/walked with 5,807 feet of elevation gain.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Non-Running Related Ruminations on Life

Or I don't know, probably everything can tie back in to running if you work hard enough to make the connection, haha.

Yesterday I read a blog post by Swim Bike Mom-- I am not a triathlete, but what I love about her blog is that, yes, she posts about training and racing, but she also posts lots of real life, juicy stuff about struggles and being human. Her post was about the idea of taking the high road and it resonated with me in the moment.

Now, I sort of cringe at the phrase "take the high road", of course Swim Bike Mom didn't make that up, it's a common expression, but often you hear it invoked by someone who is most certainly not doing just that. Not being inside SBM's brain, I couldn't tell you how it exactly applies to her, but having followed her blog for a while, I think I have a hunch. 

It can be very hard as a parent to teach your children to take the high road, or what I like to also think of as simply doing the right thing. I will call it that. Teaching your kids that when someone hurts you, you don't hurt them back (physically or emotionally). When someone else makes a bad a choice, you don't get a pass to also make a back choice. And why is this hard? Well, most of us don't exactly follow this idea even as adults. Sometimes it can be a "do as I say, not as I do" type of thing. But it doesn't, and shouldn't, keep us from continuing to work to be better human beings and raising better human beings.

You might suspect that there is a reason I am having all these tremendously deep thoughts (ha!), and, well, you would be right. But I'm not the kind of person to spill a bunch of accusations and drama on my blog, so a bit of vague blogging will have to do. 

Related, last night one of daughters chastised my other daughter for taking what was, in her opinion, too big of a bowl of yogurt, more than her fair share. (Please tell me this type of thing doesn't only happen in my house?!) I reminded my finger-wagging daughter that her sister hasn't had any of the yogurt yet, while she has already had two bowls of it. "Oh," she said. "Maybe next time you can ask questions before getting upset," I offered. She apologized to her sister, as she is very, very good at apologizing, which is awesome because she does, well, have the annoying affliction of frequently upsetting people. 

After the words came out of my mouth it struck me that that is a great reminder for being a decent human being and doing the right thing: whenever possible, ask questions before judging and making accusations. Even an ounce of attempting to understand the other person and where they are coming from can go a long way. Confronting a situation with fists raise only invites the other person to raise their fists, too. 

I know this isn't a new idea, I haven't come up with the key to world peace, but in the midst of a shitty situation, I can't even imagine how much it would have helped to have others involved to offer a "why? what's going on?" instead of accusations and finger pointing. 

Anyways, that is my offer today: next time you want to fly to anger or judgement, try, if possible, to ask questions instead. Once you get your answer, judge away. Haha. You know, sometimes you find out that someone really was just being an asshole, in that case, be rightfully pissed. But what if they weren't? 

And what if someone offered that kindness and consideration before accusing you? Wouldn't that feel wonderful to be offered the chance to explain what might have been simply a misunderstanding before it erupted in to something so much bigger?

Try to be kind. Always. 

Monday, April 06, 2015

3 Days and 33 Miles

This week of training ended up being a bit broken up, but a lot of fun. The scheduled long run was 24 miles and I originally thought I was going to have to sneak in 12 miles before a long drive on Saturday, then do 12 more miles when my family got to our destination. It ended up working out much better for me to do 12 miles on Friday night and then 12 more Saturday morning before the car trip.

My three day streak started with 9 miles on Thursday at Discovery Park in the afternoon, 12 miles around sunset on the streets in West Seattle on Friday night, 12 miles just after sunrise on Saturday morning at Cougar Mountain. 

I have been enjoying running at Discovery Park for many reasons, but one being that I can generally keep a bit quicker pace than I can at Cougar. It was nice to be able to do 9 miles in just under two hours (sometimes at Cougar I can only do 8 in the same amount of time). It was a sunny, perfect day for running. The views from the beach never fail to make me stop and stare. 

Had fun with the panorama feature on my phone on South Beach at Discovery Park.

On Friday morning I went to yoga class. It was a new-to-me class that I mostly enjoyed. This class had mirrors on the walls, which was a blessing/curse. It certainly made it easier to self-correct on certain poses, but holy cow. I am even less flexible than I previously thought. It was always obvious that my hamstrings are tight and that makes it generally impossible for me to touch my toes, but I realized while watching myself that my back is also really tight! It is impossible to keep a truly flat back in many poses. The yoga did help stretch me out a bit for the work to come . . .

I started that evening's run just after 6:00 pm. I ran down to Lincoln Park, where I saw seals swimming close to shore!, then north on Beach Drive, on to Alki Ave, then snaked around towards home. It was all on the road except for a teeny bit in the park. This run showed me how completely ADD I have become on runs. I am so used to stopping and walking on the trails (usually for hills and to eat/drink) but on the road I needed to get more creative with my reasons. Fix my podcast (I started Serial!) on my phone, watch the seals, take my phone out for pictures, stop at bathrooms . . . I had many excuses for walking/stopping. After the sun set the view of downtown from West Seattle was beautiful.

The view.

Once I got home I had to shovel food in my face, shower, throw together my gear for the next morning's run, foam roll, then get my butt in bed.

The alarm went off at 5:45 on Saturday morning. It was time for the last 12 miles and I was excited to meet Sally (who was a trooper and met me despite being sick!) out at Cougar to show her some of the trails. I was worried I would be sore, tired, or just totally over it, but none of those things actually came to fruition. Then run was fantastic. We took our time and tip toed through all of the mud puddles and sauntered up all of the hills. I actually finished the run a bit bummed I didn't have time to keep going!

There was no extra time, however, I had to get home to shower, pack, eat and zoom off to Grandma's for the weekend. My big girl was thrilled I asked her to sit in the front seat for the drive so that I could lounge in the back with my little girl. 

Despicable Me 2, and my view, during the drive.

I remain amazed at how good my body felt after all of this-- including the drive. A bit sore, but no more so than after any other long run. 

Finished the week with 46.6 miles run/walked (my highest week ever!) and 4,494 feet of elevation gain.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Almost in the Home Stretch

Once I finish this week of training I will have six weeks left. Twelve down, six to go. 2/3 of the way there. This week will be capped off with a 24 mile run that, due to travelling for Easter, will be split in to two 12 mile runs in one day. Sandwiching a 2 1/2 hour car ride. GULP.

The idea of working my training around everything else has been very prevalent-- which, duh, most people do, right? I just didn't expect to be juggling things even multiple times per week. It's becoming second nature, but it still isn't easy. This 50k training thing is hard, ya'll. Have I mentioned that already? Even my long run cut-back weeks are hard. 16 miles is far! Every other week it is 16 miles. I am fascinated that even though those runs beat me up, I recover quickly and am ready for the next step up the following week. I guess this whole program is working!

My longest run will be 26 miles, so a marathon. I will run a marathon in training, which is sort of blowing my mind. For this run I decided to do it in a race environment (though not "race" it) at the Spring Eagle trail run. I am not exactly sure how long it will take, at least over 5 hours, but it will be great to have the time on my feet since the 50k will likely take roughly 7 hours. Sally is coming to run the first half with me (and if you want to run this race and haven't run a Northwest Trail Run before, let me know and I will send you a code good for half off your first one!).  

So I feel like I'm in the home stretch before the home stretch. Finish this week of training, hold on for two weeks, the get through my biggest week of training, then taper! It's like I am already done, haha. 

Before I registered for the 50k, even after I registered for the race, even a few weeks in to training for it, I just wasn't sure I could even pull it off. Now I feel like I will actually get there. Not 100% yet, I'm not going to start getting cocky, but the fact that my body hasn't given out on me yet is actually pretty amazing. 

In March I managed to run and walk 133.3 miles with a total elevation gain of 13,033. I thought that those numbers were kind of neat. My mileage is going up every month, as it should, but not the elevation. This past month I didn't focus as hard on intentionally gaining a bunch of elevation, which I think my legs appreciated! 

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Running on Vancouver Island

This past weekend my family and I were fortunate to go stay with our good friends on Vancouver Island. One word to describe the weekend: incredible. Not only are our friends the kindest, most hospitable people on the face of the earth, they also fed us the most delicious homemade food and Tara brought me on a run that, while difficult at times, was so much fun. 

Pre-run photo courtesy of Tara's husband.

Our route took us down country roads, over tucked away trails, past farms, along the waterfront, down the streets of Sidney, skirting the edge of the airport, and winding up streets filled with a collection of gorgeous homes. I don't think I've ever covered so many different types of terrain in one run. 

We covered close to 17 miles, and what felt like many hills. Interestingly, my Garmin, Tara's Garmin and map my run all failed to acknowledge most of the elevation! I always assumed Garmin was actually tracking you as you ran, sending info back and forth from satellites to your watch. Apparently this is not true! So, we have no idea of the true elevation gain on the run. Ah, well!

Route on Vancouver Island

During the run I kept thinking "I should pull my phone out to take some pictures!" but I never did. I especially wish I would have documented the view from the top of one of the trails, and of the little toys that were hidden along another one of the trails, and the sheep farm, and the Sidney waterfront (where you could see layers and layers of islands out in the water), and the quaint church and cemetery . . . there were a million things. I am so lazy, however. It would have required me to take my pack off and rummage around to get my phone out, and putting one foot in front of the other was the most I was able to pull off. 

The weather ended up being almost perfect. We were afraid of wind and rain and just got the wind on some sections, which was a bit brutal. But at least the rain held off.

As we ran Tara would point out things like "this is where I do my hill repeats", where I could only think "I can barely make it up this hill once!", so she is a certified badass in my book. 

Usually I spend the rest of my long run days napping and lounging. Not going to happen here! Both of our families headed out for a walk, which was uphill one way. My legs seemed to appreciate the movement, however, because I felt fine by the evening. 

I absolutely cannot wait to run with Tara on the island again! 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

22 is Tough

Okay, no longer feeling 22. Ha.

I won't lie, that run was pretty rough sprinkled with a few parts that were really nice. 

My good friend Sally came to pick me up bright and early. Thanks, Sally! We started our run in Fremont and ran to Magnolia, did two loops on the Discovery Park trail loop and then back to Fremont via the Ballard Locks and Ballard. The weather during this part was interesting. We got some sun, some rain, lots of wind. Even saw a rainbow!

I said goodbye to Sally at 13 miles and started on my way towards home. At that point it was nice and sunny, though a little windy. I kept looking down to keep my baseball cap from flying off and eventually just had to remove it and stuff it in my pack. My original plan was to run east along the Burke Gilman, then across the Montlake Bridge and south through Capitol Hill all the way down to the International District. I was able to run a bit further than originally planned with Sally so I took a shortcut home, but unfortunately not the most fun shortcut. I went south from Fremont along Westlake, then through south Lake Union by the Amazon campus, then up to Capitol Hill via Boren then Pine, then south on Broadway. I think I hit every. single. stoplight. It was really frustrating, though part of me loved the constant forced breaks. Finally made it down to the I.D. and had a quick jaunt through there until I made my way over to the Elliot Bay Trail. This section was incredibly boring, and once I hit East Marginal Way the wind was straight at my face. It sucked. The wind was a bit better once I turned west on to the West Seattle Bridge Trail. The sky looked threatening, but luckily it only sprinkled a bit. I ended the run at a coffee shop, where I got a fancy drink and a chocolate chip cookie to inhale on the way home.

Anyways, the second part of the run wasn't anything to write home about, it was more like a "get it done" sort of thing. Though it is cool to know I ran through so many neighborhoods all in one run! It would be fun to try that again sometime and cover different neighborhoods.

The run was really hard, though. At different points my legs and/or feet were hurting, but luckily nothing painful. Mostly my legs were just kind of annoyed with me, I think. That is a long ways for me to run on mostly pavement (save for the two loops at Discovery Park). My feet were definitely not amused and two blisters popped up on my left foot.

So I am suddenly feeling tentative about my 24 miler, but I think the 26 miler I will be able to do as trail marathon race and that will be nice.