Feelings Friday

It’s been a very rough week. There is a lot going on in my world–though not to me personally. Things that aren’t my stories to share, so I won’t, but it’s bordering on too much as it compounds all at once. I’m okay, though, I’m hanging on, and hoping the weekend will bring some resolution.

Workout game is strong–I’ve needed the release. Last night I ran in the rain. I wanted to. I looked forward to it even. It wasn’t as cleansing as I’d hoped, I didn’t come out of it feeling clean and renewed with my worries washed away. I came out of it feeling strong. It was dark (I got a later start than I’d wanted/planned), I’m lit up with my headlamp and noxgear vest. And I have the streets/sidewalks basically to myself. I know the passing cars think I’m crazy for being out, I got splashed a few times, the wind pelted me as I ran across the bridge–but I kept going. I didn’t stop. Nothing could take me down. It was warm enough that the rain felt good and I was in a remarkably good place while I was out there. I needed that.

My anxiety is messing with me some–I care too much. I internalize things. Its how I’m wired. And while I work to control how I respond to things, I honestly wouldn’t change the fact that I feel deeply. I would rather learn to deal with the negative feelings because it means that I also get to experience the good things. I would rather give until it hurts than pretend I don’t care at all. Tough times are temporary, I’m holding out hope that things will get worked out how they are supposed to. All I can do is my best, battle the anxiety with facts (because it is spinning some LIES right now), and manage my self-care so I have something to give to the people who need me.

Sorry for the rambles. It’s what I got today. More soon, friends.

Training Week 5 Recap

Last week was another solid training week. First off, I am loving my rest days this cycle. I love the hard work of training, but my body is happy to have a day off to recover after 5-6 days of grinding. I did skip my Tuesday class last week (*sad*) because my hamstrings were tight and it was affecting my knees, and I wanted to be able to get my runs in. Class, from past experience, could have helped or made it worse, so I erred on the side of caution.

Wednesday and Thursday Pittsburgh was thrown into the Polar Vortex, so I got up and did my Wednesday run on the treadmill before work. Knee was doing better after some quality time with Orange Spiky (my favorite and most terrifying roller) the previous day. I ran fasted and it went remarkably well. I’ve not had much success running fasted in the past, and I wouldn’t do it running outside, at least not without a little more experimenting. But an occasional treadmill run is worth experimenting with.

Thursday I did my 5 on the treadmill again after work, then realized I only needed 1/2 a mile to hit 130 miles for the month, so you know I went back to the treadmill and ran another half mile. 130 miles in the month of January. Unreal. Loving this ultra journey. Solid run, nothing remarkable except my cumulative mileage.

Kettlebell and warmup mile on Friday. Very nice warmup mile, and really solid class. Even bumped up weight in the last round of the circuit. I felt really strong.

Saturday was my longest run in over a year. I’m really struggling with the Saturday group runs with all the stopping and starting and breaking up the mileage, so I wanted to do this as close to unbroken as I could. I ran with BRF and another friend out at North Park–not my favorite place to run, but I wasn’t alone and I didn’t have to keep stopping. The run went really well. I was strong and pretty consistent. Did start getting fatigued near the end, but held it together well. Spent some QT with the BRF after the run, grabbing lunch and checking out the new Pro Bike + Run location (heavy emphasis on the Bike…). Pittsburgh was thawing out, but not when I was running-temp was between 9 and 12 when we got started.

Sunday, I got up at the crack of dawn to run with some friends. 10 solid miles in the city. 33 degree starting temps felt like a heatwave after the rest of the week. Felt really good during most of the run, though fatigue started to catch me near the end. Definitely felt more sore after the run (and some quality couch time with my cat) so I’m glad I have a rest day. Need to work on more solid recovery practices–this has always been my weakness.

I am LOVING this ultra journey. Loving. The high mileage makes me so ridiculously happy. I feel good going into each run, and for the most part I’m recovering well and quickly.

My N=1 experiment…

So I’ve been experimenting with something for the past month. Quietly, haven’t shared it with many people (until very recently) because I didn’t want it to be a *thing*. I don’t do things because they are popular, I’m not jumping on some bandwagon, I was just genuinely curious.

I’ve been following a Keto diet.

Super controversial right now, especially since Jillian Michaels recently lost her shit about it. I didn’t want to talk about it or draw attention to it. I’m not going to proselytize or loudly complain about things I “can’t” have (it’s ridiculous…I can have whatever I want, I’m making a conscious choice. Why would I complain?). But I’ve heard some compelling things in documentaries and podcasts that made me curious. This isn’t just a diet or quick fix to drop a few pounds (though if that happens, I’m never going to complain). As someone embarking on serious endurance training, I’ve heard about the potential benefits for endurance athletes and it made too much sense to me not to at least try it out and see.

The basic gist of why I tried it, why it makes sense to me: the human body can only store so much glycogen–after a couple of intense hours of exercise, this is used up, and it becomes harder to replace it as you continue to go on–if you can’t stay on top of it (and very few can), you bonk (also known as the dreaded “wall” in a marathon). Even if you do manage to keep up on it, the amounts of sugar and fast-acting carbs you need to ingest, particularly over the course of an ultramarathon, will wreak havoc with most people’s digestive systems (runner’s trots). If you’re fat adapted (which is what happens when you’re consistently in ketosis), you’ll still require some outside fuel (especially in ultra scenarios) but the human body–even the leanest athletes–have enough stored fat to work through to avoid the dreaded bonk. So even if you can’t or don’t fuel at exactly the perfect intervals you can continue moving.

So I’ve been playing with this since the beginning of the year. I’ve managed to stay between 20-50 grams of carbs a day most of the time (I tend to go slightly over around my long runs, but haven’t noticed any negative impact from that). I’ve noticed that I can go longer and farther during my runs without fueling, or with significantly less than before. I used to take a gel about every 5 miles (about 1 hour), for any runs over 6 miles (I might take it earlier than 5, but you get the idea). I’ve gone 10 miles without any additional fuel without a performance drop. My last 15 miler, instead of the full 3-chew serving twice during the run, I took 2 chews at a time twice during the run. I’ve done training runs with just a few sips of gatorade in the middle miles and nothing else but water. And I feel good. It’s not perfect, I’m still working out the kinks and figuring it out, but by and large I plan to stick with it and see how it goes. I’ve lost about 10 pounds (again, not my main reason for doing it, but as someone chasing racing weight I will never complain), and honestly, despite how much I love carbs (and I do…) I don’t really miss them. It’s not like I’m saying “never again” to carbs. I had a beer during the hockey game the other day. I will eventually have real pizza again, though I’ve perfected my cauliflower crust and I’m digging it. And on race days anything goes–whatever sounds good I’ll go for. But as long as my training is going smoothly, and I feel good, and it seems to be having the desired effects, I might as well keep this up.

I never imagined this would be something that I would try and like. The idea of “giving up carbs” was foreign to me. I don’t miss them though–I made stroganoff with zucchini noodles last week, and it was amazing. I preferred the zucchini noodles, they gave it a richer flavor. Like I said, my cauliflower pizza crust is pretty near perfect at this point, and while I miss the convenience of having someone else make my post-run pizza, I don’t feel deprived. It’s a little more work (okay, a LOT more work) but I’m not coming home and crashing after my long runs (like I used to) so I don’t even mind it.

Again, I’m not proselytizing, you do what works for you. But this has been working for me and I wanted to share it since I’m a month in. Long run tomorrow–my longest in over a year and I’m really looking forward to it. Training recap on Monday. Happy weekend, friends! More soon

Training Recap: Week 4

This was a really really solid week of training. I hit every work out. Three of four runs were outside, which is always a good week in my life. Pro Bike + Run group run on Wednesday was great–warmer weather than we’ve had with a slightly different route. I crushed (most of) the hills. Saturday’s run was in cold and blowy snow, so it was slow going but I got it done. Flew solo due to a commitment in the morning, though the group run was cancelled anyway. Flopped my mileage so I could run my longer miles with people on Sunday. Explored a new to me rail trail and it was great! So happy to have somewhere else to run closer to home.

I’m trying to be mindful of my weights in KB classes and choose bells that are still challenging, even though I’m running a lot. 1) I want to be stronger. That happens when you challenge yourself. 2) Ultras are made on tired legs. If I’m going into my runs a little sore and/or fatigued it will only prepare me for the challenge that lies ahead of me. (That said, there is a huge difference between being a little sore and fatigued and being really sore and fatigued…keeping my schedule as is and keeping an eye on who is filling in so I don’t completely wreck my runs…)

I’m over 100 miles for the month already, and I still have a few more runs left. I LOVE this! I’ve grown to really appreciate my rest day, and when I tried a runstreak it did not end well for me. But I feel like a streak of 100+ mile months is something fun to shoot for, and will be easy this year.

I’m recovering really well from the runs/workouts. Fatigued and ready for my rest day? Definitely. Sore? Not too much. I might be done by the end of a run, but the next day I usually am ready to go back out. Distance really is my happy place. I feel really good and I think I’m built for this ultra-life. Bigger mileage starting this weekend and I’m kinda pumped to see how it plays out. I have my long run distances mapped out through my first ultra for the year, so I’ve started to see when I can schedule races around them to make it more interesting. I also need to start comparing them to the scheduled group runs to see how I can get the extra miles I’ll need.

So another successful week in the books. More soon, friends.

A good place…

My intention for my Friday posts is for them to be more personal, less training focused (though I’m me, so everything kind of comes back to running eventually…). I got away from that in the past year and I think that if I’d done more of it and processed the stuff I was working through I would’ve worked through it better than keeping it under wraps and just bugging my people with it. I’m in a good place right now. Things are starting to come together. I’m absolutely LOVING my training–the increased mileage agrees with me. I’m already at 100 miles for the month and I still have a week left! I’ve had some really good, solid runs lately.

Don’t get me wrong. My anxiety is coming out to play to be sure, but it’s much easier to beat it back. Still working on my time management and getting it all done, but that’s getting better too. Working on getting back to my racing weight, and I’m making real progress in that arena as well. Social anxiety gets me still–trying to make plans with friends, things that get me out of routine stress me out. But I have enough clarity at this point that I know I’m overreacting, that I’m being unhealthy about it and I can kind of force myself through to prove it’s not such a big deal. A skipped workout isn’t that big of a deal. A dietary indulgence isn’t the end of the world. I’m trying to strike the ever elusive balance and not get too caught up in anything. In effect, that’s part of what I’m loving about this round of training–with very little emphasis on speed or pace I get to just enjoy it. My watch isn’t ruling me (funny that I upgraded when I’m obsessing over it less, but hey, cest la vie), it’s just a tool.

Things are good, and I don’t have much more to say, so I’m going to close out for now. I’ll check in again soon.

Training Recap-weeks 1-3

Yowza. This is why I want to write twice a week–once to recap my training, and once about whatever else I feel like. So…I’ll get caught up on that and hopefully not miss it going forward. I’m definitely a paper planner/journal kind of girl, so I am using the Believe training journal (red edition) for this round of training to capture the day-to-day snapshots.

Week 1: I worked out 10 days straight. It was a bit much, but they were all solid runs/workouts and I was never so happy for my rest day when it came. I felt good, but was definitely tired. So thankful for my runcrew this week, they definitely helped pull me through.

Week 2: Another solid week of training from a physical standpoint, but struggled mentally/emotionally. Difficulty finding balance in my routine between household responsibilities, workouts, work, and the other ‘stuff’ I need to accomplish at any given time. Took an extra rest day to give myself that mental space to get caught up on tasks I’d been pushing off. Long run felt like Columbus round two–my legs would just not warm up and cooperate.

Week 3: This was a good week. Too much treadmill running for my taste, but thank goddess for Shameless on Nextflix. I’m about half way through season 3 already, and will likely be mostly caught up by the end of winter. Haha. Long run was fantastic. I felt so good the whole time. Better than I’d felt on a long run in over a month. Felt really good on my recovery treadmill miles the next day too. Focusing more on core and ITB pre-hab as well (still need to get better about stretching and foam rolling, but baby steps…)

Lots more to come. Talk to you soon, friends.

Better late than never…

So I missed blogging last week. Still working on my time management efforts-I’m trying out some tweaks to my schedule so hopefully that will see me posting on a more regular basis. It was also kind of a rough week for me, and even though I know the importance of writing during the rough times I still avoid it. I guess in a way that’s why I backed off it so much last year.

This is a post I really should have written about a 1000 times last year, honestly, but I’m finally doing it. And I’m coming from a better perspective on it, but it’s something I keep coming back to. In reflecting on last year I’ve had to work very hard (too hard) to see how far I’ve come and to take pride in what I did accomplish, because when I look at the list of goals I set for myself I was only able to scratch off one of my running goals. I missed the mark on everything else. And that’s difficult for someone like me to accept. It shouldn’t be. It should come with the territory–I like big, scary goals. If it doesn’t scare you at least a little, then you’re not thinking big enough. So reason would have it that I’m going to miss the mark sometimes if I’m shooting big. And the progress I made was pretty awesome–if I didn’t go for broke aiming for things that scared me I wouldn’t have come as far as I did. So it amazes me, realizing all of these things, that the feelings of failure still hit me so hard, and that’s a lot of what I was struggling with last week. Always my own worst critic. For the most part, I’ve been able to take a step back and realize that I have a choice: I either go big and chase scary things and risk missing the mark, or I play it safe, hit the target every time, but never really find out what I’m capable of. Is that really even a choice? Go big. Risk it and find out. Maybe I’ll miss, but I’ll be closer than I was if I didn’t try. That said, I’m sure that this isn’t the last time it will come up for me, so I’ll take it as it comes.

Distance doesn’t scare me in the same way. I’ve always said I’m built for distance, not for speed. It feels like coming home. And I worried at first that I wasn’t going big enough because I wasn’t scared. It hit me though. There is definitely fear there. I’m pushing for things bigger than I’ve said publicly (I’ve shared them with a close few, including my coach, but I want to keep some things to myself for the time being), and honestly, Burning River scares me. It didn’t until I pulled the trigger on registration, but holy smokes once I did…BOOM. I joke that if BRF could do it (and PR no less) a month and a half after hernia surgery, that I can definitely do it…but for as much as he hates it, he’s a better trail runner than I am. Most of the people I know who have done it are better trail runners, and while I know there is a significant amount of road in the front half it still scares me that I might go out there and not make the time cut off. But I’m registered. And I’m going to train my ass off and put it all out there and see what happens.

Another weekend of training. I’ll get caught up on my training recaps on Monday. I promise. Have a good weekend, friends.

Coming home…

I’ve always liked back-to-back races. I’ve always said that I didn’t really like running until I discovered distance. And coming back to distance seriously feels like coming home. I don’t have to be fast, I just have to *go* and I’m good at that. Wednesday night as I was finishing my tempo run on the treadmill, I was on my 5th straight day of running and I felt really good. I said to my coach–maybe I’m built for this ultra-life. Last night, I did my miles outside and it was definitely slow and slogging (for me) but I was still happy. My legs felt great.

I’m just starting this training cycle, and I’m only a couple weeks into this new schedule, but man–running more feels like coming home. I fell in love with running when I trained for my first half marathon (Pittsburgh, 2011). Once I learned ultras were a thing–before I even ran my first full marathon–I knew that I wanted to do that. My mind latched onto 50 miles, and while I’ve delayed it for awhile, I’m ready to tackle it now.

I know I’m in the honeymoon phase–that this isn’t always going to be fun or feel easy, but it still feels like it’s what I was meant to be doing it. I want to make the most of it all and get as fit and strong as possible. I want to soak it all in.

More soon…

Race Recap: Amherst Skeleton Run 5k

So, I’m a a little crazy. We all know that. I love to run races. I don’t always race them, but I LOVE to take part in them. So I decided it was a good idea to run a 5k the week after my full marathon. Mind you my marathon was not a PR race, and I recovered quicker than I expected–I ran with my crew that Wednesday night and kicked so much ass. So I went to Ohio to run this race with my best friend and her husband. I initially had no plans to ‘race’ it. Just run it. But then there was the threat of her competitive streak coming out so I offered that she could pace me. And she took me up on it.

I’m used to running with people, but not actually having a Pacer. I’m used to being able to do what I want, essentially, which means I seldom push myself as hard as I could. I back off, as is my MO. Not something I’m necessarily proud of, but its how I operate. We didn’t really discuss strategy, which was a mistake. We went hard at it for the first mile plus. And then I started to panic, and couldn’t regulate my breathing. I took a minute and got myself back under control and DID manage to pull off a 5 second PR on my 5k time. Getting there.

What kills me is that I know I could have done better if I hadn’t panicked. And there was no good reason for me to have panicked. Physically I was fine. Mentally…that’s another story. I got in my head, and I, quite literally, choked.

Still it’s a fun little race, and I’m glad I did it. I’m glad my bestie paced me (even though I wasn’t thrilled at the time).

my bestie and I nearing the 5k finish

If I had written this post a week ago, right after the race, it would’ve been different. But it’s been a big week. A lot has happened (mostly good) and I am able to see connections in hindsight. More soon.

Race Recap: PIT Fly By 5k

Missing some race reports, but clearly if they’d been particularly noteworthy I would’ve found it in me to post…so no sleep lost. This weekend I completed race #30 for the year (so far)…10 more to go to meet my goal.

This is a fun race, I did it last year. 5k with a medal, and you all know I love the bling. Flat and fast course at the airport. I did not PR this year, I was about a minute off, but it was better than my past few 5ks had been so I was happy with it. I *might* have PR’d, but my phone fell out of my belt at one point and I lost some time doubling back to get it. That doesn’t account for the whole minute, but there also came a point that once I knew I wasn’t going to PR I didn’t dig as deep as I could’ve if I’d been close.  So oh well, is what it is. Overall I’m happy with it. I’ll probably do this race again because it’s fun and kinda different.

After the race I made a whirlwind trip to Ohio for the day for a much needed visit. Really low mileage last week, and its making me vaguely crazy. Definitely need to log some more miles this week. That said–I’ll be happy when marathon training is over. A few more weeks and the race will be behind me, which I’m really looking forward to. I’m excited to move onto the next set of goals and adventures. Big plans in the works for 2018…

Happy Monday, friends.