Last week before REGIONALS

Happy Sunday!  I spent the morning at a new cafe across from my dorm reading about devalorized femininity in the military and studying for an accounting midterm.  The coffee shop’s aesthetic was amazing; the prices and products, not so much.  This afternoon will be spent checking more things off the to-do list but also relaxing 🙂

The past week has been interesting.  Physically, both my workouts were good and my runs felt fine.  I belatedly switched to new trainers and SuperFeet inserts, so my legs and feet have been sore.  Emotionally, I was a little bit rollercoaster-y.  Gotta love feelings :/

Week of 10/31-11/6:

  • M: AM: 3 miles + core.  Started using new shoes.  PM: 2 lap w/u, speed ladder, hurdle drills, 7 miles, 4 x 150 strides, pull-ups/push-ups/dips, 10 min yoga.
  • T: 20 min w/u, drills, strides, 2 miles controlled up-tempo (~12 min?), 6 min run back to track, 2 x [1000, 600] with 2 min rec.  3:30, 2:00, 3:29, 2:00.  Felt pretty controlled.  3 mile c/d, lower body lift in weight room.
  • W: 5 miles trails + core.  PM: massage on tight quads and calves.
  • Th: AM: 2 lap w/u, speed ladder, hurdle drills, 7 miles, 6 x 100 strides, upper body lift in weight room.  PRed in amount of unassisted chin-ups (17 out of 24) and underhand cable row!  (The next day I was very sore.)  PM: 3 miles
  • F: 20 min w/u, drills, strides, 2 x 800 w/ 200 recovery run (2:48, 2:49), 3 x [4 x 400] w/ 60s rest first set, 90s second set, and 2:00 last set.  [80, 78, 77, 77], [76, 75, 75, 76], [75, 75, 75, 75]. Very windy!  Focused on cycling/turning over quickly.  3 mile c/d
  • Sat: shorter long run 9-10 miles.  Not great.
  • Sun: off
Total: 54ish miles.
Both my workouts were good; it’s fun being able to hit paces you couldn’t hit even a few weeks ago!  On the other hand, Saturday’s (shorter) long run was pretty bad.  But afterwards, my teammate’s parents hosted a delicious brunch at their cute house.  Bagels, banana bread, fruit, yogurt, spreads, French toast bake, coffee, amazing apple cider melded with orange zest…  And their house was straight out of a Pottery Barn catalogue.

PSA: My mom finished her first marathon!  She is officially a marathoner 🙂


The finish of the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon

Another highlight from the past week includes the best oats of my life:


The secrets to the best oats ever:  Use almond milk, and cook shredded apple directly into the oatmeal.  I microwaved 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and a splash of vanilla extract halfway, added the shredded apple, and finished cooking the oats.  I then added cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and the rest of the apple.  They were unbelievably creamy and amazing.

Last night, my roommate and I cooked dinner in the dorm before going to see “The Girl on the Train.”  I read the book so I knew what was coming, but the ending…damn.  It was cringe-worthy in the best way.

Dinner: pan-seared steak, spaghetti squash with basil/onion marinara, sauteed zucchini, and roasted Brussels sprouts.

We leave for NCAA D1 Regionals in just a few days, and I couldn’t be more excited!  I can’t believe it’s almost here!


One of my top 5 hardest workouts

(OK, I actually did write this post this morning; I just forgot to publish it.)

Good morning!  It’s a beautiful spring day, I just finished my 3-mile double, and I thought I’d talk about Tuesday’s track workout while I eat a lovely breakfast of Greek yogurt, Wawa coffee, oatmeal with apple/chia seeds/almond butter/cinnamon, and of course my daily multivitamin.  No class until 12:30. 🙂


Oatmeal is THE ugliest food ever but still so good

All right!  Tuesday’s workout…Let’s just say I have no trouble recalling the experience because my body still despises me two days later.

The (good? bad?) thing about getting fitter and faster is that your coaches will adjust your workout paces accordingly.  On Tuesday, I was put in sort of a new workout group.  We went out for our 3 mile warm-up and then did drills and strides before our coach told us the workout.

5 x 400 at 77-75 seconds, 4 x 800 at 2:38, 4-5 x 400 at 77-75 seconds


What actually happened: 5 x 400 at 76-75 seconds, 3 x 800 at 2:43, 2:47, 2:48, 1 x 600 at 2:04, 4 x 400 at 78, 77, 76, 76

By the time the first 5 x 400 was over, it felt like I’d already done an entire workout, and we were less than 1/3 done.  Our coach told us to hit 79 for each lap of the 800s (um, what), but I’m pretty sure the only time I ran 79 was the first lap of the first 800.  Each one after that got slower and slower.  And they were still fairly faster than I’m used to!  By the third 800, my legs were immovable logs and I was pretending the 800s were 600s because the last 200 doesn’t matter amirite 😉  So I’d get to 600m and then just death-march the last 200.  My coach modified my 4th 800 to a 600 (bless).

Am I being dramatic?

For the last set of 400s, she had us do the first two backwards on the track, which was pretty weird.  I led the last three 400s and at that point I was just riding the pain train home.  We hit 78, 77, 76, and 76.

After a 3 mile cool down in which we were so destroyed that we were babbling nonsensically, we completed a leg lift and then stretched, rolled, and ice bathed.


Choosing my post-workout treat was hard (I chose a truffle)

The next morning, my roommate and I both woke up to cross train, fairly hobbled to the rec, and I sat at the edge of the pool for a little bit because I just could. not. get. in. Everything hurt.  I felt like a zombie.  But this is the work that will give us an edge in future races!

natalie email.png

In my meeting with my coach yesterday, she brought up a really good point (see above).  I’m at an entirely new fitness level for myself right now.  While the paces she gives me may sound scary, she gives them to me because she thinks/knows I can hit them.  Just because I’ve never run that fast before doesn’t mean I can’t do them now.  I need to work on believing in myself in races and in workouts when I get to the point where I can either make a move or stay where I am.  In this new fitness territory, it’s all about confidence!

Running reunion

Two running reunions happened over the past few days!


Our dream team from two years ago reunited 🙂  It was great to see all these girls.

The workout today: Winter finally decided to show its face, and it was 15 degrees this morning.  I waited until the afternoon to run, since it was a whopping 30 degrees at that point…

Anyway, 20 minute warm-up to my high school’s track, drills, strides, and then the same 6 x 800 as last week.  My goal was to run it faster, and I did.  2:53, 2:51, 2:52, 2:52, 2:54, 2:51 (compared to 2:55-2:56 last week).  I took 80-90 seconds rest again instead of a minute.  Gotta work down to shorter rest!  It worked for Quenton Cassidy in Once a Runner, amirite…

Too bad I’ll never be a 3:52 miler and also Cassidy doesn’t exist.

Second reunion:  My best friend showed up at the track during my workout, which I was running alone.  Did I ever mention what happened last April on this blog?  No?  Well, this can be my second reflection.  My best friend and I have been running together since 2008, but last April, she tripped over me, tore her ACL and meniscus, and had to defer a year because she was going to a service academy and that incident caused her to fail her medical exam.  So yeah.  I kind of ruined her life.  Luckily, I don’t think she hates me too much…

Anyway, she wasn’t able to run (or even walk) for a really long time but has slowly been building back up.  And today, she came on my cool down with me!! After not running with her for over eight months, those 20 minutes were pretty awesome…


Total for today: 8 miles + 7 minutes of core.  I kind of forgot that as my mileage increases, the workout-day mileage also increases, so I actually had 9 on my schedule.  Oh, well.  I have 10 scheduled for Friday but only a 4 mile workout (+ 5 miles warm-up/cool down), so depending on how my legs feel, I think I’ll do a double of 8 miles in the morning and 3 in the afternoon to catch up on all my mileage and stay on track for 42.  Or something like that.

Afterwards, we cheered on our high school team during their workout and said hi to the coaches.


seems counterintuitive…

I received a bunch of Amazon gift cards for Christmas and decided to be adventurous.  Therefore, I bought chia seeds and Wild Friends’ vanilla espresso almond butter.  Living life on the wild side, I know 😉  Anyway, my oatmeal this morning was excellent: 1/2 cup quick oats, 1 cup water, the Wild Friends almond butter, banana, frozen raspberries, chia seeds and cinnamon.  SO GOOD.  For lunch I had leftover roasted brussels sprouts and carrots, sweet potato, Progresso lentil soup, raspberry Fage yogurt, and 1/2 a PB&J.  Post-workout was a KIND bar, cherry Fage, and toasted French bread with olive oil.  And some chocolate chips 😉  Dinner was broiled citrus-garlic salmon, brown rice, and steamed spinach, and dessert was frozen berries.

Yesterday evening, I went to Georgetown with some friends.  We walked around by the river and the canal, and we watched a million police cars and fire trucks and ambulances make a huge scene.  No idea what was going on.  I also got a dark chocolate cupcake.


So flattering. The cupcake was very good. (It was NOT Georgetown Cupcake)

Tomorrow I have cross training!


Bipolar weather, family dysfunction, food, friends, training…

I hope everyone had a merry Christmas!  Mine was…interesting.  Lots of family drama.  Ran with one of my high school teammates that I hadn’t seen since October.   I really wanted to do a Christmas “bun run” (Santa hat, red sports bra, and buns) because it was 70 degrees, but I refrained from doing so.  We did 6 miles at around 8:00 pace.  Not too interesting.

She did take this sneaky you like my snowman socks?

She did take this sneaky picture…do you like my snowman socks?

On Sunday, 70 degree temperatures left me drenched after my “long” run (8 miles at 7:22 pace) even as the sun went down.


I told myself to go pretty easy on the long run, but…I didn’t.  Oh, well.  It was a good run.  I tried out the waterproof iPod shuffle and new earbuds I got for Christmas to use for runs and aqua jogging/swimming, and it was great!  The second half of the run was pretty hilly and fast.


Total last week: 28 miles running, 60 minutes cross training.

This week, my training increases to 37 miles and the normal hour of cross training on Wednesday.  Ideally, I’ll be back at normal mileage (45) in 2 weeks.

After days and days of disturbingly warm temperatures, in the span of 12 hours the temperature dropped from 70 to 40.  Ridiculous.  At least it almost feels like winter…

On Monday morning, I ran with one of my college teammates!  She’s four years older than me and really fast, so I was afraid I’d die from the long run and running with her, but it was actually a very nice run. 🙂 6 miles on the trails around Great Falls Park.

Today was my first workout back!  I warmed up for 2.5 miles to my high school track and did drills and strides.  The workout was 6 x 800m (3:00-2:45) with 1 minute recovery, but I took 80-90 seconds recovery, which I think was a good decision.  The workout went well, even though the track was completely deserted!   The overcast weather wasn’t exactly motivational, but I got it done.


I ran 2:56, 2:55, 2:56, 2:55, 2:56, 2:55, which is about what I was expecting for the first workout back.  It was a little bit of a shock to the system but overall not too bad at all.  I then cooled down 2.5 miles back to my house and stretched and rolled.  Total: 8 miles.  No ice bath today.

Enjoy this goofy post-workout face I sent to my friend

Enjoy this goofy post-workout face I sent to my friend

Post-workout lunch: Plain Greek yogurt with a banana; orange juice; Ritter Sport Extra Fine dark chocolate (my vice); 2 mini sweet potatoes with a little bit of brown sugar and butter; 2 bowls of black beans and rice (I mixed black beans, cooked brown rice, green peppers, tomatoes, onions, salt and pepper, garlic powder, red pepper flakes, and reduced sodium chicken broth and cooked it on low heat for awhile).  The black beans and rice bowls were spicy!

Not pretty but delicious!

Not pretty but delicious!

I’m really going to zero in on my nutrition over the coming days/weeks/months.  After many, many indulgences over the past month, I have some work to do to get back to fueling optimally.  I think I may use this blog as sort of a food log to keep me accountable.  While being home allows me to eat fresher and more organically and all that nonsense, I also have constant access to an unlimited supply of food.  Including way more meat than I was eating over the past several months.  Also, since my time isn’t taken up by schoolwork, I have more time to eat… Needless to say, it’s a slippery slope.

That being said, I reunited with one of my good friends yesterday and ate four pieces of chicken-mushroom-spinach-deliciousness pizza 🙂 Worth it.  But now I’m on the grind.



[First things first: my latest running news.

Friday: 6×800 between 2:57 and 3:01.  Saturday: 60 minutes (didn’t use my watch GPS so I have no idea what pace/how far I went).  Monday: 2×200 at 35, 36; 2×400 at 82, 77; 2×800 at 2:53, 2:52; 2×400 at 77, 81; 2×200 at strides pace.]

The majority of my spring break was pretty boring.  I make a to-do list every night for the next day, and my lists over spring break looked pretty much the same every day.  Example: “Make bed.  Fold laundry.  Breakfast: oatmeal.  6×800 and 8 minute abs.  Clean bathroom/kitchen/whatever.  Read anthro book.  Start math homework (that never happened).  Target: conditioner and mouthwash.  Make dinner/wash dishes.”


Yesterday was different.  Sundays are generally my rest days, so I didn’t have to run.  I woke up around 7:30, packed some food, printed out directions… and headed off with my friend to go skydiving!!!

As soon as my friend turned eighteen (three weeks ago), we wasted no time in planning this trip.  Skydiving is one of those things that goes on a bucket list and never gets checked off, but we were determined to check it off.

We got to the skydiving facility at 10:45 am; it consisted of a warehouse-like building, a small runway, several small planes, and a landing field.  We filled out the paperwork (“don’t sue us if you die”, basically), received some training…and then waited for 4 and a half hours.  Strong winds were responsible for one hour of that delay, but finally we tightened our jumpsuits, put on our helmet hats, and boarded the small plane.  There were two benches inside the plane, and the two of us (plus our instructors) were the only tandem jumpers in the group.


The jumpsuits aren’t exactly flattering 😉

We flew up to 14,000 feet, and the individual jumpers jumped first.  Finally, the only people left in the plane were our instructors, the camera/video guy, and us.


During the flight

Pretty much the only time I was a little apprehensive was at the end of the flight before we jumped.  Personally, it was more overwhelming to watch other people jump than to jump yourself!

My friend jumped before me, so my instructor and I were the last ones in the plane.  We crouched at the door, and then all of a sudden we jumped!


The first few seconds were exhilarating, but as we leveled out from vertical, I realized I couldn’t breathe.  Oops!  I didn’t enjoy the free fall as much as I should’ve because I was focused on the lack of oxygen in my lungs, but it was still a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  For some reason, falling through the air at 125 miles per hour didn’t scare me at all!

Side note: it is impossible to smile when your cheeks are being pressed up to your forehead.  The below picture is the only one where my face is not contorted into ridiculous positions 😉

IMG_5908After about a minute of free falling (which is a LONNNGGG time!), my instructor pulled the parachute and we swung up back to vertical and slowed down dramatically.


The scenic 5 minute parachute flight was much more…relaxing…than the free fall.  I could breathe!!  We floated about 4,000 feet down, complete with turns and spirals which were amazing.  The winds got pretty strong as we entered the last 500 feet or so, but my instructor managed to land us perfectly without any difficulty.

We hadn’t eaten lunch, so we stopped at Noodles and Company and then gorged ourselves on hot Krispy Kreme doughnuts! (Is there anything better than a hot Krispy Kreme doughnut…no)  My amazing friend did all the driving, and we got home around 8, when I promptly gorged myself on the lamb and potatoes and apple crisp that my mom had made for Easter dinner.

All in all, skydiving was pretty much the craziest thing I’ve ever done, and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again! (if I could afford to do it that often…)  I definitely need to work on my photogenic skydiving face, though!




Workouts: “Slow” and steady or fly and die?

I’ve been mulling something over for the past few days, and I haven’t completely decided what my opinion is on the topic.  —-Sorry for no pictures!!—-

As you well know, I am a high school runner, so because of that, I do almost all my workouts with my team.  There’s one teammate that I consistently work out with, and there are about four other girls of varying speeds in our workout group.

Here’s the debate topic: When the two of us are assigned a certain range for our repeats, the other girls ignore their workout paces and just fall in behind us. This is going to sound snarky, but none of them can calculate splits, so when the two of us calculate our splits, the other girls just go off of ours.  For example, if we’re aiming for a 2:55 800 and the other girls are supposed to run a 3:05, they just run a 2:55 with us.

Of course, this results in nobody finishing the workout except for the two of us who actually run our paces.  If it’s a 6-8×800 workout, most of the other girls rarely make it past 4 800s before they have to stop or modify their workout.  This is what I refer to as a “fly and die” workout.  Meanwhile, the two of us almost always complete our “steady” workout, usually finishing the last few repeats faster than we started.

I don’t think there has been a single workout yet this season where five girls started and five girls finished.  I’ll readily admit, I’ve dropped out of a couple as well, one due to me being out of shape and one (the one a few days ago) due to weird abnormal fatigue/shortness of breath.


Should the other girls continue their fly and die tactics?  Is it better to run fewer, faster repeats until you can’t hang on anymore?  Maybe it doesn’t matter, but the two of us lean more towards races like the 3200, while the other girls are milers, 1000 runners, etc.  Should we take that into account?  I just wish the other girls would calculate and stay true to their own splits in order to finish their workouts; I think I support the “steady” workout more than fly and die.  Even if the other girls were faster than us two (which one of them almost definitely will be come outdoor track), I would still wish they’d finish their workouts.  It seems as though modifying or dropping out of every workout takes its toll mentally as well as physically.

Happy 2015!

Happy New Year!!  It’s officially my graduation year, so that has me a little freaked out.

Monday brought a quick track workout (6x800m) which felt pretty good.  Tuesday’s run was a little longer than usual, but still felt okay.

Wednesday, on the other hand… I was supposed to do 4x1600m between 6:15 and 6:30, but right from the first lap it felt terrible.  My breathing was constricted and my legs were abnormally fatigued.  Not fun.  I ended up doing 2x1600m at 6:17 and 6:18, then a 1200 (4:43), but I had to stop after that.  Not finishing a workout is always a huge mental struggle, but I know that if I had kept pushing, it would have affected me negatively in the long run.

New Year's Eve, where miraculously we were both awake!

New Year’s Eve, where miraculously we were both awake!

We went to a New Year’s Eve party at my mom’s/brothers’ friends’ house, so I didn’t really have anyone to talk to, but it ended up not being a nightmare. 🙂  My mom actually stayed awake this year (last year, she fell asleep around nine!).

When we try to take a nice family picture... (that's one of my younger brothers)

When we try to take a nice family picture… (that’s one of my younger brothers)

Yesterday, I ran with two friends who are home from college!  I hadn’t run with one of them in two years!!

Today’s schedule includes a tempo run and the submission of my last college application!!!  I’m almost done!

I hope everyone’s New Year started off positively, if not with a bang.  I didn’t really make any New Year’s Resolutions, but my three best friends and I do have a huge bucket list of things to do before college.  We only have eight months to complete it!

Maybe one of my New Year’s resolutions should be to eat more of these chips!

IMG_4542 I discovered them in my house the other day, and they’re pretty much the best chips I’ve ever tasted.  I’m usually of the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality, meaning things that are unhealthy are meant to be unhealthy (i.e. I don’t believe in “healthifying” desserts and chips and whatnot), but these chips are one of a kind.

Form work and intervals all in one day!!!

Form work and intervals all in one day!!!

Today I couldn’t make it to my regular morning practice, so my mom had me meet with this other coach at a different school. I did a workout in 93 degree/burning sun/humid weather (what could be better!?) and then after I was practically on the ground dying, he told me to do some strides so he could assess my form. Which sucks. I’m aware of that. But fixing it is sooo hard. (That’s not sarcasm)
The workout was a two mile warm-up around the track, drills, and 4 x 800 meter repeats. The lovely, considerate football team had set up a big tent and a golf cart-type-mobile smack in the middle of the track, so lucky me- I got to do my 800s in the outside lane!! This made them slightly longer than an actual 800; I started ahead of the line so my first 400 was an actual 400, but my second lap was longer because I was in the outside lane the whole time. My repeats were (keep in mind it was a longer 800!!) 3:12, 3:09, 3:21, 3:07. I pretty much died mentally on the third one, but was able to come back and finish strong on the last repeat. I’m guessing that, had they been actual 800s, I probably would’ve run around 3 flat for the first two and the last one. It was sooo hot outside and I finished my entire bottle of water and entire bottle of Gatorade before the workout was even finished. I then did a mile cool down and he assessed my form during some striders. Finally, we were done. But my eye has been bothering me for the past day, and during the workout sweat started dripping into it, which made it buuuurn! The PAIN. Anyway, that was my workout for the day. We have a time trial on Thursday and I get to wake up at 5 tomorrow to go to a 6 am Pilates class with the rest of the varsity girls before 7:30 practice!!
On a related note, I’m questioning my sanity/judgment. My mom asked me, hypothetically, if I’d rather have an iPhone or a Garmin. Guess what I answered? Garmin. I’m actually content with my nearing-its-seventh-birthday bright green Rumor from Sprint. iPhones aren’t nearly as indestructible as this phone. I dropped it in the freaking toilet and it’s fine. I threw it clear across my friend’s porch and it landed in a thorn bush…and it’s FINE. Sure, it doesn’t have Internet, can hold maybe five low-quality pictures, and sometimes the keyboard decides to stop working for a few seconds, but who cares? It works. It texts and calls. That’s the epitome of a CELL PHONE. (I know, I can’t be a teenage girl if I’m saying this, right? What about Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/Vine/Snapchat? Guess what, I have an iPod. So maybe I’m not COMPLETELY modern-technology-free.) Anyway, Garmin over iPhone any day!
The next post will be about food because who doesn’t love food, but this post is pretty long so I think I’ll stop for now.
T-7 days and counting till junior year begins! (I got my schedule today. It’s going to be atrocious. #IBkid)