Fun Friday Fartlek with Friend

(I’m such a dork.  I can’t.)

Before I get started with this post, which will be fueled by a jittery I-drank-more-caffeine-than-I-can-handle frenzy, it’s my four-year blogiversary!  WOW.  I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for four years!  Maybe some of the positive things that happened this morning count as a celebration. 🙂

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Some things have changed (like my eyebrows, and my 5k PR)…my coworker still thinks I’m in high school, though

So the past couple days have not been the most fun.  My runs have gone pretty well, but to some extent, the rest of the day has been spent feeling like a train hit my body.  Yikes.  It’s been extremely helpful to have a running buddy for most of this week’s runs so far.  I’m not sure how I’d be getting through without them 😅

I wasn’t looking forward to another workout, but a couple days ago, one of my teammates texted me to say that she would be in town, and did I want to workout together?

Um, heck yes!

I hadn’t seen her all summer, so we had a lot to catch up on.  We met up this morning at a park with a 5-mile trail loop, and from the start of the warm-up to the end of the cool-down, we did not stop talking.  Both of us had been feeling a little burnt out and lonely, so we didn’t stress at all about the workout and just had a blast running with each other.  It was a 7-5-7-5 fartlek with 2 minutes’ recovery, and we didn’t even shut up during the workout, gasping for breath as we sprinted along the wooded trails.  I’m sure we looked and sounded ridiculous 😉

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Here’s another 2013 throwback (at the same park from this morning!) for the blogiversary 😉

Working out together made us both super excited for when the whole team is back together!  Just a few more weeks.  Workouts (and the general grind of training) is so much easier when there are 20 other women working just as hard ❤

It’s also been almost chilly in the mornings for the past few days, which has made running more bearable.  This morning was 70 degrees and overcast- nothing like 85 and unbearable!

After the workout, I was stretching, rolling out, and refueling in the parking lot while watching local high schools compete in a cross country scrimmage.  Two of the most outgoing, hilarious young kids I’ve ever met came over and started asking 300 questions about my roller, stretch rope, car keys…even the lunch box that housed my post-workout breakfast.

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Their older sister was running in the scrimmage, but they had gotten bored and were on an “adventure.”  The younger girl (4 or 5) proceeded to take over the foam roller and stretch rope while she showed off her moves.  Her brother was shocked when I didn’t know who their sister was, and that I didn’t go to her school- apparently all runners know each other 😉 While not noteworthy, this interaction with two extremely extroverted kids made my morning all over again.

I drove home and stopped to get ice and splurge on illy coffee, since it’s my favorite.  The most convenient place to get illy coffee happened to be my workplace’s biggest competitor (oops).  When I ordered my coffee from the manager, he asked who had better coffee.  I defended my workplace’s ice cream but reluctantly admitted that illy coffee tops all else…and the guy shook my hand and comped my coffee!  I felt like a traitor, but this was yet another positive happenstance that made my morning!

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Ice bathing with my free caffeine 😉

After an eventful morning full of positive happenings not directly related to running (a refreshing change!), I took an ice bath, showered, and caught up with some friends.  The rest of the afternoon will be filled with lunch, a nap, and some chores before heading to work until 11 pm tonight.

I feel really content right now.   Also hopped up on (free) caffeine, so that might have something to do with it!  Something annoying or catastrophic will probably happen later to make up for this good morning 😉 but right now…all good.  I’m also going to a concert on Sunday with my friend to see some groups that I LOVE, so I’m so excited.  Happy Friday!  I hope everyone has a great weekend!

Summer Training Week 11 (57 miles)

Week 11?! What??

Happy Sunday!  It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood- 65 degrees this morning as I headed out the door to go to yoga (for the first time in a month.  Shhh).  After a long, tough week of hard workouts and work shifts every single day, my off day from running and my off day from work have fallen on the same day.  #blessed.  I went to yoga, the farmer’s market, a local bakery, and am spending the rest of the day trying to adult by looking at used cars.

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Week 11 7/31-8/6):

Monday:  AM: 7 miles on sidewalks, drills, strides, difficult core circuit.  Felt pretty flat- worked late last night.  PM: 2 miles.  Felt decent.  Total: 9.

Tuesday:  Got over 8 hours of sleep last night!!  Woke up at 6:40 which is quite late for me…AM: 2 mile warm-up, drills, 5 mile “steady state” on bike path, 2 mile cool down.  Splits: 6:27, 6:27, 6:24, 6:16, 6:03.  Mentally strong!  Light lift day 1.  Ice bath.  Worked 12-5.  PM: 2 miles home from work.  Total: 11 miles.

Wednesday: 5 miles on sidewalks + turf.  Tired but decent.  Worked 5-9:30 pm.

Thursday:  AM: drills, 7 miles, strides.  Light lift day 2.  Strides felt much better than Monday.  Worked 11-5.  PM: 3 miles home from work.  Felt heavy; sore feet.  Total: 10.

Friday:  12 min warm-up, drills, REALLY LONG FARTLEK on canal (3×1 minute, 2×2, 2×3, 2×4, 2×3, 2×2, 3×1 with 1 min recovery in between everything), 12 min cool down.  Total: 10 miles.  This workout was weird- I kept losing focus, didn’t feel engaged, but rallied well at the end once I convinced myself I was almost done 😉  Didn’t sleep great the night before.  Canal was very muddy.  Ice bath.  Worked 12-5.

Saturday:  12 miles sidewalks/bike path.  First 8ish by myself and then 4ish with my friend during which we stopped like every 2 minutes.  Oh well. Quite tired.  Ice bath.  Worked 12-5.

Sunday: 1 hour yoga class.  Off.  Off from work too- yessss.

Total: 57 miles + yoga class

This week was pretty dang tiring.  Worked every single day, some tough workouts, and the fatigue has definitely accumulated over the past two days.  Sleep could’ve been better- I drank a lot of coffee this week, which kept me up a bit at night!  I hit slightly higher mileage than planned, so I’m taking today completely off instead of doing the scheduled cross train.

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Yes, this is a blurry butt shot- but I had to document how MUDDY Friday’s workout was!

My mentality was very one-track-minded, and I feel a bit antisocial and isolated.  Definitely need this off day from running.  I’ve gotten very good at understanding when and why my body/mind feel certain ways, and right now, both are saying, “You almost overdid it this week.  You need a day off!”

On both Tuesday and Thursday, I doubled home from work.  However, Thursday’s route was a little too long…so I ended up having a nice little walk home after reaching my mileage.IMG_7458.jpg

Met up with a friend for acai bowls on Wednesday! Delicious, fun, and overpriced 😉

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I’m feeling the need for a nap, so I’m going to wrap this post up.  This week, I’m going to work on balance, reading more instead of spending so much time on Instagram, reaching out to friends, and continuing to prepare for the school year.  It’s almost time for fall semester!!

Summer Training Week 8 (54 miles)

Happy National Ice Cream Day!  After an easy 4 miles and core this morning, I dog sat, perused the farmer’s market, and have been checking various chores off my to-do list.  It’s been a busy week; I’ve worked every single day, and one more shift stands in the way of me and a day off 😉

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Week 7 (7/10-7/16):

Monday:  AM: drills, glutes, 7 miles,  strides.  I felt pretty crappy and was cranky on this run.  Core circuit.  PM: 3 miles neighborhood trail.  1 hour slow flow yoga class.  Got sick afterwards and puked/laid in bed all evening.

Tuesday:  AM: nothing: still sick.  Felt very achey/tired/lethargic, hibernated all day.  PM: 7 miles at 8:00 pace on treadmill.  Feet hurt by the end but body felt surprisingly okay.

Wednesday:  5 miles at Roosevelt Island.  Probably one of the top 5 worst runs I’ve ever had.  Heavy legs, felt off balance and achey, and it was super warm and humid.  But at least I did it!  Lift day 1: felt okay.

Thursday:  AM: fartlek on canal: 2 mile warm-up, 1-1-1-2-2-2-3-3-2-2-2-1-1-1 min on with 1 min recovery between everything, 2 mile cool down.  Very humid/muggy.  Didn’t feel amazing, but much better than Wednesday.  Ice bath.  PM: 2 miles at 8:10 pace on treadmill.  Very tired, and sore feet/legs!  Total = 11 miles

Friday: AM: 5 miles sidewalks.  Tired but progressively better.  Very humid/hot.  Lift day 2, unfortunately disrupted by some really horrible interactions.  The lift went pretty well, but I was not in a good mindset and therefore it didn’t feel as quality as it could have.  PM: was going to swim, but thunderstorms closed the pool, so I reluctantly took the afternoon off (which I definitely needed!!)

Saturday:  4 mile warm-up, 4 mile tempo (6:30, 6:33, 6:19, 6:12), 4 mile cool down all on bike path.  95% humidity.  Tempo was hard but got progressively mentally stronger throughout.  I knew I would need something extra, so I ate a citrus Clif energy gel after the tempo (so after 8 miles), and I don’t know if it was a placebo effect, but the last 4 miles felt surprisingly good!  Sore toes.  Ice bath. (Total: 12 miles)

Sunday: 4 miles + core

Total: 54 miles

This week was just weird.  I got sick on Monday and really didn’t feel well for about 5 days total.  Running wasn’t super fun, and I was annoyed that my mileage was lower than I wanted it to be.  Also, I managed to do 3 runs on soft-ish surfaces (yay!) but my legs were still super heavy and the constant, miserable heat and humidity didn’t help…

But I tried to listen to my body, and I’m proud of myself for taking Friday afternoon off (haha I’m aware how ridiculous that sounds).  I finally started to feel not-dead on Friday night.  Saturday’s long run took awhile to get into, and the tempo really did not feel great. So I was going to do 2×2 miles, and then “get to 3 miles and reevaluate”, but I got to 3 miles and felt progressively stronger so ended up doing 4 🙂  And I’m now an energy gel believer haha.

I’ve turned into a hermit that only runs and works.  I know my mindset was kinda crazy this week, so one of the things I’ll work on this coming week is not treating every run/mileage like the be-all, end-all of cross country success.  I have a tendency to micro-analyze every week and compare it to last year, etc. etc. etc.  I do really want to hit higher mileage, but I’m trying to remind myself that consistency is key!  There’s no need to rush things, especially after the spring semester…

One of the things I will try to incorporate this coming week is positive mantras.  Even a short phrase can re-center yourself and remind you of what’s important.  I go to a slow flow yoga class every week, and the instructor’s end-of-class mantra is “You are strong.  You are awesome.  You are inspiring.”  Heck yes, we all are!  Power poses can also play a big role in re-establishing yourself and getting out of a short-term funk.  I sound like such a hippie 😉 but I will incorporate these techniques.

Other random happenings:

  • My baby brother turned 13!
  • I finished reading A Walk Across America and re-read Born to Run and Eat and Run.  I’m a fan of all three books.  Now I’m reading Reconstructing Amelia.

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  • I poached eggs in a muffin tin for the first time.  They were delicious!  Just pop em in the oven for like 10 minutes.
  • Made Spicy Peanut Pad Thai for dinner one night (recipe from runonveg.com).  It was really good!  I used shrimp instead of tofu.  Also didn’t have aminos so used soy sauce, but that made it way too soy-sauce-y, so I had to add a bunch of honey to the sauce, haha.
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National Ice Cream Day concoction in the works.  Hint: involves three types of dough

  • Decompressed every night by eating lots of dessert and binge-watching The Great British Baking Show (until 10 pm because #earlyriserprobs)

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  • My coach shared with us the article, “Mindsets: Developing Talent Through a Growth Mindset” by Carol Dweck.  It was a really good read- I would recommend it to any athletes (or anyone!).  She also had us think about our beliefs about natural talent and effort.
  • I tend to align more with a fixed mindset in terms of “concealing deficiencies” and sometimes have trouble accepting criticism.  However, I have a growth mindset when it comes to Rule #2: “Work with passion and dedication- effort is key.”  Just some personal food for thought.

My goals (running and non-running) this week are to: have fun outside of training because I kind of failed at that this week; be less rigid with training and don’t stress about workouts; do something nice for someone every day; practice listening rather than just waiting until someone is done talking and then jumping in with whatever I have to say; plan more fall semester stuff; read a lot; stay off my phone!

Summer Training Week 3

It’s Monday!  After a hot run and some core this morning, I’m spending most of today relaxing and doing chores before swimming later.  Monday is always my day off from work 🙂
Last week brought 36 miles, 140 minutes of cross training, busy work shifts, fun times with good friends, a delightful Train/OAR/Natasha Bedingfield concert, and a wine tasting for my mom’s “bachelorette” party (I love being 20!!, she said sarcastically).  And NCAAs, of course!  It was awe-inspiring and motivational to watch.  I may be crazy and have delusions of grandeur, but this middle-of-the-pack D1 runner now wants to qualify for NCAAs!!  Or at least track regionals…
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Concert with friends

Week 3: (6/5-6/11)
Monday: AM: 6 miles on bike path + core circuit.  PM: 30 min swim.
Tuesday: 7 miles @ 7:40ish pace on sidewalks/asphalt.  Felt stiff and out of rhythm.  Glute activation, drills, strides.  Lift day 1.  PM: crazy work shift!
Wednesday: 60 min bike…felt sick midday but it passed so I biked in the evening and felt really good, actually.
Thursday: AM: 6 miles bike path + core.  Foot pain.  Drills + strides.  PM: 3 miles.
Friday:  5 miles on asphalt/sidewalks into 20 min bike.  Lift day 2.
Saturday: 9 miles on bike path.  7:30ish average.  Very hot and sunny.
Sunday: 30 min aqua jog.  I think I burned my face off.  Not a cloud in the sky.
Total: 36 miles + 140 min XT
This week…hmm.  Similar to last week, my foot hurt on almost every run, but on the plus side, I’m still feeling strong in the weight room.  I did a terrible job of getting on soft surfaces 😉  Almost every run was on an asphalt bike path or sidewalks.  Having running buddies on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday made the runs more fun, though!
Friday’s run was somewhat crappy at the beginning but got progressively better once my legs warmed up.  I was definitely mentally distracted during the lift session that followed, but thankfully both the bike and lift went better than the run anyway!
The bearable-yet-constant foot pain is starting to wear on me mentally again, and I find myself dreading runs a little bit because I want to run but don’t want to be in pain.   To be honest, I am not doing as much as I should to stay on top of it.  I’m rolling with my shiny new lacrosse ball, acquired for the express purpose of wrecking my feet 😉 …doing warm Epsom salt soaks, and sporadically doing mobility, but I can do more.  It’s this cycle of: foot hurts on runs, I get sad thinking about it, I avoid rehab because it makes me think about the fact that my foot hurts.  Ya feel?
But on the plus side, I can feel my body responding to the strength sessions.  The core circuits that left me sore for days three weeks ago are easier.  I’m planning on adding weight to my squats, deadlifts, and farmer’s holds in the weight room this week.  Already bracing myself for the DOMS 😉
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Mom and me!

After identifying the factors that brought me down a little bit last week but taking solace in the fact that I still had a decent training week and got to do a lot of other fun things, I’m re-motivated for the coming week, which should bring about 42 miles in addition to cross training sessions.
Runs are getting longer, temperatures are getting hotter, and the grind is coming back.  My goals for the next week are to train purposefully and to not skimp on the little things.  Every run is one step closer to my goals, both as an individual and as a member of a team that aspires to achieve greatness.  My teammate just ran extremely well at NCAAs, which was so emotional and motivational.  All of the competitors at NCAAs work extremely hard, day in and day out, to get to the national level.  Some of them have more natural talent than others, but none of them skip out on what they need to do to achieve their goals.  That’s how you get to that next level.
Other highlights from my week before I sign off for now:
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A 14-year-old made this lemon lavender cake!

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I nearly cried when they sang “Bruises” and “Drops of Jupiter”

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Another concert picture!

Summer is a great time to put in the work for the upcoming season(s).  This week, I WILL remember to take fish oil every day, re-dedicate myself to foot rehab, switch to orthotics for shorter runs, wear sunscreen, and keep track of sleep and practice good bedtime habits such as putting away technology.  I will be mindful of the foods I choose to nourish my body with– remembering that anti-inflammatory is the way to go and that I am willing to do anything to help my foot feel as good as it can possibly feel!  I will also put in more shifts at work, try to be as frugal as possible and go on free/cheap summer adventures…hiking, exploring DC, playing piano, going to yoga, cooking, reading, playing badminton, soaking up the sun, picnics, crafting…there’s so much to do!

1,291 miles: Reflections

But first: this happened yesterday!

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I used to donate my hair all the time, but I took a break for about five years.  Figured it was about time again 🙂

We met for practice this afternoon as usual, but going for a run was optional.  After our two-lap warm-up, hurdle drills, and speed ladder, I figured, “Why not?” and went for a lovely three miles to end the season.

Oh my gosh.  Time to reflect on the best season of my life.

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The numbers: May 16th to November 14th

  • I ran 1,291 miles (approximately).
  • Cross trained for 12 hours and 40 minutes.
  • Ran more than 50 miles per week for 20 straight weeks.
  • 14 complete rest days.

The details: 

  • 5 races
  • Did not get injured.  Or sick.  Which is freaking amazing.
  • I did more pull-ups, chin-ups, and harder workouts than ever before.
  • Matured more mentally than I anticipated
  • Ate even more oatmeal than ever before.
  • Made it into the varsity seven 🙂

This season was a rollercoaster.  I trained extremely diligently over the summer and came into school with an attitude towards training that was, in retrospect, a little too intense.  I was logging higher and faster mileage than I ever had, but I wasn’t listening to my body enough.  My schoolwork, mental, and physical health were suffering.  I reevaluated and got over the urge to “do everything.”

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One of my favorite things from this season was the transition from bodyweight circuits in the locker room to real lifting routines in the weight room with a very knowledgeable lifting instructor.  I love lifting, and I could truly myself getting stronger as the season progressed.  I was conquering hills, and my form wasn’t breaking down during the latter portions of races.

The next two weeks will be spent in hardcore recovery mode– aka indulging in all the foods I limited throughout the season.  At the tailgate after the race on Friday, I ate an exorbitant quantity of baked goods and sandwiches and pasta.  My roommate gave me a pumpkin-stuffed vanilla cupcake with cream cheese frosting.  The weekend brought many Reese’s cups.

Last night was our team thanksgiving, which is always an incredibly fun spectacle!  The seniors cook the turkeys, there are ridiculous games, and everyone brings delicious food.  I made cranberry sauce and sweet potato biscuits and gorged myself on everything from pumpkin cinnamon rolls to stuffing to bacon brussels sprouts to sweet potatoes with marshmallows and brown sugar.  I’ll get back on the grind eventually, but for now– it’s about enjoyment 🙂

Next up: goals for track!

NCAA D1 Regionals

The best cross country season of my life so far ended Friday in a slightly depressing way.

To put it lightly, regionals did not go as expected for the team.

We were expected to be in the mix to qualify for NCAA Division 1 Nationals in Terre Haute by finishing as one of the top two teams at regionals.  Unfortunately, we completely fell apart as a team and finished ninth.  Individually, I had a decent race.  It wasn’t spectacular, but it wasn’t that bad.  Life is weird.

IMG_0968.JPGI’d been experiencing progressively worse piriformis and adductor pain in my right leg to the point where it hurt to sit down, but I got through the race okay.  But I’m getting ahead of myself!

We left on Wednesday evening after dinner and arrived at the hotel around 8:30 pm.  On Thursday morning, we ate breakfast and headed to the course to pre-meet (5 miles, drills, strides, and a rope stretch).  It was then that the pain in my piriformis and adductor started really bothering me.  We ran the course, and I think I was overcompensating during that run and the strides that followed, because afterwards I was in a fair amount of pain.

On Friday morning, we completed our ten-minute shakeout at 7 am, followed by a rope stretch and breakfast.  Of course I had the typical oatmeal, almond butter, banana, and yogurt, along with black tea.

It was in the sixties and sunny when we got to the course around 9:30.  I was excited, nervous about the left side pain, and really, really hoping we would make nationals.

We warmed up for 20 minutes, completed our drills, and headed to the line and did strides.  This was the same course that I died on back in September, so I felt a bit apprehensive when the sun started blazing like it did that day.  It wasn’t quite as warm, but the temperatures were still unseasonably hot for this time of year!

The gun went off, and I got out badly, not gonna lie.  I found myself at the back of the giant pack, but I figured that would happen, so I just tried to get into a rhythm.  The first steep downhill-uphill rollercoaster jarred my piriformis/adductor…ouch.15036212_1218454414910150_586722439243613332_n.jpg

3k through 5k were pretty rough for me, and my legs just felt dead.  There’s a giant horrible hill at 4k that seemingly never ends and killed me in September, and I hit that hill with the goal of just trying to get over it.  Which I did, yay!  But that’s when I saw a couple of my teammates up ahead struggling. That’s also when I figured we weren’t going to make nationals as a team.

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I hit the 5k mark in 119th place after losing ten spots and slowing significantly on the hilly middle portion, and I knew I had to rally and have a good last kilometer.  My headband fell off 800 meters from the finish (oops), I hit the creek and struggled up the crazy last hill, and threw myself into the final straightaway.  At this point, all thoughts of my piriformis had flown from my mind.

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That straightaway is about 500 meters long, so at that point in the race, there’s still time to do some work.  I found myself running progressively stronger as I neared the finish line, and passed a fair amount of people.  I finished in 113th place in 22:38.

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After finding out that we had not done well as a team, we took awhile to group back up (some people were struggling with medical issues; our top runner had to get an IV).  Our cool down was sad.  Afterwards, we watched the men’s 10k; our guys had a solid race and placed higher than their ranking with a very small time spread!

Our top runner was the first one out from qualifying individually for NCAAs, but we learned yesterday that she’d received one of the two at-large bids given out to the entire country!  No one deserves it more.

This was definitely not the way we were hoping to end our season, but it’s time to support our teammate at Nationals, take our break, and then refocus for the track season.  I’ll do a cross country reflection and track goals post soon.

 

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 🙂

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The finish of the 2016 Marine Corps Marathon

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

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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!

XC Conference Championships 2016

Please pinch me; I’m pretty sure I’m dreaming.

Today was our conference race, and without further ado- We won individually and as a team, and I was the FIFTH scorer.

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I kind of can’t believe it.

We left campus yesterday morning, rode 5 hours in the vans, and pre-meeted the course in the afternoon.  While the course was at a beautiful state park, it was probably one of the hardest courses we’d ever encountered.  Winding, narrow trails with tricky footing, treacherous roots, rolling hills, and a crazy hill at two miles:

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After 5 miles, drills, and strides, we knocked all time goals out of our heads.  I had wanted to break 22, but I forgot all about that and zeroed in on my other goal– top seven.

We went to dinner (I had a lot of bread, bruschetta, and a chicken pesto pasta dish), did a bit of grocery shopping, and headed back to the hotel for the women’s team meeting.  We hadn’t tapered for conferences, with the focus being on regionals in two weeks.  We were expected to win, so our coach told us to use it as a hard effort and “practice” for regionals.  Get out well, settle in, and pack up.

To be honest, I was in a really weird funk the night before the race.  I felt so sad, and I had no interest in racing.  It was weird and unnerving.  I got a pretty good night’s sleep, though, and woke up this morning feeling a little more excited to race.  But I was kind of dreading the course.

We ran a 10-minute shakeout at 7 am, followed by a rope stretch and then breakfast.  I had the usual oatmeal with almond butter, a banana, cinnamon, and nutmeg, along with a vanilla Siggi’s and a splash of coffee.  My stomach was kind of in knots.

We headed to the course and got there about an hour and a half before the race.  It was windy and chilly, but the sights continued to astonish.  I had another half a banana and tri-berry Nuun.  Again we rope stretched and then headed for our warm-up.  Did drills, strides, and headed to the line.

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The gun went off, and I tried to establish my position but got jostled around on the first steep downhill.  I settled in around 35th place and maybe 10th for my team and didn’t really try to pass anyone until the mile mark.  Surprisingly, I found myself moving up really well as we hit some narrow rolling hills.  Just before 3k, I made contact with one of my teammates, and as we passed our coach, she screamed, “Good! You’re in sixth and seventh!”

That’s when I started thinking, “Whoa.  I could do this.”

There was an incredibly steep hill right after the two mile mark, and it sucked the soul right out of most of the runners.  Our coach had told us not to hammer up this hill-just get up and over it to avoid going lactic- and I kept that in mind as we started the ascent.  It hurt a lot.  We finally reached the top to find…more hills!  At this point, I surged on the smaller uphills, and a gap formed between my teammate and me, leaving me solidly in sixth for our team.

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The entire second half of the race, I mostly thought this: “OK, you are in the top seven and you are going to keep this position if it kills you!  Six minutes of pain left!  Suck it up and get to the finish!!”

I hit 5k, and it was hard to believe I had 1k to go.  I passed a few more girls and saw our fifth runner up ahead.  She has breathing issues and looked like she was struggling.  With 500 to go, I passed her up the last hill, willing her to come with me.  We rounded the last turn and shot out onto the finish straightaway.  I didn’t have the best kick today, but it was enough for seventeenth place overall, fifth place for the team, and a time of 22:31. I couldn’t stop smiling after I’d crossed the line.  For this insane course, I was so happy with it.  (My All-American teammate only ran mid-21s.) And I’m going to regionals!!

We only had time for a 20-minute cool down before the awards ceremony.  Afterwards, we packed up, and I headed home with my mom and spent the afternoon going to my brother’s game and gorging myself on food.  My mom is running the Marine Corps Marathon (her first marathon) tomorrow morning, and I’m staying to cheer her on!  I’m supposed to do a 3-5 mile shakeout run tomorrow, so I’ll try to plan my spectating route accordingly!  Then it’s back to campus for me– let’s hope I get on the right train this time.

Today was a great day!  I’m going to regionals!! (Sorry, I know I already said that, but I’m so excited!)  This was a dream that has gotten me through the hard, soul-crushing training cycles since the beginning of the summer, and now it’s starting to come true!

 

 

Intervals and Fall Festivities

Good morning!  I hope everyone is having a great Sunday.  After a few weeks of nice, cool weather, the temperatures rocketed back up to the 80s throughout the past week, which was less than ideal.  Luckily, they’re trending back down, and it is currently 56 degrees and sunny in the ‘burg.  I’m currently hanging in my favorite coffee shop, and I thought I’d take a break from reviewing for my Gender in Society midterm to catch up on what I’ve been up to.

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On Friday afternoon, we worked out on the track…but it was probably the worst workout day we have had as a team this season.  Almost everyone struggled- some had breathing issues, some didn’t feel well, etc.

The workout: 7 x 1000 with the first two close to threshold pace, the next two a bit faster, the fifth one “controlled all-out”, and the last two a bit slower.  We also ran 2 very controlled 200s (38-40 seconds) before starting the 1000s.

I hit 3:31, 3:36, 3:36, and my peroneals were burning up a storm.  So I ran the fourth one clockwise in lane 3 alone…didn’t help.  It was my slowest.  I think I ran above 3:40.  No good.  I was pissed off that the workout wasn’t going to plan, so I reset mentally and got ready for the “controlled all-out” portion.  Focused on quick turnover and ran 3:26- hey, at least it was faster than the others!  I hit 3:36 and 3:33 for my last two to at least finish off the workout strong.

The positive news- I’d never done 7 x 1000 in my life, so even though the first half of the workout sucked, I was proud that I rallied in the second half, even if the paces weren’t quite there!

The past 36 hours have been jam-packed with amazingly cliché fall activities 🙂  To decompress after the workout, I cooked an amazing dinner alone in the dorm kitchen.  Pan-seared steak, sauteed spinach, brussels sprouts, and sweet potatoes, all with olive oil, pepper, and garlic salt.  Afterwards, I went to my friends’ apartment and made some gigantic homemade chocolate peanut butter cups while we watched “How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days.”

Saturday’s long run was quite rough, as I felt nauseous and cut it short at 10 miles.  Afterwards, though, one of my friends and I had a spontaneously lovely morning of brunch, the farmer’s market, and peanut shop samples 🙂

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The afternoon was spent on the ferry and at the pumpkin patch, and some of us went out to dinner to celebrate my friend’s 21st birthday!

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I should probably continue to study for my midterm, so that’s all for now.  I’m taking a complete off day today as I already hit about 55 miles for the week and should probably not go higher than that.  The conference race is this coming Saturday already!  Yesterday was chock-full of indulgences (pumpkin pie, cappuccinos, bacon, molten chocolate lava cake!), so it’s back on the healthy train until Saturday at least 😉

It’s been a great weekend with lovely friends, a bit of drama, beautiful weather, sweaters, and fall fun.

6k race (22:16)

Friday was my second 6k ever! And it went really well.

(First 6k ever– a year ago)

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I woke up early, like always, and laid in bed until it was time to shake out at 7:30 am. It was 35 degrees outside- definitely a change from back home!- but it felt really nice. After the shakeout, we rope stretched and ate breakfast before packing up and heading to the course around 9:45. Pre-race breakfast: plain nonfat Fage, oatmeal with a banana and Justin’s almond butter, and a bit of coffee. I also had half of another banana and lemon-lime Nuun closer to race time.

We got to the course, which is on a picturesque golf course, and we rope stretched, warmed up, and did drills and strides. At this point, the temperatures had reached the mid-40s, which actually felt pretty good!

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After a team huddle and stride back, we took off the last of our outer layers and got ready to roll. Honestly, I had a feeling this would be a good day. We had previewed the course multiple times, and while pretty much the entire last mile was uphill, we knew we could do it. After my last race, I had no expectations, and I was feeling a little nervous but also ready to “just run to your fitness level”, as my coach put it.

The gun went off, and I settled in pretty much right away. The plan was to go out relatively conservatively (compared to everyone else) because we knew that it would naturally be fast and we wanted to be able to rally in the second half. The first straightaway was kind of overwhelming, though, with hundreds of women stampeding down the golf course incline into a tight pass. On the first turn, we went from a sprint to almost a dead stop! I kept reminding myself to relax, relax, relax.

The first mile flew by, and it was so downhill that my 5:30something split felt like a 5:50 effort. Even going out in 5:30, I was still in like 150th place. I bunched up with two of my teammates during the second mile, and we came through two miles right over 11:30. Really started trying to pass people as the real hills began.

From 2.5 miles to the finish (6k, or 3.75 miles), there were three pretty intense hills. I dug deep and powered up the first one and told myself I’d be able to recover on the upcoming downhill. That didn’t work too well because I still felt very lactic when I hit the next hill, which was significantly longer, albeit less steep, than the previous one.

The last hill was half a mile long, and it hurt. A lot. Finally made it to the top and rounded the final turn, and we had a quarter mile to go. I kicked with what I had left, and with about 25 meters to go, my teammate (who has a notoriously lethal kick) flew by me. I went with her as much as I could, and we ended up passing a couple other girls before the finish. We finished together in 22:16, which was a 36-second PR for me, a minute PR for her, 5:58 average pace, and converts to an 18:21 5k!

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Happy after big PRs 🙂

Afterwards, we cooled down for about 3 miles, did 4 strides, and cheered on our men’s team, who had a 19-second spread between runners 1-5 over the 5.2 mile race! I downed a vanilla Siggi’s yogurt, rope stretched for a bit, took some pictures, and finally we headed to get food. Stopped at Wegmans for the third time in two days 😉 I treated myself to a pretty amazing post-race meal of a chicken pot pie, sautéed garlic kale, mac and cheese, a cranberry Kombucha, and a Wegmans pumpkin muffin. On point.

Overall, this race was a giant step in the right direction. It was the biggest cross country race I’ve ever participated in (I finished 136th). I’m happy with a PR and know that there’s more in the tank. I’m also thrilled that my teammate and I, who were the two slowest walk-ons entering our freshman year, finished as the seventh and eighth runners for our team!! I think my coach’s philosophy of “we don’t need anyone to run out of their minds. Just run what you are physically capable of” really helped me stay calm and focus on race day.

Now for the not so good news- ended a relationship on Friday night, and the past 1.5 days have been pretty rough.  A veritable rollercoaster of emotion.  Doesn’t help that I’m 100% sleep-deprived.