Neither Snow Nor Rain Nor Sleet..


What a day!!!! The morning was busy with working on taxes for the business, working with my 6 and 8 year old daughters who were both needing lots of one-on-one with their math today and getting the laundry and housework caught up before lunchtime. I was looking forward to meeting Ryan A. for a lunch time tempo run as a break. I quickly finished up things and jumped in the car to take off. It was raining cats and dogs. I get less than 2 miles from home and the alternator goes out on the little car. It totally dies and won’t start. I knew it was coming. We just changed the battery a week ago and bought it new tires and our Suburban is at the shop right now getting the power steering pump changed. Our last car is a minivan that no longer shifts beyond second gear!!! Argh!!! One of those weeks!

I very reluctantly make the call to Ryan to tell him I won’t make it. Ironically, earlier this week we’d talked about how great it is that we never flake on runs together. I felt like a heel.

Thankfully, Wayne’s home and drives the minivan with the battery charger to help me out. We have to stop twice to recharge it just to get it back to the driveway. Wayne offers to take me to lunch since he can see I’m having a crappy day. He takes me to Chinese -the first non-healthy food I’ve had in 8 days. He orders Coke. I have tea and water. I’m starving since I’d skipped lunch trying to get everything done. I eat most of my food but skip most of the manderin chicken. The soup, chow mein and rice are yummy, though.

We drive to the parts store to get a new alternator. Then Wayne asks, “Are you seriously going to go running in THIS weather?” He knows me well enough he shouldn’t have even asked. I tell him as soon as we get back home I’ll take off – Chinese food in my gut or not – this is tempo day!

And I do. I head out into the rain. The schedule called for 1 mile w/u, 6 miles tempo at 8:00 then 1 mi c/d. I am determined despite the weather to hit my splits. And, I do.

The rain is coming down hard when I start. I ease in, warming up the legs. Mile 2 includes a steep downhill towards the town greenbelt. I relax and let my legs do what they love to do. The pace is too fast for the goal, but I know the downhill is the reason so I’m not bothered by that. The effort feels similar or easy. After mile 2, I hit the greenbelt finally and the weather changes. It starts to snow and the wind picks up. The miles tick by as I run through the basalt canyons with the view of the fog covered mountains ahead of me. I have to keep my eyes squinted almost shut because the snow is coming down hard and hurts if I open them. I hit 4 miles and don’t turn around. I want to keep going. I run until I’m at Sandy Point – the end of the line and the starting line for the Famous Potato Marathon — the very race I qualified for Boston at in May. I get a little emotional because I’m training for Boston in this very workout! The dream is coming true and I’m proving that I’m worthy of the honor – willing to tough out my workouts no matter what the weather or how bad my day is going.

It’s a little more than 5 miles into the workout when I turn around in the parking lot and head back. The wind is powerful in my face and the snow is coming down harder, burning, stinging my eyeballs. I try to run with my eyes closed but try to squint when I know the speed bumps are coming. There are several in the parking lot – maybe 6? I’m soaked to the bone. I’ve ran 4 tempo miles just under goal pace. I’m on track. I’m feeling a little tired, but I’m ok. I can do this. I’ve trained in bad weather before. No big deal. I keep at it and don’t let up. I hit mile 5 on track and mile 6 comes and goes and I don’t slow down. I’m done with the tempo portion but I don’t choose to rest. I want to get out of this crazy weather, so I push on, knowing that’s the way to make it end – to get back to my five kids and warm house an hot shower. I hit mile 7 of tempo and have done it also under goal pace! Wow!!! I finally let myself take a walk break as I climb up out of the greenbelt section and back onto highway 21, which is bustling with cars.

The weather changes again. It’s colder. The rain/snow feels like sleet. The trucks and buses woosh by on the bridge, splashing me with slush and water. It’s uphill now. Almost home. One more mile. I jog from the bridge to the front door, realizing I’ve done over 10 miles when I set out to do 8. I knock and my 6 year old opens the door and yelps when she sees me. She says, “Oh my gosh! You’re a snow monster!!!” The other kids pile around to have a look at the creature standing in the doorway with piles of snow on her head who’s soaked to the bone.

I did it! Over 10 miles done!

Tempo Mile splits: (Goal was 8:00)
1. 7:36 (downhill assist)
2. 7:49
3. 7:51
4. 7:55
5. 7:58
6. 7:57
7. 7:58 (bonus one!)

Elevation Gain: 336 feet. Ave HR: 168 Winds: 12 mph with gusts up to 20. Rain, snow, sleet.


Yasso 800s in the Off Season

The Boise Greenbelt offers some phenomenal views as I do my speed sessions  way better than running in circles on a track!

The Boise Greenbelt offers some phenomenal views as I do my speed sessions  that are way better than running in circles on a track!

I woke up this morning and the first words out of my mouth to my still-sleeping husband were, “I’m in the mood to run Yasso 800s!” He opened up one eye at me and groggily said, “Ok, have fun!” And, I did!

I don’t do a lot of speed work and haven’t trained according to an actual plan in about two years – and I love it! I hadn’t done a single workout involving speed work since May when I qualified for Boston.  Once I achieved that I went back to spending the bulk of my miles on the local trails and not being too concerned with speed.  But, this morning I had a hunger to push my legs harder, to feel a little burn in the lungs! I wanted to PLAY a little and see how much of my marathon-specific speed I’d lost over the last few months of ultra running and training mostly in the Boise Foothills.

Thank you, Bart for blessing us with the Yasso 800s workout! It's almost like a crystal ball for runners! Sorta! :)

Thank you, Bart for blessing us with the Yasso 800s workout! It’s almost like a crystal ball for runners! Sorta! 🙂

I decided that since my marathon PR is 3:40, I’d shoot for that as my target time for the 800s. I do hope to aim for a 3:35 at Boston in the Spring, but for now (in the off-season and out of speed shape), I figured it was a good starting place and I’ll have plenty of time to work on improving my paces before the Big Dance on Patriot’s Day! 🙂 I rarely step foot on a track, even for intervals.  Luckily, I run with a Garmin Forerunner 310 xt, which can be easily programmed to help me do an interval workout anywhere.  I set up the watch to allow me to do a warm up, then five 800s, with rest breaks of 3:40 (since the Yasso plan has the runner recover for equal amounts of time as the target time), then cool down.

It was about 28 degrees when I headed out into the sunshine, ready to tackle some faster splits. I wore trail shoes – my Pure Grits, since the first mile out and back are on trail to get to the nearby asphalt greenbelt, which is relatively flat and a great place for these workouts. The bonus is that I don’t even have to spend a cent on gas since I run from my front door! Woo hoo! I did later regret the shoe choice since I could feel every nub on the path as I pushed harder on the paces.  Note to self – next time just wear the road shoes!

Save some sweet moolah and run from your front door!!!

Save some sweet moolah and run from your front door!!!

I was a little bit nervous as I started since it had been so long. I thought the pace (roughly 7:20 would be doable) but I was concerned about it hurting since it had been so long  – especially on the later intervals!)  Luckily, I felt pretty good from the get-go and settled into a pace that felt about right and was happy to glance down at the watch and see I was nailing it.  My first split was a 3:39! I felt wonderful, but reminded myself that this was only the beginning and it was likely going to start hurting more in the later splits. I really enjoyed running alongside the Boise River, which looks like a lot more rocks and sand that river this time of year and listening to the birds under the bright blue sky!  There were several people out enjoying the weather, taking walks and riding bikes, but it wasn’t too crowded, which I was also grateful for.

Split 2 was a 3:39 again! Yes! I still felt great! Split 3 was also a 3:39! I couldn’t believe it! Split for was a… wait for it…. a 3:39 again! I was still feeling pretty strong, but was starting to notice some tightness in my hamstrings from pushing the pace out of my usual comfort zone, but I still felt pretty good overall and actually started to consider really pushing hard in the final half mile split just to see what was left in the tank.  But, then I reminded myself firmly that the point of this type of workout is even pacing and self-control, so I behaved!! Almost too good, in fact! I glanced down at my Garmin more than half way through and saw that the average pace for the lap was 7:18 (one second per mile faster than the other splits), so I tried to slightly ease up to keep things even – and accidentally eased up a hair TOO much! I heard the Garmin beeping indicating the interval was about over and looked down to see a 7:22 pace for the lap! Noooo!!! I started pushing as hard as I could, but probably only got 4 good seconds of push before the lap was over! That one ended up right on target, which was funny at 3:40!!!  So, just a variation of 1 second on the last lap and all laps met or exceeded the target goal!

I finished up feeling flushed but happy and my confidence was bolstered as well. I felt pretty certain I could have continued to do more 800s at the required pace, though how many is hard to say.  I definitely think at least 3 more.  Which, isn’t bad!!

The theory behind Yasso 800s is that if you can bust out 10 of them at splits that have the same numbers as your overall target goal time of a marathon, then you’re on the right track for achieving the same number at the race (so long as you’ve done the proper training and long runs, of course!)  My PR marathon time was 3:40, so my Yasoo 800s were supposed to be about 3 minutes and 40 seconds for each 1/2 mile I ran. I get a rest break of 3 minutes and 40 seconds after each interval before I get to do it all again!  The program suggests starting with 3 or 4 Yassos, then gradually building up to holding them steady for 10 800s in a row.

Some intervals can feel like this!

Some intervals can feel like this!

I think shooting for the time I have already hit this year was a great place to start. I don’t want to push too hard in the off-season, but I think doing some of this now and then will keep me fit enough to pick up the speed work more seriously when I’m closer to 6 weeks out from Boston.  My Yassos will get a bit harder then, since I’ll be aiming for a 3:35 goal time at the race, but based on today’s workout, that just means going about 4 seconds per mile (or 5 on the last split) faster and being able to hold that for twice as many laps.  It sounds like a great challenge and one I look forward to working on as the race gets closer!

Do you, dear readers, use Yassos in your training? Have they proven to be a good prediction of your marathon time later or not? I’d love to hear from you!



Silence The Negative Chatter!

I had a workout that didn’t go perfectly today. It was an interval workout that I thought I could handle with two faster guy friends. It was 3 x 1600 at 7:20 w 800 recoveries + 1 mi WU and 1 mi CD.  Bonus for doing a 4th interval at 7:20.  I told my buddy, Frank before we started “Let’s do the bonus one today! It’ll be good for us!” The truth is I haven’t ran intervals for about two years (and neither had Frank) so we weren’t actually sure how it would go!! Seems I was a little overconfident!

We did our warm up mile then Frank took off like a rocket ahead of me. I yelled out, “Frank! That’s too fast! (He was doing about a 6:30 pace.) I looked helplessly over at Ryan who was beside me and he took off after Frank to try and get him under control and back on pace. And, the amazing thing was, though he was able to slow him down just a bit, Frank continued to feel awesome and kept running really well for each and every interval! Ryan stayed with him encouraging him on and pacing him and it was fun to watch the two of them doing so great.  I, on the other hand, was struggling just to make the splits!

Interval 1 was at a 7:18 pace and felt pretty good.

Interval 2 was harder since I was chatting with Frank when it started and had to go from walk pace to super fast in a hurry.  7:24

Interval 3 I was determined to go faster so I could get back on track for a 7:20 average. My time – 7:18 — right on the nose (back on track!)

Interval 4 I fell apart. I was pushing myself as hard as I could, lifting my knees, swinging my arms harder, harder, trying with everything I had to get my pace up — but I kept seeing 7:50 ish. It was like running in sand even though I was on the asphalt. I was just out of gas.  My time? 7:45.  I know that doesn’t seem like much off, but I was discouraged. In the past when I did intervals or tempo work, I would nearly always nail my times. I was consistent.

With my dream of qualifying for Boston at the Pocatello Marathon in 6 weeks looming on the horizen, it caused some self doubts. “Am I really fast enough to BQ if I can’t even hit my numbers in a speed workout in training?”  It really bummed me out. I don’t handle failure very well. I know it’s just part of life (and I’ve certainly had plenty of practice with it) yet it’s still a difficult area for me.

While I cleaned the house today and looked after the five kids, I was considering what to do for the next few weeks as I prepare for my marathon.  I haven’t used a traditional schedule to prepare. I’ve honestly spent most of my time in the mountains on trails, running longer distances at slower paces with plenty of hillwork.  It seemed to serve me pretty well since my last marathon in May was a 3:48 (just 3 1/2 minutes over a BQ time!) I’ve continued to put in between 175-200 miles a month and have spent most of that doing trail running with the intention of adding a bit of speed and tempo work to the schedule on roads to sharpen my speed to hopefully shave off those last few minutes between me and my dream goal!

When I came home from the run today, I went to Runner’s World online and created a specific Smart Coach plan based on my own abilities just to see how close today’s workout goals were to what would be prescribed for me. Turns out it was pretty close. A 4 x 1600 at 7:35 was the suggestion for me. I am fairly certain that would have been easily doable. It’s only a few seconds difference, but when you’re really pushing, that little bit can make the difference between attainable and out of reach.

While I was obsessing about this, my friend Ryan headed into our local running store, Shu’s to ask advice from the owner, Mike, who is well known for happily giving training tips to the locals.  I hadn’t even thought of that and felt incredibly lucky to have a running buddy who cared enough to help research my dilemma.  Mike’s advice for me? I should stick with the tougher workouts and just do less intervals.  If I’d have stopped at the 3 intervals that ended up being right on target, the workout would have been a success.  My form was suffering in the final one. I was struggling.  He says I should have allowed myself to quit the lap right then and not feel bad about it. That was awesome to hear! He gave Ryan some other helpful training advice for me that I will read over and try to implement in these last few weeks as I fine tune myself for the marathon!

I found this tonight and thought it really hit home for me and was something I needed to see. I hope it helps some of you who may also be struggling with challenging workout goals or big dreams that you aren’t totally sure you can accomplish! I’m really very lucky to have amazing friends who care enough to guide and direct me (and offer encouragement when I need it!)  But, ultimately, I am responsible for what goes on in my head. I need to learn to silence the negative chatter and instill a positive mindset no matter WHAT as I approach each workout, each day, each race.  Believing in myself regardless of the outcome is really the ultimate goal!


HR Training + Oregon Trail

The Heart Rate Training book I’ve been reading suggested a simple track test to get a general idea of maximum heart rate. Warm up for a mile or more, run as hard as you can for one lap on the track, recover for 2 min, repeat 3 times. This morning, Ryan A. and I hit the middle school track near my home before 6 am in the dark, wearing headlamps to give it a try.

I knew my legs were fatigued going in, so I’m certain my paces aren’t as good as they’d be if I did the test on bouncier legs, but since the point was max heart rate, I’m not sure it really made much of a difference. The track was very loose, fine-grained sandy stuff that made for a difficult push off. It was also kind of uneven. I think I’d have ran faster on the asphalt. Here’s how the test went:

Warm up: 1.33 mile – 10:38 pace. Ave HR: 161 Max HR: 189
.25 speed lap – 6:46 pace. Ave HR: 157 Max HR: 177
2 min recovery: 11:09 pace. Ave HR: 175 Max HR: 185
.25 speed lap – 7:14 pace. Ave HR: 180 Max HR: 198
2 min recovery: 16:05 pace. Ave HR: 163 Max HR: 185
.25 speed lap – 6:56 pace. Ave HR: 172 Max HR: 191
2 mi recovery: 17:04 pace. Ave HR: 164 Max HR: 188

I figured my max would show around 200 – 215, so it’s not far off. I did notice that when I recovered better (and walked the whole thing) the next interval went better than the one where I tried to jog part of it, since my HR stayed high and I had less steam for the speed lap.

After the track session, Ryan and I headed over to the Oregon Trail for some trail miles in the dark. I wiped out pretty good today. My legs were just not lifting the way they normally do, so when one of the zillions of volcanic rocks poked it’s head up, I went down. Lots of dirt on my clothes and scratches on my right knee, but no blood today.

We got 7.42 trail miles before heading back to the house. It was fun. We talked about an ultra book we’ve both read and about the recent viewing of the Western States 100 movie, Unbreakable. Good fun!

I also had the chance to try out Ryan’s two handheld bottles. I’d just purchased two Nathan ones this week for Christmas gifts for Wayne and I and Ryan suggested I try his older Nathan one and the other one was Ultimate Direction, that he prefers, just to see how the fit varied between the two brands and to compare the valves on the top which are different. I was really thankful to try them both out side-by-side before I took off the packaging on our new ones. I think I’ll be returning mine for sure and getting the easier bite valve model. I liked the fit too. Thanks for sharing, Ryan! That was helpful!

While on the trail, I also tried to keep my heart rate at 155 or under. Turns out, that means I have to walk like a snail on the uphills, but then felt pretty awesome on the flatter sections. My ave HR overall today was 155 and I finished with a final kick, feeling awesome. I really think that’s the range I need to stay in as I continue training for my 100. Hopefully with some of these ideas, I’ll be training smarter and therefore, hopefully racing smarter too in March!

I plugged my numbers into this cool online calculator to find my zones.


From the data gathered in the past week it would look like this:

Easy: 111-128 (brisking walking) (up to 52% of Max)
Aerobic: 146-163 (jogging) (52% – 64 % of Max)
Anaerobic Threshold 163-180 (going hard) (76% – 88% of Max)
VO2 Max: 180-198 (all out)

After looking back at some of my past races or harder efforts yesterday, these zones do seem pretty close to what I was expecting. I think the biggest lesson for me, is that I need to not let my HR get anywhere near 180 or I tend to have a much harder time and often bonk. For the 100 miler I’m doing, keeping the range even tighter at 155 is likely a very smart strategy to keep me going and going (so long as I’m up on my hydration, fuel, etc. as well.) This will be fun to test out over the next few weeks and see if it yields better overall results and less bonking on really long ones!

Stats: 9.92 miles. 1:51:25 time. 11:14 average pace. 236 feet elevation gain. Best pace: 5:07. Ave HR: 157. Max HR: 198


Intervals, Baby!

Harvest Classic

Ok! I signed up for a race. Just a little bitty one. The race is called The Harvest Classic and it’s been going on in my town for a bajillion years (give or take.) I used to run the 2 miler for fun when I was in high school and college when my Mom used to drag me along with her.

Last year was the first time I’d done the race in about 15 years. I did the 8k last year and had gotten pretty lucky and scored a free entry. My parents were there and my friend, Billie, too. I told all of them, “I’m just going to have fun with this and not be competitive” since I knew I had a 20 mile training run the next morning. I really did hold back – for the first mile, then relaxed and had fun with it and ran a “teeny” bit faster for the rest. Boy was I shocked when I got 3rd female overall! I guess all the fast ladies stayed home and slept in last year. hehe. I actually got a check for $50 prize money from that race! How stinking cool is that?!!! Well….here we are again and this time I’m injured. 🙁 So, I’m not even going to sign up for the 8k this year. I can do the distance but not competitively, I don’t think, so instead, I turned in my registration today for the 2 mile race instead. There’s no money and I’m not likely to be competitive BUT, I also am keeping my re-injury risk lower by doing just 2 miles instead of the nearly 5 o the 8k.

Signing up for a race – even one that’s just a week away – should require a BIT Of training, though, right??? So, I figured – hey, it’s been about a year since I did intervals. Why not do just a few short ones today and kind of get an idea where I’m at in healing and in terms of choosing a race pace goal that’s reasonable at this point in recovery.

I went with warm up, then 6 intervals of 1/4 mile at sub 8 pace with 1/4 recovery and cooldown. Figured it would be challenging but not overwhelming. It turned out to be SPOT ON!

Here’s how it went down:

Warm Up: 1.48 mile – 15:08 pace (walked the first mile to warm up the IT band)

Speed Intervals:
1. 7:24
2. 7:05
3. 7:57
4. 7:54
5. 6:55
6. 7:15

Recovery splits:

1. 9:29
2. 11:25
3. 18:45 (did stretches halfway through and drank water)
4. 9:43
5. 16:12
6. 14:34

Cooldown (lots of walking to be nice to IT band) – .78 mile at 12:08 pace.

Average Heart Rate: 145. Max Heart Rate: 195 Best Pace: 5:53 Felt: GOOD! I love speedwork and I felt like I was “home again.” 🙂

P.S. I got wolf-whistled at by some dude driving by in his car. It only made me run FASTER!! haha


Moonlight Run – Chasing the Boys

What a fun group showed up tonight to run another late night run under the stars! It was even more fun this week than last week! I think we had 17 runners out there tonight. We were quite a sight, our headlamp lights bobbing and weaving through the darkness. At mile 3, we even attracted the attention of two local policeman on bikes who approached us to see what sorts of suspicious activities we were up to. 🙂  We had a great chat with them and heeded the warning they gave us to avoid some woman’s property who liked to chase runners down with a shotgun or her car if they came near. We weren’t in the mood for that type of speedwork tonight, so we took their advice and traveled on.

Again this week, early on, I found myself just a hair back from the “boy’s club.”  Seth, Mike, Tony, Mark, Frank and Jon were flying along ahead of me and made for a great pace team. Their glow in the dark vests and packs made it easy to keep them in sight and I settled into a nice, tempo pace.  It wasn’t long before my friend, Otto caught up to me, too. It was a fun group – lots of kidding around and chatter to keep the miles going by smoothly and quickly.

Not long after 3 miles, Otto and I found ourselves holding on for dear life to the “fast boys.”  Apparently they were just warming up earlier and soon we found ourselves huffing and puffing just trying to stay afloat. They lost us easily, but we kept pushing on – both of us determined to make a good run of it tonight.  Our buddy Jon, eventually came back to harass us, kicking us both in the rear (literally) before running off ahead again. We both made sprints after him, but, as expected, Jon was too quick!  The goof came back later to steal my water bottle and make me run after him to get it back, too.  I never had a brother growing up, but I swear since I started running, I have a whole gang of fun brother-types. 🙂 They harass and tease, but it’s all in good fun and makes me glad to be part of the gang.

Somewhere around mile 7 or so, I remember the pace was starting to really increase. Otto and I were trying to hold on again to the “fast boys.”  It wasn’t pretty. Otto was wheezing and I was grunting, but neither of us relented. I kept thinking, “He’ll fade first and then I can save face when I fade back to be nice.” but he kept pushing on. “Dang it!,” I thought. Finally, my watch beeped at exactly 7 miles and we both pulled back a hair, huffing and puffing. “You’re stubborn!” Otto said. I laughed and said, “So are you!”  It cracked me up. It’s always nice to have a friend who runs a really similar pace to push you out there and I think we served that purpose for each other tonight.  The “fast boys gang” of course pushed us even harder and I would like to thank them for that!

About mile 8, we were back on the main road, heading over the overpass, running through a bit of construction.  Jon, the goofball, picked up one of the orange cones and put it on his head, dancing about as he ran, hamming it up! We all laughed! We were having way too much fun after midnight on a weeknight!

Finally, we were back at the starting spot, the fast boys already cooled down and waiting in the parking lot. We waited around for the rest of the gang to finish up and I got to chat with more of the girls. It turned out there was a Mom of a 4 month old there and another Mom with a 6 month old, a cool friend I’d ran with one other time who has experiences with relays and of course my awesome friend and neighbor, Amy, who was there with her way cool 14 year old son, Dante and his buddy, Jake! I also got to see my sweet friend, Angie, who I hadn’t ran with in awhile! I was so proud of all of them for coming out late and putting in the miles! It was a fantastic group!!! We chatted in the parking lot, I hugged everyone goodbye and then I headed home with Amy’s son and his friend since Amy was still eager for some more miles and was running home.  I had originally hoped to do the same, but didn’t know our “escort” buddy, Jon was going to be there, I’d already told my husband I would come right back sooner. I had a great chat with the two very polite, great kids on the way home! Such nice boys!!!!

I feel pretty jazzed about how the run went tonight. I had hoped I could make it kind of a marathon-goal-paced run — the last speedy one I could squeeze in before my 50 miler next Saturday. My “goal pace” for my fall marathon is 9:09 or better. Tonight’s run was 8:44 average!!! Yeah, baby!!!!! I think I’ll keep pushing just a bit out there and chase after the boys more often! It really did help! 🙂

Stats: 9.38 miles. 8:44 pace. 1:22 total time. 178 average heart rate. 188 feet elevation gain (just a couple of hills.)  Felt: AWESOME!


Embrace the Pain

My legs are tired.  In the last 9 days, I only had one day that I didn’t ride, run or walk. Darn! Should have done something on the 14th besides yoga and I’d be in the midst of a sweet streak! In the past three days, I ran a solid 10 mi. tempo run (in the heat) on Sat, ran a hard 12 mi. on the mountain trails on Sunday (and rolled the ankle again) and biked 24 miles (plus change) yesterday.  I figured when I woke up that it was a great day to run hard on tired legs in the heat.

I’ve been repeating something to myself – a phrase — “embrace the pain!”   It’s what I said to some friends on a trail run a couple weeks ago when they commented that the two guy pals of ours running past were “so lucky” to be that fast.   I pointed out that the two guys they were referring to put in some serious mileage, hard training and tend to “embrace the pain” instead of shrink from it and that it wasn’t luck at all that made them so fast — just hard work and a strong mind.   I’m applying the same principle to myself in my own workouts.  I can’t just sit back and live in comfort land and expect to really do well at any of my races if I haven’t been willing to face the pain in my workouts leading up to them.  Now, I’m not talking about ignoring a serious injury.  The ankle problem I’m having seems minor and when I’m running I don’t even notice it, it’s not causing me to limp or anything like that.  What I’m talking about is when you’re on a run and let’s say it’s hot and you feel worn out and find your gears shifting into “easier” mode.  That type of thinking is fine if it’s a recovery run — but you have no business taking it easy on a speed workout or a long run.  You have to learn to control your mind – don’t let it control you.

My friend, Emily and I were talking last night about how ultra runners must learn to have confidence in their abilities and no matter how much they hurt or how tired they become, they must harness that “I can do it” mindset to finish any distance.  It has much less to do with the training in the legs than it does with the training of the mind.  Many a DNF at an ultra event was already determined at the starting line when a person allowed doubt to come along for the ride.  Don’t allow it a seat in your head! It has no business there! When the going gets tough (which it will – on any hard workout, any really long, hot run, any challenging race – whatever) – stay strong, stay determined and never forget to keep moving forward no matter what!  You can do it!

Ok, so today’s goal for me was to run about an 8:30 average pace in the heat on tired legs around my neighborhood loop. Temperature is 77 degrees and unclouded sunshine. It’s HOT. I ran around lunchtime.

2.33 miles. 8:28 pace (YES!), 19:44 total time. Average Heart Rate: 177.


Mile 1: 8:59

Mile 2: 8:08

Last .33 – 7:52 pace

YES! 🙂 I think the legs have earned a rest day tomorrow.


Bike ride to the track/Speedwork and Back

Wayne Jr gave me those saucer sized, heart-melting eyes when I told him I was going to ride my bike to the track today. I have such a soft spot when one of the kids actually wants to do something active with me that of course, I said, “Yes.” Less than a mile down the road, my 10 1/2 year old son (who even refers to himself as a “Pipsqueak” since he’s the same size as the average 7 year old), was huffing and puffing on his little, bitty bike yelling ahead at me, “My butt hurts, Mom!” “I know, buddy! It’s because we haven’t done this enough yet. Our bottoms will get tougher if we just stick with it!” Half a mile later, “My butt hurts Mom AND my legs are exhausted!” Me: “Dude, we’ve still got more than 3 miles to go to get there. Just hang in there!” Silence from Jr a half mile later. I peeked over my shoulder and he was a teensy little dot wayyyyy back there. I stopped. I waited. He wobbled towards me on his little bike, looking truly like a man who’d ran 100 miles instead of a one who’d biked less than 3. This became our pattern. I’d encourage him along, “Looking good, honey! Keep it up!’ He’d consistently reply with, “My buns, Mom! They HURT!” FINALLY, we arrived at the track – 5.2 miles to the gate from my front door. Thank goodness!!!!

Now on my bike ride to the track earlier in the week, I’d rode a comfortable, easy pace of about 11.3 mph. Today it was a whopping 7.9 mph! hahaha! I kept thinking my bike would tip over from having to ride so slow. But, I figured, “What the heck. I’m here to do a little preliminary track work and see how badly out of speed shape I’ve gotten during the winter and spring while I was focusing more on long distances and trail/ aka MOUNTAIN running. I’ve read that doing this type of training program is called periodization and this is my second year of doing things this way. Last year it really paid off in the end. All those mountains/trails/long distances built my strength, my muscle base and my endurance. By the time I started focusing on the roadwork/ speed and racing of summer and fall I was faster than the year before – MUCH faster than I’d been in the past. It seemed to be a good way of doing things for me, since it keeps things mentally fresh and interesting by changing up my focus throughout the year, while also allowing my bones/joints and feet to back off from the tougher road work/speed for a few months of the year, hopefully keeping my injury risk at a minimum. That’s the theory anyway. 🙂

So, here I am, on the cusp of a new marathon training season, smack dab in the summertime when shorter races are abundant to test my speed as I prepare for my “key” race of the year — the fall marathon. I’m feeling heavy-legged, a little chunky (trail running is very challenging, but requires more calories as you since you’re out there longer and moving at a slower pace – so I tend to put on a few lbs during the endurance season), and not at all sharp. Perfect! The legs and body are ready for the hard work to begin as I become a lean, mean racing machine! Or, at least TRY to become one!

My goal today on the track was simple. I needed a baseline number — a mile test — to see where I’m at right now. On my birthday last year – November 2nd, I ran a timed mile just for fun in the college parking lot near my home (at the time the closest thing I thought I had to a track in my area.) I did that in 6:50. That was about a month after my 4:20 marathon and right before I ran my 1:57 at Zeitgeist (a road half marathon with LOTS of tough,slow, long hills.) I was feeling fairly good, so that’s sort of where I was at the end of last season – and kind of a guide as to where I want to get again (or beat) by the end of this season.

I sent Jr off to play on the playground and I warmed up for a mile. I did some stretches and then I went for it. I ran a mile as quickly as I could on the track. The legs felt fatigue and heaviness almost from the start. The 12 mph winds were nice for keeping me cool, but felt like a challenge to run into on the back stretches of the track. I did the best I could and the Garmin shows it was 7:49 — nearly an entire MINUTE slower than the fall. Ok, baseline established. Get those fast-twitch muscles to work again, strengthen my legs and body and let’s see what I can accomplish this year. I admit I was discouraged by how out of shape I felt and how slow I ran. But, I’ll get it back. And, hopefully, even improve on last fall’s 1 mile time trail this year. I’d love to push myself hard enough that eventually I see a 5:59 in a mile trial. That may be out of reach, but if I shoot for the moon, I still will land among the stars, right? I really think a 6:39 is possible, though.

Jr came back as I was walking the first lap of the cooldown. He stood on the track and handed me my water bottle as I made the last 3 loops, just jogging lightly and chatting with a nice lady who was using the oval today, too.

After my 1 mile cooldown, Jr asked me to join him on the playground, so I did. We went through the “obstacle course” together. Note to self: I suck at the monkey bars bigtime – work on it!

We hopped back on our bikes and this time I did something different for the ride home. The first mile I led, just as I had on the way there, but when I’d look back, he was going slower than ever, just poking along, handlebars wobbling all over the place (while he scared his poor Mother to death, as I feared he’d veer right into the traffic.) I thought about my 50 miler. How, at some points, I’d be way behind my pacer and feel discouraged and how when I’d get in front I’d start to shine again. Maybe Jr just needed a little mental boost from being in the front. So, once he caught up, I let him lead. It helped! He went from riding about a 5 mph pace to an 8. Ahh – amazing what a little psychological boost can do for you when you’re feeling the burn!

Total workout:

Bike: 10.4 miles. Ave speed: 7.9 mph. Time: 1:19:11. Heart rate: 119. Warm/cool Run: 2.04 miles. 24:02 total time. 12:01 pace (walked some of the cooldown with Jr.) Speed session: 1 mile. 7:49 pace. HR: 170. Felt: Fatigue. Weather: 68 degrees. Sunny. 12 mph winds.


Dabbling With the Speed – Game ON!

On the 18th of June I did Big Horn making it about 50k into the race before being pulled on a time cut off. On the 25th of June, I ran my 50 miles with Ryan in the mountains. I’ve taken it easy the last 10 days as I recovered from those two big efforts. Now it’s time to get serious and start thinking about that fall marathon goal — to break 4 hours at City of Trees on October 9th. Last year I ran a 4:20:59. I have some shaving to do on that time to whittle my way towards the eventual “Holy Grail” of running a Boston Qualifying Time at a marathon by the time I’m 40. I’m 38. It’s a good goal with some stair steps I need to climb to get to the eventual 3:45:00 required to earn that coveted label. Last year I PR’d by 37 minutes. If I could shave off a similar amount this year, I’d BQ already. I’m thinking that huge chunk I shed last year in time isn’t likely to repeat itself as quickly. I have read that it takes the average Boston Qualified runner 10 marathons before they finally achieve their goal. This year’s City of Trees race will be my 4th marathon. My first was October of 2009. I ran a 4:57 that year. It was 40 degrees and rained the entire time. I got lost. I bonked hard. I’m older and wiser and I know the course better these days. 🙂 Let’s hope some of those lessons (and all the training I can squeeze in between now and then) will help me to achieve an even better time this year!

I waited until the sun was setting before setting out on my run tonight. I’m crazy in love with running at dusk or after dark. When I first started running (I use that term loosely) I didn’t really have anyone to do it with me. I ran alone. I was embarrassed about how overweight I was and I huffed and puffed my way around the neighborhood feeling entirely self-conscious, like a naked, fat woman in a fish bowl with everyone pointing and staring and teasing. At least that’s how it felt at first. So, I’d often wait until nearly dark before I’d lace up the shoes and head outside, hoping to avoid the stares of the neighbors. I learned to love the safety of the darkness. Most of the neighbors were in their houses by that point. I had the streets entirely to myself. I remember the scent of dinners being cooked and laundry being dried as I’d make my way around my block over and over and over until I reached my required 30 min of run/walking for the night. I’d look up at the heavens, black as velvet above me, the stars twinkling and glowing. I felt like the luckiest woman alive to be staring at that beauty and breathing that fresh, clean, evening air while everyone else was sitting in front of their tv sets or computers or putting their kids to bed. Being the Mom of five young children, it was also the only quiet time in my entire day. I’d jog along and feel the stress start to release from my shoulders and relax for once. Evening runs became my secret escape.

As time has gone on, and I’ve lost the weight and my children have gotten older, I’ve started running in the daytime more. But tonight I revisited my little world and found it to be just as refreshing and private and rejuvenating for me it was when I first began back in May of 2008.

I did 4.53 miles. 8:59 ave pace. 40:45 total time. Ave HR overall: 176. During Speed miles Ave HR: 183 Best Pace: 6:49. My splits: Mile 1 (warm up) 10:11. Mile 2: 8:15. Mile 3 (took a 1 min walk break at the beginning just to help my body ease into this even though I felt fine) – 9:13 counting that 1 min walk. Mile 4: 8:54. Last .53 — 7:48 ave pace (finished strong.)

I was surprised how comfortable an 8:15 – 8:30 pace felt after this long. I focused on my form. I swung my arms a bit higher. I remembered to relax my hamstrings and stride and run tall. I also did something a little quirky. I didn’t wear socks. I thought it would keep me cooler – but it just gave me a blister when some sand and pebbles worked their way into my right shoe and I could feel a hot spot forming from about mile 2. Oops! Guess I’ll wear the socks next time. 🙂