Progress is worth the Process

Progress is worth the process is a notion I have been focusing on lately.  A few factors in my day-to-day life feel mismatched & uncertain right now, but the constant mental refresher has been training & running.

Without divulging to much, my role at work is being elimanted companywide, with the last day announced as 1/15/18. Yet there are still other factors at play, (partially out of my control) in me staying or finding something new.   Needless to say, this pushes me into a daily spiral of maybes and seeps into my sleep at night… I am basically living in a nonconclusive yet swaying timetable.

My thoughts seem to break and the dull buzz of uncertainty subsides when I run and dive into things within my control.  Workouts have been key to feeling level and my upcoming race, now within arms reach, haunts me with wanting the outcome I know I am capable of.

As I watch parts of my life change and transition, the progress I have made in my training has helped me to feel empowered, strong, and still full of purpose.

Focusing on the next 18 days, I am choosing to dial into confidence & trust.  Confident that my career will be decided by what I want out of it and trusting my body to pull me to a very courageous and epic finish.

Stats of 249.2 miles last month, 65 miles two weeks ago, 49 miles for “taper” LW, strong race results in workouts, and lots of ah-ha moments of growth all will lead me to a moment that is so close!

18 days away… Trust. Trust. Trust .

 

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Oh, I have a blog?

I am so very bad at blogging, so long story short, I’m running a lot.  Well, running/sleeping/eatting and declining almost every invite to go out on a Friday night but I LOVE IT!

I am 5ish weeks out from CIM and grinding out high mileage weeks like a champ – no complaining and just getting in the work!  I am thriving on checking off the (almost daily) run, nailing or learning from my workouts, and seeing progress and PRs like crazy.

I’ll update with actual detail this weekend but for now, here are two photos from a recent half marathon where I not only gutted out a sub 22 minute 5k & dropped sub 7 miles at the end of the race but I PRed by over a minute!

Now to stay injury free and keep putting in the work!

It’s like a birthday without a party

I had an incredible training cycle; going from injured and barely able to walk pain-free to running a marathon and picking up multiple PR’s along the way.  I know results show that I should be happy with my day, and maybe I just need to dwell in the positives, but right now the wounds still feel a little raw.  I am still processing everything as I write this, so please bare with me.

I was so close, until I wasn’t, and then I started seeing my goal slowly slip away.  I’m filled with both heartache and pride as I tally up the elements that created my race day.  I feel so much gratitude by the support I received from my coach, Tim, friends, family, and even the volunteers, but my obvious regret is that I just couldn’t execute the second half of the plan.

I set an ambitious goal, I reached for the stars, and I missed. That sentence makes it seem pretty simple, but processing it feels complicated.  What I do know is that I am not done with the marathon. I will run another one this year. This time stronger, wiser, with a better base, and again the same goal.  SO, here is my story.

Short version:

Goal was 3:30-3:32… Result was 3:48:00.  A 52minute Marathon PR with a really solid training cycle and both a 10 mile and ½ marathon PR from races within this cycle.

Long version:

I slept well, nutrition leading up to race week was on point, and I arrived at the start line race morning feeling calm and focused. I had my gel intake written on my hand, and my mile split goal written on my forearm. I was confident in my plan and felt strong knowing I had put in so much work.

I had run the race in my head all week – if my stomach acted up, I planned to take a ginger chew and pull back for 10-30 seconds. Should I have a side stitch, I would change my breathing pattern and focus on the word “Calm.” If my tendonitis acted up, I was going to think about how good my other leg felt and just keep pushing… I knew that countless things could go wrong in a marathon, but I felt prepared to combat them all and keep moving. I accepted that I would be uncomfortable or in pain for three and half hours and that was OK.

Race weather seemed perfect at the start – Low 40’s, partially cloudy, with a light breeze. I typically run really well in cool weather, and if given a choice I would have personally selected this temperature.

We left the house at 6:15am, parked, met with the Oiselle ladies for a team photo, checked my bag,  quick bathroom stop, and suddenly I was in my corral at 6:57am.  Alexis Pappas started the race off (OMG!!!!) and we were off.

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Miles 1-5: 7:55, 8:03, 8:05, 8:06, & 7:58

Sure it’s the beginning of the race, but I felt contained and in control. Running was easy, breathing wasn’t labored, I was holding back my pace and trying to stay within the 8:00-8:10 goal that Becki gave me — I felt like I kept my emotions in check as I stayed focused and calm.

Mile 6-7: 8:02, 7:56

At mile 6 I was hit with a pretty bad foot cramp, super unexpected… I splayed and wiggled my toes around for the next mile trying to work the cramp out and not lose my focus. (I am pretty sure this bunched my socks up weird… Remember that for mile 16). I ran by the first Oiselle Cowbell corner and gave Krysta a thumbs up… Overjoyed, this is what I worked for.  Just had to keep moving for less than 3 hours.

Miles 8-10: 7:59, 8:04, 8:07 – TOTAL TIME 1-10 was 1:20:10 – right on goal

Miles 8 and 9 I kept telling myself to keep it controlled.  I knew I would need to pick it up even more in the following miles… it didn’t take long though for my day to transition from normal to WTF…

Shortly after mile 10 my whole body was covered in goosebumps. I was freezing, which is weird. This has only happened to me a couple times at the end of a race, and usually it is if I am working too hard or dehydrated.  I started to panic, and then thought, “nope, just work the problem, work the problem, don’t freak out just keep moving.”  My electrolyte intake seemed fine; I was taking a sip of water at just about every water stop, taking ½ a gel every 4 miles, and swishing and spitting Gatorade. I couldn’t pin point the issue.

Miles 11-13: 8:02, 8:09, 8:06

I was supposed to run these miles at an 8:00ish pace, but I pulled back, as each hard effort made me break into chills, and I couldn’t combat that mentally.  I had prepared myself to push through physical pain but I didn’t prepare for what felt like my body shutting down.  A little doubt started creeping in but I knew if I could maintain an 8ish pace and recover, I could still hit my goal. Hell, there was a lot of race left and I wasn’t going to let go. I ran past Tim at mile 13 and gave him a “so-so” hand signal and kept going.

Miles 14-16: 8:27, 8:58, 8:53

Confusion set in. My goal was within sight but I didn’t have much wiggle room. Checking in with my body nothing felt injured, it just felt heavy and I didn’t feel “good”… I started noticing pain on my toe, which later turned into a giant blister (feels like I’m walking on bubblewrap), and I could not increase my pace.

Miles 17-20: 9:21, 9:04, 8:51, 9:10

This is where it gets ugly. I realized shortly after mile 16 that a BQ was not happening… The 3:35 pace group passed, and I immediately felt disheartened but I wasn’t giving up – My short-term goal was now to get to mile 18 and see Krysta + Tim.

I ran past Krysta and Tim, gave a thumbs down and kept going… Krysta jumped in and started running with me giving me the best pep talk that absolutely broke my heart. “What’s wrong? It is all in your head! You look great, just keep moving!! Are you eating? What do you need? You are running a marathon and not even breaking a sweat! Run! Keep FUCKING MOVING!! There is still time!” I tried to respond, without crying and said something along the lines of, missing the goal, feeling ok but my body was so cold, and I just couldn’t turn my legs over… and then Krysta gave my back a firm push and said, “GO!”

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Mile 21-23: 9:38, 9:31, 9:24

Somewhere along mile 21 the 3:45 pace group passed me — humbling — but I kept pushing forward. That’s when the interval running started, once again humbling. Run a few minutes, then walk 10 seconds through the water station, give myself a pep talk, and repeat. At mile 22 I saw Krysta and Tim again and immediately Krysta fell into stride with me.

She said what I kept thinking but couldn’t execute, “You can do anything for 20 minutes, its just 20 more minutes.” I made some sarcastic remark, and she rebutted with, “You are about to finish on Hayward Fucking Field, where Olympians run. The BQ doesn’t matter, you are doing great, you look great, just keep going.”

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Miles 24-26.2: 9:39, 10:05, 9:22, 8:34

Nothing new or profound to say here, I just focused on the end being in sight. New goal was just to finish and try to keep everything in perspective. To appreciate what my body could do, and be grateful for everything I learned along the way.

I ran onto Hayward Field, I picked up my pace as much as I could, I crossed the finish line in exactly 3:48:00, found Tim, and then immediately started crying.

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I know it is a huge PR (52 minutes!), I recognize that I battled demons on the course, and ultimately came out stronger, but it still wasn’t the result I trained for and it doesn’t feel like the right reflection of the who I am. I thought I would cross in 3:3X:XX and anything short of that feels underwhelming.

It felt like a milestone birthday, but without the party. Expectations were set, work was put in, the invites went out, but the piñata was never bashed.

Eugene didn’t give me the outcome I wanted, and that is okay. I have a come a long way, and there is so much potential left to tap into – That should be exciting instead of damning. If I can PR 52 minutes while starting the training cycle injured, what will I accomplish next time?

I read a quote by George Eliot last night, and this is how I want to reflect on my goal going forward.

It is never too late to be what you might have been – George Eliot

And so it goes… Race goals!

A lot has happened since my last update.  I was broken physically and feeling raw and depressed emotionally.  As months passed, my body began to heal, and miles started building back up.  Though our country is still in an uncertain state, I try to allocate my energy into something positive and goal orientated, which eventually pulls me back to a familiar sense of comfort and stability.

Fast forward, it is now race week… Not just race week but goal marathon race week.  I feel jittery and excited, nervous but confident!  I feel exactly how I should.

Cutting directly to the goal, it’s a progressive race plan broken up in 5 parts and aiming for a finish around 3:30 but upto 3:32 –

  • Miles 1-10: 8:00-8:10
  • Miles 11-15: 8:00ish
  • Miles 16-20: 7:55-8:05
  • Miles 21-23: Sub 8:00
  • Miles 24-26.2: Ring it out and empty the tank!

This will be hard, but more importantly it is achievable! I feel confident in nailing that plan, and I accept it is only attainable if I put myself in a place of discomfort for a few hours.

Reflecting on the last five months, my training brought me strength, both physically and mentally; running through rain, strong winds, through a new job transition, as I travelled, crushing old PR’s, knocking out a 22 mile long run, and even a grueling 3 mile route that consisted of nothing but parking lot loops.

As I visualize that finish line and focus on the goal I never imagined would be attainable, I continue to focus on why this is so important.  It is more than just a PR or a BQ.  It represents shedding off my former self; comfort, conceit and entitlement.  It is my testimony that dedication is worth the sacrifice, that discomfort brings reward, and let’s be honest, that the body is pretty fucking incredible.

So here is to the transformation that running and training bring.  Here is to the shadow of being broken and the light of being rebuilt.  Here is to 526 miles filled with both ease and speed, to trusting my training, going all in, and starting the race as one person but finishing as another.

Race day mantra(s): Worth the pain, no regrets, you deserve to be here.

Finish it.

Barratin // Fight

To say that the last two weeks of been numbing and terrifying would be an understatement.  I know as we move into the future and see how America’s decisions impacted the world, I will always remember where I was when I heard Hillary would not win the presidency.  The small table I sat at when normalcy stopped, reasonable choices ceased, and offering the same opportunity to everyone regardless of race, sexual preference, gender, or physical and mental abilities wasn’t just second nature.

It was Tim’s birthday, we had just been served handmade pasta, had just clinked our wine glasses in celebration of not just his birthday but to a year that would be filled with new opportunities… “What is your bucket list for this next year?”  His phone started vibrating, not once but multiple times from NPR notifications and text messages.  The entire restaurant seemed to be in a trance.  Everyone looking at their phones, panicking, and the wait staff trying their hardest to remain calm and polite.

I will remember no longer caring about an injury that had literally stopped me in my tracks because the safety that running brings me no longer seemed applicable.   I will remember trying to process my grief but being too angry and heartbroken to hide my emotions.  I will remember mourning now unrepairable relationships with family members that chose to vote for indecency and hate.

In the past two weeks, it seems the state of panic has heightened.  We continue to see hate crimes pour in, and future leadership not speaking out against it.  Two weeks of asking the question, “What can I do to help and set myself apart from elitist America?”

We have since made donations to organizations that will be negatively impacted by this presidency, signed up to volunteer at food banks, started the groundwork in organizing a foundation, & supported the freedom of the press and journalism through signing up for a New York Times subscription.

Although this is a hurtful, draining and an overwhelming time, we will not grow weary in well doing.  We will stand up, ask questions, and make our voices loud.  Trump will try to dictate who the American people are, but I choose to be good, I choose to value everyone, I choose to see past propaganda, and press on to ask questions.

I know it is no longer up to the government to provide a better world and encourage peace and prosperity.  It is up to us to show kindness, bravery, and to fund research that benefits our planet and all who inhabit it.

I will not give up, I choose to stand up and fight. Who is with me?

Brotinn // Broken

10/11/16

Just two days after my 1st place AG win and 6th woman overall placement at OR Coast 30K and  I was feeling good.  I felt ready to get even more serious about Deception Pass 50K training.  Could I place in the top 10?  What kind of PR would I be looking at?  6 years of running and training had led me to this point of feeling strong, motivated, and invincible.

An easy 6 mile, slow, flat recovery run was on my training schedule.

1 mile in, I stop to adjust my shoe laces…Must be just a little too tight around my ankle. Odd, but no big deal… 1.5 miles in… Seriously, what is going on with my ankle?  Is my stride too short or is my foot turnover weird?  Why does this hurt so bad?  Is it just a cramp? I’ll just need to push through this. 

2 miles in, I stop… Fuck, this is bad, this is not a normal pain…  At this point my stride was more of a limp, and every time my left foot landed a dull and shooting pain went from my ankle up my calf muscle.  After 3.6 miles I stopped running and limped the last half mile back to my office… And that is the beginning to my now 4 week journey into injury.

10/11/16-10/13/16

My ankle is swollen and I can barely walk.  I definitely can’t run.  I freak out but remain cautiously optimistic… Time heals all wounds, right?

10/14/16

A paranoid visit to my doctor and one x-ray later confirm I do not have a stress fracture!!  That seems to be good news.  Dr. Cynthia concludes it is a form of tendinitis but nothing ice, rest, and ibuprofen can’t fix. I’m skeptical.

10/19/16

Pt visit #1 – I see the PT for the first time.  He is confident I will be up and running in the next week. Long story short, he thinks I have a lazy hip and glute that is not firing, which is changing my form and causing my ankle and shin to absorb the shock during downhill running…  Remember how my plan was to attack the downhill during the 30K?  That caused a lot of inflammation in my ankle, shin, and calf. The PT did some deep tissue massage, graston therapy, and I am sent on my way with a prescription to bike if I can.  In the mean time, I book treatments for twice a week until we see improvement.

10/25/16

PT visit #2, more graston, deep tissue massage, no running, and add in clamshells + glute bridges with resistance bands.

10/28/16

PT visit #3 – HOLY SHIT graston hurts, laser therapy, add in single leg balancing and calf raises, NO RUNNING.

11/1/16

PT visit #4 – Graston + lower back adjustment + adding in side lunges with resistance band.  Progress is looking good, so I am allowed to run 1-3 miles!  The next evening I run 1.4 miles and cry tears of happiness but also pain.  I have missed this moment but I know I wont be running long distance any time soon.

11/4/16

PT visit 5 – Graston + lower back adjustment #2 + prescribed to continue running every other day for the weekend. My PT would like to see if the issues that were present during the first run were just a fluke.  I did 2.4 miles on Saturday and 2 miles yesterday.  Both runs were pretty limpy, with dull pain the first mile, very noticeable pain in the last 1/2 mile, and severe swelling in the evenings.

11/8/16 (Today)

PT visit #6 – Graston, cupping, laser therapy, adding in single leg glute bridges into the PT exercise rotation, and no running for at least 7-10 days.  Pain is not as bad as 4wks ago and swelling is down overall, but today feels pretty confusing and disheartening.

Maybe it is just rest that I need to fix the problem at hand, and the exercises to prevent it in the future?

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In between these dates there has been withdrawing from my goal race in December, therapy baking, biking, one hike, three runs (limpy jogs?), and a lot of daily PT work — up to 25-30 minutes now.  Venting on twitter (see #diaryofaninjuredrunner) and a detox of all social media; deleting all apps and not looking at strava for a week.  Many tears, a lot of anger, confusion,  rare moments of acceptance… Somehow no regrets from going out too hard during my 30K race.

This has been a very devastating, isolating, and sad time for me.  I know the journey will eventually make me stronger, but I feel lost and absent in the present. With this injury, it has not been the physical pain that bothers me, but the feeling of rejection from an activity I have invested so much in.

Thank you to the community of friends that have refused to let me run away (pun intended) and have reached out through email, text, phone calls, and handwritten letters. Your words and encouragement mean so much to me.

During this mending process, I am not sure what this blog will hold.  Maybe some coping through baking and biking, or maybe just random information on PT exercises. Regardless, I know I will discover another part of myself during this time, and create a new and stronger person with these broken pieces.

Acceptance:  It will be get better.  I will be better.

Muddy slóð // Muddy Trails

This past Sunday I ran the Oregon Coast 30K and oh my goodness it was amazing.  Beautiful and brutal at the same time!!  Wind, rain, mud, single track trail, awesome people, great views, tons of vertical, a new friend / Oiselle teammate, great pizza and beer, I could go on (and I will).  There are a couple things I need to work on in order to nail my next race but overall I am so proud of how it went.

My current training schedule has had me focused on my goal race in December; the Deception Pass 50K.  This past April I signed up for the OR Coast 30K to 1) see the Oregon Coast 2) ensure I kept running throughout the summer and 3) use as a training run for Deception Pass.

I admit that the 30K has not been top of mind until a week ago, realizing that I wanted more out of it than just a training run.  I wanted to use this race to check my fitness and see what I had in me.  How well could I do if I pushed a little harder?

As I started writing out my race plan, breaking the course up into 5 sections, I noticed that between my projections per mile and the prior race course results, I could easily place in the top 10 females!  Racing for placement is completely new to me.  It is both exciting and scary, as you are forced to simultaneously become tough and vulnerable in the same moment.

I wrote out my a/b/c goals and texted them to my best friend.  Either I would go out too fast, blow up, and humbly be passed by a lot of people, or I would actually nail my race plan and be in the top 10.

  1. Pie in the sky goal: Finish in 3:30 and be in the top 3
  2. WHOA so cool: Finish in 3:45 and rank in top 5 females
  3. Realistic and still proud: Finish in 4:00 hours and rank within top 10 females

I went back and forth between nerves and excitement.  Finally focusing on the wise words of my friend Krysta, “If you follow your pace plan, you will have a great race.  If you nail your pace plan, you will place in the top 10.”  It was simple as that.  I needed to focus on my race and not anyone else racing near me.

Race Morning:  Race Overview 9:55 / Start time 10am

Weather was slightly less than ideal with a mix of mist, rain, and manageable gusts of winds between 10-15mph.  James Varner, the Race Director, went over the race course and warned us of slippery wood bridges, wet rocks, and mud.  I nervously laughed, as a memory from wiping out on a wet wood bridge this past spring came back to me.  As much as I love running in cooler temperatures and cloud cover, I knew the biggest challenge would be running through the thick mud and over wet bridges.  My advantage would be the flat roads and steep downhills.

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Part 1:  The Road / Miles 1-3ish:

Initially I planned to run the first three miles conservatively with easy 8:30’s or close to 9’s, but the moment I heard James yell, “On your marks, get set, GO!” I took off and didn’t look at my watch… Less than a quarter mile in, I looked around and noticed it was just me, the lead pack of guys + 2 girls… Whoops.  So much for conservative.

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starline-around-the-corner

We made our first turn past the crowd, over the hotel lawn, onto the street and kept going.  My watch clicked mile 1 in 7:45, and then mile 2 in 7:41.  I wised up, pulled back, and female #2 passed right by me.  Shaking it off and reminding myself, “You are not here to win, you are here to run your race, and work your plan.  Stick to your plan.”  Alright, back to the task at hand, I was focused and ready to go again.  After 2.5ish miles you cross the street and hop onto a soft trail which begins a slight ascent and then descent until mile 3.

Part 2: The First Climb + Descent / Miles 3-6.8:

I huffed and puffed and pushed the first climb, struggling between not wanting to go out too hard & not wanting to give up too much of a lead.  Around mile 4, female 3 passed me and then shortly after female 4 ran by me.  I looked behind me and couldn’t see anyone… “Work the plan.”  I could save my energy and take my uphills between 15-20 minutes if needed and still come in at 4 hours.  The first half of 900ft climb was a mix of soft dirt and roots, the second half of the climb was thick and slippery mud!! The decent was just as challenging, but I somehow managed to stay up, keeping my foot turnover light and quick. I hit the aid station at mile 6.78, grabbed a banana + some Sprite and kept going, following closely on the heels of female 4.

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Part 3: The Second Climb + Descent / Miles 7-13

I knew the second climb would be the hardest physically but I didn’t anticipate my Garmin GPS going out.  Mentally, that was challenging but I pictured the map and elevation chart and trusted my instinct.  I looked down at my Garmin and the timer continued to count up, but the pace and miles were not updating.  This lasted for about 1.5 miles.  Somewhere along the second climb another lady passed me taking over 5th place.  I ate some gummies and kept power hiking.   To be honest this section is somewhat of a blur… I just kept power hiking as quickly as I could and focused on moving forward.  After climbing 1200ish feet, the descent felt incredible!!  I was running with another guy at this point and as we started the long anticipated descent he yelled, “This feels amazing!!” To which I responded with, “YES!! We have earned this moment!”  Finally, I reach mile 13, the second time at the aid station.  I filled up my water and drank some Coke.  I stood there for about 30 seconds and then took off for my last climb of the day!!

Part 4: The Third and Final Climb + Descent

Somehow this climb didn’t seem as bad as the first two climbs… Maybe it was because I knew once I reached the top it would be relatively smooth sailing, or it helped to know what was coming as I had already ran it in the first 6 miles.  For a large portion of this climb I had to squat down, put my hands on my quads and dig my heels into the muck in order to progress further and not slip back down the trail. Regardless, this climb and descent seemed to fly by.  I didn’t hear or see anyone behind me, and I knew if I just kept moving then I would secure my place in the top 10.  I ran past people foraging chanterelles and about 10 minutes later ran past lobster mushrooms on the trail (WHOA!!).  When I finally reached the top of the climb, I took off on the descent, running at an angle down the hill to avoid slipping through the mud.  Eventually the muddy path turned back into technical roots and then to the soft soil… and all of a sudden I was back on the road.

Part 5: Return of the Road

Initially I thought I would be able to bust out 8:30’s / 9:00’s on the way back… That did not happen.  10:30’s was the best I could do.  Maybe on a dry day where I had not wrestled the mud and fought to stay on my feet, but in this moment, I was just happy to have solid pavement below me.  “Don’t walk, keep going, almost done, almost done, almost done!! 6th female if you keep moving….”  I kept my eyes on an older gentleman who I had ran with off and on throughout the day.  I looked behind me and still did not see any other ladies.  This was it!!  I saw the finish line, picked up my pace a bit, and ran with everything I had left. As I crossed the finish, I high-fived the Race Director and said, “THANK YOU!!  That race was beautiful, amazing, hard, and kicked my ass!  I loved it.”

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And then all the pizza, beer, and time with Tim.

Official time 4:02:56

Results: 1st in AG, 6th overall female, and 23rd overall.

*Special thanks to Tim for driving the 14 hours (round trip) from Seattle to Oregon Coast,  for his support and encouragement, and for all the amazing photos.  The photo on the ridge is from Glenn Tachiyama Photography.