Goals & Growth

I wrote the below on 12/18/2018… 

———————————————————————–

The year is almost over and it seems  a lot of my 2018 goals will be carrying forward and spilling into 2019.

I grew so much this past year, finding strength in areas I least expected.  I learned a new language I had been unconsciously suppressing, and started communicating more with my body, understanding and allowing its request to rest.  I took unplanned days off not because I was injured, but to avoid it.  I slowed down this past fall in order to hopefully speed up long term… I didn’t excel at the trajectory I thought I would, but some growth can’t be measured by PRs and race times.  Just like tree roots – as noted in January – some growth is hidden beneath the surface…. I just need to go a little deeper before I can become little taller.

————————————————————————-

On 01/01/2019, shortly after writing this, I finally PRed again and came so close to my sub 20 minute (20:05) 5K goal on quite minimal training… It feels good to approach training -and hopefully life itself – with a balance of being more relaxed but still focused.

Goals should be a guidance and an invitation to growth.  They offer a quantified approach to staying motivated and on track, but shouldn’t make you feel stifled or trapped.  By pulling my intensity back and refocusing on the basics, I eventually reaped a small reward.  And while it was not in 2018, I still consider it to have happened right on time.

As I enter the beginning of 2019, I commit to shifting my perspective and allowing my goals to be fluid.  I pledge to growing in both the seen and unseen ways – focusing on prehab, mental health, core work, & rest.  And hopefully these small actions will feed into getting healthier, faster, and running further.

Cheers to one year closing and another opening.  Happy New Year!

 

 

Reflection

I have had one week + one day to process the marathon and reflect on what went wrong and what went right.  To really explain the ebb and flow of my training cycle, let me dive back a bit.

Mid – late August, I was dealing with some serious accumulative fatigue when I was 7wks away from TCM.  I had noticed it after the ultra relay in early August, pushed through it during the Tacoma 1/2 marathon on 8/18, but by the following weekend, I just couldn’t push anymore.

I was trying to complete a 22 mile run and although I was motivated to run a strong and solid marathon, I was so tired and drained that I could barely run 8 miles without stopping.  Finally at 11 miles, exactly halfway through what was supposed to be a 22, I pulled the plug.  In dramatic fashion I ended the run at a mall, bought a long sleeve shirt hoping it would keep me warm for the long journey that lay ahead, took cash out at an ATM for bus fare, and then tried to navigate said bus route home (without a phone & absolutely no knowledge of the bus system…).  This whole excursion took multiple transfers, walking about 2 miles between routes, and nearly TWO HOURS!

I was shivering the entire bus ride; so cold from rain and sweat.  I remember feeling so sad, confused and defeated, but it was in that HARD and uncompleted training run that I finally realized what I needed most… REST.

*Side note that I had bloodwork done the week before this and iron levels plus vitamins were fine.

I forced my goal to take a backseat in order to find my health and springy step again.  I cut my mileage down, started writing fartlek and interval workouts and focused on getting my legs in shape to run the distance.  I first and foremost wanted to enjoy the day and run well, but hoped I would see an added BONUS of fitness/PR shape/3:16-3:19 marathon.

After two weeks of listening to my body & allowing grace vs. forcing fitness I began to feel like myself again.  I found my motivation, excitement, and the fast times followed.  Unfortunately, this was a little late in the game but I chose to acknowledge my best efforts, and focused on writing a race plan that reflected recent 10×800’s and the successful workouts.  Only race day would reveal how fast I could go.

On race day I got through mile 16 on pace and smiling – projecting to run around 3:18:xx… By mile 18 my projection was a completely different story.  My quads were tight, heavy, and would not contract – no amount of electrolytes seemed to help.  I dealt with the pain and didn’t let it bother me, but I also couldn’t go any faster physically.  Mentally I was still in it and doing great, I was winning the battle of choosing to be grateful.

While it could have just been one of those off days, I believe I could have prevented or prepared better in my training with a few tweaks.  First and foremost, I would not try to force the miles and paces when I was already depleted from challenges in life.   I do feel things could have shaken out differently had I listened to my fatigue earlier and just allowed a cutback week or two earlier in the training cycle.

Secondly, I would run more hills – both as repeats and in the middle of hard tempos.  I definitely underestimated the hills in TCM.  I literally run up a hill that is nearly 200ft at the end of all my long runs.  This was, however, not even close to sufficient.  I needed to condition my body to both run fast AND over rolling hills.  I did this for CIM and felt relatively great, but unfortunately didn’t prioritize it for TCM.

Third, I would increase the MP miles. Again, playing catch up from fatigue to fitness meant I was being extra careful in workload and workout times.  I was able to run 10 at GMP in the middle of 22 miler, but perhaps 13 in the middle of 16-18 miler would be better.

That said, there are many positives to pull from this cycle.  My VO2max increased, I saw lower HR results during workouts, my nutrition was spot on, joints + hips felt great, mentally I was focused, and I ran faster workouts than I ever have before.

What’s Next: Leading up to Boston training, I plan to build my aerobic capacity through easier running, hilly tempos,  & focusing on shorter race distances such as the 5K and 10K.  As I transition to Boston training this winter, I will layer in trail running, hill repeats, and hilly tempos to get my legs conditioned for running fast and staying alive in the race.  As far as preventing fatigue, I definitely plan to have a cut back week every third week so I can safely build mileage and speed.

I am hopeful that this layered strategy will grow my fitness by race day and keep me interested in excelling… but for now, please excuse me while I eat one more donut and drink another coffee.

 

 

Perspective: Twin Cities Marathon

“It’s going to be a good day,” I said as I stood in corral one before the race even started.

“It’s going to be a good day,” I whispered as I ran through mile 10 in exactly the time I had predicted (1:16).

“It’s going to be a good day…” I thought as I heard my parents yelling, “That’s our girl, that’s our Lynnie!! *Hang on, Hester!!” at mile 13.1 as I sailed through the course in 1:39:xx.

*Hang on Hester was my favorite children’s book growing up.  My name was going to be Esther but my mom had a change of heart after she saw me and decided I looked like a Lynn. My dad however, still calls me Esti or Esther, and would change the story to Hang on Esther whenever he read it to me…but I digress… back to the recap.

I saw my in-laws and husband at mile 14, and was filled with joy, love, hope and gratitude!!  I was still hitting paces and plugging away, focused on the task at hand, but it was in that mile I knew that it was already a good day.

At mile 16 the goal paces slowly began fading and my quads tightened and seized; my fast twitch muscles became just a thought but no longer an action I could deliver.

At mile 18 I realized I wouldn’t be able to come back from the deficit and pull off the goal.  However, my attitude was unlike the blow of disappointment and defeat I felt at the Eugene marathon.  I focused on the crowds, savoring the moment, the leaves, the weather, the city.  It started as a good day to attempt a big goal, and then it turned into a good day for a long run.

I went out hungry and confident – I know I am capable of a sub 3:20 & faster with a little more work and a little more time.  One bad race doesn’t define me or box me into a stagnant future.

While I didn’t have the day I truly thought I would, the knowledge gained is filled with answers I will only find in racing.  There is no better place to discover both my strengths and weaknesses than the city that breathed life into me.  The very place where I learned to walk and to run, and the place that reflects who I was and who I can become.

I lined up on Sunday morning without fear and finished supported in love.  It wasn’t my day to PR, and I am truly disappointed in my performance, but it doesn’t change the fact that it was still a good day.  And damn, if a 3:32:49 – 2020 squeaker BQ – is the result of everything going south, I think I have a bright future ahead.

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Tacoma Narrows 1/2 Marathon: 08/18/2018

This is perhaps the most boring race recap there is but it does allow me to reflect back when planning another race strategy… soooo here we go.

 

Race Recap: Tacoma Narrows 1/2 Marathon, August 18th, 2018

– Woke up at 4am
– Breakfast: 1/3 cups Oatmeal w/ AB & chia seeds, 15grams (beans) coffee, 16oz nuun
– Clothing – Mini strides, volee bra, flyout tank, LUX gloves & racing flats
– Left house at 5am
– On the shuttle bus at 6:00 AM —- Depart 6:06…. Bus got lost for 30 minutes…
– Off shuttle at 6:40

Weather / Misc:
Temps were PERFECT for August, with mid 50’s and 2mph winds to start. It seemed so foggy in the morning and for the first half of the race, but looking back, that was more than likely a combo of the poor air quality & morning fog.  Haha.  I am glad I didn’t realize part of the misty charm was really just smoke.

 

 

Prerace / Warmup:
I checked my bag and started the warmup. Warmup was just shy of 1.5 miles and around 108 HR (WHOA, how was it that low!!) & 9ish pace, 4x20sec strides, and then off to the bathroom one last time.  All of a sudden I was standing on the line with 10 minutes to spare.  I felt calm, excited, ready to race but without feeling obligated to run a certain time.  I just wanted to do my best.

RACE:
Race started at 7:30 on the dot….

Miles 1-5: 7:12, 7:13, 7:32, 7:25, 8:00
The first two miles are nice, flat, w/ a slight downhill. My legs felt fresh and springy & my excitement to race had me reeling to go faster, but I stayed smart and stuck to the initial plan… I originally intended to go for 7:10-7:20 but I also knew that I would be running on effort due to large hills at the beginning and rolling hills until mile 11. My focus was on being conservative through mile 5 as the largest hill started at mile 4… I would run the flats well, be aggressive on the uphill, take the down as a fast recovery and keep grinding through mile 11 as the course glides straight downhill from there. Surprisingly, my legs felt pretty tired early on and just after mile 5 – I had already gained over 300ft at this point – but I knew that in 45 minutes I would be running downhill if I could stay focused. I had just listened to a podcast w/ Des Linden and she said, “It is not about how you feel, it doesn’t matter how you feel, on race day you just run and go…” So that’s what I did.

Miles 6-8: 7:22, 7:26 7:36:
I tried to not let any split get in my head… It was slower than I wanted, but I felt like I was running really well. My paces were all over the place but so was the course. No one had passed me, & I was essentially running by myself from mile 2 until the finish. I started taking in a Spring Energy gel from miles 8-9.

Mile 9: 7:35:
The course runs into Cheney stadium, the home of the Tacoma Rainiers minor league baseball team!! It was so cool to look up and see my face on the big screen, & even better was running a lap around the gravel outfield and not seeing a single female behind me. YAS!! I had a solid minute on my competition if I kept moving. After leaving the stadium, the course moves onto exposed bike lanes that run beside the freeway & the sun begins to feel hot. At this point the rest of the course was exposed, temps were low 60’s – not bad but noticeable – and the smoke began to move in… My lungs felt a little tight and my calves were fatiguing but I focused on each mile as I was in them.

Miles 10 & 11: 7:37 & 8:16….
OOOF, mile 10 was hard, but the goal was to keep moving and not see any ladies behind me. At mile 11 you climb again at a pretty steep grade (GPS says 22% for part of it???). It was a quick punchy climb, but then my side started cramping. I knew I could make up a lot of time running downhill if I could work out the side stitch early (sidenotes, I have been getting these quite a bit lately… WTF?). I let myself walk/jog for 20 seconds and focused on breathing calmly for the remainder of the uphill and then began to attack the down.

MIle 12 & 13.1: 7:15, 6:54, 6:23 (.09)
FINALLY, FINALLY the hills are almost done and I am running through the city streets towards the finish line!!! Just 14 minutes left, thats it. Don’t stop. Grind. Grind. Grind. I was tired, my legs felt beat, but I still felt strong! I had enough in me for a fast finish & my stomach kept it together the whole time. I gave it all I had and left everything on the course… I didn’t bargain, compromise, or let negative thoughts take over. I crossed the finish feeling like I conquered so much!

 

 

RESULTS:
Time: 1:37:55 – Not a PR but much harder course than my PR from spring.
Place: 2nd AG, 5th women, 28th overall
Ft gained: 538 on strava but 690 on garmin so who knows?

Race ribbon

The week post race:
I was TIRED! Calves were tight as sh!t, which I assume was a combo of the hills & racing in flats for that long. Overall I felt good, just didn’t have a lot of speed in me.  I focused on easy runs, recovery and letting my body bounce back.

Outcomes:
This half showed me that if I can string together some good workouts, I feel pretty confident going into Twin Cities. I am prepped for the distance & Summit hill, now it is about being able to nail the workouts… Sooooo, let’s see what happens – CIM I was confident, Twin Cities I am scared, but either way I am going in knowing I will give all I have on race day, and thats still a good place to be!!!

Orcas 25K: 1/27/18

Snow & drizzle⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Slosh, slosh, slosh through slush river ⠀

“You’re so small,” Nature whispers⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

But like a tree, my roots run deep

Growth hidden beneath the surface ⠀

 

75358489-IMG_0814-2

Photo Credit: Glenn Tachiyama

Results:  14th Women
Time: 3:15:12
Ft Climbed: 4,400ish
Miles of Snow/Ice/Slush: Countless

 

Declaration of Goals: 2018

We are 4 days into the year and I have almost recovered from my marathon 32 days ago.  I am itching to start working towards 2018 goals but I am trying as patiently as possible to respect the healing process & time that my body needs.

Yesterday Becki and I defined what I want to work towards this year and I am so excited for what we feel I am capable of right now!! That said, I do want to stay present with the work I put in each day, recognizing the day’s purpose and not getting too caught up in the goal itself… Each workout & run represents one board that will eventually build the boat I use to sail towards my dreamy sunset.  If I make it there quickly -AWESOME – and if I spring a leak during the voyage, I’ll salvage what I can to get as far as possible on that journey, while using  the mending process as a learning for later.

Although we are working towards a number, I understand that I could come in faster or more conservative based on the ebb and flow of how my body reacts to stress or training.  This mindset has helped keep pressure off on race day, but still drives the hunger for specific results to keep me moving.

This year I will be running both trails and roads, but using the trail to build up endurance and cross training.  My trail races on the calendar will be used as long runs, knowing my focus will be to speed up on the roads.

Alright, so here they are…

2018 RACE Goals:

5K: Sub 20 minute 5K
Reasoning/Plan:  If I can run sub 7 minute miles at the end of a training  run during a half marathon, I should be able to belt out a fast 5K either late winter/early spring… This will also help lay the groundwork for training as I build up speed for my half marathon.
TBD on the race but looking at February or early March

1/2 Marathon: Part 1) 1:33-1:35  Part 2) 1:30-1:32
Reasoning/Plan: 
I ran 3 solid half marathons last year, each getting faster, with the last during a marathon training block.  We felt I could hit a sub 1:35 during the last 1/2 marathon but didn’t want to sacrifice the marathon as a result.  Now with a two part plan, I feel armed and ready to battle it out!

Marathon: 3:15-3:19
Reasoning/Plan:  
CIM was AWESOME, but I truly felt ready for 3:22… Becki told me a few times to dream of a sub 3:20 and it could happen given the right day… Honestly, everything went according to plan, though the stretch goal was to negative split and move faster in the last 5K – 10K… We now have 10 months to build more speed and endurance so this can happen in 2018!! And in the process, the 5K + 1/2 marathon(s) should lay a solid foundation for making the pain cave feel like home.

Currently on the Calendar:

January Orcas 25K: 
Goal: Fun Run – This will be used as a long endurance fun run, though given the vert (+4K ft of climbing), I assume the fun will be the beer and pizza at the finish line.

March 31st: Hop Hop Half 
Goal:  1:33-1:35 – Hoping to execute part one of the plan.

April 29th: Tillamook Burn 20 Mile Trail Race
Goal:  Training run for Ragnar ultra trail team + bonus of hanging with R.A.N (girl gang) & Territory runners.

May 11 & 12: Ragnar Ultra Trails ZION
Goal: Have all the fun & don’t get injured or dehydrated at altitude during the accumulative 28 miles.

June/July: TBD RACE
Goal:  Looking for additional 1/2 marathon to nail down the 1/2 A goal of 1:30-1:32

August 3rd & 4th: Cascade Lakes Ultra Team
Goal: Enjoy running 34 miles & celebrate EM’s engagement all weekend!  Use this for long run & speed work going into TC Marathon training.

October 7th: TWIN CITIES MARATHON
GOAL: Victory lap in my hometown, see my mom at the finish line, hug my dad with every ounce of joy I have, keep my eyes peeled for Tim on his bike, and run a 3:15-3:19 marathon because I am GD capable of doing so.

Other fun stuff… 

  • Spring Coaching GOTR – March-May w/ prep work starting in February
  • Debating on June RRCA Coaching Certification
  • Continue to organize Territory Run Co. community events and runs
  • More travel, more running, more prehab work
  • Actual meal planning each week — Budget friendly and SO MUCH easier to eat healthy when the food is already made… because as a starving runner, I do not always make the best decisions (IE Fueling with choc. pretzels before my run today…oops!!).
  • More reading!!

… here we go!

Year in Review: 2017

Like most people I write out my goals around January 1st every year and check in on them periodically.  When we moved in June, I misplaced my journal that had my goals written down, and I didn’t review them for the balance of the year.

It was fun to look over them today and see where I came in.  Many of them were ingrained in me before 2017 even started and it felt so gratifying to mentally check them off the list as the months went on.

Below were my goals for 2017 and the results –

  1. Marathon PR:  SMASHED IT!
    A Goal: 3:30, B Goal: BQ (anything under 3:35:00), C Goal: Just PR
    Result:  Marathon PR in May 3:48:00, & major PR w/ BQ in December @ 3:24:52
  2. 1/2 Marathon PR: SMASHED IT!
    A Goal: Sub 1:40, B Goal: Sub 1:50
    Result: March 4th 1:43:25, July 4th 1:38:58, October 15th 1:37:45
  3. OR Coast 30K: Failed 
    Goal: Top 3 Female
    Result: Big DNS – I prioritized CIM over this race and transferred my bib
  4. 5K PR: Semi hit this goal
    Goal: Sub 22:00 5k
    Result: I didn’t run a 5K but I did hit an unofficial PR in the last 5K of my October half marathon, coming in at 21:54.  I know I have a fast 5K in me, I just need to sign up for one and blow the initial goal out of the water!
  5. Make crossing training a priority:  Semi Smashed it
    Goal: Strength work, core, and Yoga
    Result: I made core a priority and did a lot of yoga in the first half of the year.  The second half of the year I seemed to have slacked in yoga….
  6. No Days Off:  Failed it
    Goal: Dedicate at least 5 minutes a day to stretching, cross training, running, or PT
    Result: This was not realistic.  I did run, yoga, or core 6 days a week but I relished in my rest day.

Bonus highlights of 2017:  Working with Territory Run Co. to form the Monthly Sunrise Group & moving so close to Discovery Park.  In 2018, I would like to take advantage of the Disco trails at least once a week during easy days or for cross training.

Overall, a successful year and I am looking forward to cleaning up 2018 by adding more strength training and yoga as well as sprinkling in some shorter, fast races as fitness tests throughout the year.