Race week: Reflection & Delayed Recap

I am now 5 days away from my goal race and I feel calm.  Surprisingly calm. When the doubt starts to creep in I tell myself, “You’re ready, you’ve trained for this!  This is your party, your celebration dance! Your performance is almost here.  Enjoy it!”

Growing up I played piano. Correction, I looked at the sheet music, felt an incredible amount of musical dyslexia, and would clumsily tap through the song hoping I had started on the right notes. I hated practicing. Despised it. It was my daily reminder of not being good enough.  Of course I know now that I needed to invest time to get better, but as a child I would put in the minimal amount of time, and skip whenever possible.

Needless to say, recitals made me feel sick, crippling so. I hated showcasing my ability, or lack thereof, to an audience of people. The little skill I did have was usually crammed into the week leading up to my recital. Performance day would show up, like a guest that is expected but not welcome. I would sit on my parents bed, holding my stomach in pain and beg them to let me stay home. Without fail my parents would bargain with me and promise a slice of pie as my reward if I could sit on the bench and fight my way through my piece. Apparently that’s enough incentive for a sugar deprived kid to willingly battle with their performance anxiety, because it worked everytime.

The recitals were moments where I had to show my world what I had worked on (or more so didn’t) and a time where I felt stunted, observing how everyone else had grown and excelled since the prior show.  It wasn’t just performance anxiety I dealt with, it was comparison syndrome too.

All of this to say, I had expected to feel severe anxiety, maybe even nausea over my upcoming race, but I am just excited & confident. I have practiced and I have put in the work. The miles & workouts leading up to my day are all part of my success story.

I believe it will be a good day, and if my race results falls short of my expectations, that’s OK too. I have invested everything into this training cycle without considering shortcuts, and I will do the same on race day.

I wrote the below to my coach after my October “workout/fitness test” half marathon. I reread it this morning as a confidence booster, reminding myself that I am capable of doing hard things, and more importantly to trust the process, plan, and my abilities! In the spirit of race week, I thought I would share my half recap here too.

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October 15, 2017

Lake Snohomish River Run.

1/2 Marathon

The week leading up to race day, Tim had been fighting a cold and it started to hit me on Thursday evening. Friday and Saturday I took SO much vitamin C via cold pressed juice, supplements, and way too much OJ. I was a little worried I would have tummy issues when Sunday came around from all the acidity, but it was worth the risk and I managed to clear out the congestion the morning of the race. In retrospect, I think this helped calm down my nerves – I knew I would put in my best effort on that day, no matter what happened but if the day didn’t go as planned, that it wouldn’t reflect my actual fitness (maybe just my health?). Regardless, I can’t choose if I am feeling 100% on marathon day, so it is good to know what I can push through if needed.

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Warm up: I arrived early and ran a 1.75 mile warm up, ending slowly on a hill in the last quarter mile that gained 125ft (oopsy). I opted to skip the strides since my legs felt a little worked from the hill – Which was good because gear check took forever so I ended up sprinting to the start line with 3 minutes to spare.

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Miles 1-5 – GOAL 7:30-7:35: I went out a little fast, cruising 7:14 the first 1/2 mile, and then reigned it back, forcing myself to slow down. Splits came in at 7:25, 7:34, 7:34, 7:30, 7:29. These all felt comfortably hard – But more so mentally. I kept wanting to go faster but told myself I would pass other people in the second half… Oiselle Sally and another friend were running right ahead of me but close to 7:20’s and part of me wanted to just run with them, while the other part of me knew I needed to execute my own plan.

I wised up and quickly let the notion go, focused on my music, and decided to keep trusting the plan, running my own race, and I held back knowing it was early.

I took in fluids at mile 4 and ate a spring energy gel from miles 4-5. From here I would grab a cup every 3ish miles and take a sip of water or swish nuun.

Miles 6-10, goal 7:25-7:30: At mile 6 you hit the bottom of the hill and run through a graveled parking lot for 1/2 a mile. The footing is tricky and really uncomfortable in racing flats (lol) – I thought this would slow me down, but it shook out just fine and I hit a 7:28 followed by 7:27, 7:21, 7:27 (took in my second gel here), 7:23.

I FELT AMAZING in these miles – Much of this time was spent alone but that was fine. There was a little headwind, but nothing notable. I had expected to feel the slight uphill and be discouraged or at the very least feel like I was working harder during this time; instead I felt warmed up, strong, and in control of the paces. The Oiselle cowbell corner was at mile 10.5 and I knew I wanted to look strong running past that, which helped keep my pace and form in check for the balance of these miles.

Miles 11-13.1, goal Sub 7:20: “Just wring out the rag” kept going through my head – you wrote this on a race plan for Eugene, and I wasn’t able to execute it then, but wanted to yesterday!!

With only 3ish miles left I knew I could grind out some speedy miles… After I received the race plan on Monday, I have been thinking that it would be amazing to drop a sub 7 mile as my last mile. I wasnt sure if that could happen BUT THEN IT DID!

7:05, 7:15, 6:58 and 6:33 – These miles felt hard and like I was pushing but I knew I could grind it out to the finish. I had a tiny side stitch during mile 12 but focused on changing my breathing and ran through it.

I was passing people left and right and still feeling strong and happy… bonus, no one passed me during this time!! I never hit a wall or thought WHERE IS THE FINISH – I focused on the task at hand.

Results: GARMIN 13.28 – 1:37:46 / 7:22 mile… ACTUAL RACE Results 1:37:46 / 7:28 mile & 3rd AG placement Women 30-34

Looking through Strava, EVERYONE’s results came in long, which makes me feel better about how I ran the tagents but a little bummed that maybe the course was too long and that I could have picked up 45 seconds to a minute had it been shorter. Oh well, next time.

Key Takeaways: WOW, I am still baffled that I pulled out a fast (for me) 5k finish at the end of a half marathon and on the uphill portions… WTF? Does this mean I should have pushed harder before that point or is that the confidence and mental state I want to be in at the end of a race? I gotta say, it felt good to trust the plan and gradually work more and more into the race… It felt awesome to run so strong in the last 3 miles too.

I know I cant be upset about the course length – that happens all the time, and in hindsight, I would rather it be long than short. I didn’t dwell on it during the race even though it was a noticeable difference from mile 3 on, I just kept moving and focusing on getting to the finish.

Fueling: Other races I have only taken “bites” of my gels and consumed 1/3-1/2 of a packet vs. this race I took in the whole gel over the course of a mile.

Mental state: The cowbell corner and mantras kept me moving and feeling really good. Fortune favors the brave, I can/I am/I will, and wring out the rag.

Training life hack: On my long runs I have been trying to feel good at the end and not just stop abruptly after my last mile. In some runs (mostly because I have ran too far with a friend) I have ran a tiny bit further than the plan or had to walk a little ways back to my car. I think this has helped with mental endurance for the tiny bit of distance that will come after 26 miles or 13 miles… I have also tried to run my last mile of speed workouts as my fastest mile – getting use to the feeling of running fast on tired legs and knowing I can do it even if it is hard.

Core: This was the first race in a long time I didn’t feel like my form was falling apart or I was bending over in the last few miles! CORE WORKS and it is worth allocating time to do it!

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 .

 

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!

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.

stöðugleiki // Stability

A new blog, a fresh start, and a place to document process.  The process of running, training, evolving, reaching, and refining… So here we go.

Why do I run?  For the generic, ”It calms me, it renews me, it makes me a better person, for the challenge, for community…”  Recently on a run I asked myself for the additional and authentic answers.

I use to run from myself and shortcomings.  I ran from problems, confusion, loneliness, the work day, and essentially commitments.  I didn’t love it, but the more I ran the more grounded I felt, realizing the movements didn’t make me feel lost but gave me space for my mind to wander and a place where my thoughts are allowed to process.

My relationship with running has evolved over the past 6 years to not running from weakness but towards strength.  I no longer feel chased, but have become the chaser.  I run to pursue the unknown but still desired.  I chase after beautiful sunsets, silhouettes of a better me, and goals that no longer seem like dreams.  Running wakes up my senses and spirit, running is my gateway to reality.  I run because I find stability in constant motion.