Monday, July 27, 2015

Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon: Week 0

Today marks the start of my training for the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon. I am really, really excited. Like, I haven't been this excited to start a training cycle since probably the one before my first marathon excited.

For Sleeping Bear, I used a Hal Higdon plan and focused solely on getting the miles in. I did one "tempo" run a week (in quotes because I didn't know to warm-up or how to shoot for a given pace). I went out way too fast at the actual race, but I showed up to the start line uninjured, energetic, and well-trained.

I got away from this the last few training cycles because I had to get faster faster faster now now now. As much as I try not to admit it, I definitely have some hang-ups about being a "slower" runner, and I let myself lose sight of good training practices to try to improve my times. A couple of injuries and illnesses later, I think I've hopefully learned my lesson. (And if not, I think there's no helping me at this point.)

So, this training cycle, I am going back to basics and using a Hal Higdon plan. I went back to the data from my first cycle (that was a scary blast from the past, let me tell you...), and when I first started my easy pace was around 12 min/mile and, by the end, it had dropped to about 11 min/mile. My easy pace now seems to be about 10:45 - 11 min/mile, and I'm curious to see how much I can improve by the end of this cycle!

That being said - I am modifying the plan a bit based on what I've learned during my less than stellar training cycles. I really liked incorporating strength training and swimming when I did RLRF. I also found hill workouts to be fun and not as body/soul/mind-destroying as track workouts when I added some Blue Ridge-specific prep to my training this spring. I also am aiming for a time goal, so I will be following Higdon's speed recommendations, rather than just adhering to the distance prescribed.

A typical week will look like this:

M - easy run AM/NROLFW workout PM
T - swim AM/easy run PM
W - hill workout AM/NROLFW workout PM
R - swim AM
F - tempo run AM (@ MP)
Sa - long run AM (@ MP+90)
Su - rest

Yes, there are a lot of AMs there for someone who tries to run in the evening, but I know workouts in the morning are inevitable when doing two-a-days, and they're something I genuinely want to do. I paid attention the last few weeks and realized my biggest barrier to getting up on time is that I get sucked into social media in bed. (Yes, that's very shameful to admit!) But to combat this I downloaded one of those blocking apps - so that I don't have anything fun to look at when my alarm goes off instead of getting it into gear. (I did leave Instagram unblocked, so that I can get my small fix and not feel like everything I love is being ripped away at once.)

Every third week will be a cutback week, which I think will be my key to successfully completing this training cycle. On these weeks, I will switch the hill workout and tempo run with easy runs, and the long run will be cut back from the previous week by 3-4 miles. I was a little nervous about building my own plan until I made these modifications. I know myself, and I will be much more willing and able to hit the workouts when I know these regular rest periods are coming my way.

I'm also ready to get the little (and not so little) things in line this cycle! I normally fail pretty hard when it comes to nutrition, but Michael and I loaded up on healthy stuff at the grocery store this week and have committed to having quality dinners. I also picked up some iron supplements to combat the anemia I struggle with, and I've started a hip flexor stretching routine every night, since I think most of my injuries stem from them being incredibly tight! I also plan to foam roll religiously every night to combat any other imbalances.

Michael cooks dinner for us because he is awesome, so I know my giant lazy butt won't lead me back to eating junk for dinner after a day at work. I realized I usually watch one episode of some fun TV show a night, so I plan to do my stretching and rolling during that time, so it doesn't feel like a horrible "extra" burden.

I think that covers just about everything (and has probably bored you to tears by now), except for what my actual goal is. It's pretty scary, but I am going for a 4:20. (Ok, a 4:19:59, but who's counting?) This translates to a 9:55 min/mile pace.

Based on recent times from shorter races, this should be a reasonable goal for me. It's pretty scary to see a goal marathon pace that starts with a single digit, but I need to stop letting my mental game hold me back. Hal Higdon worked for me before, and I know it will again.

I just need to trust my training.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


I feel a little strange writing a negative post when there's so much positive stuff going on right now, but I've been struggling with these feelings for awhile, and that's what my blog is for. So here we go.

For the past couple weeks, I have been totally neglecting my training. I focused on getting all my weight sessions in (and I will recap Stage One of NROLFW soon, I promise!), but everything else sort of fell by the wayside.

I can't say I'm totally surprised this happened. There's a been a lot of life stuff happening like, you know, buying my first house and moving for the second time in three months. I love our house, but it's still an adjustment. (As someone at work said the other day: "I HATE CHANGE!!!")

Besides that, it's also been go, go, go, with races and other travel, like going back to our parents' for Father's Day and the 4th of July. All of this has been super fun, but it started to burn me out. Right now our only plans for August is for my best friend to come visit us (which will likely involve me taking time off work and chilling poolside!), and Michael and I can't wait to sit around on our butts for a few weekends.

We've also started wedding planning slightly more in earnest than before, in that we are actually looking at venues. The first was a total spectacular dud, but we have high hopes for the one we're seeing at the very beginning of August. When my best friend (and MOH) gets back stateside in July, it will be easier to have someone to bounce ideas off of.

So, with all of that detailed, from an objective point of view, I'm not surprised at all that I am feeling a bit burnt out. If someone else told me all that and asked for advice, I would tell them to take a few deep breaths and enjoy the time off.

However, I am the queen of imposing irrational and pointless pressure on myself. Which has led to some really intense guilt about skipping my workouts.

I tried to take a step back - I have no time goals for Missoula, I am in decent (for me) shape, and there is a generous cut-off. Taking some time to recharge isn't going to hurt me this Sunday. I'm guessing it might even help.

Even though that sounds super reasonable, I'm still struggling with the guilt. I've spent this week doing about 30 minutes of yoga a night, which has kept me from getting restless, but hasn't really eased the guilt.

I've been doing a lot of soul-searching trying to determine the cause of this guilt, and maybe have a few guesses. The job I took here when I moved is fine, but it's a lot less challenging than my prior one. I specifically wanted something a little less stressful, but I went too far down the spectrum. I think without some work stress, I'm feeling a little lost. I defined myself by academics for so long, and now that I can't replace that with work, it's a bit of a struggle. I guess I feel like I have to pressure myself somehow, so I'm finding a new outlet?

I've also lost a routine without a set workout schedule. Again, I specifically took a break from my plan to break that very routine, but structure really helps keep me centered. (I originally used the word calm here, but I don't think that's quite right.)

Trying to understand the cause isn't working out so well, so I'm hoping it passes soon. I'm unbelievably excited to run Missoula and then spend five whole days hiking all over Glacier National Park. I haven't done a big Park hiking trip in awhile, and I'm ready to hit the trails! I even treated myself to a new daypack and everything.

I plan to take an additional week off after the trip and plan to do whatever I feel like. If I want to go for a walk, I will. If I want to go for a trail run, I will. If I want to sit on my butt and share 1000 pictures of Glacier with you guys, I will.

This low-grade anxiety is really uncomfortable, but it helps to recognize that it's irrational and it too will pass. Training for Chickamauga will start two weeks after Missoula, and I'm really happy with the plan I created for myself, so I also have that to look forward to.

Other than at Christmas, I've never taken for than a couple of days off work at time. (And at Christmas, we switched locations every three days, so it wasn't very relaxing!) After tomorrow and Friday, I will have nine days straight off work, and I have no plans to check my work email or even check in with the office. After so many major changes in the last few months, running a great marathon and doing some amazing hiking might be just what I need to reset.

Has anyone else struggled with this? I could really use some advice.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Versatile Blogger Survey

I was nominated by EB from Running on E for the Versatile Blogger Award. She manages to run far and fast and make it seem easy! I love following along with her training and reading her race recaps. In fact, her reviews help sell Michael and I on doing Chickamauga this fall! Definitely check her blog out.

A little about this award/survey (which I stole from EB): The Versatile Blogger Award is for those blogs that bring something special to your life. In picking your nominees, you are to consider the quality of the writing, the uniqueness of the subjects covered, the level of love displayed in the words on the virtual page. Or, of course, the quality of the photographs and the level of love displayed in the taking of them.

“Rules” are as follows: Answer the questions you have been given, nominate 10 (ish) other bloggers and give them their own set of questions to answer.

I hope you enjoy!

1. What is something people might be surprised to learn about you?

Hmm...this is one of those "icebreaker" questions I always struggle with.... I guess I'm a fairly simple person! I'm going to half-steal EB's answer (that she knows Latin). I speak German with moderate fluency. I never considered this surprising because it was my second major in college, so I talked about it a lot, but I realized that now that I've graduated, very few people I regularly interact with know this about me.

2. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Weirdest answer ever, but I really, really wanted to be an Amish person when I was little. I went through a huge "Felicity" phase (she was the American Girl from the Colonial period), and my grandma told me the Amish lived a Colonial times-ish lifestyle. I'm pretty sure she meant to mock me, but at that time, it sounded like the best thing ever. I had actually forgotten about this until I started my new job - my hospital does a lot of outreach to the Amish community, so members are around pretty often.

3. What is your favorite place you have visited?

Hands down, New Zealand! I went for two weeks as a pre-college program with a bunch of other incoming freshmen, and it was so amazing. We only stayed on the North Island, and I want to go back and explore some more, especially on the South Island. Michael and I thought about going for our honeymoon, but I want to do a whirlwind tour of all the LotR/Hobbit filming sites, so we decided to leave this for a stand-alone trip.

4. What is one place on your travel must-see bucket list?

I already blew New Zealand on the last question. Oops. Two other places I really want to see are Ireland and Quebec. I have ancestors from both these places (I did the math, and I think I have one relative from Quebec five generations back! but it counts!), and I'd love to see them. (I'm mostly German, but I've been fortunate enough to already have gone to Germany three times.) 

5. What's your current go-to workout song?

Bills by Lunchmoney Lewis. It's so catchy and fun. My favorite radio station usually plays this at 5 PM on Fridays, so it also reminds of the weekend. 

6. What is your favorite distance to run?

I had to think about this one. I obviously really like marathons (or I wouldn't be doing 50 of them!), but I think the 10K might still be my favorite distance. It requires speed, but also endurance, and I find it to be more tactical than the 5K. Pushing myself for a 5K hurts, but it's over pretty fast. A 10K requires a little more prolonged suffering.

7. What is your dream race/event?

I would love to run some international marathons! My best friend and I are hopefully going to go to Turkey sometime so I can run the Istanbul Marathon. (She is fluent in Turkish, so she can haul me around.)

8. What would you do with a $1000 gift card?

True story, I am horrible at spending money on fun stuff. I try to give myself permission to buy treats, and I just can't do it! I think I would put this towards travel and maybe stay in a nicer hotel than usual. I know, I really live on the wild side.

9. If you could go on a bicycle built for two ride with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

Someone with strong quads! All kidding aside, probably JRR Tolkien. We could talk about Peter Jackson ruined Faramir and how Sam is the real hero. But I wouldn't tell him I named my cat after Faramir - apparently he was not a fan of people naming their pets after characters!

10. What is your favorite guilty pleasure snack food?

Gosh, so many choices! I think most German sweets are on this list. Rittersport is so good, but hard to find in the US. There's a flavor with a biscuit in the middle that is the bomb dot com. Once, on a study abroad, I bought a package and offered to share a piece with the people I was sitting with. They were almost appalled I was willing to share the best flavor of Rittersport I had bought for myself!

I nominate the following bloggers:

Here are my questions: (Ok, and if there's one thing I'm worse at than doing icebreakers, it's making icebreakers! I kept a lot of EB's questions because they were way better than what I could do.)

1. What is something people might be surprised to learn about you?
2. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
3. Why did you decide to start a blog?
4. What is one place on your travel must-see bucket list?
5. What's your current go-to workout song?
6. What is your favorite distance to run?
7. What is your dream race/event?
8. What would you do with a $1000 gift card?
9. What's your favorite running related book? (I'm trying to find some summer reading, totally a selfish question.)
10. What's your favorite hobby outside of running? (Blasphemy!)