No-Track Thursday: 10/02 Marathon Taper Time!

tapering ecard

I’m not positive, but that eCard girl might be in her socks….that’s a definite no-no on race day 🙂

I’m in the homestretch, the last 100m before the actual 26.2 miles! The Portland Marathon is Sunday at 7:00 am, though I will definitely triple-check that on Saturday night! I’ve been tapering for the marathon this week, so there have been no tempo runs and no track session this morning. Honestly though, I don’t feel like I am suffering from any ‘tapering madness’ or ‘taper crazies’. But I live by myself, so if I have been weirder than normal this week no one would know!

I’m not sure if this is consistent among all runners, but I have a little secret: I’m lazy! There’s a little part of me deep down that enjoys being able to kick back and dial down the training. My coach and my mind have told my body, Okay this is it! You’ve done the work and now you need to rest! Rest! REST! (No one has actually said that, that’s just my interpretation.) My body hasn’t had any problem following orders. Our brain’s main function is to preserve energy through efficiency, and so finally my brain gets a chance to do it’s job…I’m sure it doesn’t understand why I fight it on a daily basis by running when there’s nothing chasing me!

It helps that this week, while my legs may be resting, the rest of me is still as busy as the squirrels are! I’m maintaining my general routine in an effort to trick my body and maintain sanity (it works!) by running every morning, eating the same, and going about my regular day. My morning runs have been short and sweet: Sunday I recovered from Saturday’s 10k with an easy 3 miles and the rest of the week has been 4-5 miles easy. Today after my run I did 4x 100-150m strides to shake out my legs.

I'm listening!

I’m listening!

I’m also not changing anything about my diet. It’s given me the energy to complete all my workouts until now, so why mess it up? I’m not concerned with continuing to eat the same amount though I am exercising less because my focus is on recovering and refueling, not maintaining a certain weight. I don’t use tapering as an excuse to inhale every bit of food that comes my way! As long as I continue to eat the same, I will perform as I have been. I’ve been really happy with my workouts, so I’m happy with my diet!

The rest of me has been concerned with the beginning of Fall Term classes at Portland State University. I don’t have ample time to fret over every little marathon detail and worry myself sick because I have a long list of homework to do! I have kept my legs churning by cycling to class and home 3x this week (50 minutes round-trip) it’s not too arduous a trip, and I think it is beneficial to stay moderately active throughout the day. A body at rest stays at rest! Saturday however, I will be relaxing (after a quick morning jog)!

There are a few fine details I need to work out before race day, and I will be following up with a post about that, so check in! One of my main worries has been the weather…suddenly it has gotten really cold! There’s also no bag check at the marathon (I actually read the newsletter the race organizers emailed out!) so I need to go to Goodwill for some donate-able/disposable warm-up clothes! I’ll get to that later!

I’m taking it one day at a time, and staying surprisingly sane (ish)!

Photo credit: Tri-ing to Be Athletic Blog "Is It Reefer Madness?? No, It's TAPER Madness!!"

Photo credit: Tri-ing to Be Athletic Blog “Is It Reefer Madness?? No, It’s TAPER Madness!!”

*A note about my inner lazy person: I can only really be content with complacency for about a week, after that my inner drive kicks in again and I have to go! That’s what makes me a runner 🙂

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Track Thursday: 09/25/2014 Last Workout!

karnazes quote
Happy Autumn everyone! Today is the epitome of a perfect autumn day in Portland. The rain from the last couple of days has stopped and left a chill in the air. The yellow sun is casting it’s tentative light highlighting the leaves that have suddenly turned golden and are fluttering to the ground before my very eyes.

My breath came out in a white cloud this morning for the first time as I jogged an easy mile to the track.

track thursday 09-25Today’s track session is my last hard workout before the Portland Marathon next Sunday. I have a race-pace effort 10k this Saturday and then there’s nothing left to do but taper

These last several speed workouts have really flipped my feelings toward the track. A lot of the improvement comes from having a reliable track buddy to workout with. To have someone else there to take on half the work allows me to concentrate on running hard and focusing, rather than stressing about time and splits.

We’re also pretty chatty 🙂 We attempt to fill each other in on the week’s details during our 200m recovery jogs, which is pretty difficult to do! But she definitely lightens the mood, and now I don’t view track workouts as do-or-die efforts. I always put too much pressure on myself during solo workouts which caused me to go flat several times in the past. And the nagging little voice in my head, whispering at me to quit isn’t as loud anymore.

There’s no option to quit when you and a partner are equally depending on one another.

I’m going to miss the track….I won’t be returning to it for awhile. My plans after Portland include immediate recovery and then base-building during the winter months. I used to believe that I needed to do speed work all year long to maintain my fitness, but now I understand that it is futile to attempt to stay in peak racing condition year-round. It’s impossible…you’ll either get completely burned out, injured, or at best log mediocre race times all year. By taking a break I can work on increasing my mileage without getting injured and return to the track feeling fresh. Absence makes the heart grow fonder…

Today’s workout:

12 x 400m with a 200m recovery jog

8 x 1000m no recovery

There was a twist! My coach has consistently been trying to get me to ‘feel’ my pace and I’ve been resisting. I rely a lot on my watch, that’s the type of person I am: I have to know! I am a detail oriented, time-conscious Type A personality. But today we were not allowed to look at our watches after the first 400m. My partner felt liberated, she actually took off her watch and tossed it aside. I was a wreck….her liberation was my chaos! Okay, that’s a little hyperbole. Even though I couldn’t look at my watch during the lap I still started it and checked the time after each 400m. Surprisingly, the results weren’t as terrible as I expected…mostly because my track buddy has a great feel for pace. She actually told me during one lap that I was running an 86 second lap (which was too fast) and she was right!

Results: 90, 90, 87, 90, 87, 88, 86, 89, 86, 86, 86, 86

The first four were supposed to be 90 seconds, the next four were supposed to be 88, and the last four were supposed to be 86.

We jogged a lap before the 100m sprints, which always hurt more than the actual workout. As per usual, I attempted to lift my driving knee higher and kick my trailing leg higher. And as usual, I felt like a marionette puppet with the strings cut.

It was a good workout 🙂

Thoughts:

There’s something pleasurable about pushing yourself farther than you are comfortable with. It satiates a deep desire within us. I believe that I would not be the same driven, determined person that I am if I didn’t run. Millions of other runners feel the same need, that’s why we congregate at starting lines of marathon and ultramarathon distances. We have to push ourselves.

Dean Karnazes is a perfect example of this, he is a “self-styled ultramarathon man” who didn’t start running ultras until he was in his 30’s. On either his 30th or 35th (I can’t remember exactly) birthday he had a moment of realization that he didn’t feel fulfilled as he celebrated in a bar with his friends. He had a wonderful family and was conventionally “successful” but he felt like he was missing something. That night he left the bar and started running (running 30 or 35 miles in his party attire). Since then, he has thrived on challenging himself to greater and greater feats. (Source: Dean Karnaze’s autobiography, Ultramarathon Man)

Set goals, achieve them and set bigger goals.

Set goals, fail, learn, try again.

 

Monday Motivation: Who’s your hero?

deena kastor

Photo: Active.com “10 Best American Marathoners of All Time” Quote: Competitor Running

When we were little, we had heroes. Whatever we aspired to be as a child, we had someone who we looked to for example of how to become that. If you wanted to be an astronaut, a firefighter, a policeman, the President of the U.S., or an actress, there was someone who had inspired you to go that direction.

When you were little, you would have papered your walls with your heroes’ pictures and posters. You would have read and known every thing you could about who your heroes were and how they became the best in your young eyes so you could follow in their footsteps.

Do you still have heroes, or are you too old for that?

In the running world (and beyond), there are many successful athletes to look to for motivation and inspiration. But what makes someone a hero?

hero definition

Source: Dictionary.com “Hero” Sept. 22, 2014

Someone who is an exemplar of hard work, dedication, achievement and strength even during times of challenging circumstances. A hero is humble in their success and dignified during times of loss. Heroes are timeless (*Roger Bannister). A hero is the personification of the greatest values of a people.

Modern day heroes…

“Characteristics of a modern day hero include compassion, strong work ethic, a giving nature, a defined set of morals, and a kind spirit.”(Ask.com).

deena kastor wins

Photo source: Let’sRun.com “Deena Kastor sets masters world record of 69:36 at Rock ‘n Roll Philly, Aberu Kebede wins in 68:39″ Sources cited: Active.com

…are the people who dedicate themselves to giving their best to their families, in their vocation, in their community, to fellow beings and to their planet. Heroes don’t take shortcuts, they don’t make excuses for themselves, and causally, they don’t fall short of their full potential.

No matter how old you get, never lose sight of your heroes. When you need motivation, inspiration, or direction, you need a hero to look to for example. Don’t seek to mimic them, but their process to achievement can be the spark to ignite your flame. I look to Deena Kastor (who is 4o and still setting records!) and Meb Keflezighi (winner of the Boston Marathon 2014!) as examples of humble, gracious runners who work hard, yet still balance family and training. Both of them are exemplars of dedication and perserverance: they both suffered at least one major running injury that prompted critics to discount them, and they both came back stronger because of their character. Discover your passion in life, and look to those who are excelling in that arena.

Don’t forget to look close to you as well! My mom is my hero. Day to day, as I grew up, her actions never seemed to be anything special. But it was the mundane tasks she performed without praise or reward that have snowballed into her achievements as an amazing mother, runner and community member. Everyday, she cooked healthy meals, helped me with homework, chauffeured, paid bills, and raised my brother and I alone while my dad was in Korea for 2 years and then Afghanistan for 6 months.

It never seemed like she was doing anything special, but I am what I am because of her.  When I was about 7 or 8, I remember my mom started running more seriously. I would wake up and go to the kitchen most days to find a note on the counter that read, “Gone for a run, be back soon. Love Mom.” She’s now run 15 marathons since 2002, when I was 9.

It is because of her that I am a runner. I can look to Deena and Meb and aspire to be like them, but I am like my mom.

A hero is whoever inspires you to be your best in a certain field. Gone are the days of heroes who conquered armies and slayed dragons, heroes today are those who put their head down and work hard out of love and dedication for what they do. Acclaim is never their primary motivator, and so they don’t lose track of their values or focus. Have one, or have many…but have a hero to inspire you and push you to excel as they have.

Happy Monday 🙂

portland marathon2

My mom, Bill Rodgers, and I at last year’s Portland Marathon expo. He’s a hero of both my mom and I! My mom’s qualified for the Boston Marathon 2015, her goal!

 

Running: Quick Tips for a Successful Marathon

1.  Have a plan.

have a plan

Set several goals for race day! Have “dream” goal that you can achieve if everything goes perfectly (weather and stomach cooperation). Have a back-up goal that will still make you happy, and have a goal that you know you can achieve no matter what.

Plan check-ins along the way where you will assess yourself periodically. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself for things to go accordingly from the start, the first several miles are always a little chaotic. Just remember not to start too fast!

2. Practice race day nutrition and hydration.

turtle goo

Yes, I realize the irony of captioning a turtle in a running meme 🙂 Sometimes I feel like a turtle!

For the Portland Marathon I will be carrying 3 gels with me to avoid bonking like I did in Newport (where I ran on fumes, no pre-race fuel and no fuel along the way). I haven’t figured out how I will pass through an aid station, grab a cup of water, and attempt to down a gel in one smooth move. So on my 14 miler this morning I attempted to simulate this and I ended up ripping the gel open with my teeth, and trying to smash all the liquid into my mouth at once while gulping water from a bottle in my other hand. I ended up like the turtle. It worked, and I didn’t suffer any stomach distress…but it definitely wasn’t optimal!

So practice, practice, practice people! I’m not very good about heeding my own advice here.

3. Dress-rehearse your race day outfit.

running shoes

For your last several long runs, it is useful to wear EXACTLY what you plan to race in, even down to your underwear. This way you can identify any potential wardrobe malfunctions that might pop up (ahem…chafing). If your shoes are wearing out, I recommend replacing them at least 2 weeks before your race. It’s most important to do a dress rehearsal a week or two before your race, and run at the same time of day as your race so you can simulate the weather conditions and plan accordingly. If you are travelling to a race in a completely different climate, this can be tricky. But I’ve learned from experience to at least give yourself 3 days to acclimate!

4. Grease up!

Any runner knows, chafing is no joke! Prevention is key here, better to be safe than sorry!

5. Set two alarm clocks.

lets run a marathon excited

Two alarms, and a wake up call! Even if you are really good about not oversleeping, set multiple alarms just in case. If nothing else, it helps ease your anxiety about the upcoming race. At least you know you’ll wake up on time.

If you can’t sleep the night before, don’t worry. It’s actually the sleep you get several days before that counts. Even if you don’t sleep a wink (which you will, don’t worry) at least you will be resting your legs in bed. So relax, and don’t try to go to bed ridiculously early….it doesn’t work!

6. Keep moving forward in the direction of the finish line.

This is my number one tip to guarantee that you will cross the finish line. No matter how slowly you go, as long as you keep putting one foot in front of the other you will finish. It may not be pretty, but at least you will have succeeded! In the grand scheme of things, you still will have just ran 26 miles! That’s a huge accomplishment! You’re awesome 🙂

7. Enjoy the ride.

26.2 miles is a long way to go, don’t make it harder than it needs to be!

forrest gump meme

*I went a little meme crazy here…I generated all these based on my thoughts and running experience! I hope they’re a little funny!

“I just felt like running.” -Forrest Gump (My favorite movie!)

Track Thursday: 09/18/2014 Track Therapy

Track thursday 09-18

It was hard to wake up this morning. It’s a struggle most runners are familiar with: I was warm and cozy, it was dark, and drizzly rain was pattering outside my window. But the knowledge that I had to meet my coach and my running buddy at the track by 7:30a.m. urged me out of bed. In the half dark I sipped some water and chewed a little snack of dried bananas about an hour before I laced my shoes and headed out the door.

This whole week has been a mental and emotional struggle, and I welcomed the soothing drizzle of rain, just warm enough to feel like a caress and not a punishment. I looked forward to pushing my body hard and physically venting my emotions through my workout (but I am cognizant of not punishing myself, I do have a modicum of self-control). My speed workouts really have transformed into weekly episodes that I look forward to, I actually depend on them to fulfill some part of me. I still don’t think that  will ever get to the point where speed work is my favorite  thing, that place will always be held by a good, long, solo run, but I will miss the track this winter. (Updates to come for my winter training plan after Portland, in 2 weeks!)

Workout Today:

12 x 400m repeats with 200m jog recovery

SURPRISE! 4 extra 400m- Thanks coach 🙂

8 x 100m sprints on the grass, no recovery: work on form

Em (track comrade, running buddy, sometimes therapist, good friend) and I caught a break from 1000m repeats today, it was nice to change things up…but, we also got a little surprise. Our coach laid out the plan, 10-12 4oom repeats beginning with 90 seconds for the first few (6:00pace/mile). My thoughts: no problem, we have spent the last several weeks running 1000’s at that pace!

And so we began, one after another after another, rotating who paced while the other hung on. I love these types of repetitive workouts. When I am worried or stressed, I can just put my brain on autopilot. When my thoughts start straying and I catch myself thinking about later today or yesterday, I shut those worries down. All I need to focus on is this 400m and I don’t worry about the next one. When I hit the starting line, I just start my watch and go. When I finish, I jog, get to the starting line, and begin again. No thoughts, no worries, no quitting. Running is the closest I can come to truly being in the moment. Living second by second and tuning into how I really feel.

running in the rain

Photo: The Diabeater Blog, “Find Your Rain”, June 6, 2014.

Today felt perfect. The rain fit my mood. I felt strong and fast.

I guess Em and I looked too fresh after the 12th lap, and I’ll admit, we talk a little too much (good cardio, right?) so we got a little surprise and our coach had us run 4 more. Our times had looked something like this: 91, 90, 90, 88, 87, 87, 88, 87, 86, 87, 86, 85. We definitely didn’t expect to be doing any more! But I still felt good and after we realized our coach wasn’t joking, we got back into the zone and we knocked out 4 more: 87, 86, 86, 82. Bam. We jogged a lap and then took to the grass to run some 100’s. I’ve quit timing these, because the point is for me to tweak my form. It usually dawns on me that I am actually tired at this point.

*I highly recommend you do some strides after a workout, concentrating on lifting the leading knee and kicking the trailing foot higher with each stride. I usually feel the burn in my quads and abs. Now I understand why sprinters have 8-pack abs!

As always, I never regret a morning that I woke up to run. I get a natural high from waking up early and pushing myself out the door. It’s not as simple as feeling happy, it’s bigger and deeper than that. I feel sustained. Satisfied. Completed and content, a carnal part of my meek vegan self has been appeased. I will be at ease, until tomorrow morning when I am compelled to feed my inner savage again.

See you on the road. Maybe the sun will come out…

Michael Johnson Track at Nike World Headquarters

*A side note, I can’t believe how beautiful this track is! At least once in my life I need to run here….bucket list ❤

Portland Marathon: Plan of Attack

There’s less than a month to go until the Portland Marathon, and when I am not focusing on the day’s workout or recovery, I am mapping my plan of attack!

Here’s a list of my daily reminders (to myself, because as an introverted runner, I talk to myself a lot…):

  1. EVERYTHING I do is bringing me closer to optimum health and recovery for performance, or farther away. Think before every decision I make and ask myself: Is this (food or action) building me up or breaking me down?
  2. RECOVER, RECOVER, RECOVER! Easy days should be run easily! Daily foam rolling and stretching are not optional! SLEEP is a must: 7-9 hours, which really should be 8 or 9+!
  3. BELIEVE in yourself! I am capable of achieving anything! I will not limit myself with negative thoughts or shoot for anything less than pushing myself to my very best. I will only find out how strong I really am by pushing myself harder than I ever have before!
run happy semi selfie

“Run happy!” Also, inspiration on my front door to remind myself every morning the purpose of my workouts! I am also very bad at selfies, please enjoy this semi-selfie.

Here’s a list of things that I need to start practicing this month to prepare for the race:

  • My pace! During my tempo workouts I need to be comfortable at a 6:30 pace for the bulk of my miles. If I can’t hone in on this pace and settle in for a 6 or 8 mile tempo run, then I definitely won’t be able to run a marathon at this pace! Luckily, I’ve been familiarizing myself with this pace on several key workouts now. I have one long run left this weekend where I hope to progressively increase my pace and finish the last 8 miles at a 6:25-6:30 pace.
  • My race-day morning routine! On the remaining long run I have left this weekend, I hope to wake up, eat, etc. Exactly as I will on the morning of the marathon. I will rehearse my before and during hydration+nutrition plan. I also want to wear exactly what I plan to race in. This weekend will be my dress rehearsal for the big show!
  • Visualization! Starting from now until the marathon, I need to begin mentally practicing the course. I believe in the power of visualization. I will imagine how I want to feel on the starting line (confident, strong, injury-free, excited! Probably cold too…)I can see the starting line and I will be just a few feet behind it. When the gun goes off and people start cheering, I will stride off, calmly in a controlled pace, not letting the adrenaline or the leaders pull me out of my planned pace. And so on, mile after mile I will visualize the landmarks I remember from the past two years I have ran the course. I will feel strong, fast, and controlled as I imagine myself ticking off every mile at my anticipated pace. I can imagine rallying for the end of the race and pushing through the pain (which I am ready for). Lastly, I can see the finish line and the clock ticking toward the time I hope to finish in as I run through the finisher’s chute.
  • I also need to run down a few more steep hills and get comfortable pounding downhill at the end of a training run. There’s a pretty long, steep downhill around mile 21 or 22 of the Portland marathon, which I remember caused me a lot of pain last year!

About 1 & 1/2 weeks until I begin to taper. My last long run is this Sunday. I’ll keep doing shorter tempos and even track workouts until a week before the marathon. I’ll probably do one hard-ish effort the week of the marathon to keep my legs sharp.

Portland Marathon 2014. Sunday, October 5th at 7a.m. I’ll be as ready as I can.