A lot of emotional energy is going towards some family emergencies – good thoughts for my dad would be appreciated as well as for Little Runner. LR is physically fine but is having a hard time dealing with all of the crappy stuff that’s going down right now.
The rest of my energy is going to training. I must say, it is going very well – I feel I am on track to break 4:30 at the Marine Corps Marathon! If I do, that will be a 30+ minute PR from last year and a 90 minute improvement from my first one in 2013!
I’m getting tired. Taper is coming soon(ish), right?
I’m running racing the Navy Air Force Half Marathon on Sunday (first time!) and am pushing for a PR, provided the chest cold I’m currently battling has moved out by then.
I was chosen to be a Race Ambassador for the Blue Ridge Marathon!! Stay tuned to more information, when I have it – including a registration discount code!
My Facebook activity is almost nil now, due to FB hiding posts. Check me out on Instagram if you want training updates, etc. I post there almost every day.
If you want to read about Ragnar Trail WV, check out my 2014 report. It was pretty much the same but less rain (only once and only one delay!), better food with coffee through the night, and better service on the port-a-johns (since the mud didn’t keep the trucks out). If you want to read my ramblings about my relationship with my dad and a bit of a trip down memory lane, keep reading…
Here’s the thing: when you are running a relay race that spans 36 hours, you’re going to have a lot of down time to think. When the race is in the woods, you’re going to have a lot of alone time to think. Basically, it’s a great time to work some shit out.
I’ve mentioned here before that my dad was diagnosed with cancer right before Christmas. This has been a blow that I haven’t really known how to process. Over the years, we haven’t been terribly close, for a number of reasons. I spent a lot of time last weekend thinking about that and remembering.
On the yellow loop, my first leg, I was thinking about my parents and old hurts. I was thinking about how hard it must have been for them to have kids so young – both my parents were fresh out of high school when they had my oldest brother and they soon had 3 kids in eight years. I was thinking about how hard it is for me to raise my son at the ripe old age of 41. I can’t imagine the challenges they must have faced raising triple the amount (and triple the attitude – because we’re all about the same, in that regard). Somewhere in the first few miles of my run, I acknowledged that they were doing the best that they knew how to do, just like I am doing, just like almost ever other parent does, and sometimes that falls short.
I’m not a religious person, somewhat related to my clash with my parents. I haven’t been to a church, other than for a wedding or funeral, since I left home. Running in the pine grove on the yellow loop, though, was as close to a religious experience as a person could get. I think my dad would greatly enjoy a Sunday spent out here. I think in this place, we could find some common ground.
Growing up in the middle-of-nowhere Michigan, we spent a lot of time outside and found our own amusement. Seeing the various mushrooms and lichen on the trail reminded me of the time we had a giant puffball mushroom growing in our back lot behind our house. My dad picked it and fried it up in butter even though it was as big as my head! I did see one little puffball on the trail – I left it alone but it made me smile.
My overnight run was on the green loop. It was supposedly the “easy” leg but, in Ragnar, there’s no such thing as easy! It’s quite the ankle turner and a lot of people fell in the first 1/2 mile (which happened to be right behind our tents so we could here the “ooofs” and expletives as people went down). One of the creepy interesting things about night running is when you shine your light to the side or behind you and see glowing eyes looking back. My dad used to be quite an avid hunter (deer and pheasants, mostly) so I’m sure he would have not been spooked by the eyes. I, on the other hand, just ran faster! It was hard leaving the fire pit – where they had s’mores and were showing Top Gun – but it was worth it!
I am the oldest of 3 girls but for eight years, I was the youngest child and the only girl. I was often lumped in with the boys (until I was old enough that this would no longer fly) and was expected to work, too. My brothers will maintain that I was spoiled but I remember many a summer day spent clearing brush, hauling wood, etc. This meant I was pretty strong for my age and I think that strength stayed with me, even during my sloth years. I was very grateful for my peasant lineage and the strong work ethic that was drilled into me as I scrambled over boulders and rocks.
In the middle of the red loop, the longest and most difficult leg, I was faced with a mile long hill that was very steep in some spots. I was tired from being up all night. I was hungry. I was so incredibly hot. I really wanted to sit down and not even finish. And then I thought of my dad. I knew that at that moment, he would give anything to go tromping in the woods or go fishing on his new boat but side effects from the chemical cocktail he has had to endure for the past several months have (temporarily) stolen that from him. I may be hot and tired but I was still strong. The least I could do was finish this run for those who don’t have that privilege.
Where does that leave us? I don’t know. I do know that everyone is bruised and a bit broken, but closer – both my Ragnar family and my biological family. I do know that stubbornness is a very strong family trait and we Silvermans relish a challenge. I do know that whatever the next few months bring, we can endure. I do know that we are stronger than we know and we can do hard shit.
So, what’s going on with my hips and my lack of running (spoiler alert, I waited to write this after I had a successful run and knew I wouldn’t be sidelines for the foreseeable future)?
I’ve had problems with my left hip since … huh, a while. I had dry needling done on it regularly before Blue Ridge and it hadn’t bothered me since then. Huzzah, I’m cured! Not so fast. Three weeks ago, I got a little over-exuberant with my extra cross training time and did tire flips and a tire carry and felt something …give… a bit. Two days later, I ran a somewhat fast 9 miles. Two hours later, I could hardly walk. So, I did the logical thing and rested. For a day. And then tried to run 8 miles on my treadmill (made it just over 7. So stupid).
Okay, I thought, I’ll rest a bit more. Three days, this time! Look at me resting! Tried to run four miles on Saturday and felt pain with the first step but pushed on for 1.5 miles, to keep a friend company (again, stupid). I then came home and lost my shit on my running group’s message board. Thankfully, someone worked somewhere that had Saturday hours and a physical therapist could see me if I got there by noon. You can bet your ass I was sitting in the office at 11:45!
The physical therapist tried to assess me but I was so inflamed, she couldn’t do all of the motions. She did say that nothing was torn or broken (whew!) and it seemed to be a problem with my hip flexor and a lazy ass glute. I told her that I worked on that quite a bit and I showed her what I did. Which, apparently, was all wrong. I was using my back and every other muscle than what I was supposed to use. She then prescribed a regimen of clam shells, glute bridges, hip flexor stretches, and foam rolling. Thankfully, she said I could use the elliptical and swim, as long as it didn’t hurt (but no running until I was down to 0 pain – which was not a problem because I couldn’t even roll over in bed without the pain waking me up).
So, I did my exercises and learned to love the elliptical. I saw the PT a week later and she finished her assessment and confirmed that I was moving in the right direction but still no running😦 She also had me show her my squats and they were atrocious. I mean, I was embarrassed by them! When did they get so bad?! I also learned that I can’t tell when my pelvis is square and that I keep dropping my hip and rotating and that is causing the problems. So, I now have some squats and single leg balancing to add to my list of exercises. And more elliptical.
These are all the exercises that I have been doing:
This morning, I decided to do a test run of a mile. My pain has been very moderate and I would call it more of a tight feeling than true pain. I’m also seeing my coach tonight to see if we can salvage my Marine Corps Marathon plan (I hope so, I’ve been working hard to keep my base intact!) and I wanted to be able to tell her honestly if I could run. The first mile felt good at 11:13 so I decided to pick it up just a smidge and keep going. Mile two was 11:05, still okay. Mile 3 was 10:59 and then I ran 2/10th of a mile at 8:00! Again, no pain, just a bit of tightness. I then did all of my PT exercises and declared it a win! Now to figure out what to do with my training (I’m glad I have a coach to help with this!)
Coincidentally, this was today’s post from Another Mother Runner. I plan on adding those BOSU exercises, plus some daily plank work, plus yoga once a week (because I’m as flexible as a metal rod) to my rotation. It will be a lot of work but I think it will keep me in running form!
Whew! I’ve been gone forever and I have a loooong “to do” lists of topics to write about… but, not today.
Soon, though, you’ll be able to read my scintillating thoughts on being injured the first two plus weeks of training (subtitled: The Elliptical, How to Make Peace with the Enemy), the rigors of RRCA Coaching training, trying alternate (whole) fuel sources, and a smattering of other topics.
To hold you over, consider checking out my revived Instagram page for running (and some non-running) goodness.
This weather! It’s a bitch, isn’t it? After chilling out all spring we are suddenly in the horrible throes of summer. It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. Wrong! It’s both!
I thought we would start adjusting to it by now but it still smacks me around every other day.
Sunday’s 9 miler, though shaded, was so freaking hot that I had to make my running buddies switch to intervals – and I could barely make it even at that!
Today’s run was to be a 6 mile tempo with two miles of warm up, 2 miles at 9:00-9:15 pace, and 2 miles cool down. The warm up went “okay”. I had mapped out a 1 mile out-and-back by my house so it was easy to break the whole workout into thirds. I left my water bottle at the start. I took things nice and easy.
Mile 1 – 11:40
Mile 2 – 11:07 (I was trying for a legit warm up, for a change)
Time to hit the tempo pace!
Mile 3 – 9:17. What the eff? I knew what my effort felt like and I was shocked by that number. I was sure I was 9:05, at the slowest.
I knew the return mile would be more difficult because it is a gradual up hill. I had planned on getting the first mile closer to 9 and then the second one closer to 9:15. I quickly realized that the second would be much slower than that.
So, I let the floodgate of negative self-talk fully release and I was mentally done. I ran for a hundred yards, stopped my watch, berated myself, adjusted something (everything was bothering me – my music, my flapping and squelching arm fat, my soaking wet glasses – yes, it was so humid, I kept soaking my glasses), and dug further into my hole. Finally, at mile 3.48 – I NEVER stop on an odd number like that! – I said, “screw this” and walked home with my tail between my legs. I didn’t even do a slow jog. I just walked.
Oh, when I got home, my coffee maker broke.
Needless to say, I was back to questioning all my life choices…
And then I read NYC Running Mama‘s post on heat acclimation . Very interesting! According to her charts, my pace should have been 9:15-9:30. In that case, my 9:17 was perfect and not even close to being worth my little hissy fit. Perspective, yo.
What does this mean? It means I need to suck it up and get it done and that my mental game sucks. Thankfully, this is something that I can fix. And, if a chart gives me mental “permission” to pull it back a bit or to not beat myself up, you can bet that bastard is going on the fridge today!
As for you? I’m giving you all “permission” to be kinder to yourself on these hot and horrible runs. Do you best but don’t load yourself down with unrealistic goals. Stay hydrated – maybe slip in your favorite frosty beverage a few times – and be patient.
It’s almost June! Where did the spring go? If you were on the east coast, we had cold with snow, cold with rain, and then – as of four days ago, summer! No spring. Bah. There were literally no “70 degrees and sunny” days for our entire spring! How is that possible?
Well, since summer is here, I guess it’s time to get training again! I have BIG goals for this fall’s marathon cycle (like “30 minute PR” sized goals) and I’m running both Marine Corps Marathon and the Richmond Marathon (not exactly well planned…) so I decided to hire a coach!
My last attempt at coaching was a triathlon coach and that didn’t go well. She was long distance and, well, it was not a good fit. At all.
My new running coach is totally different from the first one. She is local and I have seen her work with other athletes. I have seen enough of her “in action” to think that I like her style. Also, huge bonus, I get to work with someone who can actually meet me for in-person coaching sessions! I’m super excited about that!
To kind of ease us into the relationship, and to get my legs back under me after the (kinda) break I took after Roanoke, we decided to start my plan with June 1, even though the meat-and-potatoes training doesn’t start until the end of June. I received my plan over the weekend and was a bit… uh…
Once I calmed down, I decided it was for the best. Granted, starting my true training week at 34 miles is a bit unexpected but, I need to trust the process and see what happens. I need to trust that she is writing a plan to help me meet my goals (which she didn’t laugh at, BTW) just as she trusts me to do the work and give feedback about any problems.
I can already tell it’s going to be an interesting summer! Thank goodness Little Runner is old enough for me to safely nap by the pool while he swims. I think I’m going to need the rest🙂
I’ve spent the last 6 months or so cruising my short to mid-distance runs in the 9s. I will get close to 8 and then have to back it off. I really want to hit a 25 minute 5K this summer but that means a pace of 8:02 (28:12 is my current PR) so I have decided that I want to work on my speed this summer.
This morning, my first mile was 8:49 (Great!) but then I started burning out and ended up walking a big hill in mile 4 so my average pace was 9:41 (not as great).
They say that in order to run faster, you just have to run faster (helpful!…) but I’m having a hard time coming to terms with being that uncomfortable. So, what to do? Maybe get on a 5K plan (gah), definitely add in more speed work, and see if I can squeeze out two 8 minute miles in a row and then try to snag a third. Supposedly, I did that when I ran a 10K last year (Across the Bay 10K) but I believe their course was short.
Here’s an interesting list of tips on how to run faster. I already know that my core needs work so I’m hitting that hard in my cross training. I’m also trying to focus on “quick feet” moves. I am curious to see how effective they are. Even if they help me get into the high 8s, I’ll be pretty happy.
Here’s to summer goals! What will you be focusing on this summer?
I’ll admit, I’m having problems coming to terms with the race being over. It was such a looming event for so long, I’m a little lost without it. Truth be told, I feel like I have PMS x a billion. I’ve been grumpy and snapping at everyone, my skin is all broken out, and I want to eat all the food. I’m a real treat, I tell you! Thank goodness I was able to run 3 miles on Thursday, to take the edge off!
My next race isn’t until the Marine Corps Marathon (3rd time!) at the end of October so I’m treading water until mid-July. I need a plan, though. I think I’ll lose my ever loving mind if I don’t have some sort of plan for the next three months.
I really want to focus on strength training and building more lean mass (by dropping fat😉 ). Right now, my “plan” is to run three days a week – 1 shorter, 1 speed or hills, 1 longer (up to 10-12) and do some sort of weight-based exercises 3 days a week.
Little Runner and I went to the playground on Wednesday and had a (mostly) body weight workout. You can do a lot with swings! He challenged me to a leg lift competition and my lower abs are still sore😮 He’s loving my increased availability so I am going to keep our “Wednesdays at the park” in play for as long as I can. I also did a four station circuit workout this morning (with some kettlebell swings and a couple of sled pushes thrown in for good measure). While I’m definitely sore from that, I really need to figure out a progressive, consistent plan. I feel like I’m in danger of half-assing my down time and not being as strong in July as I’d like.
Way, way back in June, I registered for the Blue Ridge Marathon. I’m not quite sure why. Rock n Roll DC had been a disaster. MCM 2015 hadn’t been a success yet. I have no idea what possessed me to sign up for “America’s Toughest Road Marathon”. I guess I wanted a challenge? Fast forward a few months and, crap! Time to start training! Luckily, one of my friends from my running group was also considering running the race so she joined me on some early training runs.
M is the co-leader of my running chapter, super kind, a bit crazy, and a crack of dawn runner. She’s also faster than me. When she decided to register for the race, too, and train with me, I thought she was nuts. While I knew her from groups runs and we were friendly, we weren’t exactly BRFs (Best Running Friends). I was sure she would get tired of poking along at my pace and dump me. I think I said as much to her on every long run for the first six weeks. So silly. We turned out to be pretty solid training partners and I think we did at least 75% of our training runs together. Even the ones we did with others or solo, we checked in with each other to see how things were going. It was really nice to be in sync like that.
For a variety of reasons, we decided early on to make this a celebration run. It was not to be about time but about training smart, celebrating the miles, and finishing strong. We rehearsed this a lot on our runs – we are both a bit *cough cough* Type A and can be a bit overly hard on ourselves. I am happy to say we achieved our goals, in spades!
We arrive in Roanoke on Friday afternoon and went straight to the expo. Everything was clearly organized. We were surprised to see that all three races, the 10k, half marathon, and full, all had custom shirts! And they are so soft❤ We then picked up our free socks and checked out the couple of other booths. It was small but as expected.
We checked in to the Cambria Hotel and were pleasantly surprised by the room. My family was originally going to join me so we had a full, two-room suite with microwave and mini fridge. The hotel was just over a mile to the start so it was perfect for us.
After we got settled, we decided to check out the Mill Mountain Star (elevation 1703 feet). Both of our fathers are facing similar health issues so we dedicated our race to them.
After that, we met up with some other ladies from our chapter who were doing the half for dinner. We decided to forgo a shake-out run and finished prepping for the day and were in bed by 9:30. Unfortunately, M had to deal with a work crisis until late and I was up from 1:30-3, having a mild anxiety attack. Before we knew it, the alarm was going off and it was time to get a move on!
We grabbed a cup of coffee from the hotel and made the walk to the start.
The little bakery near the start was totally overwhelmed by runners but we were able to grab some toast and I had a fruit bowl and packet of almond butter while milling around. Bag check was a breeze but there was more of a line for the port-a-johns that I wanted to wait through.
Before we knew it, the cannon was fired (it was a legit CANNON!) and we were off. We started on rolling hills right away and made our way up towards Mill Mountain.
The half marathon runners split off from the full around mile 2.5. They went up to the peak of Mill while we made our way to Roanoke Mountain (elevation 2,193).
The view at the top was absolutely amazing! Pictures don’t do it justice. We knew, as soon as we saw it, that we made the right decision to run this race.
After Roanoke Mountain, we made our way back to Mill Mountain and actually went up to the star this time.
After a quick stop there, we ran through a nice greenway by the zoo (but not THROUGH the zoo😦 ) and made our way down to the famous Moo-Mosa lady. Every year, a couple who lives in a very nice house in the middle of the mountain makes mimosas for the runners. Complete with a silver champagne bucket!
That’s two peaks down, just one left! Peakwood (elevation 2,113) is, by far, the toughest one. Not only is it later in the race (mile 18) but it’s steeper and there is a false top. We thought we had hit the top when we reached an aid station and then started going back down but, no. We were very much mistaken. I will freely admit, I really struggle with the second climb. I was feeling very sick and the sun was full on us so I was super hot. There was a party at the top (champagne, fruit, chocolate) but I couldn’t look at any of it. I took a mint (heaven) and searched in vain for the unused cold towels and then we started off again.
The course then took us back into town where it was HOT! I was swearing freely by this point and was looking forward to meeting one of our other friends who was coming to support her husband (who ran the half and placed first in his age group!). We didn’t see her at the first meet up spot and I was a bit worried. I was happy to hear that she was delayed because of her husband’s award ceremony🙂
When we found her, she quickly jumped in and ran about three miles with us – cowbell and all!
Before we knew it, we were (FINALLY) done with the hills and coming in for our downhill finish!
Some more of our awesome friends met us with signs, cold cokes, frozen wash clothes, and a cookie cake!
After we rested for a bit, we made our way back to the hotel and started recovering.
Our goal was to run with joy and we certainly did that. I didn’t even wear my watch until the last half mile, just so I could stop it easily (I turned it on and stuck it in my pack so I could record the data). We stopped for a lot of pictures, we thanked all of the volunteers, and we chatted with many people on the course. We were grateful for the day. Mission accomplished!
One of our biggest challenges, and stressors, going in to the race was that we have never done anything like this before so we didn’t what to expect. Just so you have some way to compare, my best marathon time is 4:58 (300 feet of elevation change) and my best 10K is 55:41. We ran Blue Ridge in 5:49 (7,430 ft of elevation change) with about 15 minutes spent on goofing around. We were definitely not the last but only about 85 others finished after us.
Just about everything was good! The volunteers were over-the-top spectacular. There were plenty of water stations and more food stations that I was expecting – oranges, bananas, pretzels, gummy bears (and worms!) and GU. At least two had ice towels but I couldn’t figure out where they were at one. Many neighbors, especially at the end, came out to cheer, offer unofficial aid (beer!), and had set up sprinklers. The custom shirts were sweet and the belt buckle/medal is awesome! I don’t know how the finish area was since our friends brought us stuff. I found out later that there were wading pools of ice water and I really wish I had known that at the time!
The Not So Good
The course is very hot and pretty flat-ish (except when it’s not!) at the end. It would have been great to have a misting station set up on the course.
(seriously, that’s my only complaint!)
This was a super tough course that lived up to its name but it was totally worth it! I would love to run it again! If you’re on the fence, I highly recommend you sign up, stash your watch, and plan to run happy!
Race week is finally here! This training cycle feels like it has zoomed by, and while it has definitely had its challenges and set backs, I think we are ready to tackle the Blue Ridge Mountains!
Yesterday’s last long run was just eight miles but it had some nice, long hills built in to it. Mile 4ish took us down a road called Hillside. Any guesses as to the terrain?? I remember the first time I attempted Hillside. I ran down it okay but practically crawled my way back up. Yesterday, I felt great! We kept super even splits and I never felt like I was dragging myself or that I was lagging (too terribly far) behind my running partners.
Honestly, this was the best and happiest run I’ve been on in a while. The sun rose while we were running and, while it was crisp, the sky was clear and there was no wind. I tried to just soak up the sights and enjoy the morning – and store up some “good” feelings for Saturday.
I know Saturday will be far from easy but this is a “joy” run for us. Our plan is to run with light feet and a grateful heart and I, for one, will be thankful every step for how far I have come! I won’t be the fastest but the fact that I’m even there is pretty spectacular!