Saturday, April 19, 2014

How to be your best self...

Whether you already consider yourself an athlete, or are just looking to enhance or increase your performance at any level, how you fuel your body is one of the most important components.  I am super excited my friend introduced me to Isagenix a few months ago.  I have seriously never felt better and more than anything, I love how much energy I have, how much less stress I feel, and how that translates into fewer illnesses, a happier mood and higher productivity.  Watch this video...these athletes are amazing - and they are REAL people!  I especially love how they all point out that if you have the drive and passion, you can achieve it.  Our bodies thrive on whole food, powerful nutrition.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wish some things wouldn't change.

Life seems to be centered around doing the everyday little (and sometimes big) things that will hopefully, eventually bring about positive change.  For example, yesterday I made an attempt at a more 'normal'  (for me) workout routine: I lifted weights first thing in the morning for about an hour, then I did a spin class, and a couple of hours later I did a Muscle Fusion class.  This morning as I forced myself to get in 30 minutes on the treadmill before work, I realized how painful those changes can be!  I like the pain from muscle soreness, though.  That's how you know you are making gains.


On the other hand, I don't like thinking about how much and how quickly our children grow and change.  Tonight I took my 8 year old with me to the park to go for a walk.  That little guy happily and swiftly hung in there with me for 6 miles!  Some of the time we were each listening to our  music, some of the time we were chatting - and believe me, that kid loves to talk.  And I think he told me he loves me about 10 times during the hour and 20 minutes we were walking.  I hope he doesn't change.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Nothing to fear.

Nothing in life is truly constant.  Everyone knows that.  And while my running "career" seemed relatively consistent for a pretty decent stretch (and with that, my blogging!!), changes in the world around me have made it impossible for me to sustain that level of consistency.  I have had to learn to embrace - not fear - the change.

It would be crazy for me to give a full recap of everything that has gone on over the past 8 or 9 months, but I will try to at least catch you up on what is relevant in terms of this blog...

My last full marathon was the Pocatello Marathon last fall.  After doing that race, I re-grouped with my trainer and decided to cut back on running and focus on building muscle and strength.  From the beginning of September through the beginning of November, I did little more than 5 or 6 miles for my longest runs and was really only running once or twice a week.  Instead, I was supplementing with cardio sessions of spinning classes and other forms of cross-training, while mainly focusing on lifting weights.  I was also trying something new with my diet at that time and had incorporated some keto-runs into my routine in an attempt to lose body fat (and I got down to about 17%).

Every November there is a local half-marathon that my husband and I have been involved with for a few years, but since I had not been running as much, I didn't plan to run it in 2013...until about 5 days before the race when my trainer asked if I wanted to run it with her and I said, what the heck?


Riding the bus up to the start with Misty, I had no idea how my body was going to handle running 13.1 miles without having done adequate training, but honestly I wasn't too concerned with time or pace.  I just planned to enjoy it.  Turns out, the break from running must have done my body good - I got my half-marathon PR on that race, finishing with a time of 2:03:29!


After the half-marathon, I continued on with a minimal amount of training runs, especially as the weather turned colder and much less runner-friendly.  For a few weeks in February and March I was able to get in some long runs, 12-15 miles at a time.

Most of the other changes circulating through my little world during this time didn't actually have anything to do with running.  In December, I attended a workshop taught by a dear friend and received my certification to teach indoor cycling.  That was something I had wanted to do for a long time, and am glad to now have that under my belt.

In the meantime, my job at the gym has become increasingly predominant in my life.  I was spending more and more time not only working my own shifts, but covering for other people.  So when the front desk director gave her two-week notice at the beginning of January, I was asked to replace her and have since been working as the director.  That has meant even more hours, hiring and training staff, and doing the schedule for the 7 employees that work under me.  While I enjoy working at the gym, I have struggled somewhat with balancing my time there with time at home with the kids and Chris and keeping up on things around the house, and still having enough time to work out as much as I'd like.

In March I was able to take about a week off from work - not for a vacation, unfortunately - but to have a couple of surgical procedures done to "fix" a few things that have been bothering me since having our four children, losing a significant amount of weight and keeping it off.  Chris took some time off from his job as well and stayed home to take care of me and the kids so I could rest and heal up.  I was back to work full-time the next week and back to working out by the third week post-op.  This past week was my first full week of an almost normal workout schedule and I have been feeling pretty amazing.  Spinning classes, Muscle Fusion X, running stairs at the stadium and even a 5 mile run with Chris yesterday.

So today I sit here, on my rest day, feeling sore and happy.  The weather is starting to turn (warmer) and I am feeling a renewed eagerness to start getting more serious with a training schedule.  After all, I am signed up for a marathon at the end of the summer and I think it's time to start a countdown.  Besides, there are always new things on the horizon for us...and my kids are all healthy, Chris and I are healthy and happy...so life is good. :)


Sunday, September 8, 2013

It's about time ~ Pocatello Marathon 2013 race recap!


It's the end of another marathon training season for me and while I'm sad to not have a current goal race, I have to admit I'm a little excited about the prospect of being able to focus on other fitness-related goals for a while.  I only had 3 months between the Ogden Marathon and Pocatello, which was plenty of time for getting in adequate training and lots of long runs.  I had high hopes for this race; it was to be my "A" race for the year.  I would have liked to have done at least a little better than my PR (4:36), which was on this same race last year.  My training consisted of doing two 18-milers, two 20-milers and I even ran the full marathon course (it actually ended up being about 26.6 miles) 3 weeks before the actual race.  So, when the race started and I immediately felt pain in my lower back and in both my hamstrings, I was already worried that my goal would be out of reach.

It was a beautiful morning, almost a little too warm.  With temps around 50 degrees at the 6:15am race start and sunny skies, it didn't take long before it just felt hot.  The first half of the course is mostly downhill, which is fun, but tricky.  It's so easy to go out too fast and then pay for it later on in the race.  I tried to pace myself, and thought I was doing well, having reached the half-way point at about 2 hours 12 minutes.  I knew then that I had enough left in me to finish the second half at a consistent pace, but it would be a slower pace than I had hoped to maintain.  I think around mile 19 or so, as I was greeted by my husband who had lovingly brought me a Coke to sip on and was taking a few photos, the thought came into my mind that I was just going to enjoy the rest of the run.  He let me know how much ahead of me my friends were who were also running the race...my response to him was, "It's okay, I don't care.  I'm just running my own race.  I'm having fun."

Heading into the last couple of miles, I actually felt a little burst of energy and was able to mentally move past the pain I was feeling in my legs.  I tried to push myself, but I knew it wouldn't have much effect on my overall time.  I finished my race in 4:53 - an 11:07 min/mile pace, which was about 20 minutes overall slower than my goal.  I'm alright with it, though.  I'm happy that I can say that I ran another marathon and still want to run more in the future. :)


Some of my loyal readers may have been wondering why I've been MIA for the past couple of months...well, between the marathon training, working my job at the gym 30+ hours a week and trying to find time to do fun things with the kids during their summer break, my blog writing has taken a back seat.  Now that the kids are back in school, I will still be committed to a rigorous training schedule and working lots of hours at the gym, but I will hopefully be able to find a little time to post more often.

The past couple of months while training for this marathon, I learned a few things about my running preferences.  Most of my long runs this summer were done with friends - at least one running buddy and often there were several of us.  All of my best running friends run at a pace faster than me.  That means that they have to slow a little and I have to go faster.  I know that sometimes it can be very helpful to run with people who are faster, but going at a pace faster than what feels comfortable to me just seems to take so much more out of me physically.  Then my recovery is longer and I am more apt to feel burned out.  In between my runs with friends, I would run alone, at my own pace, lost in my own thoughts.  I always finished those runs feeling content.  While running with friends is great for the camaraderie, and often the time goes by much more quickly, running really is a solitary sport.  It's so hard not to compare ourselves with everyone around us, and I spent a few days after the marathon lamenting about how I was the slowest one in our group, despite the fact that I've run so many marathons now, and how lame I am, blah, blah, blah...but after I let myself wallow in self-pity for a bit, I came around.  I realize that in the end, it doesn't matter how fast I am.  There will always be someone faster, always someone slower.  And who cares anyway?  I'm not running to break any records.  It's fun to get a personal record, but in my mind, if I'm not enjoying running, I might as well do something else.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Marathon recovery update.

I've heard of people taking one or two weeks off from exercise (and running) after a marathon.  Alas, I'm not one of those people...for better or for worse.  Last Sunday (the day after), I rested.  We slept in a little bit, went to church with our friends, then spent the rest of the day traveling back home, unpacking and getting ready for the new week.

On Monday, I was back at the gym - about 40 minutes of strength training followed by a spin class.  Spinning felt okay, but while I was lifting I could definitely feel that my muscles were depleted and weak.  On Tuesday, once again I did some strength training and hit up another spin class.  Still a little tired and sore, but not too terrible.  Wednesday I worked my biceps and triceps for an hour, then did 45 minutes on a stair stepper.  Thursday, I walked on a treadmill for 45 minutes before taking a Muscle Fusion X class.  Friday, another strength training session followed by a spin class.

So, after 5 days of strength training and miscellaneous cardio workouts, I decided it was time to hit the road again.  Saturday morning I slept in again, hoping to recoup a little of my strength, then I took my youngest with me to the park where he played while I ran.  I did 5 miles and my hamstrings and quads were very tight the whole time.

Yesterday (Sunday) was another rest day, but this morning I was back at it with my own little Memorial Day workout.  First, I did Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred DVD, then I took all of the kids with me to the park - again, they played while I ran.  Today I did 8 miles...barely.  Always so much tension and pain in my hamstrings and glutes - it's very frustrating.  But, at least I did something.  Tomorrow I plan to go to the gym early in the morning to do my weights and take a spin class, but I'm not sure what the rest of the week has in store.  We might be going camping for a few days, since Chris had to work today, but he has the next 3 days off.  While we're gone, I'm pretty sure running will be the only thing I will be able to do to get a workout in, so that's probably what I'll be doing.  I also have some resistance bands I can use to do a little strength training.  It looks like I might not start a new training schedule with Misty until a little later, but I did sign up for the Pocatello Marathon, which is just 14 weeks away.  So it appears I am back in marathon training mode already. :)

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Ogden Marathon 2013...marathons really are like childbirth.

Long, hard, painful, emotional.  Then within a few hours of finishing, you forget all that and are ready to do it again!


I stopped checking the weather forecast at some point on Thursday, when it kept calling for a rainy day on Saturday.  It didn't matter anyway.  I was going to run my race no matter what.  Thursday evening we made the 2 1/2 hour drive down to Salt Lake City, making a stop in Ogden on the way to pick up our race packets.  Friday we spent the day with our friends, visiting, shopping at Wasatch Running Center and then having a great pre-race meal at a quaint little local pizza and pasta place.  I was in bed by 8:30pm on Friday night with a full belly and an anxious mind.

I woke up at 12:30 and tossed and turned until about 1:30am, only to be woken at 2:30 by my obnoxious alarm.  We had to be at the shuttles by about 4:30am and it was an hour drive to get there.  After I got dressed and ready, I went downstairs where I found out that my race companion Marsden had come down with a nasty virus and was feeling miserable.  He wasn't sure he was going to run, but we loaded up in the car and started the trip to the shuttles.  As we were on the freeway, the rain started pouring down.  Marsden's friend was driving us, and together they decided it might be worth risking driving up to the starting line area on our own, rather than taking the shuttles.  While it is pretty much a race no-no, it saved us from having to stand out in the rain for over 2 hours waiting.  We took the risk that there would be race officials or police at the turn that goes up the canyon to the race start telling us to turn around, and as luck would have it, we were able to make the turn and went up to the start and parked the car and waited...and waited....

At 6:30am I got out of the car and hopped into a port-a-potty line with a billion other runners.  I finished with  about 5 minutes to spare.  It wasn't until that last minute that Marsden made the decision to at least start the run with me.  As the race began at 7:15am, the rain was still coming down pretty good, but the positive energy from the thousands of runners was keeping us all pumped.  The first few miles went by quickly, though my hamstrings tightened up almost immediately.  And even though I had made use of the P-o-P's at the starting line area, about 3 or 4 miles in I was feeling like I needed to make another pit-stop.  Every time we passed more P-o-P's though, there was a line and I would put it off thinking that I would stop at the next aid station. I kept running, despite having a few stomach cramps and feeling a little "off".

Finally at the half-way point, there were enough potties that I didn't have to wait in line, so I stopped.  While I felt better after the stop, it cost me some time.  My clothes were so soaked that I had some trouble getting things back in "place".  I didn't want to start running again until I had everything properly situated and comfortable.  Well, as comfortable as I could get, being completely drenched head to toe.

After the half-way point, we took off again.  Marsden, who had seriously considered dropping out then because he was so cold and wet, had luckily come across a warmer jacket that someone had tossed to the side of the road under a tent near an aid-station.  Having a dry jacket to put on made all the difference for him and he was able to continue on with the race.

With every step I could feel my feet squishing in my shoes and I knew I was getting blisters on both of my feet.  I tried not to think about that though, and just focused on keeping a steady pace.  Right up until about 20 miles we were able to maintain a consistent pace of right around 10:20-10:30 min/mile, and that's including taking a 1 minute walk break after every 5 minutes of running.  The last 6.2 miles were almost completely downhill...steep downhill...as we ran through Ogden Canyon.  That downhill really kills the quads and the knees, even though it feels good to have help keeping the momentum going through gravity!  Due to the pain in my legs, especially my knees, my pace slowed a little.  And I honestly, I was so over the stupid rain!!  For over 4 hours we had not had a single break from the wetness.  Not even a few minutes to dry out a little.  Blah.  As we made the very last turn and had about a mile left in the race, I finally felt a glimmer.  The sun came out ever so briefly and there was a break in the rain.  We skipped our last walking break and took it home to the finish line.  Inside I felt like crying, my legs were hurting so badly, but I held it in and just kept telling myself that the pain was only temporary.  I knew that if I allowed myself to let up at all, I would regret it later.  Those last few miles are what makes marathons so very difficult.  The body hurts, the muscles are out of fuel and tired and the mind is intuitively telling you to stop.  You have to force yourself to change your thoughts and ignore the pain long enough to keep going and finish.  It never gets any easier, but there's nothing like the satisfaction you feel when you finish.


My official chip time was 4:49.  And unfortunately we didn't get many pictures along the course this time.  Hopefully I can get my hands on the few that Marsden's friend took for us and there may also be a few coming later from the course photographers.

Today I am limping around a bit on incredibly sore legs and lots of blisters on my feet...but still, oh-so-happy. :)


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Tales of the taper and something new on the horizon.

I have a few minutes while I wait for my kids to get out of school and we leave Idaho and head for Utah and my marathon race weekend!  I thought I'd use those spare minutes to update my blog, since it's been a few days. :)

Typically for marathon runners, the taper period leading up to a race tends to be a mixed bag of feelings and emotions.  Through each of my 5 other marathons, I have tried different things during my taper, from running everyday (even just a mile or two) right up until the day before the race, to taking the entire week off from all exercise.  While it is hard for me to not do anything for so many days - at least, fitness wise - I have found that my best race performances came when I allowed my body to rest for at least 4 or 5 days prior to the big day.

So for the past week, I have kept things low-key.  I went to a spinning class on Monday afternoon and then another on Tuesday morning, but that's all I've done this week.  I didn't lift any weights or run stairs or go to Muscle Fusion or do any running.  Normally this lack of exercise would trouble me and cause a shift in my eating habits as well.  But as I am starting to get the hang of this marathon training thing, I've also come to realize that I won't get fat or gain (much) weight if I cut out exercise for one week and continue to eat healthy amounts of food.

I've acknowledged that this taper period should be embraced as a pre-race reward for all the hard training that has been put in and it should be savored.  Somehow I have managed to stay pretty much stress-free this week as I've rested my body, drank lots and lots of water and eaten tons of good food - including a few times at my favorite restaurants.  Why not?  I know that come Monday morning, I'll be right back at my routine of going to the gym and getting in some miles on the road, and keeping my diet clean and tight, so I might as well make the most of this change in routine, right?

So my race is Saturday morning and we always make a weekend trip out of this marathon.  We have some friends that we stay with in Salt Lake City and the kids get to spend time swimming in their pool and playing around while we visit, shop, and eat with the adults.  It's always a fun weekend.


My goals for this race are a little different than they have been for past races.  I didn't want to set my mind to achieving a PR because my training was a little helter-skelter this time around.  I did get a couple of 20 milers in during training, but because of my back injury, bad weather and some other issues, I didn't get in as many miles overall as I have in the past.  And I'm not sure how much it will help me that I've spent the last 26 weeks working with my trainer on building muscle and shifting my fitness focus somewhat.  In some ways I think I am stronger, but I'm not sure yet how that will translate when it comes to running a marathon.  My last marathon was 9 months ago and it was a great race for me.  I'm hoping to channel some of the positive emotion I have associated with that day into my race this Saturday morning.  But in the end, my main goal is to finish the race with a smile on my face and to enjoy the time I get to spend on the beautiful course through Ogden Canyon with my amazing friend and running buddy, Marsden.  As long as that happens, we will have won the day.

Next week things in my life will start taking all kinds of new twists and turns.  It's the kids' last week of school before being out for summer vacation, I will be starting a new training routine with Misty that will include some (certain death) circuits, and there's the possibility of another very big change coming....you'll have to check back in later to find out more about that one!! Haha!  See you on the flip-side of marathon #6!!

Monday, May 6, 2013

13.1 mile training run.


I did my last long training run before the marathon on Saturday with my running buddy, Lisa.  We ran our favorite route: Buckskin Road from Pocatello down into Inkom.  Lisa is on a different training schedule than me because the marathon she is currently training for is 2 weeks after the one I am doing.  So, she needed to do a 20 miler and I only wanted to do 12 or 13.  We ran together until we got back to my house, at which point I had gotten in about 13.1 miles.  Lisa kept running from there until she finished her 20.

It was a sunny but cool day, despite how hot and sweaty we both look in the above photo.  But this is the kind of running weather I have been longing for all winter.   It's been so nice to be able to get out and get some sun.  In fact, it was such a beautiful day last Thursday, that I skipped my usual day at the gym (treadmill run and Muscle Fusion X) and hit the road for a 10 mile run instead.  I'm not sure that was the best idea for my legs, but it sure helped give a positive boost to my psyche.  Normally when I run the Buckskin route with Lisa, I can cruise through the first 7 or 8 miles at my fastest pace because it's mostly downhill.  But Saturday, because my legs were already feeling fatigued, I was a little slower and more stiff.  My hamstrings (of course) were especially tight.  I finished the 13.1 miles with an average pace of around 10:20 min/mile, which is still pretty decent for me, but I was wiped out at the end.

After a 45-mile week, I'm feeling ready to start my taper now.  This week I plan to do my normal daily workouts, leading up to a medium length run on Saturday - maybe 9 or 10 miles.  Then I will jump into "rest mode" for the full week heading up to the marathon.  The one thing I learned from running the Pocatello Marathon last fall (and achieving my PR of 4:36) was that allowing my body to fully rest for at least a week before is crucial to feeling fully fueled and ready on race day.  I know I was also a lot more careful with what I ate, so I plan to be a little more strict with myself for the next 2 weeks and focus on getting lots of healthy, complex carbs and protein.  I'm really hoping that doing those things will offset some of the trials I've had during this training season and allow me to have a great race.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Last 20 miler and taper.


Finally, a beyond perfect day for running long!  Saturday morning my friend Lisa and I started out at the top of Buckskin Road in Pocatello and ran a mostly downhill route that took us back towards my house in Inkom.  The sun was shining and the the temperatures were cool, but perfect ~ 40's when we started.  There were a gazillion runners out there working their way down Buckskin, and who could blame them?  By the time we reached my house, we had gone a little over 15 miles.  Lisa needed to be finished, so I drove her back to her car then came back home and set out on my own to do another 5 miles.

When all was said and done, I did a tad over 20 miles with an average pace of 10:18 min/mile.  I got a little sunburned and a nice, big blister on one of my toes, but I felt it was a great run to peak my marathon training.    In the past, I have done runs up to and over the full marathon distance during training, but considering the issues I've had with my back, I am feeling good having done 2 good 20 milers and several 4-hour cardio sessions that mixed running with spinning, etc.  With the marathon 3 weeks away, I will start my taper.  This weekend my long run will be 12-13 miles, then the next week I'll bring it down to 8 or 9, then the Saturday after that it will be race day!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

14.5 miles in the rain.


It's been another week of erratic weather: sun one minute, rain and wind the next.  Yesterday I had planned to do a long run of about 20 miles with my running buddy, Lisa.  After it had rained all night and was still pouring at 6 am when we were planning to go, we agreed that a run of that distance in the rain just wasn't something either of us wanted to do.  So instead, I went to the gym with my husband where I did a spin class.  I took my running gear with me and figured that by the time the hour-long class was over, there was a possibility that the rain may have cleared up enough for me to run home from the gym.  After class, I changed out of my sweat-soaked clothes into my running outfit, then took off for the long run home of 14.5 miles.

It was still really windy and raining, but the temperature wasn't too bad at around 45 degrees so I figured I could handle a little rain.  My run was a tad on the slow side, as I battled a head wind and tired legs right from the start.  My hamstrings and back were bothering me too, but I was determined to continue with my "push through anything to get it done" attitude.  There were moments during my run that the sun would shine briefly through the clouds, and those moments were just enough to keep the enjoyment level up on my run and helped me make it all the way home.

The rest of the day I nursed sore, achy and cramping legs, but today I'm feeling a lot better - except for my back. :(  One month until the marathon and I'm really hoping for some great weather next weekend.  I'd like to get in at least two more 20+ milers before I taper.

If not, I will just do my best with where I'm at when the day comes.  I had a wonderful phone conversation with the friend I will be running the Ogden Marathon with in May.  He was supposed to run the Boston Marathon last Monday, but decided not to run it at the last minute because he'd been sick and was still recovering.  We agreed that at this point in our lives, our focus should be on enjoying the long run and the opportunity to spend time together.  Neither of us is going for a PR on this one, as we've both been dealt a few stumbling blocks during our training the past few months.  Taking the pressure off helps me look forward to this marathon with a renewed sense of excitement.