20 miles: fought, and surrendered

If I could use just one word to sum up our (second) 20-mile training run: disastrous.

(I’m telling you, our smiles are very deceiving — we were both utterly wiped out after this run.)

From the get-go the run was just all sorts of wrong: 

I was up in my head. So, so much. I kept fighting with myself, trying to force the mental head games to stop but they just kept coming. (I think I know the main reason for the mental mind games, but I’ll be sharing that in a later post this week, promise)

It was a lot more humid out than I was prepared for. In my mind, I envisioned a nice cool start to the run. Instead, we left the house at 5:35 (yes, at 5:35, not 5:30 or 5:45, but 5:35…) and got a nice smack in the face of humidity. Not cool.

The hubs was dehydrated almost from the start. I think he was staving off the water intake to avoid drinking too much and leaving me with none. (what a guy, seriously, who does that??) Meanwhile I was done with my little water bottle about a third of the way into the run and was shocked that Scott’s much larger water bottle was almost full still. Between that and the fact that I know he didn’t drink enough water the day before, and I instantly sensed dehydration looming for him…and maybe for me too, given the weather.

The bottom line: we had a lot of ‘things’ working against us on Saturday morning. 


I’m as stubborn as they come. I wanted 20 miles on Saturday. Really, really, really badly.
…so we got 20 miles done. 

But it was ugly. Very, very ugly. 

There was walking. A lot of walking (for those of you who know us well, we *never* walk during a run, ever ever ever. This should tell you how desperately tired and worn out we both were). 

There was a stop to fill our water bottles at a water fountain in the park. Again, something we *never* do. We usually are fine with the water we brought, or we simply power through and are fine to chug along, regardless. But not today. Nope, we needed that water stop.

There were mini-arguments between us when one of us wanted to turn around, and the other wanted to push forward. (I’ll let you guess who is who in this scenario…heh)

So we fought for it. We fought hard. We walked, we ran, we walked, we ran, and then we ran and suddenly, we were done. 

Utterly spent. Disgustingly sweaty. Salty-faced from all the sweat, and dead tired. 
…but proud. We fought…and even if we surrendered just a little bit…we won the battle for 20 in the end. 
And that’s what matters. 

What also matters a heck of a lot? That this didn’t happen during our last long run before taper. (silver lining, perhaps) I need that redemption run in a big way. I  (and we) need that 22 miler to give us the confidence boost that will carry us through in Chicago. We’re both determined as hell to make it our best long run yet.

A few lessons learned, and we’re good to go:

…we are not, in fact, invincible. Even *we* have bad runs too. 
…we cannot afford to be careless with our prep leading into a long run. More water. More mental fortitude, too. 
…we *can* push through, even if our minds try to tell us otherwise. 

22 miles on Wednesday: Game. On. 

Modified fartleks for 10 (miles)

Saturday’s run – my description: Modified fartleks for 10 miles (holy hell)
Saturday’s run – Scott’s description: ‘we had fun.’

Um hi, who the heck throws fartleks into a 10 mile training run and *then* says it was ‘fun.’
…that would be my husband, who I know believe is crazier than I am.

For those of you wondering – a fartlek is:

Fartlek, which means “speed play” in Swedish, is a training method that blends continuous training with interval training.The variable intensity and continuous nature of the exercise places stress on both the aerobic and anaerobic systems. It differs from traditional interval training in that it is unstructured; intensity and/or speed can be varied whenever the athlete wishes

So while we didn’t do full-out fartlek work on Saturday, we sure as hell did a modified version of it. And it hurt. A lot.

I still haven’t decided if I would’ve liked a courtesy heads-up from Scott that this was in ‘his’ plan for us on Saturday or not — I kind of think if I knew it was coming, I would’ve wussed my way out of it somehow. Or at least whined a heck of a lot more at the outset (and I admit to whining a LOT after the first sprint session, not gonna lie).

Here’s what we did, generally speaking:
Ran our first 2ish miles as our warm-up — this portion of our route is particularly hilly so not entirely fun as a warm-up, just sayin’
Ran the next 2 miles at a picked-up pace (this is all guestimates since I am garmin-less as you know)
Then, we we rounded the bend towards the golf course, we pulled back a bit in preparation for our first sprint
Over the bridge we went, right over the ocean — the most beautiful part of our run. And we were sprinting our asses off. It was probably about a quarter mile or so sprint. My legs were FLYING. And to be honest, that first sprint felt good. I had no idea I had such speed in my legs.
Post-sprint, we wound our way around a cute neighborhood, up a rolling hill that surprisingly kicks your ass on a good day, nevermind right after a speed burst. Oy. Our breathing regulated and we prepared ourselves for the next sprint. Back over that bridge but about double the distance and faster. This one REALLY hurt.
Gasping for air, I was whining my ass off, so ready to be done but we still had 3 miles left before home.
Off we went, back up another rolling hill, and another before we rounded the bend towards the final two streets before home. Scott took off. Left me in his dust — this is his cue to pick up the pace. It always pisses me off because he does it when I’m at my most tired…and I know he is smart for pushing me that way, but in my head, I’m bitching and moaning. The more I bitch and moan in my head, the faster I go though, so I suppose it all works out. (man, my husband is so smart, isn’t he? Knows just what to do to get me moving…lol)
Finally we’re at the home stretch — the final half mile to home and I’m just DONE. I’ve slowed way, way down but I’m still moving so that’s a good sign, right?? So I sprint to the finish as best as I can, rushing towards Scott who finished before me and he’s a sweaty smiley mess. Such a beautiful sight, I must say. ❤

So after ALL of that? I can’t say that I love mixing sprints/quasi-fartlek work into training, but I will say that I needed that. A reminder that I can push myself even when I’m dead-tired and that I can push past the mental doubts that started to creep in as I grew more and more tired. I’ll need all the mental endurance I can get leading into this marathon, yeah? So I suppose I should thank my husband for kicking my ass then, huh? Even if I whined a bunch about it. 😉

(and finally, from the ‘you know you’re a runner when’ files…)

Sweatastic trickery (a running tip)

In case you’re wondering what running in 88% humidity looks like, here’s a good example for ya:

Hott, right? ;-P
(um, kinda hard to make my point when Scott’s all smiles in this pic tho, huh?)

But seriously, this past weekend was holy humid — starting out on Friday but really kicking in on Saturday…juuuust in time for a 9 mile 7 mile (more on this scratch out in a sec) training run. Excellent.

Let’s back up though…to Friday’s 7 miler. After teaching at barre n9ne at 6am, I was admittedly amped up and ready to run buuuut I went into it fully expecting the run to be totally hellish, for every single mile to feel like 10 miles and for my breathing to be labored and ragged.

Let’s just say I was more than surprised by how much the run didn’t suck. Or at least didn’t suck as badly as it normally would in such humid conditions. I’m gonna go ahead and chalk it up to two things — the first one is obvious: my endurance is vastly improved given marathon training. A realization that sort of snuck up on me somehow, I guess since being ‘in training’ it’s just sort of happened, been part of the process and been a slow and steady improvement kind of thing. But the other thing I realized after running in such humid conditions this weekend? I figured out a neat little trick…and I’ll tell you what it is and then you can be shocked at how simple it really is. (and then call me a dweeb for making such a big deal out of it. 😉 )

The (sweatastic) trick?
Get as sweaty as you possibly can, as fast as you possibly can. 

Yup, that’s it. Embrace the sweat and you won’t even notice how freakin’ humid it is anymore. You’ll BE the humidity. I’m half kidding but half serious here. For real, the more sweaty I got as we ran, the more I got into the run and focused less on the conditions around me. I mean, I had sweat pouring down my back, my hair was soaked, my face was beet red. I was a hot, hot, mess. But I loved it. Scarily. so.

Another tip when running in super duper humidity like we’ve had lately?
Be prepared to tweak your training. <—a hard one for me, admittedly

Yup, that’s right. Be ready to make changes…on the fly:
…slow down
…drink more water
…cut your miles down a bit.
…and be proud of yourself for sweating your ass off and getting those miles in, however many or few they may end up being.

So that’s my running tip for ya’ll today — embrace the sweatastic trickery (i.e. get as sweaty as possible as quickly as you can), and be ready to make changes to your training plans when 88% humidity comes knocking on your door. 

Because really — I think it’s damn badass to sweat like an utter pig and come away from it with a smile on your face.
Just sayin’ 😉

<< and um, hi, side note — we’re running 18 (!) miles tomorrow. OMG.>>

Marathon training is….easy?! (um..no)

So yeah. Marathon training.
…it ain’t easy.

Buuuut apparently I make it *look* easy.
…and I thought I’d tell you all why I think that is. 😉

The way I set up my training plan from the start was with one goal in mind: to keep good balance. Above all, I did NOT want marathon training to rule my life for 18 weeks. I knew it would be a giant commitment and I was – and still am – armed for that. But I also wanted to sustain the balance I’ve worked so hard to achieve in the past year or so.

Which is why, if you look at my weekly workout ‘schedule’ in it’s entirety? It looks almost exactly the same as my workouts-per-week pre-marathon training. With the exception of the long run, that is. (minor detail, haha)

Don’t believe me? Take a look at a typical training week for me:
Sunday – teach at barre n9ne, run 7-8 miles (soon to be more like 8-10 miles)
Monday – teach at barre n9ne; take a class later that evening
Tuesday – long run! (10-16 miles currently…)
Wednesday – take barre n9ne class
Thursday – teach barre n9ne; take a class that evening
Friday – teach barre n9ne / run 7-8 miles (soon to be more like 8-10 miles)
Saturday – rest

So a few things you’ll notice —

I’m ‘only’ running three days per week currently. Prior to marathon training — I was running four times per week. Which means I’m now running less days but spending more time on my feet — longer, more meaningful runs to work on my endurance, a huge goal of mine leading into the marathon, for obvious reason.

I’m taking a lot less classes and teaching more (<3!). Which means my time spent at the barre may appear to be more frequent (I’m teaching 5x/week for the most part) but the intensity is different when you teach a class vs. taking a class. I’m not there to get my own workout in, I’m there to ‘work the room’ so to speak. So sure, teaching is a quasi-workout but it’s not at all the same as when I’m the student vs. instructor.

So the big difference here now that I”m in marathon training mode vs. regular ‘ol ‘me’ training mode? That long run. That’s the one big change to my workout plans week-to-week which is how I’ve kept my training so darn manageable. NOT easy by any means (that long run wipes me out, as I’ve mentioned before, hello sleepy face!), but definitely sustainable and manageable. Which may also explain why I’ve not struggled *too much* with the marathon hungry-horrors as I mentioned in my post last week on my eating habits during training.

And there you have it — my not-so-scientific approach to marathon training. An approach that I happen to be LOVING, and one that has kept me from going off the deep end so far, moving into week 9 (!) of marathon training.

Rock on 26.2!! 🙂

15 miles on a prayer

This morning we ran 15 miles. 
…on a prayer. 

You see, I took some very wise, beautiful words of advice from one of the strongest, most wonderful souls I know: Lindsay. She told me that she often would use her long runs to pray, spending some of that time with Him. It not only centered her for the run but it gave her a chance to have a little chat with God along the way.

So that’s what I did this morning, just as we were hitting mile 2,  I said a little prayer.

This morning, I pray for
…and faith.

Faith in the process, faith in our training, faith in eachother. 

This morning I also give thanks. 
…for this opportunity to challenge ourselves. 
…for physical and mental toughness.
…for the blessings this experience has already provided us. 

I am thankful. 

As simple as that. I was praying it to Him as much as I was saying it to myself and silently sharing those words with Scott. Between those quiet  prayerful words, and the beautiful rainbow I saw on my ride home last night, and I was feeling extremely calm and centered for our 15-miler, our longest run to date. 

And I truly and firmly believe that it made all the difference. We ran those miles as if we’d been running 15-milers our whole lives. It was surreal just how good the run felt, how well our bodies responded, and how quickly the time passed. I never, ever thought I’d get to this point — where 15 miles doesn’t feel daunting. (I even said to Scott when all was said and done: “well, that *didn’t* suck!”)

…who am I?? 

I’ll tell you who I am — who WE are.
…we’re becoming the marathoners we dreamed of becoming ‘someday.’

But instead of ‘someday’ — this fall is our someday. October 7 is inching closer and closer (something like 9 long runs away!). And with each day that passes, we are both stronger, more confident, and most of all — happier runners.

This is just amazing. I can’t even begin to put it into words. It’s just…incredible. 

On willing it (13), visualizing it (13+)

This morning marked our first 13 miler…’un-raced.’
…as in the first time Scott and I ran 13(.1) miles and it wasn’t in a half marathon race day setting.

Kind of a cool milestone in my mind. So waking up at 5am to the birds chirping, the sun rising, and I felt calm and quasi-excited to run (I say ‘quasi’ because I was suuuuper sleepy when the alarm first went off). I kept thinking about how different running 13 miles today already felt in comparison to running it on a race day. No pre-race preparations…endless bathroom trips, pre-race breakfast, etc. None of that. Just up and at ’em and out the door we went around 5:15.

Rather than tell you allll about the run itself, I’m going to talk a little bit about what this run meant to me, mentally. A bit of a breakthrough happened today I do believe. I found myself, towards the end of the run, when my legs were really tired and wanted nothing more than to just.stop.moving. literally willing myself to keep going. Willing myself to stay out of that mental zone where panic sets in. That panicky omg-I-can’t-do-this-please-make-it-stop mode. I had to will my mind to wander into different territory.

…that different territory ended up being a visualization game. Thinking ahead to miles 14, 15, 16…20. And I’m not normally one to advocate thinking ahead that way (big fan of the ‘run the mile you’re in, the run you’re in, etc.’ mentality), but today — visualizing 13+ was exactly what I needed to do. I needed to know, from the very soles of my feet to my very heart and soul that this body…no, this *mind* is capable of seeing me through longer and longer distances.

And that’s what this run became for me today. On willing it (13), and then visualizing it (13+).

In other news, we look way too happy in this picture to have just run 13 miles, but I swear, we really did!

And finally, some random notes and things from today’s run:

  • seeing a skunk about 5 minutes into the run is not cool. Especially when your husband does the sprint fake-out to make you think the skunk is after us. Again, not cool.
  • running on trash day is stinky business. Not exactly the breeze I want to be surrounded by mid-run. Ew.
  • the new tank I was so excited about that I got at Dick’s Sporting Goods the other day is not nearly as wicking as the marathon tank I got from lululemon. See? My bank account *should* thank me for spending the extra bucks on the good stuff at lulu. Noted.
  • body glide is Scott’s new best friend. His sensitive areas are thanking him today.
  • 13 miles is tough stuff. 13 miles before 8am on a weekday? tough stuff but kinda badass. I dig it.
  • #marathonmojo: intact.



That’s the hashtag I created after Saturday’s long run was over and done with. 

Because guess whose BACK in action? THIS GIRL!!
(and if I wasn’t so tired after we got back, I would’ve snapped a pic, in all my sweatified glory!) 

Saturday’s run was JUST what I needed to get my head back in the game. My body did the work — leading by example instead of allowing my mind to lead me down the wrong path as it’s had a habit of doing lately.

My husband kept commenting to that effect, too.
…that I was doing great, working hard, having a great run. <– And he never says these things unless they are indeed true. He knows I’ll call him out on it if he throws motivational speaker-tone at me mid-run. 😉 

Truth be told? Both Friday night and when I first woke up on Saturday morning — I felt ready. My mind had calmed way down. I hadn’t run in two days so my legs were runner -fresh (well, they were “fresh” from not running but not quite so fresh given all the barre classes I taught / took towards the end of the week, woopsie). We had a restful, carb-filled, hydrating Friday night. I was actually itching to run.

So when we set out at 5:15am on Saturday morning, I wasn’t anxious or nervous. I was happy to be out there. Happy to be up and active while the rest of the world was fast asleep (and trust me, everyone WAS fast asleep for at least the first hour of our run, it was so quiet and peaceful, which is a rarity on most of our running routes, it’s not like we live in the boondocks). Happy to be doing what I love: running. Scott and I didn’t talk all that much for at least the first hour, we were lost in our own thoughts, listening to our feet hitting the pavement, watching the wildlife scurry around (bunnies, squirrels and even a DUCK!), just running. Joyfully so.

By the time we got to the second half of our run, I was tired – sure. But I wasn’t beat down. I knew I had the 7 miles in me and I tried like hell to pick up the pace, on Scott’s order, of course. 😉 And even as we got nearer and nearer to the end of our run, and were into the double-digits at that point, I found myself doing a status check. My breathing was great. My legs were still fairly peppy (but very sore in the quads region — blaming that fully on the barre!). I was doing *really* well for coming in at 12.5 miles.

…and that’s what really struck me throughout the day on Saturday. Even though I definitely felt like I ran hard that morning, I wasn’t dead or feeling all that beat up. My body was holding up just fine. My body had not failed me. Nor had my mind.

To me, that was a real breakthrough point — my body can do this. It can, it can, it can. It just proved that out on Saturday. So I’m going to go ahead and stop doubting myself now. It’s silly, it’s wasted energy, it’s not getting me anywhere fast. Instead — I’m channeling the CAN attitude and seeing where it takes me next.

…hopefully towards more joyful runs, long, short, and everything in between. 🙂

(totally stole this pin from Heather’s post on Friday…*so* spot-on for how I’ve been feeling lately. It’s like we share brains, I swear. 😉 )


An open letter to me: do not fear 26.2

Hey you,

Yeah, I’m talking to *you* over there. The girl who’s been talking the talk about this little thing called “your first marathon,” but hasn’t been walking the walk. As in — you’re letting fear and anxiety steal the joy right out of this journey towards 26.2. You are anxious, nervous, and stressed. And it shows. Um hello, meltdown city last week. Back-to-back headaches the past few days, too.

But why?

…because you’re secretly afraid of 26.2 miles. It’s downright freaking you out vs. fueling that fire in you (you KNOW it’s in there). You’re also far too stuck on that lovely spreadsheet of yours — the one with all the boxes for your miles, for your barre n9ne classes — both for teaching class and taking class…you’ve become fixated on making it perfect.

Well guess what? You aren’t perfect. You’re not supposed to be perfect. And in fact, I believe a certain blog friend of yours once told you to stop striving for perfection and to start striving for excellence instead. At that time, you adored that advice and started to heed it right away.

…so why are you straying from that mantra now?

Because, once again — you’re allowing your mind to trick you into thinking you can’t do this. That you can’t possibly face down 26.2 miles and run it like a champ. But guess what? You *can.* You just have to get back to believing in yourself.

…and the best way to do that? Get back to basics. Stop looking at your training plan as well, a ‘training plan’ and start looking at each run as just that: a run. Something that up until recently, you adored. Stop letting anxiety and fear steal your joy in these runs. Embrace every single mile, particularly those long runs you’re gearing yourself up for in the next few weeks. The long runs that will push you into new PDR territory. Those very same long runs that will give you the confidence that your body can and will push through all 26.2 miles on October 7.

And remember: you are strong. You are fit. You are ready. And most of all? You are a joyful runner.
…don’t ever forget that last one. It’s the key to this entire thing.


On “body” memories

I thought about titling this post “muscle memory” but that would be misleading — so I’m calling this my thoughts on “body'”memories instead.

You see, something I’ve noticed a lot more lately, especially as I get more and more into the whole intuitive eating thing, that my body remembers a LOT of things.

…it remembers how good it feels when I fuel it with real, nourishing, whole, YUMMY foods.

…just as it remembers how not-great it feels when I cave to something far less nourishing (think: nachos).

…it remembers how much more energy it has when it’s fully hydrated. especially in the heat we’ve been experiencing up in my neck of the woods.

…it remembers how light and airy it feels when the body is rested, without too many two-a-days thrown into the mix.

…just as it remembers how badass (in a good way) it can feel after a particularly killer week of workouts, as the one I’m experiencing right now has been (more on this in a minute).

…and it remembers what it feels like to run, run hard, run far(ther) and recover. (much more on this in a few, too)

…the body just knows, responds, refines.

I’m consistently struck by this thing called ‘intention.’ That ‘thing’ I’ve been working on a lot this past year — living with intention, eating with intention, working out with intention, “being” with intention. A lot of that plays into what the body knows and how it responds to living intentionally.

And I am really digging that right now. I’m feeling very ‘at peace’ right now…with everything.
…and it makes me feel very blessed. Incredibly thankful. And very proud.

I’ll be thinking about this tomorrow while Scott and I tackle our long run of the week…week #3 of marathon training. We’re going for 10 miles, our first double-digit run since the half marathon in May.  And I’m feeling excited and energized about it. Not anxious like I mentioned in my post last week about that very mental 9-miler. And I like to think a lot of that has to do with this feeling of ‘peace’ I have going on right now. And the fact that my body remembers what it feels like to run in the double-digits and takes very little time at all to recover from it. I wind up feeling really GOOD after I stretch and re-fuel (ohhh oatmeal!) after a long run like that. I used to feel completely wiped, drained, OUT of it after a long run.

The body remembers. My body does. I dig it.

(and let’s hope it remembers how to run in the heat, even though we’re going out early morning, it’s VERY humid around here, not entirely adjusted to it yet. Body, please remember!!)

<< Oh – and another note: this killer workout week of mine. I’m calling it my last-chance workout week before the very EPIC return to wine country we have planned for next week. I am BURSTING with excitement about it. I seriously can’t sit still for the life of me. More on the trip in my post tomorrow…but for now, just know that I’ve been doing my best to kill every single workout this week while I can…especially at the barre, I’m going to miss barre n9ne in a big way next week. However, I do believe the ‘sacrifice’ is worth it. hehe. >>

On rules: revisions and refinements

The other day, I mentioned that I sort of broke my own self-imposed “rule” — that I don’t run more than two days in a row if I can help it. Yet, last weekend I wound up running Friday, Saturday and Sunday and felt pretty great and very strong when all was said and done.

Heather left me an insightful comment (as she usually does) and it got me thinking:

Heather Iacobacci (@hriacobacci)
Submitted on 2012/06/12 at 8:40 am

Yes – strong IS beautiful. So glad you were feeling strong with your running this weekend. Sometimes I think it’s ok to just go with it even if you don’t normally run 3 or 4 days in a row. You’re listening to your body and that’s smart.


Have I been imposing my own set of rules a little bit too strongly in some cases? 
Is that why I have been sort of “off” feeling about marathon training? 
Why I’ve felt sort of antsy of late and unsure of why? 

I’m kind of thinking that’s been the problem. I’m letting my own rules get in the way. Instead of relying so heavily on my rules, why am I not spending more time listening to my body and recognizing when it’s telling me to “GO” vs. “STOP.”  We know I’ve learned to become great at listening to it when it tells me to stop, but am I losing my knack for “hearing” it when it’s telling me to go for it?

…I think so. 

I mean, I’ve been talking about this being my year of “no limits,” of pushing past boundaries, of breaking through (self-imposed or not) barriers. Yet, I sometimes have a hard time revising or refining my own set of rules or guidelines.

Now that I think about it, I notice this popping up in other areas of life. Of not being able to “go with the flow” more like my husband would like me to. Learning to be more un-planned, more spontaneous, less structured or rigid. Hello Type-A much? I think I need to tone it down juuuuust a wee bit.

And before you all think I’m just trying to justify working out MORE or something silly like that, I promise you this is not the case. I’m a huge fan of working smarter, not harder. HUGE. I’m also a huge fan of rest days. All I’m saying is that I could stand to loosen my grip on my own rules now and then, with workouts — sure, but with other areas of my life too.

This will certainly play into how I approach my marathon training plan as well. For instance — I told you that I had planned on three solid runs per week (one long, two mid-range) to get my endurance up where it needs to be for the marathon. And that is still very much the plan. However, there is that little thing called the run-barre-rundate that I happen to ADORE. I’ve been doing it for the past few Tuesdays with my friend Steph and I LOVE it. I don’t want to give it up just because it doesn’t fit so neatly into my marathon training guidelines. So I’m not going to. At least for now. If I need to cut it out later, I’ll do it. But for now? I LOVE how badass that workout makes me feel. I LOVE how accomplished I feel when all is said and done. And I LOVE the “fit date” time with Steph. We have some of the best chats on Tuesdays because of it. (she’s the best!)

The bottom line here is that the old adage “rules are meant to be broken” is definitely one that I could stand to lean on a little bit now and then. Not all the time, no. But sometimes…it’s ok to revise, refine, or all-out break a rule.

(The sky will not come crashing down around you, I promise (note to self…).)

Source: glossfixation.tumblr.com via Jess on Pinterest

NOTE: I’d revise this to say: First Learn the Rules. Then break them (smartly)