August was a whirlwind of a month; I’d been apprehensively peeking at my calendar the whole summer trying not to think too hard about how busy I’d be. Before I knew it, July ended and off we went, starting off by running the Cascade Lakes Relay the first weekend. I sent my 11-year-old son off on a solo flight to his grandparents’ house the day before my husband and I left on our 216-mile running adventure, leaving our 4-year-old and dog at home with my mom.
Eleven years ago today, I had no idea that in 24 hours my entire world would be obliterated; broken into a million pieces by my husband’s unexpected and sudden suicide, leaving me and our seven-month-old son in a reality that I did not want to be conscious of. The days, months, and years that followed were the darkest of my life, and there are still long stretches of time I do not remember.
Today, I ran and my mind wrestled again with the memories and feelings that always reemerge this time of year. Happier memories surface more as the years go by, thankfully, but so do the rock bottom ones … moments where I’d stare at my nursing son and know that if not for his needing me, I would choose to not be anymore. Today I ran alone in the woods, along the river in the hot afternoon sun as a steady breeze cooled me. Why do I run? Why does this action specifically soothe my heart in a way that so many other ways do not?
For the love of gawd, I am sick of my treadmill … but desperately thankful for it at the same time. Five of my seven days running this week were in my swampy garage. EWWW. The last four summers, I was able to push my daughter in the stroller while my son rode his bike for most of my runs.
This year? My toddler is no longer a toddler but instead a long-limbed little girl whose feet touch the ground and whose head hits the umbrella top when she gets in the stroller. I’ve run with her once this summer, and I give myself one more run with it. She just doesn’t fit comfortably, and when you’re not pushing regularly, the stroller fitness ends up in the basement.
My plan is to make our last run a memorable outing: a pitstop in the woods for one last stroller forest potty stop, flower picking, snacks, and maybe one last fast mile with her cheering me on. And then I’ll retire my BabyTrend Expedition, which looks a little worse for wear but still rides like a champ and has still never had a flat or other issue. I miss being outside running more but I think by next summer, she’ll be able to join me on her bike so for now I sweat on the ‘mill while binge-watching Downton Abbey, again.
I’ve been good about taking my iron supplements everyday, and although I know it’s way too early to have affected my actual numbers, I like having an actual reason when I feel totally gaspy. It’s strange because some days I feel totally fine, but then I’ll have a day where I get through three miles and just stop, or I get winded walking upstairs. Ah well.
We are down to about a week before our big relay race. My husband and I are on a couples team, with the theme “Power Couples.” I chose Adam and Eve, the original power couple. I rounded up some skin-toned running gear for us and am making our fig leaves this week. Look forward to that race report and photos!
Monday 7/17: 10 miles (8:23 avg. pace), 50 push ups
7/18: 6 miles (8:10 pace), core and light weights
7/19: 10 miles– AM/5 miles (7:49 pace). PM/5 miles (8:39 pace)
7/20: 15 miles– AM/11 mile workout: 3 warm up, 8×800 @6:35/2-minute recovery, cool down to 11. PM/4 miles (8:42 pace)
7/21: 3 miles (9:14 pace), core and light weights
7/22: 21 miles (8:11 pace). Felt miraculously good, ran with friends and got off the treadmill!
7/23: 6 miles (8:43 pace), 50 push ups. Got outside in the sunshine, nice way to end the week.
TOTAL: 71 miles
Another week of summer running gone by, and still feeling like I have no pep. After reading Wintergreen’s low progesterone post last week, I decided to get off my ass and get some blood work done. Of course, the jaded grumpy part of me figured it would be a waste of time, but the hopeful part of me wished for some answer to all these months of feeling blue, tired, and bleh.
After last week’s 82 miles, I was greatly looking forward to this down week. I had a million things other than running on our family schedule that had to be done in near perfect order to accomplish them all. Getting to take the mental “when will I fit my workout and run #2 into my day?” piece off the board felt great.
Ginger and her boyfriend stayed the night last weekend in the middle of their cross-country road trip. They brought along their collection of recovery tools that I have never tried before: Normatech boots and a sweet shiatsu massage pillow thingy. We went for cheap Mexican dinner and margaritas, a run in the morning, recovered with boots and massage, walked my dog in the evening and had fun catching up. My daughter, who has created an entire group of imaginary “Salty Running Camp” friends had her mind blown that my Salty Running friends are actually real people!
A day or so after that, my husband left on a four-day business trip. The result was I spent a ton of time on the treadmill and then out on various summer adventures with the kids all week. We explored some waterfall and mining trails in the Umpqua National Forest about 20 minutes from our house, spent time at the lake swimming, saw Wonder Woman, and BBQ’d with friends. My husband arrived home at 2:30AM Saturday morning, and I got up at 5:30 to long run with a couple of running buddies.
It was a big mileage week, and I have a much-deserved down-week scheduled next week … along with my first ever 5k on the 4th of July.
Living in the Eugene, Oregon area has many perks when it comes to being a runner but one that I’ve started taking advantage of only recently is the Bowerman Sport Science Clinic at the University of Oregon, right on the edge of Hayward Field. This winter I saw a request on one of the local Facebook running group pages from a graduate student looking for runners to take part in his running physiology study/dissertation. I fit the necessary requirements (comfortable with 50-mile/week mileage, capable of a 21-minute 5k, and I wear a size 8 shoe), so emailed him. Before I knew it, I was a human guinea pig.
I think we’re supposed to be approaching summer, and based on the end of the school year events filling up my calendar we are … but, looking out the window at the rainy, gray, upper 50s kind of weather makes it feel more like April. My high school principal husband is transitioning to a new school and district next year, so is sort of working two jobs right now; sewing things up at his current school while hiring, planning, and attending meetings at his new school. The result is he’s gone a lot. I want to fast-forward a week so he’s back down to just one!
Meanwhile, my 70-year-old mom is retiring, sold her house and is moving so I’ve been driving the hour up to her house and staying with her in any spare time I have to help clean out her house (Oh my gawd… the amount of STUFF is mind-boggling). Somehow, between everything else I still find time to squeeze in my runs.
It’s been a full, busy, and hard couple of months since I last wrote a training log. I mentioned in my last log that my anxiety and insomnia were hitting me pretty hard, and I’d add general depression to that mix in the months since. Throughout adulthood, I have had my ups and downs, and usually I just forge ahead putting one foot in front of the other and it passes after a while. This winter and spring, it just would not (will not?) pass. Nothing felt fun or exciting, everything felt more difficult than it should, I was constantly in a bad mood with no patience with my kids and feeling like I had a heavy weight on my chest.
I forged: running more, still scheduling run dates with my friends when they could meet up, trying to get outside as often as possible on my runs because nature helps. I volunteered to be a guinea pig in a running study at the University of Oregon, and have gotten to see my computer animated self run on the screen and run with those VO2 mask things on. I’ve been watching a friend’s daughter on Fridays to give my daughter a playmate, and planning outings and projects for them. I hosted a freaking bridal shower and bachelorette party, spending the evening as the designated driver. Trying anything and everything to keep myself busy so I’d forget that I feel so bleh. Fake it til you make it was my mantra, but … faking it for so long is utterly exhausting.
In early May, I got an email from a professional coach I know from when he lived in Eugene who needed a place for a couple of his athletes to stay for the Eugene Marathon. We have a nice guest room, so I volunteered (forge-forge-forge!) to host the female runner, who was racing, and her fiance. Hiruni Wijayaratne is an elite runner with dual citizenship (America and Sri Lanka) who needed to get a time of 2:45 so she can go to Worlds in London and then hopefully represent Sri Lanka in the Olympics in 2020. Her fiance, Luis Orta, ran the marathon in the Rio Olympics last summer for Venezuela.
Having them stay was an infusion of positive energy my whole family needed: I got to take them on their shake-out run on my favorite trail, my husband got to make them his pancakes and bacon breakfast special, they played XBox with my son until late the night before the race and took him out to pizza … and then Hiruni WON Eugene with a 2:43. We felt like we were hosting celebrities.
Their stay also lit a little fire inside me. I took a big down week the first week of May (only ran 17 miles because I felt like I needed the break), but after that I continued with my weekly double-digit mile trail run, started adding real workouts again, and began running with a little more intention. Let’s just say I have something up my sleeve, something that will hopefully help me fake it til I actually make it through this season of ugh. (And if you were wondering, I didn’t end up running the 5k with my little dog last month, but he doesn’t know the difference!)
April: 224 miles, 3 days off
May: 190 miles, 4 days off
2017 Mileage through the end of May: 1,019.5 miles
So continues my year of not training and not racing. We’ve had a pretty hard winter for the Pacific Northwest; more snow days then I can remember in a very long time, and long stretches of lots of rain in between. I am trying to run when/how much/as fast as I feel like that day. Although some people might call that just a bunch of junk miles, I call it intuitive training.
Toward the end of February, my intuitive training was slipping precariously back into training-mode, topping out over 60 miles in a week with several weeks of 16+ mile long runs. Why? Because that has been my go-to mode for years, and it just didn’t feel normal to not be running that much. Also because my insomnia ramped up and my stress-level in general was high, too. I know that if my mileage creeps up, this is usually in direct proportion to my anxiety levels.
I purposefully cut back for several weeks in March (down into the upper 30s/mid-40s range). This coincided with a stomach virus that took out each of my kids and my husband, so that worked out, as I was otherwise engaged, cleaning up barf in the car and shuttling bowls from couch to sink.
Throughout March, I ran with my dog more, ran on trails more, and started taking my daughter out for bike rides on her tag-along bike that attaches to mine. We live at the top of a big hill, so those 10+ mile rides shred my quads in a new and fun way!
Although I’ve let my consistent core routine slip since CIM (yes, I realize that was four months ago…) I’ve climbed back on the core wagon and am trying to add more #extrasalt to my routine. I am terrible about stretching or rolling so I add a carrot or two to motivate myself to do any of that!
Next month is a fundraiser 5k for the Humane Society, and I am planning on running that with my Yorkie, Scout. Just for fun and to donate to a good cause, and to kick some larger dogs’ rear ends and shock people who think that little dogs are just for purses! Well, and to actually run a 5k, which I’ve never done surprisingly. Between now and then, I’ll continue as I have been on my intuitive running plan.
February: 203.71 miles, two days off
March: 200.23 miles, one day off
2017 mileage total (at the end of March): 605 miles
Well, ever since that half marathon I did as part of my long run about a month ago, my training has slipped. I bombed a couple of long run workouts and, more concerning, my attitude took a major dive. Running is my favorite part of my day; it helps me cope with the blues, with anxiety, and gives me a moment of feeling like I have something in control when other things feel out of control. In the last month, I’ve started to absolutely not enjoy running. My legs ached when I wasn’t running and so many runs felt much harder than they should have. I didn’t feel pumped even when I hit my workout paces dead-on. I didn’t look forward to runs with friends, and I had to force myself to run most days.
I knew that symptoms were pointing toward over-training, but I forged on. I am the Queen of Zen Denial and I am so close to race day. I did decide CIM will be my last marathon until 2018. Last week I had a big week and hit all my workouts and my long run (22+ with 19 @7:17), but after that? My body said done. DONE. No more running. I ran Tuesday, then Wednesday met a friend for 12-miles with 8 @6:50 pace workout and only managed four miles in the range I needed. Thursday’s easy run resulted in two walk breaks and the final decision. I am done training for this race. My body and brain are done. This weekend was supposed to include 18 with 10 at marathon pace, but nope. I am done.
I feel like I have reached a point of extreme diminishing returns, and my hope is that I can rest my body (and brain) enough in the next two weeks to even want to run on race day. I scheduled a massage and decided to tune in deeply to listening to what my body needs. I am not running until I want to. Today is Day 3 of no running, I don’t think I’ve taken three days off in a row this year, and I still do not want to run. Instead, I’ve been walking my dog with the kids, doing core and light weights, and stretching and foam rolling in the evenings. I’ve slept better but still feel exhausted and my legs still feel achy in bed by morning.
It’s been a big year, I’ve PR’d every distance I run; 10k, half and full marathon. I ran a 100 mile week back in the spring training for Newport, I’ve maintained months of 50-60+ weeks otherwise, I paced a friend for 33 miles of her 100-miler, I’ve run countless workouts at paces I never thought I’d be able to… I might’ve pushed too hard. Oddly, I feel ok about it because I can’t regret the fun and success I’ve had running this year until now. I just need a rest and a break.
Two weeks. I hope that’s enough time to heal and reap the results of all the miles I’ve trained this year.
Monday: Rest day, core
Tuesday: 8 miles on the mill.
Wednesday: 12 miles, attempted 8 @6:50-7:00. Managed 6:40, 6:58, 6:49. 7:03, 7:08, 7:31, 7:40. 8:43.
Thursday: 8.5 miles, two walk breaks. Core in the evening.
Friday: Walked the dog 1 mile, core.
Saturday: Walked the dog 1.5 miles, core and arm weights.
Sunday: Walked the dog 3 miles, core.
Weekly total: 28.5 miles
Can I get political in my training log? If not, I’ll just say that this week sucked starting on Tuesday evening. I have been cycling through anger, despair, extreme sadness, and general malaise ever since. I know that I am preparing to fight back, be the change I want in the world, or maybe just move my family to Ireland as refugees. Not sure yet.
Wednesday dawned dark, gloomy, and crappy — though that might have just been my mood — with a tough workout scheduled. I was still crying off and on but put on my big girl panties and decided just because the glass ceiling remained unbroken didn’t mean that I was going to let that stop me from kicking some ass. I knocked the workout out of the park, but didn’t feel better.
We moved our long run to Sunday this week, and I had a great one: 22+ miles with 19 @7:17 avg. Felt good, fit, and in control, but still angry. Three weeks left until this damn marathon. Let’s finish strong.
Monday: 9 miles easy (8:30 pace) on the treadmill.
Tuesday: 8 miles easy (8:36 pace) with 5 strides on a beautiful fall morning.
Wednesday: 12 mile treadmill workout. 3 warm up. 3@6:30 pace, 1 mile easy, 2@6:30 pace, 1 mile easy, 2@6:30 pace.
Thursday: 8 miles outside, (7:39 pace).
Friday: 7.2 miles outside (8:19 pace).
Saturday: 5 miles on the treadmill (9:00 pace).
Sunday: 22.3 miles, 3 warm up, 19+ @7:17 avg.
Weekly Total: 71.6 miles
After a couple of not-great weeks following the half marathon, this (lower mileage) week I could tell my legs were coming back, though not really my attitude. I had two great workouts and my long run was solid, though not a knock-it-out-of-the-park kind of run. I’ve been thinking a lot about running and life, why I do what I do, and what I want to do next.
My general excitement and enjoyment from training has kind of stalled out during this past three weeks where I’ve struggled with my long runs. The only way I can describe it is I think I’m getting tired of being on the marathon train. I have basically been training for marathon after marathon for the last seven years, minus the year I was pregnant. I think I am just ready for a different challenge.
This is good timing considering it is the end of the year along with my big goal marathon. The start of a new year seems a good time to start a new habit and to create some new goals. What might that entail? I am considering taking 2017 100% off the marathon. I have free entry to two half marathons, one in March and the other in October, so I think that’ll be it for my two long races. Otherwise, I want to do more 10ks, maybe try one of those 5k races that I have heard of but never done (ha!), and … I want to start lifting with more intention, effort, and discipline.
What, Pimento?? Weight-lifting?! WTF?! Say a few of my training partners. No, I do not plan on doing CrossFit or stopping running. I just don’t want to go over 15 miles at once or over 60 miles/week. That’s still a shit-ton of running, but I am just tired of my life and schedule being dictated by a marathon training plan. All the core that I’ve been consistent about is paying off, though, I have some definition and I feel strong. And I like that feeling. I used to lift in college and loved it, and I think adding three days of serious lifting a week to my running will be good for my body and my brain.
So that’s where my head is at. Coach’s reply? That sounds like fun … Let’s talk some more.
Monday: 6.5 miles on the mill, easy (8:33 pace). 50 pushups.
Tuesday: 9 mile treadmill workout. 3 mile warm up, 1% incline/6 @ tempo (6:44 x4, 6:39, 6:35). Core. Felt SO good.
Wednesday: 8 miles easy outside (8:26 pace). Core.
Thursday: 10 miles outside with 6 x 100m strides (7:36 pace). Felt like a cheetah during the strides.
Friday: 6 miles on the mill, easy (8:58 pace). Core.
Saturday: 19 miles, 7 warm-up, 12 @pace (6:58, 6:47, 6:43, 6:39, 6:54, 6:55, 7:04, 7:12, 7:16, 7:13, 7:18, 7:36). Close but no cigar.
Sunday: 6 miles pushing the stroller. Multiple stops to save migrating newts and to count piles of bear poop. Lovely fall day.
Total: 64.5 miles
I should have known the honeymoon couldn’t last forever… I’ve been having a great training cycle, killing workouts and feeling great. Maybe I was just taking all that for granted? Sigh. This week was another low-ish mileage week, my coach is taking a slightly different approach this time around, but I had a tough workout on Tuesday and then a 22-miler on the schedule at marathon effort pace (defined as 6:50-7:25 range) on Friday. Promptly after that long run, the family and I had to drive across the state (~seven hours) to attend a funeral on Saturday then drive back home Sunday.
Maybe that stress was lingering in the back of my mind? Maybe the weeks of annoying insomnia caught up to me? Maybe my body was just tired since I haven’t taken a day off since September 12? (A fact pointed out by my running buddy). Maybe it just wasn’t my day?
Friday I met up with my coach/training partner Lonn ready to do our long run in the pouring rain. I was definitely not thrilled, but my body felt fine and off we went. After our 5-mile warm up with strides that felt terrible, we started on our pace miles. My legs felt like shit. My lungs and heart-rate felt like shit. Ginger would be proud of my mindful out-of-body observations of just how like shit I felt. We stopped for a Gu, I told Lonn to not worry about me and to do his own thing, and off we went again. Our ninth mile I managed to get a single mile in MEP range, but felt like I was going all out. I watched Lonn pull far away and that’s when my body said to my brain, “Hell no.”
I let go of any pace expectations and slowed until I could breathe normally, which got as slow as a 10:11-mile, you know- a pace I ran when I was quite pregnant. I didn’t need more fuel, I didn’t even feel exhausted, but my legs would not do it. Just, nope. My observant, mindful brain said “Hey there, slogging out here this slow for 22 miles is pointless. You have the endurance, so this will do nothing for your fitness to stay out here.” So I quit, at 17.5 miles I quit. Left my coach out on the rainy roads by himself, climbed into my car, and headed home for a hot shower.
The drive to eastern Oregon went off without a hitch, I took Saturday completely off running and focused on enjoying my family and friends. Drove home Sunday, ran eight slow miles on the treadmill and did core. Bad runs happen. There isn’t always a reason, at least not a single one that you can pinpoint. Whether this was blip or a harbinger of a larger issue remains to be seen.
Monday: 9 miles easy (8:27)
Tuesday: 12 mile treadmill workout. 3 mile warm up with 4x100m strides, (4-minutes @6:26 pace/1-minute easy, 3-minutes @6:15 pace/1-minute easy, 2-minutes @6:00 pace/1-minute easy) x4, cool down to 12 total. Core.
Wednesday: 7 miles easy (8:36) Core.
Thursday: 7 miles easy (8:22)
Friday: 17.5 miles (8:26 avg)
Sunday: 8 miles easy (8:47) Core.
Weekly total: 60.5 miles
What a week! Moderate mileage, but with a killer workout Tuesday and then a surprise half marathon (and my first WIN!) on Saturday. My coach Lonn, who is also training for CIM, suggested we do the Runaway Pumpkin Half Marathon on Saturday as part of our long run to ensure that we run some good tempo miles. He suggested this on Wednesday, and let’s just say I was not enthused. I’ve never been a person who races without the proper taper, etc and the idea of driving to Lebanon over an hour away did not sound like a fun way to start the weekend. Previous years’ winning times were fast, my legs are in the middle of training so are not fresh, and we are experiencing rain and wind that are the remnants of a freaking typhoon. Ugh.
The morning dawned as dark and crummy as imagined, I drove, and once in Lebanon we got our bibs, then warmed up a little over three miles and did some strides. At the starting line, we lined up according to pace and I was the front woman, feeling a bit out of place as I looked at two bad-ass looking ladies who had lined up behind us. The goal was not to PR, that just didn’t seem likely with where we are in training now, but I did want to get as close to marathon goal pace as possible (6:51). The first five miles felt great and easy, but then we we turned into a lovely head-wind for the next five or so miles, before getting a tail-wind for the last three. My legs were just tired and the wind sucked, I was running in a very spread-out group of guys. Lonn passed me and I kept him in my sights for the rest of the race but could not conjure the umph to go faster. My pace dipped to one slow mile of 7:34 at mile 9 and I told myself to suck it up.
I hadn’t seen the other ladies at all and the thought of one of them passing in me in the last couple of miles ticked me off. So I sucked it up and told myself to stop being a freaking wimp. At mile 13 my watch beeped 6:47 and with the finish line in sight I yelled “F-yeah!” Lady #2 was two minutes behind and lady #3 was a minute behind her. Finish time for me was 1:32:07, 7:02/mile pace. Not bad. But a long way to go.
Monday: 10 miles easy (8:42 avg) on the treadmill. Core.
Tuesday: 13 miles, treadmill workout- 3 miles warm up, 3 miles @6:30 pace, 3 x 1200m @6:18 pace with 90-second jogs in between, 5 x 400m @6:00 pace with 60-second jogs in between, cool down to 13 total.
Wednesday: 7 miles easy (8:21 avg). Core.
Thursday: 10 miles, hilly course (7:52 avg).
Friday: 5 miles easy (9:14 avg) on the treadmill.
Saturday: 19. 35 miles total — 3.25 mile warmup (7:55 avg), 13.1 race (7:02 avg), 3 miles easy on the treadmill (9:08 avg). Mini core.
Sunday: 3 miles on the treadmill, easy (9:00 avg). Core.
Weekly Total: 67 and some change
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