June training

I wrapped up my June training this past week with a refreshing stint of reverse-altitude training in the form of a vacation to the Oregon coast. The drop in altitude and change in scenery helped me maintain steady training through a fairly sleep-deprived week and I ended up enjoying an unexpectedly smooth 10-miler as my final run of the month, gliding along a sunlit, blackberry-lined gravel-road route in the salty coastal air. Unlike my last run of that distance, my legs felt strong all the way through the last few miles.

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Reservoir at the inland turnaround point of my run

Based on that run and my last few weeks’ mileage I knew I was having a strong month, but definitely didn’t expect what I saw on opening Strava today to look at my total June mileage:

224 km (139 miles) – my highest month since starting to use Strava in January 2014 by ~30k (14 miles) and my highest since the Spring 2014 mono and toe injury!!! ***throws self a small approaching-a-respectable-10k-training-mileage-level party***

I know mileage isn’t that meaningful by itself and isn’t the end goal, but realizing that I had just spent a month at a higher volume than any month since that awful winter of mono and Spring foot-injury, while feeling strong and physically solid, was a thrill! Hopefully I’ll be able to gradually build on this return to pre-injury volume, allowing me to enjoy some stronger races and more adventurous long runs in the late Summer and Fall.

I freaking *love* running – so grateful it’s currently loving me back!

 

A long run in pictures

My map! thanks to two local runner friends.


The less exciting part of the run – on my way to the trailhead.


Made it to the trail! Pretty flowers = excuse to pause on the initial steep switchbacks.


Can’t wait to run through this aspen colony come Fall 🙂

Hot section…

Fun new game – sweat drop or sunburn blister? About half and half here :-/

More heat, but pretty flowers 🙂

ICE BATH!!!! Ahhhhh 🙂

Post-run smoothie. Halleluia!

First XC race in 3 years!

Well, I finally got to step back out on the cross-country course and it was AMAZING! Honestly, I would have liked to run a bit faster (I set a new personal record for slowest 4k of my life, yay…) but I felt good mentally and physically during the race. Best of all I had the good fortune to race against my former team at my first race back!  All but 1 of the girls were returners that I ran with in college (they’re all seniors now). I may have only seen their backs during the race (they are a speedy crew!) but I got to chat with them a little before and after and it was awesome hearing what they are all up to with school and training. 

My most significant take-aways from this race were:

1) I need to focus more on pushing, rather than just avoiding fear by not thinking about the next part of the race. Whenever I started to feel anxious about the pace I just told myself to let my body run – my legs have run enough races that they can pace themselves. However, sitting back and letting my mind drift made me less competitive over the latter stages of the race.  I just need to find the balance between relaxing early on and pushing when it’s time to really race.

2) Re-hydrate more effectively. I should have known the heat was worse than it felt when I saw the trainers draping a few gals in ice-water soaked towels post-race. Even though it was only in the mid-80’s it was also sunny, windy, and at altitude – perfect conditions for drying runners up into little runner-raisins. I felt fine until about 4 hours after the race and then “enjoyed” a couple hours of a pounding headache combined with some pretty impressive nausea. Not so pleasant 😛

Celebrated a good race with a new long-run location this morning:

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The Cecret Lake trail up near Alta ski resort. The climb up goes from 9000 to 10000 feet of lung-burning altitude over about 2 and a half miles – it hurts like heck but the views are totally worth it!

Last long run before half-marathon!

My final preparatory long run almost started out disastrously.  I got distracted working on some figure revisions for a paper and ended up totally forgetting that I needed to leave an hour before the time I’d set to meet Fish so that I could get in an extra 6 miles before meeting up with her at 7pm.

This resulted in me absentmindedly eating a bowl of macaroni at 5:30, thinking I had an hour and a half til I’d be running.  At 6:00 I suddenly realized I needed to be running in about 10 minutes and dashed out the door in a panic.  The end result was a fast-paced 6 miles with a stomach full of cheesy tuna & macaroni noodles.  Not something I’d recommend 😛  However, my stomach settled down after about 4 miles and the side-aches went away just as I finished my first 6 miles and met up with Fish.  We chatted for a minute and then took off on the uphill side of our loop.

Fish and I had decided to try out a new loop that I’d spotted on the local running club’s facebook page – it looked like a pretty mild loop in terms of hills and hit two parks along the way.  The first half was pretty steadily uphill, but was nice and gradual.  We hit the top of the hill and turned left, finally getting some nice flat sidewalk for a change.  We passed a cool mini-park (it had a bronze statue of a roller-skating covey of quail, and we are totally hitting up the cute little swing set next time!)  and then hit the second, larger park a couple blocks later.

I’d seen on the map that we would run through this second park on a path, but was totally surprised by how awesome the path turned out to be.  I was picturing a little paved or gravel path through a typical green-grass-and-small-trees park.  Instead, we actually had to climb down a little set of stone stairs into a small ravine with a dirt path cutting through it.  The packed dirt path wound through a shady, closed-in grove of trees, past an ancient looking stone amphitheater.  It was gorgeous and a little wild feeling – I was definitely glad to have a friend along since the night was closing in!

After emerging from the park it was a straight shot back down the hill the our starting point and we hit the end of our run surprisingly quickly.  My legs were a bit sore, but I actually felt really good the whole run.  We were blessed with some nice cool weather, got to hit a drinking fountain halfway through, and my macaroni did turn out to be good for something – didn’t ever feel the need for the Gu I’d packed along 😉

It’s been really helpful the last couple runs to do the run in two parts – half on my own and then half with Fish.  The company definitely makes those last few miles much more enjoyable!  After this strong 12 miler I’m actually looking forward to my half marathon next weekend 🙂

First 10-miler in almost a year!

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When I got done with my long run today I was feeling a little underwhelmed.  It had gone much better than last week’s (hurrah for the miracles of nutrition and hydration!) but I struggled on the hills (ran trails today, thus the beautiful view seen above) and found myself feeling panicky about being able to survive the 13.1 hilly miles coming up in two weeks.  However, when I looked back in my running logs I realized that this was the first run over 9 miles that I’ve done since my last half marathon 1 year (minus a couple weeks) ago!

I need to remember to celebrate the small things – I sometime feel like I’m making such laborious, slow progress towards getting back in shape that I become discouraged and don’t enjoy the progress like I should.  However, in the last two months I’ve gone from only being able to tolerate three-mile runs and having shooting pains any time I stood on the ball of my foot to being able to run 10 miles at once with no foot pain during the run and being able to roll up onto the ball of my foot with minimal pain (and sometimes no pain! Woohoo!).  I’m starting to slowly lose the weight I gained while sick/injured and am starting to regain muscle mass, endurance, and strength.  Most importantly, I’m feeling like a runner again!

Here’s to progress!

Weekly ‘long’ run

My half marathon is in 4 weeks…and I’m getting a little nervous.  This week’s long run was supposed to be 10 miles, but after the injury flare-up I cut it down to 8.  So if I keep up a reasonable long-run progression, that leaves me with a 9-9.5 miler, a 10-11 miler, and an 11-12 miler before the half.  Not my ideal plan – I’d rather get in at least one 13 miler or more, but I guess this will have to do!  I’d rather keep it a little shorter and make it to race day on a working foot.

Today’s run was rougher than I expected.  Hot weather made the first half drag by and I was pretty worried about making it the entire 8 miles.  I was struggling to stick to 8 min pace, which eroded my confidence a bit.  However, the run improved immensely once the sun went down and I did have some help during the early rough patches – my sister and MountainMan rode along on their bikes and provided some extremely welcome distraction from the heat.  They also got the awesome experience of practicing their water-bottle handoffs 😉

Feeling thoroughly dehydrated now, but happy to report that the foot felt good the entire time and I had enough left at the end to push the last 2 miles at race pace.  Proceeding cautiously but things are looking up!