chords and cadence

Another runner's writ

Archive for the tag “Marathon Training”

Struggles of seriousness and self-identity

I started training for my first half marathon a little over two years ago. By the time I crossed the finish line of the Horsetooth Half with a New Belgium beer waiting for me, I had already caught the running bug. I shopped at Fleet Feet. I wore running clothes when I wasn’t running. I subscribed to Runner’s World, learned about Plantar Fasciitis and how to pronounce it, and gleefully discovered a whole big world of sweaty, carb-scarfing people who loved running as much as I did. I began to identify as a runner, and quickly many who knew me did too, and I was really proud of it; I wore it like a badge of honor. Heck, I created this blog because of it, essentially.

Fast forward, and sparing you details, I injured my foot during marathon training with 7  weeks to go before my third marathon this spring. I took 11 days off of running and jumped into cross training: cycling, swimming, yoga and strength training. What shocked me was I didn’t miss running. My familiar, neurotic don’t-miss-a-training-run self was out to lunch in China.

I missed out on a few weeks of crucial mile-building for the marathon while waiting for my foot to get back to normal. As it stands, about a week out, I have decided the smartest thing to do would be the half marathon instead. I know better than to fight through 26.2 miles, even if my foot feels fine-ish now, without having built up the mileage the right way. Plus, to keep running healthy for the rest of my life without a prolonged injury is ideal.

The struggle doesn’t lie in the fact that, for the second time now, I’m switching from the full to the half marathon. I’m secretly (or not so, now that it’s on the record) relieved. The struggle is in how I self-identify.

The more I’ve cross-trained, the less I’ve wanted to run. The more I’ve explored cycling HITT workouts and shakti kicks and chin-ups, the more interested I’ve become in pursuing fitness goals outside of running. As a result, I feel like less of a runner, like I’m betraying my sport.

If I don’t self-identify as a runner because of my own subjective definition, then who am I? (Okay, anyone else picture Zoolander looking up at the stars and asking the same question before his matchbook-size cell phone rings?) I know there is more to me than my PRs and mile splits, but everyone is proud to self-identify somehow; it’s personal, and it can mean a great deal.

Recently I had a wake-up call through a conversation with my mother. She was giving me a thousand reasons why I shouldn’t be so hard on myself and I was coming up with a thousand and one reasons why I should. She finally said it, casually, but it was like a light switched on: “I think you take things too seriously. Your dad and I have talked about it,” she said. Instead of getting butt hurt, I laughed because I knew it was true. And not only true, but something so easy and relieving to change. I gauged the notion of taking things too seriously with my boyfriend too, demanding he not spare my feelings, and tell me honestly. He agreed with my parents. Confirmation received.

As a result, I’ve been (trying) not taking this whole not-feeling-like-running thing too seriously, but there is a little part of my brain that is knocking: “Whooooo are you?!” I know it’s silly to structure my self-identity around a certain number of weekly miles on my calendar, but I have for the past few years, and breaking away from that, like any habit, isn’t easy.

Next week, I will be thrilled and excited to run the Country Music Half Marathon. I will miss running with those I’ve trained with, and not being able to say I have three marathons under my belt. I’ll be excited about the carbo-loading, the celebrations afterward.

I may just do a cartwheel over the finish line or something fun and weird. That wouldn’t be taking things too seriously now, would it? Maybe I could find a new identity in just that.

Advertisements

Remember Two Things

I’d like this post to be void of mention that I haven’t written in a while. But cat’s already out of the bag.

I’ve not written in some time. I’m sorry about it, moreso for myself since writing is like therapy. Whether or not other people read my writing has little effect on why I have a blog in the first place. But I do, so here I am, and now that we’ve addressed this, I’d like to move on by saying:

Happy March!

Instead of slogging you through the last 8 weeks of marathon #3 training, I’ll just update you with the biggest stuff:

1. I ran 119.65 miles in February, teaching myself to count the extra mileage every time! By the time I calculated it, I was already dressed up to go out to dinner with my boyfriend on the last day of February. I lost Dedicated Runner points (those are real things.) when I decided not to finish the last .35 and instead go eat a bison burger. I’ll keep in mind that every little bit adds up this month.

2. I am a “wimp” and I’m okay with it. January sucked, okay? It just took one big blow to my tough runner ego when it decided to be ugly and freezing and utterly merciless. I bundled up a few times but mostly gained mileage on the treadmill. The thing I’ve found hard to deal with is the lack of snow; I would gladly bundle up for snowy runs more often. Like this:

snow

February was a little better, and I enjoyed the outdoors a little more. But yesterday we were iced in, so I took my run to the treadmill again. What I’ve learned is that adjusting to what fits for you (and not comparing yourself to others in the process) is a success in itself. At the end of the day, I ran, the miles counted, and I still got better.

Overall, I have felt the best this training season than I ever have. I feel myself getting faster each week and my endurance is elongating (is that right? I say so). Although my training diet derailed around NFL Playoff Time/Super Bowl/Post-Super Bowl depression/cruise vacation, I got back into fighting shape.

I’m running my first race of the year this Saturday, the Tom King Half. I’m shooting to PR by hitting a 1:45:59. It’s a flat course, and I’ve heard very PR-Friendly.

How have YOU endured this season running in the Polar Vortex?

Do you laugh in the face of -3 windchill?

When’s your next race?

run

A post obligatory: Recapping 2013

End-of-the-year reviews are EVERYWHERE on the Internet right now.

Miley Cyrus. Obama. Twerking. Progress and lack thereof in Congress. Music. Twerking. Lists of bests/worstsGIFs. Politics. Twerking. Food porn. Selfies. Bad fashion choices. Ridiculous feats of viral social media. 

Honestly? My guilty pleasures. Maybe I’m just a sucker for looking back on things and reminiscing. Okay, not maybe, definitely. I’m loud and I’m proud about it.

Luckily, since this is my blog, I get to self-indulge and do my own end-of-the-year review, but not in twerking (other blog), for RUNNING, races and milestones. What did you expect?

Without further distraction from this very important post, I give you:

THE 13 RUNNING-RELATED THINGS THAT MATTERED IN 2013.

1. I ran my first marathon.

481969_10151522938646469_500745082_n

Sometimes you shamelessly gotta be a fan of photos of yourself. I’m a fan of this one.

The inaugural Asheville Marathon in Asheville, NC, took place a day after my dad’s birthday on March 3. The race was tough and cold and beautiful and went through the Biltmore Estate grounds. I finished in 4:02:50 with frozen snot on my face and some great moral support at the finish. I’ll never forget finishing and just wanting to sit down SO BAD that I was irate about it. I guess you have the right to be cranky after running 26.2 in 25-degree weather. Brrrr.

2. I ran my second marathon 7 weeks, 5 days later.

Crossing the finish with Daniel Hudgins, Ariel Schwartz, and myself. All wrought with emotion.

Crossing the finish with Daniel Hudgins, Ariel Schwartz. All wrought with emotion.

This marathon was cray cray. I had high hopes for a warm spring marathon after Asheville, but the rain gods decided to throw the party of the year right on the Country Music Marathon in Nashville. Lovely. It was raining from the start and didn’t finish until it was too late to even matter. What kept me going through this race was who I ran with. Shout out to my East Nasties! Heyo! I would not have made it in 3:57:46 if not for their grit and encouragement. We sang/gasped “Eye of the Tiger” at mile 23. I felt like I was running in a wet suit and wondered when I’d get to see Shamu. We kicked it in on the last mile, and held hands as we crossed the finish line for Boston.

3. The Boston Marathon bombings.

It wouldn’t be right not to acknowledge the impact this tragic event had on my sport. On one of the most celebrated days in running – the Boston Marathon, April 15, 2013 – we all know what happened. Three lives were lost, and 170 people were left with life-shattering injuries. Our nation was struck again with tragedy, but out of it came resilience and hope. The running community here and all over the world came back stronger for it, proving: If you’re going to weaken the spirit of anyone, marathoners are the wrong ones to target!

4. I joined Girls on the Run as a practice session volunteer and running buddy.

1499621_10152073809406469_139510257_n

On our December 7th race at Percy Warner! 28 degrees.

Giving back to your community should be on your list of priorities, or “New Year’s Resolution” if it isn’t, k? I kicked off 2013 deciding I finally needed to get involved in helping out my world in whatever ways I could. I was blessed to find Girls on the Run, a non-profit organization that fosters self-esteem, confidence, and strength in the hearts, minds, and bodies of elementary school girls through a 10-week program and training schedule with a 5k race at the end. I completed two semesters helping out, and have thoroughly enjoyed it. The girls have shown me what it means to be inspirational, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn from them. DID YOU RUN A 5K WHEN YOU WERE 10-YEARS-OLD IN 28-DEGREE WEATHER? THEY DID! I mean, dang.

5. I ran the Bolder Boulder on my birthday with my mom.

Sun. Mom. Boulder. Running. Birthday. Happy.

Sun. Mom. Boulder. Running. Birthday. Happy.

To ring in year 24 with some pizzazz, the fine folks at the Bolder Boulder (dubbed by Runner’s World as America’s best 10k) decided to hold the event on my birthday and welcome me with a free race entry and a parade in my honor. Just kidding. That would have been too much. But it DID happen on my birthday, my amazing mother ran it with me, I was back in my happy place (Boulder), AND two great friends came to surprise me. Bliss didn’t even begin to describe it.

7. I ran three trail races.

382207_780980746448_1340654938_n

This hill was featured in the Music City Ultra Trail 10k and 50k. It was a you-know-what.

I didn’t get to hit the trails as much in 2013 as I did in 2012. I guess that’s what happens when you 1.) move from Colorado to middle Tennessee and automatically have less options, and 2.) get a bonafide J-O-B that doesn’t allow the flexibility trail running kinda needs. Thankfully, the racing community in middle Tennessee is strong and adventurous, and I found three great trail races: The Nashville Running Company Peeler Park 10k, The Music City Ultra 10k & 50k (did the 10k), and the NRC’s Bell’s Bend. I loved all three, but the Music City Ultra was probably my favorite. It was so untamed, I got a little lost, it was brutal, and I won 2nd place for females. Trail races are opportunities to dig deep, get a little unconventional, and experience something totally different. Not to mention, you get a little more dirt on your legs, which I’m always a fan of.

8. I dropped running my 3rd marathon, and ran a half instead – and PR’d.

Bling bling.

Bling bling.

With my new job, I had a lot on my plate during marathon training for Chattanooga 7 Bridges. I had a lot of stress at work and wasn’t able to train properly for my third 26.2 of 2013. I flip-flopped on what to do, finally deciding to do the half and enjoy the lesser risk of getting injured or not finishing. I ended up with a PR of 1:46:07, felt fantastic, and had a great supporter in Chattanooga resident, and my world-travel partner Dorothy. I decided that half marathons are my jam and I want to do more in the future.

9. I PR’d in the 5k and ran it with friends.

East Nasty running crew. Blasty blast.

East Nasty running crew. Blasty blast.

Each year, East Nashville is home to the Tomato Festival, where tomatoes come together with art and it is a big love fest for a weekend. There’s also a race. I ran it with friends from East Nasty and PR’d with 22:18. I ran a 6:51 mile, which blew my mind. We drank beer before 10a.m. and I was so happy.

10. My parents indulged me on a Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot in Denver.

photo (1)

Bill and Trudee rock.

Before cooking up our non-traditional Thanksgiving meal of homemade manicotti and smoked ham, my parents ran the Denver Turkey Trot with me. My sister and our dog cheered us at the finish. I loved getting to re-visit my old stomping grounds in Denver, and loved being home. My parents are the coolest!

11. I found THE shoes.

Pearl Izumi N2 road. Shoes are a girl's best friend.

Pearl Izumi N2 road. Shoes are a girl’s best friend.

You know when you find THE ONE? You get excited about their arrival. You can’t stop staring. You don’t want to be apart? Yeah, that’s what I felt this year when I discovered Pearl Izumi’s N2 road shoe. The ones pictured above are my second pair (I go through shoes fast). Thanks to Nashville Running Company, and my bff who works for Pearl Izumi, I was introduced to these babies and was able to get them again even under a tight budget. Score!

12. I pledged to streak again.

Yes, as part of the Runner’s World Holiday Running Streak, I pledged to run at least one mile each day from Thanksgiving Day to New Years. It’s Day 21 right now, and I’ve still got it!

13. I ran in six states in 2013.

photo 5 (2)

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Colorado, Mississippi, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. From trails to the beach, my obsession with running took me lots of places I never would have gone.

So what’s up for 2014? I am scheduled to run the Country Music Marathon again in April, with high hopes that it will not rain at least the whole time. I’m looking forward to training with my East Nasty group again, and build my speed and endurance.

2013 was an epic year in running for me. As for twerking, well… I’ll leave that up to the other ubiquitous “Year-in-Review”s.

Metaphorically speaking

It’s 9:13pm on a Friday.

I’m in my pajamas, glasses, and I’m wearing a green face mask because I’ve been known to live it up on Fridays.

I went to the gym tonight at 7:30, listened to an episode of “This American Life,” and I did the stairmaster. The gym was as empty as you would think at 7:30 on a Friday night, which was nice. More room for lunges.

The socially-conditioned don’t-miss-out-on-anything part of me (that I wish were non-existent) feels like a total loser. But the authentic part of me couldn’t be more relieved to have this kind of night, regardless who may be “TGIF-ing” it up downtown with adult beverages and live music. I need this introverted Friday night in with just my mason jar of ice water, my mint green face mask, and my foam roller. I can’t be bothered. Really…you don’t want to see this face mask. Sometimes you have to get ugly before you can get pretty…

It’s like the night before a marathon for me, except I’ve been training for this marathon since March, and it’s going to last over a week, and I’m getting paid for it, and I might get to meet Steve Martin.

Tomorrow I leave for the World of Bluegrass – part business conference, part artist showcase, part award show, part festival, and wholly a bluegrass mecca. I’m part of a crew of people running the whole shebang. It’s like game time, guys. Starting Line kind of stuff. I’m antsy, waiting for the official to pop the gun.

Only a super dork would compare a work conference to a marathon like this, but I’ve never claimed to be “cool.” The two relate thus: You study and train and lose a little sleep. You re-adjust other aspects of your life to focus in on this one thing that is a little restrictive of your social life and your freedom to get up in the morning without a single task ahead of you. You turn down late nights and late night drinks. You turn into a little bit of a loser (or at least you feel like it). But crossing the finish line, you are overwhelmed with pride and joy, knowing you did your best and feeling like you accomplished something totally monumental and all that turning down and turning in early doesn’t matter anymore. So where I’d usually get a Gatorade and a bagel after crossing the finish line, I’ll probably get something a little less carb-y and hopefully a picture with Steve Martin after this one.

So while there’s that metaphorical marathon, there is another real life marathon I’ve still trained for: Chattanooga 7 Bridges on October 20th.

After lamenting about my fatigue and frustration to anyone who would listen (lookin’ at you, mom and pops!) I was reminded that at the same point in training for my last marathon, I was working from home, not stressed out in the least, and able to really focus on training. Really, I would get to run on my lunch break and take foam roll breaks during the day. It was primo.

This time was a whole different animal that I didn’t wisely take into account before real life marathon training began again (the animal being that metaphorical marathon. confused yet? me too). Hard as it was, I decided to give myself as little of a break as I could get away with. In an attempt to speed up “recovery” or what training I had lost, I kept close track of what I ate, how much, and when in relation to running. I took rest into account as well as the mental fatigue I was feeling from work. It seemed that once I did that, I was starting to run better again. Kick-butt Taylor came back to life, kicking butt again.

It’s not all bagels and Gatorade and pictures with Steve Martin yet, though. The real hurdle next week will be the metaphorical marathon AND training for the real life marathon at the same time. I’ve really adjusted my training expectations and goals to be realistic for my schedule next week and have faith that whatever workouts I do get in will be quality enough. I’m looking forward to finishing the metaphorical marathon, coming back to Nashville with my metaphorical medal (read: picture with Steve Martin, hello you should know that by now) and ready to re-focus on the real life one. Marathon number three in less than eight months.

So, please excuse me, I have some mint green face mask to wash off, some foam to roll and some marathons to run.

It’s game time.

Over-trained and overwhelmed

You know when you’re afraid to ask a question because you already know the answer?

In my case, the question is whether or not I’m over training.

After my disaster of a 4-miler this morning: I’ll take yes for 500, Alex.

Insert exasperated exclamation here.

I think it starts with an increased and overwhelming workload. We are planning the biggest bluegrass festival in the world (not an embellishment), and it happens in less than a month, in another state. The list of “to-dos” and “MUST DO NOWs” never leave my mind, even when I sleep (work dreams stink/are lame), and the pressure to get things done and do them well is huge. And then there’s that marathon training schedule with the mileage increasing and almost at its peak.

Longer, more intense work days + longer, more intense marathon training days = non-stop non-stoppingness.

For instance, in the past five days I have: ran a total of 36 miles, practiced power yoga, strength trained with my boyfriend (who knows better than to take it easy on me at the gym), and lost track of my hours in the office. Moreover, I feel like an awful friend because I have had to consistently turn down “hang time” or even just basic “how is your life right now” catch-ups because of work, training, or being exhausted from both. Friends: I’m sorry. I’ll be back to life in October, I swear.

When I laced up for an easy four miles this morning I just. couldn’t. do it. Not even with the sun rising so beautifully on a Friday morning. Not even with the birds chirping. Not even at all.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to diagnose whether I’m feeling lazy/unmotivated or whether I really am over training or am fatigued. Some days I just don’t have the same get-up-and-go as others, but on those days, I push myself out the door and find myself enjoying the run after the first .50 miles anyway. Today, not the case. So I guess I have my diagnosis.

When I have “bad” runs or when I don’t feel on top of my game, I have a tumultuous battle in my brain over my willpower, overcoming myself, and getting over whatever is bothering me. When you’re fatigued, you have to give in and slow down, which can be just as much of a tumultuous battle if you’re stubborn like me, especially when running is one of the few outlets for stress and feeling overwhelmed that works.

For me, “taking it easy” isn’t so easy.

Another question I’m afraid to ask: When can I feel like Ass-Kicking-Name-Taking-Taylor again?

Because I refuse for the answer to be “not until the festival fat lady sings.”

Rewind: July

“And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game.”

-Joni Mitchell, “The Circle Game”

Mercy, it’s August and there are NFL pre-season games kicking off. Speaking of, let’s pause before going head-first into this blog by watching my quarterback in a new, fantastically awful commercial.

So catchy, right? I hope to goodness there’s a game where Pey Pey takes off his helmet after connecting with Decker for an amazing play and reveals that head of hair. I can see it now…

Back to running.

I didn’t run any races in July (but kicked back into Marathon Training Mode with running 85 miles total), therefore breaking my streak of running at least one race each month since March. I have rectified this, however, and have signed up for the Tomato 5k this Saturday in East Nashville. It’s like East Nasty’s homecoming, and although I am stingy and would rather not pay dollar dollar bills to run for (hopefully) less than 25 minutes, I have a fear of missing out on fun things like that. My goal is to PR, which would be under 23:30. Always one to be competitive, I’m racing a buddy and there are beers on the line, so, you know: IT’S ON LIKE DONKY KONG.

In other news from July: I have a new accessory. It’s better than any purse, necklace or scarf I could possibly find, and I’m sure to show it off way more anyway. Yes ineed, I own a Garmin now.

Forerunner10_HR_0035.5

Dang, it would be awesome to run that fast!

It’s pink, not green, because I like to feel a little feminine when I’m beating boys up hills in a sweat-soaked shirt.

In the short time I’ve had it, my Garmin has proved that I can run better than I think, and that I’m faster than I thought. It validates all my time spent at the gym, on the roads, and around the trails – through sweat and sore muscles and nights saying “no” to staying out and partying so I can get up early and get my long run in before it gets too hot.

It makes me feel good about me.

Don’t we all need something like that in our lives?

Getting the Garmin came at a really pertinent time when I needed running as an escape more than usual. Like “The Circle Game” things in life were going up and down, and my only surefire way to deal was through running. When I ran with my watch and saw how fast I was going, and felt the burn in my chest, and the soreness in my legs, I was a little more accepting of The Circle Game than before I started.

So: Don’t we all need something like that in our lives, to help us deal with The Circle Game?

Thankful to have mine.

“On the Run” by Isabella Lauf

In college, my best friend had a foreign exchange student for a roommate for one year. She was German, which was good, because we were learning German. Needless to say, we became great friends and share many fond memories.

Isabella Lauf is a student in Germany, working on her thesis. She recently asked if I would answer some running-related questions for a piece she was writing.

She did me proud, and taught me a few things. I am happy to spread my love of running, and happy it could help a friend in need.

You may find it by clicking here.

Bella and I at the Grand Canyon on our way to Vegas for Spring Break.

Bella and I at the Grand Canyon on our way to Vegas for Spring Break.

 

What taper temper?

Marathon number two is in five days, and let me tell you:

This taper ain’t got nothin’ on me.

photo (6)

See?

Happy as ever.

No soreness, no fatigue. Ready to tackle hills, spills, and anything else that may come up.

Looking forward to crossing the finish line for so many who can’t.

Looking forward to going for a little run with 30,000 other runners.

Country Music Marathon: I’m ready for you!

((in the headphones: Chris Thile: ‘Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground’)

 

Pray, run, repeat

photo (4)

After yesterday’s events at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, my sport changed.

After a tragedy like this, there’s so much to say.

But actions speak louder than words.

In 11 days, I will run 26.2 miles, just like I signed up to.

Just like thousands of others did yesterday, some of  whom did not finish.

I will run for those unable to finish, and who will never be able to run again.

I will pray, run, repeat.

Rewind: March (Or, where running tells me: ‘Let’s Stay Together’)

Mileage: <60.

I don’t want to talk about it.

Yes, I ran a marathon… but I also technically started training for my next one.

Yes, I stretched and took time off and cross trained. (I had an affair with the stairmaster but it was just a rebound).

In short, I was humbled by a stupid minor pain and got stuck in a non-running rut. I blame calf problems, but it was also mental (what isn’t?).

Saturday I visited my happy place, finally feeling fresh, optimistic, and ready to tackle at least five miles outside -something I hadn’t done in two weeks, which is for-ev-ER in Taylor World. I strapped my iPhone armband to my right gun bicep, hit Play on the Chris Thile Pandora station, tightened my new kicks, and went.

But… the headphones weren’t happy in my ears. My jacket sleeves felt restrictive. Mile one felt like mile 18. My headband was sliding off. I had a persistent wedgie and I really had to pee (sorry, this is real life).

By mile 1.97 (I assume; I purposefully didn’t track my mileage thank GOD), I just felt off. I was easily distracted. I felt slow.

Squirrels are stupid. The flowers aren’t blooming fast enough. I look dumb in purple. Who told Darius Rucker he could cover ‘Wagon Wheel’ and who decided it sounded good? Why don’t pancakes have zero calories? Does my butt look big in these spandex? Rolling Stones or Beatles? Coffee.

Yikes.

Well, they say relationships take work. So running and I were about to have some alone time (or therapy or counseling or whatever couples use these days to fix their problems).

It was decided that by completely disconnecting from music and numbers (caloric burn, pace, mileage, heart rate) we could get back to basics.

It felt weird and naked, like when you leave your phone at home, or leave clothes in your closet. But then I liked it. (I’ll let you at it on the naked jokes).

I became completely in tune with my stride, breathing, and all-over form. The sun felt warmer on my guns arms. The birds chirping were a welcome sound. I felt more inclined to smile at others. Pace what? iTunes playlist who?!

Mile six showed up before I knew it and I wanted to keep going (like the normal Taylor). But having just fully recovered, I thought it best not to push it. The road would be there tomorrow.

And that’s when I got it: No matter how long you decide to stay in your stupid little rut, whether it’s two silly weeks or 22 not-so-silly years, the road will always be there. The trails will always be there.

Running doesn’t go anywhere unless, of course, you do.

I guess couples’ therapy does work after all.

Post Navigation