State of Training

Hi Mom!  I’m sorry I haven’t blogged in awhile… life has a tendency to get in the way!  This post will serve as my review of the last four weeks of training.  Buckle up!

Threeweeks

I will start out by saying this is the hardest three weeks of training I have ever completed and I have mixed feelings about it.  When I look back at the data and recall how the long runs felt, I am so proud of my work.  However, I am sitting in my recliner writing this post of being “rested” this week due to a very bunched up hamstring and angry calves. More on recovery in a bit…

Each of the long runs was fun and special in it’s own way.  The 18.5 miler is known as “I have an angry beaver.” on Strava.  I started this run with Tony and Jess and within a mile, came face to face (or shall I say beaver to ankle) with a hissing beaver.  I screamed like a little bitch and ran the other way.  Check out the aftermath on my Instagram feed: https://www.instagram.com/p/BSqn7LdlBDr/?taken-by=spottedimages.

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18 miler through Straffordshire!

That run felt good overall and I had some gas left in the tank at the end.  I spent most of the time chatting and laughing and reliving the beaver experience.

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Post Beaver.  Could not stop laughing!!!

The following week, I did my longest solo training run of 21.5.  I say solo, because I have raced solo (50K) but training is a different beast.  Lots of time to think, lament, complain and work out problems.  This run also felt good, and while I felt like I was working, I didn’t feel overwhelmed.  The shoe sucking mud in the last miles was even entertaining!  I managed to run the last beastly hills of this run.

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Solo suffering at daybreak!  It was wonderful!

Finally, I capped off week three of the mesocycle with the TARC Spring Class Marathon.  This was a perfect time for me to “practice” for my Pineland 50 mile qualifier.  Here is what went right and wrong with this race:

The Good:

  • I went out at my pace and kept to it 11:40 average with a cadence of 158 and HR of 155 (all good numbers for me)
  • My appetite and fuel was on the money – used a combination of plain water, Skratch, BCAAs, fruit pie (cherry!!!), GU bites, Huma Gels, hermit cookies…  I would have eaten more if the run had continued.  Stomach worked like a champ as usual. I recovered with real food.
  • Core, shoulders, feet, glutes, quads and calves all felt great.
  • Spent minimal time at the aid station and practiced being largely self sufficient.
  • Worked out of my first lap funk and felt lap three was my best lap.
  • Finished 25 miles in 4:57… this pleased me because it brought my 50 mile (12 hr. cut off) within reach

The Bad

  • The weather (40s and drizzle) didn’t lend itself to warming up muscles and keeping them warm.  While my core was warm, my arms and legs went through various times of being chilled.
  • The hamstring.  That bitch.  Here is the deal… I think I strained it doing reverse lunges at the gym (yeah, no more of those during training) and running 27.5 didn’t exactly help my cause.  It tightened up in lap 1 (it felt reasonable before I started running) and went through various points of releasing and tightening during this run.  I paid for this all week.
  • Blisters.  My feet just haven’t toughed up yet.  They were damp for most of the 5:28 I was on course.  I purchased some Injinjis this week.  I am not blaming the Altras for this, rather my pathetic winter feet.
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Coach called me a Bad Ass…. with pacing like a metronome and an appetite of a Velociraptor!  TARC Spring Classic “Marathon” 27.5 miles later.

AFTERMATH AND RECOVERY

I am thankful again for Coach Chris.  I had a shitty recovery week.  My calves were angry for most of the week and that hamstring bunched up high near my seat bones.  Jessica beat the crap out of it during my 90 minute massage on Friday and I felt sore, but different on Saturday.  I have been given walk workouts this weekend until I heal.

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Smiling despite the walking instructions!

I woke up today feeling like running for the first time in a week.  My runs this past week (x2) were brutally painful and crampy.  My fingers are crossed I have turned the recovery corner and will get to run with week.  I have some MASSIVE runs in store and NEED my body to cooperate.  I have been sleeping as much as I can, moving around every day and rolling, stretching, doing Egosque work for my back and ankles and generally refueling.  I keep telling myself recovery will get better over time.  I try to stop rubbing my ass in the grocery store and other inappropriate places (losing battle).  I remember how excited I am about this training, the adventures and VT100.  I know a week from now I will feel more positive than today.  I am NOT injured, just sore and recovering!

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I think he was trying to tell me he LIKES his Injinjis.

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How I did the Boston Marathon… fancy food and lovely beer while waiting for Jessica to be reunited with us.

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Post Boston Smiles… she rocked it later in the week coming in 2nd female at TARC!

Feelings

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This shit can end anytime.  I am pissy, I am done with snow and I am straight up achy. How is that for a blog post intro?  If you were looking for sunshine and buttercups, let me know when you find them because mother nature is a bitch and won’t produce any.

So that’s a summary of my feelings at this moment.  Let me back up a bit and give you some perspective…

The final two weeks of training in this three month cycle with Coach Chris ended on a FANTASTIC note!  I capped it off with a 16 miler on the road (dirt and pavement) with Jessica and loved it.  I felt strong and had gas and miles left in the tank.  Coach Chris sent me a happy text about my performance coming into what I will refer to as my “shitty transition week.”  My broken ass was well on it’s way to healing, my knee and ankle were happy and I was eager to take some down time.  Amanda and I headed off to camp for a relaxing weekend (last weekend) and I came into taper week ready to simply move a bit.  My instructions were to come into the start of this week refreshed mentally and rejuvenated physically.

Ugh.

So, I caught a head cold that just lingers and isn’t completely ruining my life.  

My knee flared for no apparent reason (at least one I can’t put my finger on).

My butt hurt for most of the week.

I dry heaved at the gym (thanks head cold.)

I am crabby.  My skin is dry.  I hate winter.  Etc.  Etc. Etc.

I ran twice this weekend and they weren’t horrible… but I struggled with HR due to the head cold and I basically felt like a bag of shit today on my four miler.  Ironically, my brain is in a great place.  The weather was amazing today and I am ready to kick this training plans ASS.  This is it, once we start… no serious braking until VT100.  Holy crap. I can’t wait to get moving again.  I am hoping my body is just overly pissed and inflamed due to the lack of activity, the head cold and lady time.

I’ve pulled out every rehabbing trick I know to get right, but I think I just need to get healthy again because physically I am strong AF.  I cut myself some slack in an effort to de-clutter my life a bit… made a serious decision regarding an intensive training class I was supposed to attend and withdrew.  I was listening to a podcast last week where it was suggested that reducing life stress would make training and racing more enjoyable.  I agree… as I have done it in the past… and needed a reminder to consider doing it again. I want this race and I want to continue experiencing what I can make happen with this body I was given!  Cutting the clutter needed to happen.

This coming week introduces new changes to my training plan, to include two double days and two rest days!  I am looking forward to the challenge.  Long runs get crazy from here on out too.  I NEED to be healthy.  Way too much to do, personally…. professionally and in training.

Thanks for listening to my shit… I don’t get “low” often and I know it’s normal and shall pass.  Poor Coach…. wait until I actually have to taper for this beast….

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An artsy view from the Mt. Major summit – hopefully the last time I will wear the snowshoes this season.

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A new watch for the first time in five years!  Loving the Suunto Ambit3 Run.

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Winter hill climbs that never end…

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More winter runs….

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You can tell it’s spring… gloves, layers and carpis topped off with spikes.  

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There is wine in there.

That’s all for now!  I am thankful as usual for my amazing Ambassadorship with Altra Running  and my brand rep position with Born Primitive.  Their gear keeps me moving and happy!  Use my code LIFTNRUN15 at Born Primitive for 15% off the goods.

Peace out.

Happy March!

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A warm run in Boston in February!

So to get into the nitty gritty… I had a 95 mile month (8100 ft. of gain) in February and last week was my longest training week since last summer.  I am just finishing up a recovery week and chomping at the bit to get going again!

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This combo is wonderful!  Altra Performance running tights and the NEW Escalante road shoe.  Heaven.

I have a serious case of spring fever… I am craving mountain running!  Tony is finally back to running and we have been chatting nearly non-stop about the trails we can’t wait to tackle and summits we need to tag.  My legs are getting strong and I can’t wait to test them (and my new Altra King MTs).  As of us in the Northeast know, we have been suffering from crazy weather patterns.  One week I am running in Boston in a tank top and capris and this week I was back into ALL of my winter gear just to get my runs done.

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Coach Chris ramped up my training and I have been doing doubles on Thursdays for a few weeks now.  I venture to say it’s my favorite day of the week.  Well, besides long runs.  I had a realization this past week that the training is working.  I also realized Vermont is 16 or so weeks ago.  HOLY CRAP.  I have started reading all I can about the race and think about it A LOT.  I am so excited!!!

I am beyond happy that Tony is back in action.  While I have done really well hammering out the workouts, I miss the comfortable rhythm and banter we have when we train together.  We can literally run miles together, not saying a word, and being in complete comfortable silence.  That reason alone is why we make excellent pacers for one another.  He also brings out the 13 year old boy in me….

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So, while I have a lot spinning around in my head and work is busy as usual, I don’t have a lot to put down on paper.  I’ll leave you with some pictures and bullet points:

  • I can’t stop eating… good stuff and cake.  And donuts.  Yay training!!!! (Average 17,500 calorie burn per week at current rate of work)
  • My favorite winter gear has been my Altra Neoshell Lone Peaks (2.0), my Craft Storm Wind running pants, my Nike Windblock pullover hoodie and a fleece lined Buff.  I got more use out of these items than any others.
  • I can’t wait to be wearing tanks and shorts for months!
  • My ankles and knees are in good shape.  Still stretching and rolling as often as I can remember.
  • I thank Ben and his workout regime every time I call on my core, quads and hamstrings.  All that weighted work is paying off.
  • I LOVE the training process and I am thankful for a coach and trainer who push me.
  • I LOVE my running partners!
  • I thank Eric often for putting up with my crazy running schedule.  I often refer to this as a my substitute for a baby.  I *think* he gets it.
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Life is too short.  Eat cake.

I’m off to the mountains to volunteer at the Special Olympics Winter Games!

See ya next week!  Thanks for checking in!

 

Recovery Week 01/30

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I haven’t always believed in rest and recovery, but years of injuries and thinking I could just “push through” have changed that for me.  Even starting this training cycle with Coach Chris had me questioning his complete rest days.  That being said, he works me hard and I look SO forward to Mondays when all I have to do is stretch and rest.  Chris builds in recovery weeks during the training cycle too.  What have I found out about recovery week?  They are still interesting enough to keep me entertained!

  • Run distance: 17 miles (4 runs)
  • Elevation gain: 1407
  • Gym workouts: 2

Things that were sore this week included my hip flexors (Tony has a Strava run named for a stretching technique I employed on the trail) and my mid back.  My ankle has been incredibly cooperative since starting Egoscue Method stretching (read more about it in this post).  When I don’t do these daily, my ankles tightens up a bit and I lose flexibility.  My knee soreness is directly related to my gait, which is thrown off when my ankle doesn’t roll properly.  It’s all connected people!

I’ve mentioned in the past how much I love my gym and the workouts.  This week was a milestone for me.  I finally realized I don’t need the training wheels anymore when it comes to pull-ups.  Those training wheels are rubber bands.  I can finally, properly, complete multiple pullups!

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Can we talk about this tank top for a minute?  As a Brand Rep for Born Primitive, I am proud to not only try their product, but provide a review as well!  This tank is super soft out of the box and incredibly comfortable!  The message on this tank is strong and makes me proud to wear it.  This company is so awesome… owned and operated by an active duty military family, Born Primitive also hires veterans and their families!  Read about them here, check out their charities and finally check out their products!  If you like what you see, use my coupon code LIFTNRUN15 for 15% off your order!

Hubby asked for salads this week, so I have been pinning meal appropriate salads.  We tried an amazing Avocado Caprese Chicken Salad and loved it!  This recipe includes a ridiculously good homemade dressing (with mustard as an ingredient… I am cringing… but it was amazing!).

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This weekend had quite a bite in the air, but once again, clothing makes the difference.  I completed my long run in my heavy Craft pants, one pair of Smartwool socks, an Altra tank (review coming on that!) and a Nike windblock pullover.  That was it (hat and gloves too!).  I was plenty warm and able to regulate my temperature over the two hours of hard work in the snow.  I keep saying it every run…. Altra Lone Peak Neoshells have made winter running enjoyable!  My feet stay toasty warm despite conditions!  They are a complete game changer for a distance runner who will tackle any condition to get the work done!

Another week down!  I think about Vermont every day…. how can I not?  It’s such a HUGE goal but it will be here before we know it.  I signed up for another training race this week (Wapack) and can’t wait to be back on that course again.  Altra is sending me a shoe that will be perfect for mountain racing.  More to come on that tidbit too!

Cautiously Optimistic

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Altra Lone Peaks Neoshells (2.0) combined with Kahtoolas for the win this very icy winter!

Every time I start a blog post, I write the title first.  I wonder if I have repeated a title yet…

Anyway, on to this week!  I FINALLY got a full week of training in and was happy for all of it.  I kept a very close eye on my heart rate, which I have found over the years is one of the biggest barometers for how healthy I am.  My heart rate is largely affected by illness and fatigue, which I am sure is common.  It used to be all over the place when I worked midnights for a living.  It was spikey over the last month of illness.  This past week, it was back to steady and controllable!  That is a great sign.

I completed two gym workouts, four runs and a total of 25.4 miles and 2300 ft. of gain.  This is my biggest week since the last week of December.  I’m coming into a recovery week, then shit gets REAL!  Here is my week in pictures!

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Hello Tuesday… this was my first big workout back at AI.  I felt this one in my hamstrings all week.

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And then there was Thursday.  I LOVE ROWING!!!

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Friday hill repeats and my partner’s pants falling down!

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A BEAUTIFUL Saturday long run across our local tiny mountains!

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The ladies of VT100 training posing!  Cannot wait to put down many more miles with these two.  Adventures to come!

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My crazy pacer….

So there you have it!  #altrarunning #embracethespace #zerolimits #eatallofthesnacks #100miles #VT100

Moose Mountain Runaround – Recap

Happy Monday! I am writing to you from my recliner, recovering from yet another bout of illness.  This is my third go around this month and I have had a little of everything.  Head cold, strep throat and now a quick flu bug.  Is this it?  I certainly hope so!

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Ready to race!

Rather than dwell on the training I didn’t get done last week, I am choosing to move forward and not give it a second thought.  I ran the Moose Mountain Runaround, a snowshoe race, on Saturday!  If you ever have a chance to push your comfort zone, do it!  That is snowshoe racing for me.  The terrain is always hard and the conditions make you work for it!  This course was 4.4 miles long and consisted of two laps.  My favorite part of the day was seeing Coach Chris in person! His advice was to feel out the course in the first lap (to include my competition) and move in the second lap.  Here is how that went!

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Acidotic Racing Team Picture (SNAPAcidotic photo cred)

We were sent on our way and I got stuck in the rear of the pack on the singletrack.  This tends to happen to me for a few reasons:

  1. I gas out quick if I don’t have time to settle into a groove
  2. I don’t have the confidence yet to pick a spot up front and hang there

I was able to start passing on the hills where I am strongest and essentially found a spot and stayed there for the rest of the race.  I was alone for most of the course and had some time to pay attention to what was going on.  From the beginning, I felt like I had no gas in my tank and my heart rate hung around 185.  That is way too high for even me and I would have expected to see roughly 170.  Clue #1 that I was getting sick.  My legs felt incredible but I was essentially standing still (in my mind).  Stats for the race were as follows:

11:47/11:06/11:59/11:08/last 0.3 mile 10:09.  Average HR 182

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Finish line! (SNAPAcidotic photo cred)

I am not at all disappointed in this effort!  I was happy to get out on the course and spend time with friends.

By the time Saturday PM hit I knew something was wrong.  I fell asleep with a sore throat and woke up with it raging accompanied by my low back being stuck in a vice.  I have very little post race soreness and this was way worse… like the flu.  I spent Sunday in bed, getting about 7 more hours of sleep and battling a horrible headache.  I feel pretty good this morning and hope I kicked it.

In closing… this happened last night:

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So as I said before, I can’t dwell on what I didn’t get done in January.  It doesn’t matter.  All I can do is move forward, stay positive and keep my fingers crossed for good health!

 

Down with the sickness…

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This pants did not do well snowshoeing!

The worst thing that can happen to a runner next to injury is illness.  Good luck telling us to stop… we will usually run dehydrated, with lung issues and even through stomach issues.  I have heard it all and done most of it myself.  I was doing so well until this last Wednesday when the sick bus hit me, face on.  Sore throat, nasal issues, sinus pain and now drainage… so pleasant.   I lost two training days midweek per Coach Chris.  I had to wait out the sore throat and tiredness.  This week was the last hard week of my mesocycle, so I really wanted to make the most of it.  I did the best I could by treating myself well and being careful during my sessions.

All that being said, I had a badass weekend!  Let me start by saying the Egoscue Method stretches for feet and ankles ARE making a difference in my flexibility.  For the first time in two months, I have more mobility and have been pain free for two days.  I don’t believe in miracles, but I do believe in self care so I am keeping this up!  I am also still riding high on becoming an Altra Ambassador!  Have you checked out their product yet?  I am not saying they are for everybody, but my feet, legs, ankles – everything – have never been this happy.  If you want to learn about the Altra story, I highly recommend this podcast on Trail Runner Nation.  Its with Altra founder Golden Harper.  I listened to it on one of my runs last spring around the time I switched.

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So, this week’s training felt GOOD.  My legs are so happy, like they suddenly woke back up. This is my longest mileage month since July and I am eager for more.

What I am reading this week:

Through WordPress and Instagram, I met fellow blogger VT Runner Mom.  Check her out! She’s training for VT100 too!

What I am eating this week:

Lots of chicken and veggies.  And some bacon.  I did make these last night for NYE (I can’t taste anything but hubby said they were amazing):  Maryland Style Crabcakes

I am down two pounds this week which was not intentional.  I know my body well enough to know its too soon to be shedding.  I am at a healthy, strong weight and need to increase calories to keep up with my new work load.

In total, I did one gym workout:

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I did a total of three runs for 14.2 miles and 1800 ft. of gain.  Most of that gain was breaking trail up the BRT on my way to Quarry and Straightback Mountains.  I did almost three hours in my new Dion snowshoes and I fell in love!  Tony and I laughed a lot on this adventure.  This keeps me moving.

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This coming week is an active recovery week and then I am traveling for work.  I am relying on the plan to keep me motivated.  Work is also amping up for me this week, so I am going to have to work hard to keep my head screwed on the right way.  Thankfully, my workouts are my happy place and set the stage for my whole day!

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