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2020 Vision My Story

Hindsight is…2020

Coaches have helped many runners progress and excel at the sport, and a lot of runners really like having one. This post is NOT meant to discourage anyone from exploring that option. It is about why I will never have one again.

Since I never did track or cross-country, I had never had a running coach before. After my first couple of marathons I started reading a lot on my own and for the next several years built my own plan. One of the first things I realized after doing some research is that I had had some success doing the “wrong” things. Also, it didn’t take long to find conflicting information on how to train and all the different methods and ideas out there. So I took what made sense to me and ran with it (pun intended). As I kept progressing, a coach was suggested to me more and more. I started to accept that I would get a coach – one day…after I break 3 hours.

Some of you know, breaking 3 hours in the marathon took me a little while. But when I finally did, it was an 11-minute personal best and my 18th marathon. I broke a lot of the “running rules” in the training process. Plus, it was my 4th marathon of the year along with racing a bunch of shorter distances. I went out “too fast” and ran a huge positive split. However, I had already convinced myself that I would start looking for a run coach after getting that goal. I dragged my feet a little and in the next few months I PR-ed in the 5k, 10k, and 15k while training for my next marathon. Still, I was set on trying this coach thing. I found one and decided to start working with him a month before that next marathon. Since my training cycle was almost done I convinced him to let me do my thing until after the race. My goal was to PR again. I came close, but I was about 90 seconds slower than my marathon five months prior. It was on a harder course and at 4200 feet (versus sea-level), so I still felt good about it and like I was headed in the right direction.

Being coached was a nightmare. I didn’t feel good about it at all. I dropped out of the next marathon and fired him. I told myself I wasn’t ready for a coach, but in the future, I would be. I still held on to the idea that I would need a coach. And subconsciously, I still held on to a lot of other running rules that made their way into my head. The rest of the racing year went poorly. I dropped out of an OTQ (Olympic Trials Qualifier) attempt at Chicago and then tried another coach. I gave a poor performance at a last ditch effort for the trials at a marathon in January. My mindset was all screwed up, and I knew that – the passion was gone. I didn’t know why or how to shake it off. I kept working with the coach, until I got too frustrated for it. The coaching side of the relationship was gone, but he was able to bring up what was bothering me mentally. Fast forward until the Logan marathon that I recently dropped out of, and it finally clicked. I was too concerned with what others thought of me in the running world. I was seeking out validation from doing all the “right” things, training and racing the way I’m supposed to – all while also knowing that a lot of what’s out there isn’t true. It created quite the conflict inside.

So now, I’m working on being more confident in what I’m doing. I enjoy making my own plans and trying new ideas. I glean knowledge from all kinds of sources and test out what I want. I throw out what doesn’t work and use what does until it doesn’t and start with something else. It’s not that I don’t know rules – it’s that I reject them. How I train and how often I race is up to me and my goals. Nacho Libre said it best:

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Furona Challenge My Story

Ground Zero

This past weekend I started a “real, live” marathon. All physical systems were on point, and even the weather cooperated. Once I got going, I felt heavy and lethargic. I ran a few more miles to see if I would shake it off. A photographer on course told me to smile, so I reluctantly looked at the camera and gave her one. Then she yelled, “Remember this is fun!” and that was all I needed to hear. (Had anyone been beside me, the click in my head might have been audible). This isn’t fun. It hasn’t been fun for a long time. It just wasn’t until now, that I began to understand why. So at the next aid station I walked off the course.

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Furona Challenge My Story Racing

Downhill Duo

Pretty desperate for a road race, a little over a month ago I searched the USATF-Utah website for anything that might still be on the schedule. I was pleasantly surprised to find two half-marathons that were happening a week apart. Both were about an hour away so I looked at the websites, results, and course profiles and they both looked pretty similar – big drops. Well, those kinds of courses aren’t my favorite, but beggars can’t be choosers. Why not do both and make it interesting?!

The first one was the Hobblecreek Half Marathon in Mapleton Utah. I had never been to the area, but was willing to make the drive. The description said the race originally began as a prep in training for the St. George Marathon in the fall (at the time I was planning on racing St. George, but it was unfortunately cancelled a few days ago). Hobblecreek boasted a 1250 foot drop from start to finish and the elevation profile looked pretty smooth. Of course, one doesn’t really know until they run it.

I didn’t taper too much for this race, cutting my mileage plan by 40% the week of. I had had an easy week after the 50k so I felt a little awkard in how to best approach race day. The morning of I felt excited and also nervous. It had been a minute and I knew this race was very competitive. My legs felt mediocre – fine, but not fresh. I didn’t get quite the warm up I wanted to have in, but I was as ready as I was going to be for the day. Go time!

I went out pretty hot. I wanted to see how long I could push the pace, especially with the big drop. It turned out to be 6 miles – ha! After that, the course started adding a few rolling hills and flattened out a little (or at least felt like it flattened out). My pace slowed by 20 seconds per mile for the next few and then I blew up. I pushed with what I had to the finish and felt confident it was all I had for the day, but was surprised that I couldn’t hold on for longer. In hindsight, there were two sessions in the week that I would have altered and probably would have given me fresher legs. When the course profile changed, I still would have slowed, but probably would have been able to level my pace and shave a few minutes off. Hindsight is 20/20. Below is the course chart courtesy of Strava.

Final Stats (race #1)

Time: 1:22:02

36th of 345 overall

7th of 196 female

3rd of 24 in age group

Alright, on to the next one! Having just put forth a hard effort, it was time to really really rest up. Coach Judd wanted me to try barely running at all in the week between and keep activities mild. I had a 5-mile recovery run Monday and that was it until race day. I walked, I yoga-ed, I swam, I slept, I ate, I did my body-weight workout cut in half a few times….it felt weird. I didn’t start to get agitated until Thursday. I think it helped knowing that I was trying something new and different than what I’d normally do. I wanted to see what would happen and how I’d feel.

Again, I hadn’t done this course before, but the profile looked smooth and 1100 foot drop. The results said that historically this race wasn’t competitive, but with covid who knows. At the start it was easy to tell that this race was much smaller than Hobblecreek and much more laid back. We started with the “waterslide” method and I was the only one willing to admit I was shooting for 1:20 so I was up first. It was weird going out by myself.

I was instructed to go out at an easier pace with the idea of maintaining and speeding up. I wanted to go by effort and mostly ignore the watch. Around mile 3, another local runner caught me and we ran together through the finish. The first 7 miles flew by, even though it felt like my quads were…not firing? Isolated only to my quads. I hadn’t felt that before. Two other guys passed us, but that was it as far as the racers go. We did have a fair amount of weaving to do with other people walking, running, and cycling. There were a few more uphills than the last half and the downhill was a little gentler. The last 4 mile I faded and couldn’t recover. The rest of my legs felt good, but my quads never got to work – still troubleshooting that. The race was a bit short, coming in at 13 even.

Final Stats

Time – 1:23:39

4th of 96 overall

1st of 56 female

Having done things very differently the weeks before each race, I gained some new insights for what works best for me. We’ll see how the rest of the year unfolds with what covid will allow. I’m still hopeful about getting a marathon in.

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Furona Challenge My Story

Speedgoat 50k

“Nope. Absolutely not,” I told my mentoach as he was starting to suggest I find an ultra race to do. I had recently finished my second 30-miler in training and since the marathons and other road races I had on the schedule had been cancelled, he thought it presented a unique opportunity. “Now wait a minute and hear me out,” he said as he started listing and explaining some of the reasoning behind this idea. He had some good points, enough to make me stop and think about it for a second. “Nah,” I said. “The ultra world is something else entirely.” He ignored that comment and continued listing the ultra races nearby he had googled. I was rolling my eyes but then I heard it – “Speedgoat.”

Are you kidding me?? I thought to myself. I wasn’t even part of the ultra world, but just by being a local I knew the reputation it had. It was designed to be one of the hardest courses in North America. Taking place in the mountains, the LOWEST elevation was 7,500 feet above sea level, and included 11,500 feet of GAIN throughout the course. Even the ultra runners I knew shied away from this race. So of course, I at least had to look up the website…

After listening to my mentoach’s reasoning, and realizing that my road races were already cancelled anyway, one more tiny detail broke me down to register. In describing the course on the website, Karl Meltzer (famous ultra runner and this race director) said “If you think this should be your first ultra you’re probably wrong.” And with that, I was in. I had about 10 weeks until race day.

If you’re a runner you eventually notice different “cultures” within the running world. There are Track Princes/Princessess, Road Kings/Queens, and Ultra Kooks. Cross-country may be fun, but it’s more of the ugly step child of running – nobody focuses solely on cross-country. Many runners will transition through labels throughout their running career, but there’s usually a focus on one for a period of time. Each of us have our quirks, and if you haven’t already been offended they are quite funny. I am most definitely a Road Queen, and as a Road Queen I was completely out of my comfort zone in doing this race.

Most of my training didn’t change too much, with just some added trail and a little extra climbing. Part of the point was to go in somewhat blind. I knew the details on paper, but I needed this to be something really really hard and unknown. This was technically my first trail race, too but I had been used to doing one trail run (6-10 miles) a week so I wasn’t worried about the terrain…at the time.

Race morning Kyle drove me to the start and sat with me in the car until it was time for me to check in. It became real, and I was really going to do this. I was so terrified I broke down. Kyle asked, “Do you want to go home?” I said “No.” He asked, “Do you want a road race?” And I sobbed, “Yeeesss” and then we both laughed. I got my butt out of the car and headed to the start corral. It was wave starts, twenty people at a time. I already looked a little out of place (an Ultra Kook quirk is their garb). There was only one other woman in my wave start and as we made eye contact and nervously smiled at each other I wondered if we would end up racing against each other (that was the Road Queen coming out).

We were off and running and around mile 2 I got a headache from the elevation level. It wasn’t bad, and I knew it wasn’t going to get much worse, but that also meant I had lost that gamble. I notice a difference in training when I go from 4500 to 6500, but I was wondering if I would feel it as much with this kind of slower-paced effort. I had previously noted that being up there, casually walking I didn’t feel it. We kept climbing and that woman and I started a very long leap frog dance. I wasn’t sure if I was up for the added challenge because by mile 6 I was pretty over the event. The climbing was one thing, the terrain was another. I did not expect to be hiking up boulders. I thought I would be able to run at least some of the course and even make up time on the downhill, but the grades were steeper than I imagined. It’s runnable with practice, but tearing and/or breaking a body part was not on the agenda. Once I understood that I wasn’t going to be able to run hardly at all, I let the misery sink in. I did not want to be doing this. Am I mad at Judd? Should I be? It was his idea. No, I’m the one that gave it a green light. I’m the one that had the final say. We got to the top of the first climb at 9 miles and I contemplated dropping out. Would it be worse for me mentally to quit or continue doing something I don’t like? I filled my camelback with ice and moved on. A bit of downhill now, with a view and lots of wildflowers. I can do this. I started descending and the headache began to disappear. Every time I went up it came back, and every time I went down it went away. I was getting close to halfway and there was about a 2-mile stretch that I could run. My spirits were lifted. The next aid station had popsicles and though I had packed my own nutrition and intended to only get water refills, I took up the offer. There wasn’t as much coverage from the sun that I thought there would be and it was starting to feel pretty hot. I’m pretty good at running while eating so I ran with the popsicle. If I choked or tripped and stabbed myself I figured death by popsicle was okay at this point. Soon it was time to go up, up, UP again. With every bend I comforted myself with “almost to the top” and then I would make the turn and see that was never the case – ever. Around mile 23 we crested and went through a short tunnel that had a concrete sidewalk floor. Home! I laughed to myself. Out the other side was the next aid station. I still had water so I decided not to stop. One of the volunteers tried to convince me I needed calories as she held up a slice of Domino’s supreme pizza. I wanted to barf at the thought. Hard. Pass. That is an Ultra Kook quirk that I cannot understand – the aid station fuel is absurd. I thanked her and said I had my own and she said, “Are you sure? You’re going down and then you’re going back up again.” I said “Yeah, I’m fine” and moved on, but I thought, down and up again? She’s lying. I’m at mile 23. She has to be lying. She wasn’t lying.

There were parts where I could only focus one flag at a time (course marker flag) because there was no path/trail – just flags. Some portions I had to grab onto shrubs otherwise I’d fall backwards (and yes, I did consider it). Poles seemed to be helping other people but I didn’t want to invest for this feat. A few steps at a time and I got to the final aid station. My camelback was dry so ice water and a few bites of watermelon. I had to keep moving. As slow as I was going, the idea of chilling out at an aid station was so foreign to me (another roadie thing). Back down the boulders and then onto some trail. There were a few more ups, but they were relatively short compared to what we already had done. I was getting awfully close to 31 miles and I knew we weren’t that close to the finish. Road Queen started to get grumpy. Roadies like their race distances to be exact. I pushed forward remembering that the woman I had been leapfrogging might be close behind. I just focused on lengthening the gap. At least my competitive spirit didn’t die. Mile 32…33…where’s the finish?!?! There, one more S curve and there it is – 34.42. I jogged it in and Karl handed me the coveted mug. I confessed to him that he was right – this should not be one’s first 50k.

I was really happy and proud that I finished. It was the hardest physical event I’ve done thus far. Afterwards, my feelings are “I regret nothing.” I thought if I could go back, maybe I would just do more of my training higher to avoid the headache and ease my breathing, but since I finished, can I really say that?

It is worth noting, that I did not get lost. Anyone who runs with me on short trail runs knows that that means the course was marked really well. I was impressed. The volunteers were amazing and the event as a whole ran smoother than a lot of road races I’ve done. In summary, it was really hard, I’m glad I did it, and I actually am glad it was my first ultra.

Final Stats

Time – 10:28:05

101st of 152 finishers

18th of 35 women

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Other Stuff

SLCTC Winter Series 2020

5k, 10k, 15k, two weeks apart in the dead of winter out in the salt flats – somehow the track club finds a way to make this series a local favorite. All three races are on the USATF-Utah Road Racing Circuit and also part of the RRCA Championship events. The course are straight and flat out-and-backs, each just farther down the road than the last.

My third go at this series of races, I had few performance expectations starting with the 5k. I had raced a marathon six days prior that I physically felt recovered from, but mentally I wasn’t quite back. I didn’t know if I should go out really fast and just see at what point I faded and use the data for training purposes, actually try to evenly pace the race, or should I try to race for the podium? I made a last minute decision to race with a friend. The first mile we MIGHT have went out a little fast (I’ll let him decide) at 5:58. At the time, I didn’t know and wasn’t looking at my watch for the duration of the race. I was focused on pushing him. At the turn around we were both running well, and we happened to be pacing the leading females, but we let them go so they could duke it out – that put me in third. Around the 2-mile mark, I saw first and second at split up and second was fading hard. I told my friend we could catch her and we tagged onto another runner to catch up. My friend started to fade a little, but since we were almost home, I left him to overtake second place. Then in the fog I saw the bright yellow jersey of first, who had faded as well and I went for it – caught up with her right at three miles and then sprinted to the finish to make as big of a gap as I could to try and kill a response. I crossed at 18:42 (chip) for the very unexpected win.

Two weeks later for the 10k, I would say I was definitely more mentally prepared to race with a goal time in mind. I expected the competition to be tougher, but my main focus was not on winning. A lot of times I use shorter races in a marathon training cycle for recovery data and to get practice running on fatigued legs. The day before this race I ran a 2 1/2 hour long run on a hillier course than usual. I was not happy with how I felt when race morning came compared to how I usually feel, but I realized that was partially the point – I now had to go back and think about what negatively affected my recovery from the long run. Still, I geared up to race the best I could in the moment and went out at goal pace. This time, I was using half-mile splits on my watch to try and stay focused. Right off the bat, I was the leading lady. It scared me a little, but I reminded myself the podium was not the goal right now. A few miles in we had a bit of headwind, but on an out and back course I figured it would be helpful after the turn around, right? WRONG! The wind picked up and changed directions on us. On the way back we were running into 20 mph gusts and I couldn’t keep up with my goal pace. I kept expecting the second place female to catch me, but I kept pushing to hold on as long as I could. Afterall, she had the same winds to deal with. Mile 5 came and I was still ahead so I pushed a bit harder. I picked another runner in front of me and lasso-ed him to help pull me along. I felt no one behind me for the final push, but I was scared to look – I was going all in anyway. I took the win in 39:09 (chip).

The third and final race of the series, the 15k, was a PR attempt. The distance is long enough and placed “appropriately” in the marathon training cycle that I felt I could give it a shot. In other words, no long run the day before. Of course, that also meant I was a contender for the win as well, especially since I ended up winning the first two. The day before I started to get a little sick, but figured I could shake it before it came of anything. I woke up early race morning and felt worse, but still thought I could PR, even if it wasn’t by as much as I wanted it to be. My legs felt great during the warm up – fresh and energized. My lungs weren’t, but it was what I had to work with. The first few miles of the race went smoothly, but then I started to doubt myself and whether or not I could keep up. My legs still felt great, but my breathing was pretty labored and I felt fatigued. I was leading at the turn around, but not by very much – I tried to keep pushing but relax at the same time. It wasn’t working. A few miles went by and I wondered if I could still take first. Mile 7, just a few miles left. At 7.5, I heard second female behind me. I assessed, and didn’t believe I could keep up the lead. She came up on my shoulder and I made the quick decision to swing behind her. With almost two miles left, I didn’t want to leap frog. I watched her go on ahead and I continued to fade. I tried to push to get my pace back down, but struggled. I accepted defeat. The finish was in sight and it was almost over. The time on the clock confirmed I had missed my goal time range entirely, finishing second in 59:09 (chip).

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2020 Vision My Story

2020 Vision, Part 3

CHICAGO “Gate.” What is she saying? I don’t know. What? I could hear the crowd of people forming around me, but I hadn’t opened my eyes. “Gate.” I muttered again. “Gate!” I started to open my eyes and see people staring back at me. They were all sideways. “I need to get to my gate.” Ah, a complete sentence. I felt terrible but I was talking. A paramedic told me I wasn’t flying anywhere. They were taking me to the hospital. “No.” They tried to tell me I couldn’t fly. “I will be fine.” I sat up, I drank some water, and I began insisting harder. I knew my name, I knew where I was going, and I could feel control coming back. “What color is my face?” I asked. My color was better they said. “I will be fine,” I insisted again. The paramedic begrudgingly brought out the refusal paperwork, and I was wheeled to my gate.

CARLSBAD This was the most excited I had been for a race for a really long time. Very few people knew I was racing this marathon. It was one last shot at qualifying for the trials. If I got it, I would go right? I wasn’t one hundred percent sure, but after dropping out of Chicago, I wanted a good marathon. My focus was on time over anything else.

CHICAGO I was more anxious to go to Chicago and get the deed done than actually racing it. I was angry at all the naysayers up until this point, and I was ready to prove them all wrong. My goal time was an OTQ, but I didn’t really want to go. I just wanted to get that “reasonable and realstic” accomplishment out of the way so I could really get to work.

CARLSBAD 3:15 a.m. my alarm went off. I wanted to be awake for three hours before the start. I began my pre-planned morning routine and headed to the starting area to finish my warm up. I was calm. I felt good. I was ready. I didn’t feel pressure. I didn’t feel doubt. I visualized the course again before stripping down to my race kit.

CHICAGO The ADP athletes were herded like cattle to the starting coral. We were all nervous, I didn’t notice a single calm athlete. Was I ready? What happened at the airport? I hadn’t had issues like that in months. I kept trying to reassure myself that it’s fine and I fully recovered to run a fast race. “Under Pressure” by Queen started playing. I laughed to myself. Perfect.

CARLSBAD It was a small race, so I knew I would probably end up in the top ten, but as the gun went off I was leading lady. It bothered me, but I tried to put it out of my head and focus on the effort. I wasn’t going to pay attention to my watch either. The first six miles flew by and I felt light and fresh – like I was moving smoothly, but not at a hard effort. Shortly after hitting mile six, my stomach started to cramp like I had to crap, which I thought was odd because I thought I emptied out pretty good before the race.

CHICAGO The herd took off and I quickly settled into pace, but it was labored. I reminded myself it was normal for the first few miles of any marathon, let alone a big one like Chicago. I started falling behind pretty quickly and reached the 10k time clock at 39:17. Uh-oh. I re-grouped my thoughts and told myself I can still PR, even if my time goal was out of reach. I reached the 15k and continued to slow down quickly. Forward motion was really hard. My heart felt really heavy. Am I going to be able to finish? Of course you are, keep moving – it’s Chicago. Halfway point and I felt even worse. I needed to stop. This wasn’t going to end well. I moved over towards the side of the road the medic tent was on, but jerked away. I couldn’t. Not yet. Give it a few more miles.

CARLSBAD Was this it? Was this going to be the race that I crapped myself? At mile six, really? Guess so…I went through it all in my head and decided that even though it was early and I’d have to deal with sand paper between my cheeks for 20 more miles, I’d still rather keep going. I tried to relax. I couldn’t. How could I not just go? It was really hard to relax my anus while running. I developed a new level of respect for those I’ve known that were able to do so, because I didn’t see how I was going to do it. The cramps worsened, so I decided stopping to use the porta-potty would be faster than trying to run with the cramps. I stopped just after mile nine. I was still in the lead, but not by much.

CHICAGO I gave it a few more miles, but I felt like I was trying to run with the flu – no energy, and my heart was still so loud and heavy. I’m not going to finish am I? No matter how much more I slow down, if I push much farther I’m going to end up collapsing and I don’t need any more of that drama this weekend. At the next medic station (30k) I stepped off the course and said I needed to quit. I couldn’t believe I was dropping out of Chicago.

CARLSBAD Since relieving myself, the cramps lessened and over the next few miles they went away. Working through that and it not completely derailing my head was a mental boost. Shortly after that I got a side stitch and did the exact same thing. I gave myself a pat on the back. At mile thirteen, I grabbed a cup from a volunteer at the aid station and took a swig of WHAT WAS THAT?!?!? Was that rubbing alcohol? That is exactly what that tasted like. It couldn’t have been that though…I grabbed another cup from another volunteer to try and wash it out of my mouth, but I had already swallowed a gulp. I told myself it was fine and it couldn’t possibly have been alcohol.

CHICAGO After being cleared by the first set of medics, I loaded on the shuttled bus back to the starting line. I was so angry. I had to go through medics again at the start and that took a little longer, but Kyle was able to meet me with my stuff and take me back to the hotel. Physically, I knew nothing was seriously wrong and that all I really needed was rest. Mentally, I was not in a good place.

CARLSBAD My stomach tightened a little, and I still had no idea what pace I was at, but still held on to the lead. I expected to be overtaken any minute, but she never came. It was hard to drink much after that fluid stop at mile thirteen, but I tried a little. At mile eighteen I was able to finish most of my first gel, but was really slowing down. Unaware of my actual pace, I kept pushing and hit the final turnaround. Once I got to mile twenty, I knew I was going to finish but I felt my goal time was long gone. Pain in my ankles and calves got really bad. I avoided any more aid stations for my stomach from that point on. Surprisingly I was still in the lead, but I didn’t feel like I really cared. I just wanted the pain to end. I also wanted this dumb motorcycle “leading” me to move over and let me breath real air and not exhaust. For the next four miles he stayed right in front of me. Finally he moved beside me and I yelled at him for the exhaust. He stayed behind me for the next two miles, but other people doing the half marathon still had to deal with him. I didn’t understand why they couldn’t hire cyclists instead. Anyway, I kept slowing and slowing and just after the 26th mile, 2nd and 3rd female, who were running together, passed me. I saw them go and I couldn’t respond. I just let them go. I didn’t care I just wanted to the pain to end (of course, later I did care that I didn’t even try to surge or tag along). I made the final turn and saw 3:08 on the clock. I hadn’t realized I was going that slow. I crossed the finish line and sat down right away against the fence. I need to be off my feet. Someone handed me a bottle of an electrolyte drink that I noticed was different than what was on course and I started to sip that. I told the medics I was fine and just needed to sit for a minute. Before I even finished the drink, I began to feel much better.

What happened in Chicago was physical, and an episode that I’ve had many times before, but I thought I had it under control. I hadn’t had any issues for several months leading up to Chicago and I haven’t had any since. Mind and body are connected in more ways than we understand. I think I cracked under the pressure and my body responded in negative way. At least going into Carlsbad, I felt better mentally. I was way off my goal time, but there were some good things to come out of it. I am continuing to work on getting back to my focus for running.

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Other Stuff

wings

Most of my running friends know how I feel about the Nike 4% or next% shoes, but I haven’t really gone into depth on the matter. I’ve heard a lot of different opinions. Ninety-nine percent of people that have worn them say they make a significant difference, and most of those people seem to have embraced the advantage and have chosen to race in them. I want to be clear – I am not against these athletes. I am against the shoes, and what I believe they take away from the sport.  

Some say they are just a placebo effect. I’m not going to say much on that, other than it is an uneducated statement. There was a lot of time and money spent in research and product testing on developing the shoe.

From the information I have gathered, the shoes do two main things: 1) lessen the effect of perceived effort – fatigue and 2) spring you forward, lengthening your stride. The fatigue factor doesn’t bother me. I look at it like a comparison of any other shoe over running barefoot. What upsets me is the spring-like force propelling you forward. I think this takes away from the purity and integrity of the sport. Sure you have to train and work hard for the result you want, but if a shoe can guarantee at least a 4% drop in a finish time, then you don’t have to run as hard to get the time result you want. The “race day magic”, the art of everything lining up perfectly for that new PR, new goal, or not and still enduring, the bad days, the good days, the crazy comebacks, the unrealistic and unexplainable…all of those wonderful aspects of distance running will be gone if we don’t draw the line somewhere – more machine and scientific formulas than grit and the wonder of human performance.

Some say the shoes are just like any other technological advance in the sport, like rubber tracks and spikes on shoes. But that isn’t a fair statement because with those advances there wasn’t a resilient device pushing the athletes forward. They had better traction but still only got out of it what they put in. Their form was not altered. But this part of the discussion also brings up another important fact that impacts professional runners.

When rubber tracks were introduced, every athlete racing had the same advantage. With spikes, every shoe company has them for their athletes to wear. With these Nike shoes, only Nike professionals can get away with wearing them and getting that 4% advantage. I think this is where some claim it is just like doping and drug violations – it creates and uneven playing field. And now we are messing with people’s careers and livelihood. We can’t say that breaking contracts to wear another brand’s shoe is a realistic option for them.

Do I think the IAAF will fix it? No. I have zero faith they will ban them. I think at some point they will have to put a limit on stack height and the amount of plates put in, but at this point I don’t think they will ban these types of shoes. But since the shoes are legal, we have no right to attack the athletes that wear them.

As much as I don’t like Nike, this is not about Nike. Life isn’t fair. Athletes have different body types and backgrounds that give them advantages or disadvantages. I want to say that a shoe company has the right to spend money on developing new and improved shoes and get the right of exclusivity. Hoka has their version of the shoe out, and I feel the same way about them. I’ve been asked by several if or when Adidas comes out with their version if I would use them. I’m still holding out hope that they won’t follow suit, but no, I wouldn’t wear them.

My sole purpose is not to win races or even get a specific time stamped beside my name. Sometimes those are my goals for certain races, but more than anything I want to push myself and I want to feel it. I want to dig deep and give more than I have to offer. I’m going to keep training hard. I’m going to keep racing without the spring-board shoes. You might say I’m giving myself a disadvantage, but I am bound to the belief that the power of the human mind is far greater than any machine man can make.

Categories
2020 Vision

2020 Vision, Part 2

This race was supposed to be the second part of a recovery experiment I had been working on for a few years, but since I had to drop out of Ogden, all that went out the window. The initial plan was to race Ogden at a hard effort, follow a planned recovery regimen and then two weeks later race Utah Valley at another hard effort and see if I could produce the same finish times. In other words, could I plateau my fitness to hold hard efforts that close together. The courses looked similar enough (and they are), and the marathons were both local for low expenses. I couldn’t do this in training because I don’t have the funds to set up race “simulations” and I needed verifiable results, so these particular races back to back were my best option.

I dropped out of Ogden at the halfway point because I had been vomiting and felt something was really wrong. I made the decision a little before the mile 11 marker, but needed to get somewhere where I could find a ride back. Long story short, I had irritated my stomach ulcer. It sounds worse than it is, but there are levels and having pushed too far in the past I knew I made the right decision to drop out. That being said, I was really disappointed and frustrated that my experiment was ruined. I didn’t know if the opportunity would come up again, and even if it did, I wanted to be done racing so often. I wasn’t sure if I should even bother doing Utah Valley anymore. Even if I healed enough physically to be able to run it, I knew racing it was almost assuredly out. It took me about 20 minutes to decide what I was going to do, because what if…

It was – racing was definitely out of the question. But I didn’t know that for sure until race morning. No matter what the odds are, I will always hope for the best possible outcome.

The two weeks in between Ogden and Utah Valley were a little rough as far as my running life went. I was frustrated, sad, and unmotivated (and it wasn’t just because I couldn’t have coffee). But I knew I had to get those runs and workouts in, give Utah Valley a go, and move on with Chicago training or else I was going to spiral into a funk. I was reminded of Scott Jurek’s book when he would say, “Sometimes you just do things!” This was one of those times.

My alarm went of at 2:45 a.m. because the buses to the start started leaving at 3:15 (GEEZ!). Everything was pretty typical of a race morning, and the organization of the event seemed pretty good. I decided this marathon was all going to be about effort and I wouldn’t pay attention to the splits. My stomach had been feeling fine, but given the distance I wasn’t 100% sure it would be okay. There were definitely improvements made in the last two weeks, but I didn’t want to backtrack or run myself into the ground.

At 6:00 a.m. we were off and as I said, I simply went by effort. Rolled with the downhill for the first seven miles, tried to relax for the uphills in the middle, and did my best to focus on forward motion for the last six. Because it was a small marathon, the hardest part was not racing. I happened to be third until mile 18, but I couldn’t push to keep it. My stomach was okay, but I still felt it.

You read and are told that the gut is the core to your energy source, but reading and knowing is different than feeling. These past two weeks I could really feel that. My legs felt ready, and I realize that’s why I still thought I could maybe race, but the endurance and energy required for your body to perform at it’s best wasn’t there.

When I was able to see the finish line, I felt so grateful that everything went relatively well and it was almost over. I was reminded of why I love the marathon so much. Whether you finish in two hours or six, it’s hard. It will always be hard. I was advised not to do this marathon. It wouldn’t accomplish anything or help me achieve my running goals, and would reflect poorly on my “resume.” My response to that doesn’t need to be said here, but you can imagine. I will drop out or remove myself from the starting line if I am seriously ill or injured, but I will not throw in the towel because of a poor performance probability. Respect the distance. There’s no cherry picking and no guaranteed goal getting. If you’re not willing to be humbled, then the marathon is not for you. This one gave me my focus and motivation back.

Final Stats

Time – 3:03:45

42nd of 889 overall

5th of 375 female

1st of 54 in age group

Categories
Recipes

Roasted Beet & Potato Salad

For someone who doesn’t like beets, this one is pretty tasty. You can eat it hot or cold, so it’s good for lunches, too.

Ingredients

  • 3 medium beets
  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dry lentils
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • feta cheese
  • bag of arugula

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Dice beets and potatoes and place in 9 x 13 baking dish.
  2. Dice/mince garlic and onion and add to beets and potatoes. Stir in thyme, salt, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.
  3. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until beets are soft.
  4. While beets and potatoes are baking, cook lentils on stovetop.
  5. When the beets and potatoes are done, add lentils and goat cheese. Serve over arugula.
Categories
2020 Vision My Story

2020 Vision, Part 1

The Salt Lake City Marathon could not have been an OTQ attempt, even if I was physically ready. Not only does it have a net elevation loss of 680 feet (the max allowed is 450), but it’s sanctioned by the RRCA and not the USATF.

Last year I ran this course in 3:08 finishing 3rd, and I wanted to give it another try. This year I had a much better training cycle, and I wanted to race this course hard…maybe even go for the win.

After CIM, I took a month off from training because it was time, and because I needed to fix the IT Band/Quad issue. I didn’t stop running altogether, but I stopped training. It was a good break. I fixed my knee and came back feeling refreshed with sixteen weeks to train for the Salt Lake City Marathon.

During a marathon training cycle, I always have found myself reflective on some particular aspect of life. This time, it was unfortunately death.

Within a few weeks of resuming training, one of my friends lost their baby girl just two hours after giving birth. It was heartbreaking to see what was supposed to be a celebration of new life turn to death. Instead of a baby shower they were having a funeral.

I was hitting paces in training that I hadn’t been able to hit before, and I made new personal bests in the 5k, 10k, and 15k during the cycle. I was staying injury free, and grinding away the workouts. Everything was pointing towards a new personal best – one that I could be proud of.

My husband is a cyclist, a roadie, and of course there’s always a worry in the back of my head. I trust he is careful and tries his best to be safe, but a car against a bike is not a fair fight. And then it happened – Kyle was out on a ride when a truck turned left in front of him. He didn’t have time to stop and slammed his shoulder and head into the cap of the truck. He ended up with just a broken collarbone, but yeah I thought about all the possible outcomes.

I have enjoyed “coaching” myself and making my own training schedule. Trial and error has gotten me into A LOT of trouble, but has also taught me things about myself and how my body works that you can only get from experience. Nevertheless, I knew there’d be a day when I’d be ready to get a coach, or at least try to get one – finding someone who was willing to put up with me might be a challenge, but I reached out to one I was particularly interested in and asked if he maybe might possibly be potentially willing to coach me…in the future. Things were going so well with this training cycle, I didn’t want to switch things up just yet.

I like to brag on my immune system. When I do get sick, I can usually feel it coming on early enough to kick in 12 hours. But this was a whole different ball game. I woke up one morning feeling “off.” I was fine, but something was weird. When I was driving to work later that day, I started to feel really tired, and a little sore? even though I hadn’t done anything that day. Then in the middle of my first appointment, I found myself struggling to finish the hour. I didn’t know what was going on. I felt awful. I left work early and had a fever by the time I got home. I tried to sleep it off, but my spine felt like it was going to explode. It hurt to exist. I drove Kyle to work the next morning and told him I was going to urgent care later if I didn’t feel better. On the way back home, my vision started tunneling. “No, no, no” I thought as I moved into the far right lane as fast as I cou – BLACK. What? Cars were whizzing by, horns were honking, I could hear. My foot was planted firmly on the brake, hands gripping the wheel, I could feel. I was conscious, but I couldn’t see anything. What do I do? How am I supposed to get out of this? “Jesus, I need to see!” I started to get some sight back and saw a drive I could pull into just a few yards ahead. Drive, park, key, fall into passenger seat. I didn’t think I was going to die from the virus, but I understood how someone could.

After telling this coach my plans, my less-than-ideal race schedule, my current personal bests, and future goals, he offered to put me on his elite team. I wasn’t expecting that, but was I ready? He gave me a training schedule for the next four weeks, at this point with the marathon just a few weeks away, and I completely freaked out. No! I cannot change things this drastically so close to race day. No way. Not for this one. After stressing out way too much about it, I asked him to let me finish my training cycle for this race and he agreed.

Kyle dropped me off at the starting line, with fresh snow on the ground. It was cold, but the forecast said it was going to get warmer and be perfect racing conditions. I did my usual pre-race things, and lined up in the starting corral. I wanted to win, but my goal time was more important. I told myself to stay focused. On this course, you just have to roll with the hills by effort, so I knew my splits would be all over the place. Right away, with less than half a mile run, the lead escort tagged me. “Okay, I guess we’re doing this,” I thought to myself. Taking the lead early can be nerve wracking, but I wasn’t going to purposely slow my effort to not be in the lead. I sailed on, feeling strong. Halfway, past most of the steep hills, I felt I needed a few grace miles, so I took them before trying to get back to goal pace. My heart was full of energy, but my quads started really feeling all the elevation changes. My goal time was slipping, but I seemed to have a pretty strong lead as first female, even top 10 overall. I continued to press on and watched the miles come and go. I thought about some of my hardest marathon finishes and this wasn’t even close to being that bad. I was evolving. Just three more miles! They were slow, but they were steady, and I got my first marathon win – lucky number 19.

At first, I didn’t understand why I was losing my mind over my coach taking over my training. Isn’t that the deal? Was it really just a control thing? Because I was sure I convinced myself it was time to let go, and bring in “the big guns.” Why was I being so protective of this race? But then a few days out I started to understand. I needed closure. Training on my own for the past eight years has been quite the journey. And this training cycle, this race, was going to be the one where I used all those “lesson learned” disappointments to give my best performance ever – a poetic end to an emotional and dramatic roller coaster. And though it wasn’t a PR, it really was my best run marathon.

When one thinks about death, one inevitably thinks about life. We think about who we are, who we were, and where we’re going. We think about the level of importance we give to different areas in our life. As much as we fight for those people or things, we never have the guarantee of another minute of life on earth with them.

Final Stats

Time: 2:56:35

9th of 683 overall

1st of 263 female

Categories
Equipping

Tracksmith Running Apparel

This brand is fairly well known within the running community. It’s classic style is tailored to the amateur competitive athlete. Made in the U.S.A. their apparel is top quality, and great customer service is obviously high on their priority list.

Scanning through the catalog, the prices may shock you but I promise – WORTH! Every single piece I’ve bought from them I love. That includes a few pairs of shorts, briefs, long sleeves, a bra – with a pocket, crop top, gloves, and mittens.

If you have to choose, I would opt for the cold gear line (if you do outdoor winter training). Quality gear in the harsh winter really makes a difference and helps keep you consistent. The spring/summer clothes are great too, but most of us runners wear as little as possible in the heat. I will say the race briefs are the most comfortable I’ve found.

They also have some nice accessories. I like their waxed canvass bag. Your order ships pretty quickly with updates along the way. Coast to coast, you should have your order within a week.

Again, I highly recommend trying out a few of their items. You won’t regret spending the money. Their size charts are accurate (free returns if something doesn’t fit), but you do have to look at the chart and measurements for each individual product. Don’t just see that you’re a medium in the singlet and assume you’re a medium for every other top. They offer gift cards, so if you don’t see yourself going on a shopping spree then keep them in mind when birthdays, anniversaries, and Christmas roll around.

Categories
Equipping

Garmin Forerunner 645 Music

This was a pretty big upgrade for me from the 225 model. It still has the wrist-based HR feature, but now I can load my music on it, too! There’s lost of other stats on this watch that the 225 didn’t have like vO2 max and performance alerts, but I’m not comfortable trusting my watch (or any watch) that much. You can set up payments and text alerts on this watch, but I doubt I’ll use those features. I mainly got this watch for the GPS upgrade and the music feature.

Having a GPS running watch for miles and data is high on the runner’s gear checklist. I have always trusted and preferred Garmin over any other competing brands for accuracy, reliability, and durability. Plus, if you make a Garmin connect account, you can easily sync the data from your watch to your computer to track progress. It also gives you graphs of your heart rate, cadence, pace, elevation, and gives you a monthly view of what you did when. There’s so many tools on the site that I haven’t even tapped in to, but it’s one of the reasons why having a Garmin is so useful.

Don’t get overwhelmed with data, or become obsessed with it. It’s there to help you gauge your progress and help you improve, not make running miserable or steal your fun. For a few years, I only used my Garmin (different model) for miles and time. I didn’t pay attention to anything else. Only use what’s relevant for you at the time – it’ll keep your running real.

Categories
Equipping

AfterShokz Trekz Titanium

There may be some controversy about listening to music while you run, but when I’m alone, I almost always train with music. These headphones are Bluetooth and sync up with my Garmin 645 Music watch. They have a mini version, which I got because my head is small, and it’s not too bulky in the back.

Now for those of you who don’t run with music, I understand safety is a big concern. It’s a valid point, that you are less aware of your surroundings with music in your ears, especially for road runners. But these are different! They are bone conduction headphones which means they sit outside your ear so you can still be aware of what’s going on around you. They work and sound just as well as regular headphones, in my opinion, and it’s not like people passing by can hear what you’re listening to either.

Music can be considered a training hindrance for a few different reasons. For starters, it’s easier to tune out your performance and slack off on pace and form. Then sometimes you might find yourself actually running to the beat of whatever song is playing at the time, which may not coincide with your goal for your workout. But on those long, slow runs, sometimes the music helps the miles fly by.

I certainly don’t encourage listening to tunes while you’re racing, but as long as you’re smart about it, I think training with music is fine, and sometimes beneficial for the mental side of running. Just make sure it’s a help, and not a hindrance.

Categories
Racing

SLCTC Winter Series 15k 2019

Race morning at 6:45 a.m. Tigro jumped up on our bed, sat on Kyle’s chest and looked at me. We have to get up earlier throughout the week, so I know he just wanted food, but it was as if he was yelling “RACE DAY!” at me on repeat. I flipped over and stayed in bed for 15 more minutes. All I could think about was how I really didn’t want to go – anywhere – let alone race a 15k. I didn’t know why I was feeling so unmotivated, but it had been a long work week and the weather had been pretty gross so I chalked the funk feeling up to just “one of those days.”

There seemed considerably less people at this race, but that’s to be expected for a 15k distance. It was also 20 degrees at the start, so that may have kept some people home. I ran my warm up and felt confident I could PR, but still felt like a race wasn’t in me. We lined up at the start, and I took off at a reasonable pace, but instantly didn’t feel good. I decided I really needed to focus on my own time and make sure I still get that PR. My legs felt okay, but it was just an overall heavy feeling of exhaustion. I pushed through the miles at a steady effort and was in the lead almost from the start, but second female (the girl who I beat at the 10k), stayed close behind. At first I didn’t know why, I figured she’d pick up the pace and blow past me, but then I realized she was actually racing. She was in it to win it, so she was staying with me until the end or until she felt it safe enough to push past.

Nothing exciting happened, and we remained close and she let me stay in front until mile 7. She said, “Just two more miles,” and to me that signified the race was over. She had plenty left in her to pick it up and take the lead and the win. She came along side and left me in second. I didn’t fight it. I was so tired and still a little worried about my time and whether or not I could make it under 60 minutes. She went on ahead and finished a whole 17 seconds ahead of me.

I still got my PR, and I know it was all I had for the day, but I felt like a disappointment. Not really to myself, but to those around in the running community. Everything can’t always line up on race day. I’ve learned to deal with the disappointments as they come and move on. But this was different. I felt like I let them down, not because I didn’t win, but because I didn’t give them a race. I didn’t make it close and exciting. I know it’s a kind of disappointment I will have to learn to deal with as I continue to progress and compete, but I guess I didn’t realize it existed until now.

My fellow competitor ran a good race, brought home the series win for the second year in a row. I placed 2nd in the series, also for the second year in a row. My splits were a little off because my watch needs to be updated, but this is about what they were: 6:15, 6:20, 6:17, 6:22, 6:21, 6:26, 6:28, 6:25, 6:22, and 1:44 for the last 0.3. For my legs it felt like a tempo, but it was all the energy I had at the time.

I went back and compared my times on the courses from last year. The * indicates a PR.

20182019
5k19:3418:22*
10k39:4337:52*
15k1:00:16*58:59*

I’m happy with the progress. Last year I was overcoming injury and also getting acclimated to the elevation change (sealevel to 4,200 ft). Though it didn’t show for this race, I feel stronger than I ever have and am excited and hopeful for my next 26.2 in seven weeks!

Final Stats

Time – 58:59

16th overall of 309

2nd female of 148

1st in age group of 8

Categories
Racing

SLCTC Winter Series 10k

Goal number one, show up on time. After missing last week’s race, I had a nightmare during the week that I missed the Chicago Marathon. Haha! But now that that’s out of the way on my list of race day fails, I was ready for some performance redemption. My 5k race for this series was a mess, as are most of my 5ks, but doubling the distance helps with my nerves. Even if I go too fast or too slow for one mile, I still feel like I have time to fix it.

After my warm up, I felt pretty good. My legs felt rested, fueled, and not too loose. I saw a few new faces that weren’t at the 5k, but the favorite to win wasn’t there. The only competitor I knew was the runner who bested me at the 5k and bumped me to 3rd. I knew her fitness level, but I was banking on her underestimating mine, based on the 5k. She knew I almost always go out too fast on these shorter races, while she’s good at staying steady and passing me a few miles in. But I wasn’t nervous. Again, I wanted my PR more than the podium.

I lined up a row behind her at the starting line and planned to stay close behind. The horn sounded and I relaxed into a pace that felt sustainable. I decided I was going to ignore my split times buzzing on my watch and go by effort. A few minutes in, I was worried my competition was going too slow for my goal time, so I ended up passing her and took the lead early. I didn’t want to, but I felt confident I could keep grinding. I tucked myself into a pack of guys and kept up the pace.

At the turn around point, the pack had disbanded and I was left with just one guy helping me pull. I was also able to see that my competition was only four or five seconds behind me. I tried my best to stay steady, but while my legs felt good, my lungs were holding me back. I heard her breathing behind me and at mile 4 she caught up and passed me. I didn’t know if I could keep up with two whole miles to go. In my head I started accepting defeat. I didn’t feel like I had much left, but I kept her within ten to fifteen feet. At the mile 5 marker I saw her starting to slow and I attacked instinctively even though I didn’t think I could keep it up. I pushed past her in hopes she wouldn’t call my bluff. She fell behind a little bit and I became hopeful, but with half a mile to go I heard her breathing behind me. Was I going to let her catch me? I had started to get side stitches. Who wanted it more? I started to doubt myself and thought that maybe she wanted it more. But I couldn’t bring myself to not give everything. Home stretch, passing the 6 mile marker I surged and she responded. But I was already in front calling the shots so I had the advantage. The finish line was right there, just one more push. I hit the tape winning by a mere two seconds. I stopped my watch and stumbled to the ground. I was so tired and I just needed to sit. I dry heaved and then my competitor helped me up. I got an instant headache that lasted just a few minutes until I cooled down and got my recovery drink.

Close races are my favorite. I’ve both won and lost by less in the past. If she wasn’t there to push me, I probably wouldn’t have gotten my PR. I was happy with my mostly even splits, my first mile still being my fastest, but much closer than usual (6:00, 6:06, 6:09, 6:09, 6:09, 6:10, and 1:10 for the last .2). I’m also pretty happy that my legs felt good and that my lungs got the better workout. Now, for just the track club series, the overall winner will be between myself and her. Runners get points for placing at each race – 1 for 1st, 2 for 2nd, 3 for 3rd, etc. The runner with the fewest points after the three races wins and right now we are tied 4 – 4. Since the other contender didn’t show up for the 10k, she’s out. Regardless of who shows up for the 15k, there will be a race within the race between just us two.

Final Stats

Time – 37:52

15th of 350 overall

1st 181 female