Marathon Countdown and Coping with “Taper Tantrums”

My marathon is just 13 days away!  To quote another blogger, “this sh1t got real!”, because honestly I can’t think of a better way to describe what those final weeks before the marathon feel like.  During the months of intense training and mileage buildup, I was very well aware that I was in fact training for a marathon, yet all of my focus was on my training, and it somehow just seems like this beautiful and very abstract concept.  This is my fourth time going through this, and it’s been the same every time; It’s not until I begin my taper that it REALLY hits me!  In some ways it gets easier preparing for each successive marathon, because I know what to expect and how to make tweaks in my training/diet.  In other ways it gets harder, because I know what to expect (Oh god, that wall! Why oh why do I keep doing this?!?!) and the tweaking is beginning to more closely resemble obsessive compulsive disorder and hoodoo superstitions.  When the taper begins, and my training requires less focused energy, my focus has the tendency to turn towards self doubt.  That self doubt and anxiety make it tempting to blow off the tapering plan, and continue to run high volumes to make sure I am as prepared as possible for this race.  After all, do I really want to blow 5 months of hard training by “taking it easy” for 3 weeks, the 3 weeks of training when “sh1t gets real”?!  Abs0-efing-loutely!  This is where experience, and understanding the importance of “the taper” as part of an overall training plan, comes in.

shitgotreal

What I am experiencing is not unique, it’s something that many runners, triathletes, and other endurance athletes go through when training for a major event.  I’ve found a lot of articles that discuss this “distress” we all go through during the tapering process.  I’ve seen it called the “taper blues”, “taper tantrums”, “taper traps”,….the list goes on.  I personally like taper tantrums, because it is most adequately descriptive of my personal symptoms!  Are you experiencing any of the below symptoms?  If you are, you may have a case of “taper tantrums”!:

  1. Impulse to Cram: After completing that last 20 mile run, you felt like “I got this!”  It’s more difficult to feel confident about your potential performance when “kicking back” a bit.  You’ll begin to question yourself; did you train enough, get in enough miles, enough speed work…that’s when the college kid mentality kicks in…You know what I mean….when test anxiety had you pulling all nighters to “go over that list of anatomy terms just ONE more time!?!”  And that strategy almost always backfired,right?!  Because you ended up showing up for the test exhausted, stressed, and unable to focus.  The same applies when preparing for a race! You did everything you can to prepare in the months leading up to your race; now give your body a physical and mental break so you can show up refreshed, focused, and ready to put your best foot forward!!
  2. Phantom Pains: You were running 40-50+ miles a week like an invincible beast!  Now that you’re cutting back  to more” human” mileage, everything is starting to hurt!  “Ouch! My back, my knee, my foot…my knee and my foot!!”  It’s not all in your head.  You put your body through a lot during training, and now it is starting to repair itself, which causes minor aches and pains to flare up, perhaps some related to past injuries that never 100% healed.  (For me I become more acutely aware of stiffness in my left knee and the mild pain caused by a small heel spur)  Don’t panic, this is just your body going through the process of repairing itself.  Do a little extra stretching (maybe even some yoga! :-)) and try rolling out those little aches and pains.  If you held up through all the high mileage, odds are you’ll be just fine for your race!
  3. Fatigue/lack of energy: All of a sudden you are SO feel so tired and feel like you just want to nap all the time!  It seems so bizarre to be more tired when running less, but again this is part of the restoration process.  Get a little extra sleep in the weeks/days leading up to your race and spend as much time relaxing as possible.
  4. Carb Cravings: When you aren’t napping, all you want to do is stuff your face with as many high carbohydrate foods as possible!  Pasta, bread, french fries, cake? Yes please!!  These cravings are caused by your body wanting to replenish the carbohydrate stores you depleted during training, and AGAIN your body’s way of trying to recover.  You do want gradually increase the carbohydrates in your diet, and want to effectively carb-load for a few days before the race.  However, resist the temptation to overdo it!  Too many carbohydrates will leave you feeling bloated and lethargic.
  5. Moodiness: All of a sudden everything in your life seems to be stressing you out more, and you feel cranky and irritable.  If you’re like me, you may even have a few meltdowns.  It’s no secret that running releases tons of endorphines, and you may actually be experiencing some endorphin withdrawal symptoms.  (Yep, proof that running can actually be addictive! But at least it’s a healthy addiction! Lol)  Also, anxiety about your upcoming race can be contributing to some of your “crabby pants” moods.  Just try to relax!  Avoid situations that cause unnecessary stress and do (non-running) activities that you find relaxing.  Meditation, knitting, watching movies, get a massage…?
  6. “Itchy legs”/Ready to race: After that last long training run, you feel confident and on top of cloud 9; you are ready to race and you are ready to race now!  Having to wait 3 weeks to compete in a race that’s required months of training can feel like down right torture!  Your legs may even literally feel “twitchy” and “itchy”, ready to go!  Don’t let your itchy legs get away from you, leading you to run hard/fast/long miles or convincing you to compete in an earlier race.  Remember what your goal race is, and spend the last few weeks mentally preparing.
  7. Anxiety/Panic Attacks: Self doubt, fear, anxiety has you playing out every possible worst-case race day scenario in your head.  You even have nightmares about oversleeping and missing the race (a common one for a lot of runners!), getting the trots, not being able to make it up that big hill at mile 9, hitting the wall, blowing out a knee, or having a “DNF”!  You let those thoughts get you spun up, leading to serious anxiety, or even full blown panic attacks.  Again, chill out and start doing things to feel centered and mentally prepared for your race.  Make a checklist of items you need to pack for race day, study the course map, plan your carb-loading menu, and come up with a few realistic race day goals for yourself.  Focusing on your race day plan/strategy will help you feel more in control, and minimize anxiety.

TaperingRunner

 

Here are some great articles on tapering strategies and tips to keep the “taper tantrums” in check:

http://www.runnersworld.com/race-training/taper-traps?page=single

http://www.marathontraining.com/marathon/m_taper.html

http://www.active.com/triathlon/articles/overcoming-the-taper-blues

http://running.about.com/od/distancerunningtips/a/howtotaper.htm

http://www.examiner.com/article/marathon-taper-got-you-feeling-down-a-poem-to-commiserate-the-taper-time-blues


 

My first week of tapering, Week 16 of training for Garden Spot Village Marathon:

  • Monday-Rest
  • Tuesday-Rest
  • Wednesday-5 miles on treadmill (8:30 pace)
  • Thursday-Rest
  • Friday-Run 7.7 Davidsonville Park (8:18 pace)
  • Saturday-Run 6.4 Russet Loop (9:24 overallpace, 8:50 moving pace, lots of waiting time at intersections!)
  • Sunday-12 miles on the treadmill (8:30 pace, This required me playing a lot of mind tricks on myself!)

Total Weekly Miles-31.1 (75% training volume)

Total 2014 Miles-407.2

After 12 mile Run

After 12 mile Run

My “I just tricked myself into running 12 miles on a treadmill face!” There are not many thing in life that trump that in terms of boringness!  Luckily that is my last long(ish) run before the marathon, so hopefully that will be the last time I have to do that for a while.  *Fingers crossed* for warmer weather by the time I start training for the Northface Challenge!


 

Here are some fun, non-running things I did this week to keep my “taper tantrums” at bay:

  •  Helped my daughter prepare for her class video biography performance as Ellen Ochoa (1st Hispanic Female Astronaut):

She makes such an adorable astronaut!

 

  • Had a “happy hour” with the girls at Union Jack’s in Columbia, MD:

    Old school phone booth replica!

    Old school phone booth replica!

  • Oh, and we shared this “elephant ear” desert, Chocolaty Delicious Heaven!!:

IMG_20140329_204045

Have you ever experienced taper tantrums?  What tips/strategies do you have for coping?

run-happy

Liebster Award

Image

I was totally the little girl who got excited by gold stars on my school work, so today is my lucky day!  (I guess technically yesterday was, but I have an issue with procrastination!)  I was nominated for the Liebster award by a very close friend, and fellow blogger, who goes by the online moniker “Living not wanting” (http://livingnotwanting.wordpress.com/)!  I am incredibly flattered and happy to have this opportunity to answer some very thought provoking questions, and to pay it forward to some of the most awesome bloggers I know!  I’ve only been blogging for a few short months, but have found plenty of people, with interesting thoughts and hilarious stories, that I enjoy following (I wish I could think of a less creepy way to phrase that…). Thank you lady for the award, and for being such a great friend!  I can be a tough cookie to break, but your quirky sense of humor and unconditional acceptance has allowed me to come out of my shell!  (Not sure if the cookie and shell analogy work together, but you totally get my point!)  You have such an incredible perspective on life and know how to get me out of my comfort zone! (There is not another human being on earth who could ever get me to do crafts!)  I’m glad that you’ve decided to join the blogging community, to share some of your wisdom and inner peace with others! Because….“You’re pretty radish!”

Image

So what is the Liebster award you may ask?  (I know I did!)  It’s a very simple and generous  pay it forward concept; it’s a way to recognize some of the newbie bloggers you personally love, so others can find them and love them too!  It also gives you the chance to let people who have virtually shared a part of their lives with you (and other total strangers) know that what they write about inspires you in some way and that you think they are super cool!   (Sometimes I’m not good with those “fancy” words!)

There are several variations of these rules but I am following the rules that were given to me.  Mostly because I am easily confused and lack the motivation to do research this late on a Tuesday night! 😉  Here are the rules for those who chose to accept my Liebster award (All though I will not be insulted in any shape or form if you do not, I’m just happy to let you know I think you are pretty radish too!):

•Thank the rockin’ blogger that nominated you
•Answer the 11 questions you were given
•Nominate 11 other bloggers with less than 500 followers
•Post 11 questions for your nominees to answer
•Tag your nominees and post a comment in their blog so they know they’ve been nominated

Here are my answers to the questions that were given to me (Cue drum roll please!):

Image

1. If money was not an obstacle, you could not get in trouble and there was nothing getting in the way… what would you do this weekend? I would go to Tanzania, to climb Mountain Kilimanjaro and go on a safari.  This has been on my bucket list for 10 years!  

2. If you could start a charity what would it be? I would start a mentorship program for young girls, that helped build self-esteem and confidence in STEM subjects, and prepared them for future education and careers in technology.  As a woman who works in the Engineering/IT field, I so dislike the continued perpetuation of the myth that “girls aren’t good at math”.  I would like to see more young women believing in themselves and being encouraged to go into STEM career fields.  FYI…programs like this already exist, I just want more of them!

3. What is your dream job? This makes me think of a conversation I once had, “I’ll be happy when….”!  I love my job now MOST days.  If I could have a second career, I’d like to be a therapist/psychologist, to help people work through their problems to live happier lives (Hopefully…What can I say, I’m still an idealist after 33 years of life!).  I think sometimes people just need someone to listen, to help them understand that they aren’t any weirder than everyone else and they are not alone.

4. How do you relax? I have a hard time with the whole “relaxing” thing, I hate to hold still! When I do want to relax, I like to go for a run and/or spend time outdoors enjoying nature! 

5. What inspired you to start blogging? When I realized I was starting to annoy my friends and family by going on and on and on….about running.  It would take me too many words to explain it here, but I just love running and wanted a constructive outlet for that enthusiasm.  While many people roll their eyes at me when I am going, “Blah, blah, blah….running is so fun!”, I had just as many people telling me I inspired them to start running or to try something else active and healthy for them. (That makes me feel so good!)  So I figured why not blog?  Those who are inspired can read, and those who are annoyed can be spared! At the end of the day; I blog to write about something I care about, to document happy memories, to track my progress, and to motivate/hold myself accountable for my training.  (Ummm….yeah, so basically I just admitted that I started blogging because my friends won’t listen to me anymore! Lol)

6. What is your favorite cookie? Homemade, super chewy/gooey chocolate chip or peanut butter cookies.  Any cookie that combines chocolate and peanut butter? Instant heaven!

7. Besides writing, what is your favorite creative outlet? This is a tough one, because I don’t view myself as being very creative.  I’d say cooking!  (I think that counts!)  I like to try new recipes and find ways to whip up a tasty meal out of what odds and ends I have in my kitchen, or find a way to incorporate an obscure ingredient into something edible.  And when I’m done, I can EAT my masterpiece so I actually feel like I got something out of it! (Because hello! I can’t eat a craft!) I LOVE to eat, that is part of the reason I started running in the first place!

8. What area of your home needs the most decluttering? You mean besides my brain? 😉 Definitely my bedroom, I hate putting away laundry, for whatever reason (Freud doesn’t have an answer for this one), and have had a two basket rotation going for something like 20 years now….and sometimes (and by sometimes I really mean a lot of the time) those baskets overflow and become my two giant/heaping clothes mountain rotation!

9. Would you rather run 100 miles, canoe 100 miles or ride a bike for a hundred miles? Hello! Running Betty here! 😉 I’d rather run 100 miles, hands down, no contest!  I’m an uncoordinated mess on a bike, and while I’ve never actually attempted to canoe, I’m sure it would be pretty much the same! 

10. If you could impact the world in one way what would it be? By overcoming my own fears/insecurities/hang ups and putting off positive energy to those around me.  As off the wall as it may sound, I am a true believer in “life energy” and I think putting out positive energy=getting positive energy back, and that positive (or negative) energy creates a ripple effect.  And if nothing else, I want to know that I make those around me happier…or at the very least, do not inflict pain. 

11. What is stopping you from question 10? I resisted my urge not to give a “safe” answer, the kind of answer I would have given out of fear of judgment.  I think we all too often we hide behind masks and illusions of perfection, which ultimately cause us to feel isolated and alone. 

Image

 

The 11 blogs I chose for this award (Which was hard, because I follow way more than 11 phenomenal bloggers!), in no particular order, are:

1)    http://thegirlwhoraneverywhere.com/

2)    http://blondersideoflife.com/

3)    http://mdracereviews.com/

4)    http://runsaltrun.com/

5)    http://mewsingsofacat.wordpress.com/

6)    http://stampedwithaheart.wordpress.com/

7)    http://despitemypancreas.com/

8)    http://isweatpretty.com/

9)    http://bettylivin.com/

10) http://cherished79.wordpress.com/

11) http://sowhatirun.com/

The questions I pose for the 11 of you (Should you chose to pay this forward):

  1. What inspired you to start blogging (Had to start with the obvious one)?
  2. Which of Snow White’s dwarfs describes you best, and why? (Doc, Happy, Bashful, Sleepy, Sneezy, Grumpy, Dopey)
  3. If you could eat only one food, 3 meals a day for one straight year (With no affect on health), what would it be?
  4. What were your best/worst subjects in school and what would you like to learn now? 
  5. If you ran away to join the circus, what act would you want to perform?
  6. Would you rather wrestle a lion or fight a shark?
  7. If someone had a booger hanging out of their nose, would you tell them?
  8. If you could speak any foreign language (that you don’t already know), what would it be?
  9. If you had to pick a theme song for your life (and it would play in the background everywhere you went), what would it be?
  10.  What famous person do other people say you most resemble?
  11. What is the one thing in life you are the most passionate about? 

Image

Week 15 Training Recap (It’s taper time!!)

This week marks the end of the last “hard” training week before Garden Spot Village Marathon.  It started off kind of “meh”, but by the end of the week I felt like I got my groove back!  I guess those 3 days of rest while I was recovering from whatever weird head thing/stomach virus I had going on did me good! I’ll admit it, sometimes my boyfriend IS right, but shhh! Don’t tell him I said that!  My first two runs this week were on the treadmill, and to be honest I wasn’t really feeling it.  This has felt like the longest/coldest winter ever (I’m sure I”m being a TAD melodramatic! Haha) but mentally I am done with the treadmill for a while and craving more time in the great outdoors!

Then Friday came…I was so excited to get off work early; I grabbed a yummy lunch at Noodles and Company, bought two new pairs of super cute running tights at TJ Maxx (Seriously surprised by their selection of fitness wear and the great prices!), and drove to Lake Elkhorn planning to run 10 miles.  As I am parking my car dockside, it starts pouring down rain.  Murphy’s Law in action, right?  I contemplated waiting until after I picked up my daughter from school, then running on my treadmill when we got home…then I decided to be honest with myself, I so wasn’t going to do that!!  So I sucked it up, threw on a baseball hat and my running gloves and took off.  I got lost a couple of times so I ended up running 11 miles instead of 10; not really sure how that is possible to get lost on a loop, but I impress myself sometimes! 😉  After the first mile, I realized that running in the rain is actually a lot of fun (something I will remind myself of next time I’m contemplating on being a wuss! Haha), I was running as fast as I could splashing in puddles and “bolting” up and down some of the docks. (I tend to act like a big kid when I’m running!)  Just as I was finishing my run, the rain stopped and the sun was out.  When I got home and uploaded my run to Garmin connect I was shocked, 1:13:29 (6:41 overall pace!?!)  Huh?!  Outside of VERY short distance “bursts” (up to half a mile) during speed work, I have never ran that fast before.  It is possible that my Garmin glitched in the rain?  I’m just going to go with the optimistic explanation, that I just had one of those super rare, in the zone, perfect running days.  🙂

Soaked, after my run around Lake Elkhorn Friday!

Soaked, after my run around Lake Elkhorn Friday!

 

I also ran a solid 20 miler today, which was a relief after my GU+GI track disaster on my last 20 miler.  Between my fun splish/splashing lake run Friday, a new 5K PR on Saturday, and a confidence boosting 20 miler today; I had three consecutive days of happy running and am going into my 3 week taper before Garden Spot feeling positive.

The quick Run-Down:

  • Monday-Rest
  • Tuesday-Rest
  • Wednesday-Run 5 on treadmill (Moderate/Tempo Run)
  • Thursday– Run 2.5 on treadmill
  • Friday-Run 11 at Lake Elkhorn
  • Saturday– Barlowe 5K (New PR, 23:11 🙂 + 2 miles easy on my treadmill in the afternoon
  • Sunday-Run 20 on B&A Trail (In 2:53:11, 8:40 pace, best training 20 miler ever! 🙂 )
Warming up in my car after 20 miles on the B&A Trail

Warming up in my car after 20 miles on the B&A Trail

Weekly Mileage-43.6

2014 Mileage-376.1

Lessons:

1)  Sometimes breaks are good.:  Training can wear you down physically and emotionally, and a nice break helps you recharge to come back strong.  (I know this is kind of repeat from last week when I was taking time off, BUT I can be a slow learner and reaffirming lessons is necessary sometimes! ;-))

2) Nutrition makes a huge difference in performance!:  This week I ate lots of vegetarian lunches from Trader Joe’s (Love their salads and wraps!)  and managed the “perfect” carb load before my 20 miler.  I’m beginning to discover (through trial and error) that too much protein makes me feel bloated and clean/plain carbs like whole grain pasta and brown rice are like magic for my legs!  My energy levels were up and my stomach issues at bay this week!

eathealthy

3) Not getting pedicures=ugly but very tough feet:  I usually get pedicures once a month to keep my footsies open toe worthy despite the beating I put on them running.  I have not had time (or incentive) to get one this winter, so my feet are busted (I’m not going to lie, I think I could walk on hot coals right now and be totally ok! Lol) but I have been noticing they get less tender and sore during my long runs.  (Major conundrum that I’ll try to sort out by the summer!)

brokefeet

4) Don’t be afraid to run in the rain! : Or any other weather for that matter!  There is running gear for virtually any weather, and running outside (even in less than perfect conditions) is so good for the body, soul, and mind!

if-you-wait-for-perfect-conditions-youll-never-get-anything-done

5) Be happy for my own accomplishments: I need to work on being a bit less competitive (*Gasp* My friends are shocked, right?! Haha), learn to run MY OWN race/training run/etc, and be happy/proud of my accomplishments and how far I’ve come as a runner over the last few years.  For *teeny tiny* minute, I considered NOT saying anything about winning my race on Saturday, because I knew it wasn’t the fastest or most competitive 5K time.  Everyone talks about running that sub-20 5K, right?  I realized I was being ridiculous and needed to just be happy about MY PR/1st time ever placing in a road race/super cool goodie bag/fabulous friends/and the awesome cause we were supporting! 

perfect

6) To remember I am truly blessed: To be strong and healthy enough to run and to be surrounded by positive people who support me and are proud of me.

ice-cream

Happy training everyone!

 

 

Race Review-Barlowe Bolt 5K

Image

Look who won her first race! AND got soap on the rope! Haha

This morning I ran my first race of 2014, the Barlowe Bolt 5K in Millersville, MD.  It was a small (Just over 100 runners)/local race, organized by “Friends of Olde Mill as a fundraiser to build a community playground.  My friend is part of the fundraising committee, and lives just a few minutes away from the starting line so we had a little sleep over last night! Lol  I am sooo not a morning person, and I figured this would allow me to sleep in a little bit.  It was also great to spend the evening catching up with friends while listening to Bob Marley records!

Despite the fact that I spent the night literally right around the corner from the starting line, I somehow managed to oversleep.  I woke up my friends 13 year old daughter (Today was her first 5K!), we got dressed as quickly as we could, and were sprinting down the hill as they announced the race was starting in 2 minutes!  So much for the warm-up mile and stretching we had planned! Lol  The awesome volunteers helped us get on our bibs and timing chips “lickity split”, we kept running from the sign in table to the back of the starting coral just as the gun went off.  (I’d like to say this is unusual circumstances for me, but the same thing happened to me last year at the Frederick Half!)

It was a cold morning, but I warmed up quickly (I’m sure the adrenaline of the poorly executed start had something to do with that!)  I weaved in and out of people for the first half mile, then sprinted as fast as I could to try to make up time.  I passed several people, including two females (I targeted them, but boy did they make me work to pass them!).  At one point I saw the lead bike just a couple of blocks ahead of me, then realized I did not see any other women.  I definitely went out too fast; I felt like tossing my cookies was a very real possibility right around the half way point, when a race volunteer yelled out to me that I was the 1st place female.  No way my competitive side was letting me slow down now!  I focused on the kid running ahead of me; (No joke, this boy was like 10 and totally kicking my butt!) and told myself to just breathe, I only had a mile and a half left to go.  I ended up finishing with a time of 23:11 (Chip Time), finishing 1st place overall female (This is the first race I’ve ever placed in, so that was pretty exciting), with a new PR!

Image

Cool Gift Bag for 1st place female.  Runner Fact: Runners LOVE swag!

I mingled for  while, drinking coffee to warm up, and chatting with some of the other runners, local vendors, and race volunteers.  There was plenty of free water, coffee, fresh fruit, and other snacks and lots of cool swag; including doggie biscuits from the great people of Fieldstone Animal Inn.  Not only was this race kid friendly, it was also pet friendly, which scores it major brownie points in my book!

Next they gave out awards.  Not only did they have prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place male/female, they also gave certificates to the top three for every division and dog tags to all of the kids.  Overall I give this race high marks; it was well organized, the race volunteers were so friendly, and there was such a personal feel.  This was only the second Barlowe Bolt 5K, and hopefully participation will continue to increase as word gets out about what a great race this is!  🙂

After all of the festivities wrapped up, we went back to my friends house, where her husband was cooking us a big waffle and bacon breakfast!  That officially tipped the scales, making today the perfect day!  The food was delicious!  I smoothered my waffles with cool whip and maple syrup!  ❤  The baby (2 y/o) climbed onto the table and dunked her entire waffle into the container of cool whip; I’d like to think she was just following my awesome example on how food is to be enjoyed! 🙂  All and all, a wonderful day!

Image

Maple syrupy, cool whippy, waffley goodness!!!

Of course, no race would ever be complete without a “Mini-me + Me” selfie!

Image

The love of my life and center of my universe, Miss Ilana!

If you are interested in information for next years Barlowe Bolt 5K (there are lots of fantastic early bird specials), or would like information on how you can support a great local cause, check out http://www.friendsofoldemill.org.

Here’s another great review from 3rd place overall finisher today/fellow blogger (Not that I’m cyber-stalking him or anything! 😉 ):

http://mdracereviews.com/2014/03/22/barlowe-bolt-5k/

It’s that time of year again!  Did you do any good races this weekend?  What races do you have coming up?

Run. Drive. Sleep? Repeat. Throwback thursday! Ragnar style!

Rewind to 2010…I’m still relatively new to this whole running thing, and with a few races under my belt, I’ve become acutely aware of “Runner peer pressure”.  You run a local 5k and have a blast mingling with other runners post race…by the time you leave you’ve agreed to run another race (or 3)!  While training with a Co – worker for my second marathon (marine Corp marathon), he casually mentions that he isn’t going to be able to run a relay he signed up for due to a conflicting work conference.   He asks me if I’d mind filling I’m for him.  In retrospect, maybe I should have asked a couple questions, but without even thinking I respond with an enthusiastic, “Sure! It’ll be fun!”  So that is how I become a member of “Team Microsoft”. (Oh, did I mention I’m a geek who happens to know a lot of other geeks?!?)

A few days later I meet “chipper” Jim, the team captain, who gives me an animated explanation of the “Ragnar”.  My eyes are glazed over; confused by why I need a sleeping bag, snacks, multiple sets of running clothes, a head lamp?…by the end of our conversation I realize I signed up for a 202 mile relay that started in western Maryland and finished in Washington D.C.!  Huh?!?! What the hell was I thinking?!? I was intimidated but also thrilled to be part of something so insane!  All the arrangements were made, I’m runner 3, and meeting up with van 1 the night before the race to head out to a hotel near the starting line.

image

Runners from van 1, bright eyed and bushy tailed at the starting line!

This ended up being the best race experience of my life!  It was unlike any other race; it’s not a closed course (meaning you have to look out for cars), the terrain is varied/intense in places (with some steep hills and trail running), there are moments where I wondered, “where on earth am I?!”, and running through the pitch black country side with a head lamp on was a trip!  On top of that, the atmosphere was lively; with costumes, elaborately decorated vans, and plenty of cheesy runner humor (Like “Who fartleked in the van?)!

image

Running my first leg, first time ever running a hill this big!

  This race was the beginning of my “ultra-relay” obsession! To date I’ve ran 4 Ragnar relays (3 with my original team!) And 1 American odyssey race (a similar but admittedly not as well organized race).  I not only got a lot of great swag from these races (Ragnar race medals double as beer bottle openers! Awesomeness! ), I also developed many incredible memories and friendships! 

image

My original Ragnar team!

If you’ve never ran this style race before, I strongly advice given it a shot! (There’s that “Runner peer pressure” *wink wink*)

http://www.ragnarrelay.com/

What is the craziest race you’ve ever been “Runner peer pressured” into doing?

Happy St Patrick’s Day!!

Shake your shamrocks! I was so excited about this thrift shop find last summer…no way I was going to let 4-8 inches of snow keep me from being festive and wearing it! Had a nice low – key lunch with a friend to celebrate!

image

How are you celebrating your St Patrick’s day?!

Week 14 Training Recap

It’s hard to believe that my marathon is only a month away!  I’d like to say it’s flown by, but with the extended, abnormally snowy and cold winter it’s been quite painful.  I missed a couple runs here and there, but I’m proud of myself for overall sticking to my training plan and logging a lot of miles in the blistering cold (or even worse, on the dreadmill).  Next week is my last week of hard week of training before I begin tapering!  I have a room booked for Danny and me at a cute bed and breakfast for race weekend, and I’m getting so excited!  With this race being on a Saturday, I will have time for a post-race shower and nap, then can enjoy the rest of the weekend exploring the local farmer’s markets and quaint shops in PA Dutch country! 🙂

Oh, and I’ve been reading about the “coveted” road apple award, pretty funny but I’ll be totally o.k. with not getting one! Lol

"Don't step in it"...Great advice that I will try to follow when running Garden Spot! Haha

“Don’t step in it”…Great advice that I will try to follow when running Garden Spot! Haha

I had 12 miles scheduled for today, but I’ve been fighting off a bad cold all week that’s been getting progressively worse.  I hate missing runs, but I know my body will thank me next week for finally giving it a break!  I am hoping to get back to 100%, with 2 or 3 days of rest, so I can finish off that last hard training week strong!  Despite feeling under the weather, I’ve enjoyed my runs this week; especially my two outdoor runs in beautiful Spring weather (We’re getting teased with a day of Spring here and there now!).  The nice weather and running outside has helped me feel more focused in my training, and I felt strong and energetic during my week 14 runs.  🙂

Happy, Sweaty, Post-Run Selfie!

Happy, Sweaty, Post-Run Selfie!

The Run Down:

Monday

  • Rest

Tuesday

  • Run 5 miles outside

Wednesday

  • Run 5 miles treadmill

Thursday

  • Rest

Friday

  • Run 5 miles treadmill

Saturday

  • Run 9.15 miles outside (the .15 is important! Lol)

Sunday- 

  • Rest (This sick gal finally surrendered….well, for a day or two!)

Week Miles- 24.15

Total 2014 Miles-332.25

The Take Aways from this weeks training:

  1. Sunshine and spending time outside makes me giddy!  The vitamin D boosts my energy/ mood and makes me want to sing…..

    You make me happy!

    You make me happy!

  2. You will have days that remind you running is fun!  You will also have days when you aren’t feeling it so much, those are the days that you need to remind yourself that running is fun!  Not every run has to be an intense training run, when feeling burned out I like to make up running games.   Fartlek runs are always fun, not to mention funny to say!  One of my favorite running games is “Survival Orienteering”!  I purposely run in a random direction, get lost, then day-dream that I am trying to find my way back to civilization.  Silly? Probably! Haha But…..

    There is so much we can learn from kids!

    There is so much we can learn from kids!

  3. Take a day or two off training when under the weather to let your body recover.  You’ll get back to 100% and end up having more quality training overall.
    Yep...today is a PJs and coffee day for this girl!

    Yep…today is a PJs and coffee day for this girl!

    4. You can accomplish so much more with the support of others than you can accomplish on your own!  My #1 fan is my boyfriend Danny!  He understands, supports, respects, and even loves my passion and drive!  Coincidentally my running has improved by leaps and bounds since we met (I literally PRed at every distance last year!).  I totally love this guy!

    Did I mention that he also makes me laugh?! <3

    Did I mention that he also makes me laugh?! ❤

    How was your training last week?  Who’s your biggest supporter?