Lake Stevens 70.3: Week 2

Week two is in the books, as well as a three-day weekend with my two favorites that I’ve missed so much: Chicken Face and Lola.

UntitledAround and around in the dark.

From my first beeper swim (more on that later), ramping up yardage in the pool, and getting out of my own head running loop after loop in the dark on the track, the training felt like I was getting back to the old triathlon Page. A sign of comfort and happiness as my heart misses those two emotions more frequently than not.

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Then came Friday, a reprieve from the work week and the chance to go wine tasting with my husband, take walks with my dog, hide from the rain in the movie theaters, binge watch House of Cards season two, and to do a little heart rate testing at a local 5K.

As part of my heart-rate/MAF based training, Sonja needed to see just how high I could push it — enter the Heart Break 5K. Well, let’s be more specific, here’s the race day plan that we laid out:

  • A mandatory 1.5 mile warm-up and some strides. No warm-up? Then pack your stuff and go home.
  • Race strategy: go easy for 1 mile and then “nail it to the wall,” with a reminder that time didn’t matter in this race, only effort. We want to see just how high we could get my heart-rate…oh, and absolutely no looking at my watch.

So I did just that: warmed-up, turned my watch around and just ran. Those miles weren’t the most visually exhilarating and the four hair-pin turnarounds with volunteers randomly standing in the middle of the cones where I had to shout at them, “What one do I go around?” were less than ideal. But I won’t lie, it was fun to feel like a top female athlete: I was the second female, first in my age group and fourth overall.

Sure it was a small local race, but it was a hell of a lot of fun letting the race standings transport you to a little dreamland for 3.1 miles. I’ll take my 20:14 minutes of small-town fame and enjoy it.

While it was no PR, Sonja reminded me that I’m not allowed to PR this early in the season…or maybe it was all that wine from Friday’s wine tasting rendezvous.

But can we just talk about the best part of the race for a second? Seeing Chicken Face finish, taking one too many KIND bars, and the post-race strawberry shortcake and make-your-own oatmeal bar. I can appreciate a 5K with solid food options.

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So hurrah for 5Ks and post-race food goodness, but HURRAH for time with the people that I care for the most.

I closed out week 2 with:

7.23 hours training:
4,950 yards swimming
41.4 miles cycling 
18.2 miles running
35 minutes core and rolling

Happy Running!

   
9 Comments | Posted in Training

7 Things I Learned In Week One

While it has technically been 10 days, I’m calling it week one. We are officially back in the saddle of triathlon training, focusing on all things 70.3 this time around.

But even with an Ironman under my belt, I’m still considered a total noob in the long distance triathlon world and am ready to learn more. Thankfully, Sonja is by my side and at times helping me learn new lessons, and at other times, confirm what I know I should have always been doing. So without further ado, here are the seven things I learned about triathlon training in week one.

1. Sleep: It’s a no-brainer. Sleep is important, sleep is good for you, and I won’t take up space explaining the benefits on the blog. Google it. It’s a scientific fact.

But as much as we all know this, I logged my 6-7ish hours of sleep per night and I received very clear feedback that this needs to be my number one goal of the week: GET MORE SLEEP. At least 8 hours. I can’t argue with that, so I’m going to do my best to get off the computer and into the covers earlier each night.

2. Pre-Fuel: Another no brainer, but because I don’t always wake-up hungry, I usually just drink tea prior to working out, then would eat breakfast after. WRONG. I need to take in a light snack, half an apple and some peanut butter (or something along those lines) prior to the workout. About mid-week in, I started taking in some pre-workout fuel and would you look at that, I had more energy throughout the workout. Shocker.

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3. Paddle Placement: During my previous year and a half of triathlon training, I didn’t use paddles much. But when Sonja put them on my list of gear to get, I ordered them (the XS size for my chicken arms) and texted Sonja to see if the awkwardness on my hands was correct. Well, I was all wrong — note that we shouldn’t use the wrist strap on the paddle.

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4. Elbow Dropping and Drills: If you’re a new swimmer like myself, you likely fall in the same boat of dropping your elbow before your hand enters the water with each stroke (apparently it should remain high). To start remedying this issue, we’re doing three strokes of high elbow drills with EACH length. Here are some other high elbow tips/drills. Get outta here elbow — you’re getting in my way.

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5. Weather Isn’t an Excuse: While I realize it pales in comparison to weather in other parts of the country, Portland experienced it’s own version of SNOWPOCALYPSE this weekend — complete with iPhone emergency alerts to stay inside.

Because the city isn’t built to handle this kind of weather (it never happens; hence the very few snow plows and infrastructure), the entire city practically shut down. I am not exaggerating — even Starbucks was closed. This also meant that I couldn’t run outside because of the extreme ice warnings and I couldn’t get to work to use the treadmill.

So what did I do? I shamefully admit that I found a gym within walking distance of my apartment, found out that they weren’t yet closed and signed up for a free trial week just to get my run in. Ridiculous, but kind of fun checking out new places while the rest of the city is snowed in. Sorry weather, you couldn’t do in my first week!

6. Google Hangouts: Every Sunday Sonja has a team Google Hangout chat. While I’m addicted to gChat, the multi-person Google Hangout is a really great tool with some fun features — including showing the speakers face in the main screen when they talk, “hats” to wear and more. I’ll be using this more in the future. If you don’t use gChat, I question what you’re using. AIM?

7. I Kinda Love This Stuff: I can feel that little flame inside lighting back up and I love it.

I closed out week 1 with:

9.32 hours training:
3,600 yards swimming
45.9 miles cycling 
15.1 miles running
1 hour and 25 minutes core and rolling

Happy Running!

   
25 Comments | Posted in Weekly Recap

Starting With Intention

I haven’t posted since early January.

It hasn’t been for a lack of adventures — far from it. Over the past two years, I trained, got injured, trained again, raced, recovered, moved, started a new job, trained, ran a marathon PR, traveled and more.

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I’ve enjoyed amazing runs with some of the best friends I’ve ever had and I explored new countries with the love of my life…with a little work mixed in.

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Oh and did I mention the food in Europe?!

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I am extremely lucky for these amazing opportunities and my husband who supports me and my nomadic tendencies (with a few hearty arguments along the way). Overall, I’ve done a decent job of keeping my mind busy  – especially since Ironman.

Yet ever since that big race, that deep, inner motivation and athletic happiness gauge that used to overflow on a daily basis was waning. I was still happy, yet that “X factor” just left me a bit nonchalant and unfulfilled with where I was — I didn’t even admit to the funk I was in until Saturday.

I decided that February would be my New Years — my fresh start.

I needed to figure out what it was that I was missing, and I also decided that I am going to reprioritize/change some personal/life things over the next year. Not just about my own athletic endeavors, but choices that will help me beyond “Page the athletes” and into the “Page the wife, sister, daughter, aunt, friend, etc.”  Redefining who I am outside of my sports and career. Let’s just leave those there.

As for the athletic side, I decided to change coaches and start a new journey toward Ironman 70.3 — Lake Stevens. My former triathlon coach was GREAT, my last running coach didn’t fit my style, and this time around, I just knew I needed something different. Someone who would be “all up in my shiz” and help me build both physical and mental confidence — enter Sonja Wieck.

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My first, weekly GoSonja Google Hangout. Sneaky screenshot style.

Saturday was my first Sonja workout and consisted of a 2 hours and 15 minutes “test ride.” In other words, “let’s see what I’m working with here.” I finally got a Cobb saddle and was equipped to do an actual workout (not just spinning because it hurt too bad to go into aero with the other saddle).

I mustered up my gear, fuel, electronics and enough entertainment to get me through the workout. Unsure of what to expect, I just hopped on and followed the cue sheet.

Over two hours later, sweat literally pooling, my legs pushed to a limit they haven’t been to in a while…I smiled. There I was, solo in my apartment, smiling ear-to-ear and I pumped my fist in the air — I kid you not. It was the first time that I can recall that the “X Factor” was back. I’m sure it was the result of an overwhelming endorphin high, but whatever it was that I was missing, it was overwhelming my entire being.

I called Chicken Face while riding my endorphin high and he was a bit confused with my inexplicable glee. I continued to ride that high the entire weekend…into the BARRE3 class (bad idea), onto the Sunday test run, and meeting me here, as I write this post.

As I try to wrap my brain around what “clicked”, I can only guess that it’s partly due to a few things: my 2014 “life reprioritization” and its associated intention.

I know and am ok with a full Ironman not being in the books for 2014. Instead my intentions will be on my family, friends and focusing on half Ironmans. My intentions are no longer to get in as many new adventures as possible, but to enjoy the now and those that I am with.

We are always seeking for more, more, more (myself included), but what about what we already have? What’s in front of you and the beauty in the daily nuances, the sweat you’re shedding at that moment and the people who want to share those moments with you. I intend to make them and those moment a priority — over everything else.

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Happy Running!

   
15 Comments | Posted in Life, Uncategorized

Back At It

It’s no secret that running is my golden child. I love it. I cherish it. I give it preferential treatment and sugary cereal on Saturday mornings. Would you blame me with views like this?

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But it’s also no surprise that my least favorite is also the sport in which I’m the weakest. Oh you want me to try and use my chicken arms to propel me through water for an hour plus while staring at nothing other than a black line? Sounds EXHILARATING.

But as we transition from marathon mode to triathlon training, and knowing that I have some audacious goals in front of me over the next two years (yes years), I’m declaring my avoidance of swimming officially OVER and facing the fact that I have some work to do in the pool. I will embrace the “drowned-rat” look, beg for forgiveness at work, and will boast about chlorine as my fragrance of choice. Plus, swimming in this pool is kind of a dream come true – in fact, it’s the only pool I actually…dare I say…enjoy swimming.

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February is going to start a new training regime and while I have a lot of rebuilding to do in the pool, I also know that I’m aiming to get some yardage under my belt and some meat on these bones.

What’s your least favorite and how are you embracing it?

Happy Running (and Swimming)!

   
31 Comments | Posted in Swimming

Introducing Rocko

Because I’m just that excited about my new bike…

WelcomeRocko_Bike Argon18 E116

…or because I’m pathetic and can’t prioritize things to do on a Tuesday night.

Either way, the bike love is back in a big way. We’re fitting, tweaking and prepping for Rocko’s big outdoor debut and I’m anxious to get back on two wheels.

Big thanks to Tiny Prints for letting me steal this ridiculous comp, to a good friend for helping hook me up and to the moving company who cracked the frame of my first bike, who made me want to punch someone in the face, but ultimately compensated me with enough to take home Rocko (R.I.P. Dora).

Rocko is a 2014 Argon18 E116 and I feel like a completed fraud with him — he’s far too sexy for this pasty redhead. I guess this Fred will just have to fake it until she makes it, but I can’t wait to try.

Happy Running & Cycling!

   
23 Comments | Posted in cycling

2013 In Review

At the end of 2012, I vowed to live adventurously. What I didn’t anticipate was just how…adventurous…2013 would be.

Contrary to its stereotype, adventure isn’t just global treks, skydiving, or a Swiss Family escapade. And adventure wouldn’t be adventure if it didn’t come with crazy highs and frustrating lows. Instead, I’ve discovered that adventure was finding patience, going outside of my comfort zone and making big, risky, and scary changes to my life and my family’s life. Some of which ended well and others did not.

But I suppose that’s part of the process, right? The process in living life, finding myself, creating a story and simply…evolving. In the end, it turns out that 2013 wasn’t so much about living adventurously, but rather, about taking chances. And it’s like they say, you only regret the chances you didn’t take.

In 2013, I traveled, I became an aunt (twice!), I learned about injury recovery and ankle rehab, I completed my first Ironman, I fell in love with triathlon, I cooked more, I moved to a different state, I started a new job, I met two of the most important friends I’ve ever had, I started trail running, I read more, I PR’d in the marathon, I became an ambassador, I registered for more races, and most importantly, I continue to learn more about what’s truly important, and love my husband, Lola and family more every day. Now that right there is what it’s all about.

Here’s to the chances and changes of 2013, and to you guys — thanks for your continued support along the entire way. Your comments and cheers mean so much to me.

 Happy New Year & Happy Running!

   
14 Comments | Posted in Life

The Coeur Sports 2014 Elite Team

While the list of things to do is still a mile long, I have to take a break to share some very exciting news.

Unlike every other person in my Facebook newsfeed, no, I’m not pregnant. No, I did not buy a house. No, I did not win Mega Millions. Who are we kidding, if I won Mega Millions you’d likely not hear from me for a very, very long time.

But I do feel pretty lucky in that I am joining the Coeur Sports 2014 Elite triathlon team!

I am excited to join this new family of incredibly talented female athletes and to join a company that has entrepreneurship, mentorship and a drive to dream big at heart.

Does Coeur have great products? Of course! Do other teams have solid gear? Most definitely! But I wanted to share why I made the jump to be part of this new family.  Yes, the free gear is awesome and makes my life that much easier – I would be lying if that wasn’t a great perk. But more than the product, it’s the people.

If you’ve followed me from the beginning of my triathlon journey or if you’re new here, I don’t hide my triathlon fears. From my (still present) open water anxiety issues, to my first group ride fears, to lacking the self-confidence, to be calling a Fred and then the Wall Street Journal posting about my “Fred” experience – making a jump into a new sport is flat out scary.

But through social media, I found myself tweeting, Facebooking, and emailing a handful of inspirational (that adjective is an understatement) women who in my eyes were the epitome of “kick ass.” Even as a noob, they never shunned me or mocked my questions (as I have been so often in the past), but instead they took the time to listen, invite me on adventures, connect me with the right people, comment on my blog and cheer me along the entire way.

In a world where women far too often fail to support each other and in a sport where competition is at its core, to be welcomed, mentored and supported is refreshing, reassuring and appreciated.

So when some of these same women invited me to join the Coeur 2014 Elite team, it was clear. Yes, the product is top notch, but even more than that, I want to surround myself with these types of people. The kind that aren’t afraid to start from scratch, the kind that want to dream big, and most importantly, the kind that welcome the newbies, ambassadors, elites and pros all with the same open arms.

I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store and I hope you have the happiest of holidays.

Happy Running!

   
15 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

2013 Runner & Triathlete Holiday Gift Guide

It’s true, every blogger has a list of their recommended holiday gifts, and I too have the same. I contemplated writing a post about how I loathed joining the gift guide bandwagon, but then writing a post about the loathing the proverbial bandwagon means that I’m joining the bandwagon of those writing about how I’m just another blogger with just another gift guide. Totally makes sense right? Someone get me another eggnog! Wait, I don’t even like eggnog.

Thus, to be a total holiday rebel, I’m going to play a mind-boggling card here and just say here is my list of some of my favorite things that would make a great runner or triathlete gift. Also, please note that I personally own or have tried everything on this list so they are TSATS tried, tested and approved!

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1. You Got Chicked T-Shirt, $29: You might get some strange looks, but explaining what “Chicked” is brings a whole new level of pride. I got this shirt after IMCDA and I wear it confidently at least once a week.

2. Black Diamond Sprinter Headlamp (Titanium), $52: Captain Obvious reporting here: it’s freaking dark and cold this time of year. Tell your secret Santa, or yourself, that you care about their wellbeing and don’t want them getting hit/attacked/injured in their athletic endeavors by gifting this headlamp. It came recommended to me by my ultra-running friends so you have multiple stamps of approval.

3. Air Stability Wobble Cushion, $15: What the heck is this spikey blue thing? It’s a balancing/strength training tool and your ankles will thank you for it. Buy one. Use it. Don’t get injured.

4. Cards Against Humanity,$25: If you haven’t played Cards Against Humanity yet, gather your most non-judgmental friends, grab some booze and get playin’. Added bonus: you can even make/print your own cards here.

5. Rose Gold Nike+ FuelBand, $169: I wouldn’t say it’s a tool to help you train in a specific sport, but it’s a great way to simply empower you to move more. Even though I train for multiple sports, I still work in a cube and when I see that I haven’t moved more than 5 minutes within the past hour, it’s pretty enlightening. That’s where the Nike+ FuelBand comes in. Whether it be via Sessions or challenges with friends, it’s a great motivator to get up and get moving, plus, the limited edition Rose Gold band makes for a super sleek arm party.

6. Patagonia Ultralight Down Hoodie, $349: Full disclosure here – I did not pay full price for this jacket. In fact, my mom bought it for me for my birthday, at the Patagonia outlet, where it was not only discounted but she received an additional 40% off. However, this jacket is nothing short of amazing. It’s light, I don’t feel like a marshmallow in it, it keeps me incredibly warm, and it rolls up into a little ball. Perfect!

7. Oakley Radarlock Pitch Sunglasses, $300: I didn’t know what good cycling glasses were until I found these. They are worth every invested penny. Trust me on this one.

8. Barracuda Goggle, $17: These goggles were recommended to me when I first started swimming and I haven’t found anything better since. They fit my wide face, don’t give me a headache and leave minimal goggle marks.

9. The Complete Runner’s Day-By-Day Log 2014 Calendar, $10: I try to track all of my miles online, but there isn’t anything quite like pen and paper. This is a great log for newbie runners to document their training.

10. CycleOps Fluid 2 Indoor Trainer, $280: So you really want to impress the cyclist in your family this holiday? Then up your ante and get them this trainer. For bonus points, get the climbing block too!

11. Homeland, $29: During last year’s trainer rides, I was all about my guilty pleasure, SMASH. But if I had been watching Homeland instead, I would have demolished my rides out of pure intensity and anticipation. Get the DVD series, watch from the beginning and be prepared to praise Claire Daines as a brilliant actress with some really strange facial expressions.

What are you hoping for or gifting to your favorite athlete this year?

Happy Holidays!

   
21 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

Race Recap: California International Marathon (CIM)

On Saturday afternoon, we stopped at Target for some throwaway clothes.

Starting line temperatures were to be below freezing, I’ve never run a marathon in these kind of temps, hell, I hadn’t run a full marathon (minus the Ironman marathon) since 2011. With cheap sweats and snacks in hand, Chicken Face and I proceeded to do nothing but rest and eat for the rest of the day.

UntitledThese are my sexy sweats.

Thanks to our free hotel room near the start, I was able to wake up at a decent hour (5 a.m.), eat breakfast in our room, gear up and get comfy in my throwaway clothes. It wasn’t long before I was at the start, in line for the port-a-potty and I spotted my friend Antonia.

We huddled and discussed our clothing layering options. At that time, I second-guessed my tank top and shorts decision, but there was no turning back and put faith in the clothing advice Aron and Jen had given me. With the start approaching, I tossed my sweat pants but decided to keep the sweatshirt on, with all of its fuzz-ball, anti-wicking glory.

BANG! We were off.

I had Gu Chomps shoved in my bra and I was holding extra pack — I had learned my lesson about fueling and I did not want to run out. But there I was with a new situation: I was running with an abnormally big sweatshirt with tight cuffs, so I shoved my Gu Chomps up the sleeve and they found a snug little resting place. But in order for my Chomps to rest safely and comfortably, I had to pull down my sleeve over my watch – and so I did.

At that point, I just ran. I ran to what felt comfortable, to what felt fun, and to what felt a bit challenging, yet sustainable. Because my sweatshirt was covering my watch and holding my Chomps in place, I didn’t look at my time until each mile marker, when my watch would beep and tell me my splits. When I looked down and saw the faster than average splits, I told myself to calm down, don’t blow up too soon.

So the sleeve would go back down, cover up the watch, and I wouldn’t check again until the next mile marker. Mile after mile, my splits were faster than normal, yet consistent. I was feeling great…well, cold, but great, so I just kept running.

I told myself I would ditch the sweater after 2 miles, maybe 3 miles, maybe 4 miles… I didn’t end up getting rid of it until I made my first bathroom stop at mile 8. It was those first eight miles of not looking at my watch and instead running by feel that set my pace, perspective and confidence for the rest of the race. No pace mind games, just running at my capability level, at a pace I enjoyed. People tell you this all the time, but you never really get it until you try it. And in my case, I unexpectedly discovered it thanks to an $8 throwaway sweatshirt.

At this point in the game I was already surprised by my own performance, but was cautious not to let it get to my head as these paces were fast for me, I knew I needed to sustain, and my gut wasn’t feeling too well.

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I turned the corner at mile 10 and saw all of my friends jumping and cheering like crazy. What I didn’t know was that they had made a sign for me and to see all of them cheering their hearts out almost made me cry on the course… this is no exaggeration. A big thank you to Alyssa, Cate, Mike, Will, Aron and Jojo for being out there on a frigid day – you gave me something to look forward to and I will forever be grateful. Chicken Face couldn’t make it out to be on the course as he was finishing a final, which is why I’m even more thankful for this bunch!

CIM markets itself as a “net downhill” course, but if you look at the map, you only lose ~300 ft. of elevation, and instead, it’s 26.2 miles of constant rollers. Thus, the middle miles were just a constant chug. I had my music on and I just made my way through the miles, counting down one at a time, hoping to not hit a wall.

Along the way I made two more bathroom stops (for a total of three – ugh) and my gut was turning over. Not much you can really do except put one foot in front of the other. I saw friends again and saw a blog friend I wasn’t expecting to see when I randomly heard someone shout my name. Hi, Tim!

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The course itself is 95% through suburbia with not too much to look at. But the sun had finally broken out during the middle miles and the clouds were enough scenery to provide something beautiful to look at. As you can see, I wasn’t doing much other than running, listening, and stopping at the bathroom.

By the time mile 20 came around, there was a sign that said, “You’re at mile 20. Never trust a fart.” I appreciated that so much more than the multiple “That’s what she said…” signs that were everywhere. Mile 20 also had these banners up that looked like brick walls and at that point, I thought, “Oh my God. I haven’t hit the wall yet.” There was minimal watch obsessing and I only focused on the lap splits and then how much time I lost at each bathroom break. Overall, probably a minute and a half to two minutes total.

As I was weaving through some trees, I saw a petite girl in neon up ahead. I knew exactly who it was: my friend Jess. She looked like she was having a bit of trouble so I had to hustle to catch up to her where she told me she was having a bad cramp. I then looked at her and said, “Jess. Come on. Let’s do this together.”

We didn’t say much of anything to each other for the rest of the race, but instead, it was a silent agreement between two friends and runners that we were in this together, until the end, and that we were going to absolutely finish this.

Whenever she would pick up the pace, I’d try hard to push my pace to catch up with her, and the same applied to her when I found some spare juice in my legs. Together, we were pushing each other through those last miles in a way that helped catapult us both to unexpected and overwhelmingly happy finishes.

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We reached the final 1.2 miles and I said, “Look, there’s Jojo and Aron ahead.” Just the energy booster that we needed; our leg turnover rate increase. As we approached the last .2 miles I muttered, “Let’s do this…” and we shifted gears into overdrive.

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We finished, together, in 3:12:57.

106th female / 37 out of 391 in my AG / 7:22 avg. pace

I couldn’t have done it without Jess and I’m so grateful that we had the opportunity to cross the line together.

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Celebrations quickly ensued, but I had to get home stat to address a work emergency. Yet the entire ride home, I couldn’t believe what had happened.

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A while ago I proclaimed my A+ goal to be a 3:15. I then struggled through injury and training to find my mojo again and was going to be happy with anything that broke my old PR of 3:31 (from Boston 2011). To think that I not only broke my old PR, but went beyond my A+ goal is unlike anything I could have dreamed of. While there are many people to thank, I learned an important lesson thanks to a throwaway sweatshirt.

Get out of my head, off of my watch and find my happy running place.
When you do, amazing things can happen.

Now to remember that for next time…

Happy Running!

   
65 Comments | Posted in CIM, Race Reflections, Races, recap, running

CIM Race Week!

When I looked at my calendar and saw that big red event on Sunday…

I then realized that 16 weeks had already past and it was time to toe the line at the California International Marathon (CIM)…

I really don’t feel ready for it…

But then again…

I soon got over myself, I decided to accept my fears…and the fact that this may not be my PR race…

And I’m hellbent to put the negative thoughts behind me and just accept whatever happens on race day…

I contemplated my race day attire…

I checked the weather and we’re rain free…

I’m following my taper plan…

I’m hydrating like a champ…

I have my fuel ready to go…

I have my race-day strategy all mapped out…

And I am READY TO RUN!

Happy Running!

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17 Comments | Posted in CIM